Creating a morning routine for Mom

We’ve got a routine now that you can set a clock to… I started easy, with my own routine. Trying to figure out what I NEEDED to get done first thing in the morning, and what I’d like to be done.  I took a sheet of loosleaf paper, folded it in half longways making two colums, one for what I HAD to do each morning, and what I’d like to get done also.  I HAD to make breakfast, fix medication for Dakota, get them ready, etc. I WANTED to be able to get a shower in before they got up, get my bed made, etc. I tinkered around with the timing, and figuring out when the earliest/latest I could wake up. And slowly added in the things I wanted to get done.  I realized.. I can make my bed in 4-5 minutes. It’s not 100% perfect with hospital corners, but it’s nicely made, so that when i walk past my bedroom, it looks put together, and I’m not crawling into a messy bed at night. Test it out for yourself.. You can get it done in like 4 or 5 minutes, i swear!

What I do… I roll out of bed, and start making it when my feet hit the floor. Usually, first thing in the morning when i wake up, I’m about to pee on myself, so that pushes me to get it done quickly. I race to finish it so I can go pee..lol … I strip, and hop in the shower, dry off and use my towel to wipe down the sink, splashes or whatever. (BTW.. I keep a toothbrush holder and toothbrush in the shower, and brush my teeth while my conditioner moisturizes).  I get dressed (clothes out the night before), put on my shoes before I head downstairs i drop the clothes I slept in and bathtowels at the top of the stairs. I start breakfast, fix cups for the boys (Kota’s with his meds), I drink water, take my meds/vitamins, grab the boys shoes out of their cubbies and head up the stairs to wake them up. I open their bathroom, put their shoes in with their clothes, turn the heat vent on and then We do their beds/clean. When we are done, the bathroom is warm, and they get bathes and hair washed. While I let them adjust to bathwater, I fix their toothbrushes with toothpaste and lay them out, when they get out of the tub, they grab their tooth brushes and brush while I’m drying them off.  I keep plastic bags in their bathroom for their night time pull-ups, i toss them in, tie it up, grab the dirty towel/clothes, we head out. Kota usually does his one last glance at their room to say it’s all clean, and once he does, Bryant closes the door.  On my way down the stairs, I bring the sealed bag with dirty pull-ups, and grab my laundry that I put on the top of the stairs.

I drop the bag in the garbage can, the laundry in the washer, while they get their breakfast. I have ‘their morning schedule’ (which i’ll take about later) hanging low on the fridge, Kota reads it off to Bryant, and says check, and normally when it get’s to “Get backpacks” they both bolt to their cubbies. The last thing they do before we leave is put their cups in the sink, so I know where they are later (i was tired of chasing sippie cups, so now they know if they don’t get dropped in the sink to be washed, they don’t get a sippy later when they get home because mom is no longer going to hunt cups!)

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Toys, Toys, Toys and Clean YOUR ROOM!

Ok.. so we’ve spoiled our kids. With the boys, anytime we buy a toy, we buy them in two’s to curb the fights over a toy. Everyone knows getting a kid to clean their room is like trying to give a Jaguar a bubble bath. It’s a battle! Trying to get a toddler to clean their room is enough to send you into a frenzy. I was spending hours a week cleaning the boys’ room. On almost a daily basis. I was sick of picking up 1,392 hotweels, 212 Little People, and everything else. When i would try to get them to help, they just stood there and refused. Part of the reason… when kids’ rooms get to a certain degree of mess, they are much like us, they feel overwhelmed and don’t want to do it at ALL!

Here’s where I started:

I bought more of the bins like in my living room. I love these things, they are a neutral color, a great size, and very durable, even with kids dumping them out and standing on them!  They already had a shelf unit in their room, that things were just stacked on, I cleared everything off, and found that I could fit 12 of these big bins on the shelf unit.  I began sorting toys to figure out what they had, I used this opportunity to toss things that were missing parts, broken, are no longer age appropriate. Once I got an idea of what we had, I labeled all the bins. Kota can read without a problem, so it wasn’t an issue, Bryant can’t read yet, but I temporarily put pictures on each bin to show what was inside. A great way to do this is check your local office supply chain and look for clear Computer disc pockets that are self adhesive (these are usually made to stick inside binders and and folders to hold disks.) They are great for holding labels that you want to be able to change, and for this project they were big enough to put pictures down into.

Now, everything is labeled and in their bins –

  • Small Cars (hotwheels and matchbox types)
  • Big Cars (the larger die cast type)
  • Imagination Play (this has things like binoculars, Dora’s map, pretend camera, Diego backpack, pretend compass, those kinds of things)
  • Food (this is toy food, pots and pans, etc that go with their toy cash register)
  • Books (we have ALOT of child books around here, Like I said, Kota loves to read).
  • Little People and other Figures (this has their millions of little people, action figures and animals)
  • Little People Play (there’s two bins for this, its the bigger pieces of towns and cars and villages for the little people)
  • Balls (yep, they are boys, every kinda ball you can imagine)
  • Tools (they have so many different plastic tools like daddy’s)
  • Games
  • Off the top of my head I can’t remember the other labels at the moment, but it gives you a starting idea.

Bigger toys – I bought the same matching bins, only in a much bigger size, this is for bigger size toys. They are labeled also and lined along one of their walls.

Now that everything is labeled, and there is a spot for EVERYTHING, they don’t get overwhelmed when it’s time to clean up, instead of trying to ‘figure out how to clean it, they already know where things go.

For the fun part… GETTING THEM TO  A CLEAN ROUTINE:

I started in the morning allowing myself enough time to make their beds when I woke them up.  It turns out, it takes about 4 minutes per bed to make in the morning. I started on Monday, and went all the way through the week doing it. While I was making their bed, I would give them each a task, they could do easily. On Saturady, here’s where things started really going into effect. I woke them up, made their beds, but… I closed us into their room and said we could not go downstairs for pancakes and Saturday morning cartoons UNTIL they cleaned their room. NOOOoooooo, evil mom, no saturday cartoons?  So sat there letting them clean what they would until they lost interest, then I had to change things up a bit. I started a game. I looked around the room and was like.. OK, “Find 5 cars”. Each of them hustled around until they had both grabbed up 5 cars. I had them put them in the bin. We did that until the whole room was finished, but sadly it wasn’t early enough to catch cartoons. 

Sunday morning, we did the same thing….I made beds, and they began picking up toys from the night before.  This time they were faster.  So Monday, I got them up, I made beds, they cleaned toys. Now we were getting the idea… We’ve been on almost 2 months of this now. It takes about an extra 10 minutes of morning time. Here’s what I found… Even toddlers can reason.. They realized if they don’t pull as many toys out at night, they don’t have much to pick up in the morning. So they are getting in the habit of putting toys back in their bins as they play. So now we are going to bed with a cleaner room, and waking up with one. I have not cleaned up toys in weeks. I did take the time to sift through the bins a little bit and make sure any toys hadn’t gotten placed in the wrong spots.

Now every morning they are proud when it’s clean, and BOTH of them always take one last glance around the room before leaving out and Kota will say “all clean” and once he says “all clean” Bryant takes that as his cue to close their door.

I’m totally amazed how quickly it became habit for them, and how well they have embraced it. 

It’s cut short my cleaning time tremendously. The only things I am really having to do to their room on a regular basis now is dust, vacuum, and change their bed linens!

Easy peasy now! Who knew it could be that simple, if I had known, I’d have done it ages ago!

About a week’s process, and they’ve developed a good habit, and now they are already taking PRIDE in getting a task done!

Laundry Room tips

Tip #1 –     Keep a stash of those small plastic bags from the grocery store/wal-mart in your laundry room. It makes tossing things a cinch. Just grab one and toss away any stray dryer sheets, lint, trash that might have come from pockets, empty containers from laundry products, and clothes that you find are no longer usable.

Tip #2 –  Dryer/Fabric Softener sheets: once you go to pull your clothes out and you have a used sheet, go ahead and use it to wipe out your lint trap screen, it helps grab stray pieces of lint. (Note: after a while you can get fabric softener build up on your lint screen, which can make your dryer take more drying time, and can pose a fire hazard, pull it out and wash it in your sink, a soft bristle scrub brush can help get the build-up out of the screen, lay it out to air dry, and your dryer will last longer, AND dry faster and more efficiently).

Tip #3 –   Next time you go to bleach a load of towels or dish rags, add your detergent and bleach as you normally would, start the washer leaving your lid up. Grab one of the towels you are about to wash, wring it out a bit, and use it to wipe down the gunky detergent build up on your washer and dryer. While you’re wiping it down, your laudry load is getting a little extra soak time, and once your done you can toss the towel or rag back into the load, close the lid and start the cycle. No cleaning products needed to be drug out (since you had bleach/detergent on your towel to clean with), and the towel is now getting washed. I did this today when i went to bleach a load of towels, and now my washer, dryer and extra deep freezer look all clean, and my laundry room smells as fresh as my clothes in just a matter of moments. And I didn’t have to put any cleaning supplies away!

I haven’t vanished forever, I swear

I haven’t given up on scrapbooking ya’ll… I just have needed a life overhaul! I’ve institued some massive changes in our lives, and it’s taking some time, I’ll be back though, I swear, just gonna be about
another month.

Part of the reason being, is….. To do all this massive cleaning/sorting reorganizing of my house, I rented a commercial garbage dumpster (YEP, I said COMMERCIAL SIZE).  I did not want things sitting around waiting
to be gotten rid of, I wanted to be able to dispose of it as I go. But…since I’m renting it, I have to pay for it while I have it, which means, the faster I’m done with the whole house, the less I pay for having it here.

I should point out… we have had boxes of stuff stored here that have stayed in the boxes where we stuck them since the day we moved into this house. I decided, no more holding them for garage sales, no more
waiting to drop them somewhere, they are GOING. You have to remember our house is like 2 1/4 stories. (The scraproom is the kinda 1/4 story since it drops down and is 625 sq foot, which gives you an idea of the size of our house) The bad thing about a house so big, is the more space you have, the more STUFF you accumulate.

My house always ‘looks’ clean when ya glance around, but God forbid you every opened a cabinet, drawer, closet, pantry,etc.

How has organizing it HONESTLY TO GOD changed my life?

Example #1: Downstairs bathroom and Potty Training

Most of you know Kota is a handful, and his perception of things is very different. Getting into stuff has been a massive problem for him. He’s always looking for stimulation, good or bad.  Potty training has been a
massive problem because… He for one does not want me standing over him when he goes, nor do I honestly have time to stand and wait, til he overcomes his potty shyness. A major issue was that, if I allowed him to go into the bathroom alone, several times I came in and he had….. pulled EVERYTHING out from under the bathroom sink. He’d taken magazines that were in the bathroom, dropped them in the toilet, gotten them wet and the wet pages would be stuck to things. One day, he powdered the entire bathroom with Comet.  Things like that, which resulted in me raising hell, stopping whatever I was doing to punish him or stand over him while he sat in the corner, then an hour to clean up the mess. What did it equal out to? Me thinking he was a bad behaved kid, and him thinking I was an evil Mommy for getting mad.   SOLUTION:  I took everything out of the bathroom, putting it in the hallway, I took the opportunity to vacuum out dustbunnies under the cabinets, I bleached the cabinet, all that was put back was a small garbage can that fit under the cabinet, a toilet brush, plunger, and toilet paper.  After a few tries of going in there and seeing what was under there, and it was all boring, and it stayed the same every time he looked under the cabinet, he doesn’t bother it now, and can go in alone, do his business, and come out.  It sounds like a hassle, but it took me actually under 20 minutes, and it’s saved me from the stress of cleaning up his constant messes. The added benefit… since that’s all that is under there, I can easily grab my toilet brush, so when I reach down for a toilet paper change, or think about it at random, I grab the brush and swoosh out the toilet real quick in the time it takes me to pull up my pants after peeing, and voila, toilet stays pretty clean. So when the bathroom is ready for a good cleaning, it doesn’t really take long. And now we aren’t having a battle weekly from him making messes..   WHAT IT CHANGED FOR US: I’m not yelling at him for making messes.. Happy mom, happy kid, and I’m not having to stop some other activity to clean up after him.

Example #2: Where the hell are the shoes?

I’ve always kept a basket downstairs for shoes, since I prefer to keep the running up and downstairs to a minimum. Problem was I seemed to be the only one to put shoes in it. Because my kids have gotten used to the ‘cubby’ system at school, they each have a cubby to put their stuff in every day. SOLUTION: I bought a shelf unit at Big Lots for 89 bucks, and then bins to fit in it perfectly. It’s in my living room, convenient to entering and leaving the house.  They have a bin for their shoes, and backpack. One holds pull-ups/baby wipes, one holds books they like to read, one holds binders full of DVD movies, etc. And one holds a few changes of clothes for the kids for quick access. How did I get it to work? As soon as we walk in the door from anything, 90% of the time, they want a sippy cup to drink. I began with afterschool. When I picked them up, as we pulled up at home, each time I would tell them.. Ok we are home, what do we do next? Then I would repeat over that we go in the door, and take off our shoes and backpack, and place them in our cubbies, and especially for Kota since he has school uniforms now, they take their clothes off, and place them in a wicker basket that I keep next to the shelf unit. It did not take long for them to understand that if they didn’t do it, they wouldn’t get the drink or snack or whatever else they may have wanted until it was done. Within a matter of days, it became routine, to the point that ANYTIME now that we walk in the door, they take their shoes off, throw them in their cubbies and toss their socks in the basket.  WHAT IT CHANGED FOR US: Yes of course now I do have laundry in my living room, but I can always keep track of school uniforms and socks, to quickly toss in the wash. But… in the mornings, instead of spending 15 minutes searching for someone’s missing shoe, and another 15 minutes trying to convince them to help me find them, I know exactly where they are. Now there’s no drama of me panicking to find shoes, and keep from being late, which we all know, a late start on the day can make you grouchy the whole damn day. Which means I’m not grouchy starting my day, and they aren’t grouchy because I growled at them all morning to find their shoes!   Also, the bins, hide things from plain site, and I’m not finding their books all over the downstairs. When they want to read, ESPECIALLY since Kota LOVES books, he pulls out the bin and sits on the floor, goes through his books, and then tosses them back in the bin. He can’t get it back on the shelf, but that’s an easy grab for me to set on the shelf and they love knowing where their favorite books are. Also, since we keep their backpacks there, if there is anything that needs to go with them back to school or whatever, I can easily drop it in their bin and we notice it in the morning.

Here is the unit: it comes up to about my shoulders (sorry pic was taken with my cell phone). The sturdy plastic bins were purchased at wal-mart and are about 14 inches tall. Plenty of room to store good-sized items.