How to think of everything…

I’ve been having a lot of the same thoughts lately, thoughts like: How could I not think to bring a basketball to her practice? or Why didn’t I think to have him practice his report one more time? It seems like I just can’t quite think of everything all the time.

As my kids were heading out the door to school this morning, they reminded me of the sign that we have posted on the back door (which I wrote about a little while back right here).

And it made me realize that I needed to take a pause from the hectic schedule of this fall season and come up with a little game plan for how I can start getting back on track.

Because I love acronyms, I came up with these ideas for helping me THINK of everything:

Take the time – How many times have you walked right out the door and forgot about eight things that you really, really need for all the things you are about to go do? I have done that more times that I can count, and so I posted the aforementioned sign on our back door to help with that issue! One idea: when planning your day, reserve a 15-20 minute window before you have to leave to just stop and think and make sure you go through a little “pre-flight” checklist before you head out!

Have some help – I think one of my themes of motherhood this year is enabling my children to help themselves (and help me in the process) — since there are four of them and only one of me, if we all work together, things go so much more smoothly. So whenever we are heading to a practice or a game or to school, I’m teaching my kids to run through a list of what they need to have with them. That helps it from becoming “Mom, how could you forget my jersey?” to “Oh man! I forgot my jersey” — which then hopefully won’t happen again.

Invest in YOU – This is another theme for the year! If you are so tired and burnt out and frazzled, then of course you are going to start forgetting things left and right. You deserve some TLC, whether that means making yourself go to bed earlier to get more rest or finding some time to relax and recharge during the day or maybe even scheduling date night so that you have something to look forward to!

No is not a bad word – I keep thinking that if I tell myself this enough times, it will start to sink in. This is definitely still a work in progress for me, but I want to encourage us both today to not make “yes” the default answer to every request that comes our way. At least, let’s try to make it a habit to weight the pros and cons of each decision —  and then do a thorough calendar review — before we commit to anything new!

Keep it in perspective – This is a big one for our family! Just the other day, I was transporting my children from an appointment on the north side of town to a practice on the south side of town. I hadn’t thought through the timing very well, and we were stuck in some pretty horrible tollway traffic. As the minutes ticked away quickly, I could feel the tension rising in the car. I didn’t want my child to be late (this was a practice for my kiddo who thinks being late is one of the worst things in the world!) — but there was literally nothing I could do. When she asked me, “Am I going to be late?” I paused and considered several different vague responses. But finally, I simply said: “Yeah, probably so, buddy — but it will be okay.” And, miracle of miracles, she just sat back in her seat and accepted it. In the end, we weren’t that late, and it really was okay. Now, I don’t want tardiness to become a habit, but it was a good lesson that sometimes we make mistakes and things don’t work out the way we thought they would — and everything still works out just fine!

I know, as moms, we try to think of everything — and if we give ourselves a better chance by slowing down, not taking on so much, and keeping our expectations in check, we may not be perfect but we’ll be close enough!

P.S. Go Rangers!!!

What I (Almost) Never Leave Home Without

So I discovered the need for keeping an “emergency bag” in my car the hard way. After the diaper-bag-phase ended with my first child, I didn’t realize I would have a need for an occasional extra change of clothes when the unforeseen “disaster” struck (i.e. trying to eat an ice cream cone in the car or discovering a mud puddle at the park). It didn’t take me too long to realize that having an extra change of clothes in the car for every member of our family is not a bad idea, and actually becomes a lifesaver every once in a while!

Some ideas for what to include:

  • Extra outfit for each person (including undies and socks)
  • Extra diapers/wipes (because sometimes even the diaper bag has turned up empty for me!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Basic first aid kit (including bug spray to prevent bug bites and anti-itch cream for when you forget)
  • Small flashlight
  • During the fall/winter: jackets and a blanket
  • During the spring/summer: extra swim towel or two and a bathing suit cover up

We’re just cleaning out and updating the bag since the season is (finally!) starting to change here…and that’s our routine every few months throughout the year.

Any other items you have found helpful?

Stop Signs

I did it twice the other day. I walked right out the door without something I needed. To be honest, I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Right now, it’s overwhelming enough just to get us all in the car with shoes and socks and the basic necessities. If anything other than that is needed, chances are very good that I’ll forget. And sometimes, we actually forget the basics too!

Even though I am trying to be more thoughtful and prepared, I realized I need some help. After getting frustrated repeatedly for my mental lapses, I decided that there had to be a better way. I recalled a successful episode from a couple of weeks ago…I needed to remember something the next morning, so I put a sticky note on the back door. Sure enough, I saw the note on my way out and remembered to bring along whatever it was I didn’t want to forget.

Now, I wasn’t too fond of the idea of covering my back door in sticky notes, but it made me think…a “stop sign” on the door that forced me to stop and think about where I was going and what I needed would be handy.

Here is my first draft:

stop-sign-blog

It includes a few questions that I now ask myself before leaving:

  • Do I have my keys, wallet, and phone?
  • Do I have directions (if needed)?
  • Do the kids have socks, shoes, and any equipment/uniform needed for the day ahead?
  • Have we all gone to the potty?
  • Do I have diapers/wipes/baby essentials?
  • Is there anything special that I don’t want to forget?

I am also considering stop signs in the car (so the kids will remember to bring everything inside that they took out and clear out any trash or papers) and by their backpack hooks (as a reminder to put away water bottles and dirty clothes).

Questions for you: What are some other places that stop signs might come in handy? And how can I make my stop signs more beautiful and durable?

World Animal Day!

I recently learned that October 4 is World Animal Day! This is especially appropriate for us because we are bringing home our first official pet very soon.  My daughter’s birthday is approaching and we are getting her a hamster! I remember having my own hamster at her age, and it was definitely a memory that I cherish.  I hope that this experience is as wonderful for our family!

In fact, I was thinking about what I hope we learn from this little creature, and here are a few things I came up with:

1 – Responsibility. My daughter will be responsible for a list of items to care for this hamster. I hope this increase in responsibility carries over into other areas of her life — like keeping her room clean, keeping her area of the car clean, etc…

2 – Unconditional love. Pets are generally pretty happy to see you and play with you whenever you have the time, so I am hoping for an improvement in attitudes around our home!

3 – Fun. Sometimes, we get so busy crossing things off our to do list, that we forget to just stop and have fun — I am hoping that having this little pet around will be a reminder to just stop and play a little more often.

Tell me the truth, am I overly optimistic about the changes that one little hamster will bring?

If you already have a pet, what has he or she taught your family?

Are you prepared?

I am not sure why, but I get a big kick out of learning about what events are celebrated or what specific causes are observed each month!  I think it’s because I like to look for little ways to celebrate or learn more at any opportunity — because I feel like there is always room for improvement in our house!

I recently learned that September is also National Preparedness Month. Though it has been observed by some groups for several years, the President made it official due to many natural emergencies (like hurricanes and tornadoes) in recent months.

As a mom, I relish any reminder to be prepared. Though there is an official website with many practical steps for how your family can be better prepared to face the unexpected (please click here to learn more!), I thought about how this might apply in our lives:

1  – I need to be prepared every time I walk out the door. As a mom of three young kiddos, I cannot just “grab my purse and go!” I have to stop and think — where are we going? How long will we be gone? Has everyone used the rest room before we get in the car? Do we need water bottles and snacks? Do I have wet wipes, Kleenexes, and a garbage container in the car? Does everyone have their shoes? (Yes, this was a big issue once!) Anytime we are heading out, I need to be prepared.

2 – When I pick up the kids from school, I need to be prepared. In our household, that hour and a half between carpool pick up and dinnertime is a big one. There is a thin line between tears and happy children. I need to meet them with a smile on my face, some encouraging words for anything that didn’t go quite right at school, and a listening ear. I need to tackle those backpacks and paperwork piles as soon as we get inside; I need to get light, healthy snacks ready and oversee the completion of homework. My “me time” is over — it’s time to focus on them!

3 – I need to be prepared for dinnertime and bedtime and all the fun stuff in between!  It all doesn’t just happen on its own (really, sweet hubby, it doesn’t!) — and it is up to me to take some forethought and some organization to get our family prepared each and every day!

How do you stay prepared — for the big and little things in your life?

Grocery shopping — with the kids!

It strikes fear into my heart whenever I think about it, but with summer in full swing, I find myself unable to avoid it any longer. On occasion, I am forced to take all three of them with me to do our grocery shopping. Doesn’t sound stressful? Well, for us, most trips involve tears, fights, threats, and me drenched in sweat by the end of our battle (I mean “trip”).

So I’ve been brainstorming some ways to make it better. Let me know what you think:

1 – Be prepared: there’s nothing more frustrating than going through all that hassle and then getting home only to realize that you forgot three items that you really needed! So, I’ve started a list that I place in a prominent place in our kitchen that I add to as soon as something pops into my head. Also, I plan to do a quick walk-through of my home before I head out to make sure there’s nothing else I’m forgetting. One other thing that helps – I organize my list according to the aisles at the store. Sadly, I have that layout pretty much memorized, so I’m able to plot my shopping out very strategically!

2 – Go in the morning: for me, the morning is the least crowded time at the store. With less people in the store, there’s less waiting, less maneuvering with the massive kid-friendly cart that I use, and less condescending stares when one or three of my kids are throwing a tantrum.

3 – Get the best cart you can: speaking of the monster cart, try to find something that fits all of your kids if at all possible. If they have an assigned seat, they are more likely to stay in one spot. I love the new carts at Target and Wal-Mart – they all three fit at one time, and it’s awesome!

4 – Give the kids a role: maybe one of them is checking items off the list, maybe one of them takes the items from you and gently places them in the cart – another could point out items that you’re searching for as you go down the aisles. Whatever it may be, try to give them a job that keeps them focused and busy!

5 – Consider offering a reward: I know this may be controversial, but I’ll be honest – sometimes, I do whatever it takes. Lately, I’ve been promising a small treat if the entire trip is completed without incident – and I hold it over their heads the whole time! A little reminder about that pack of gum waiting for them at the checkout lane is often just the thing to end a fight quickly!

6 – Manage your expectations: this is one of my life mantras…don’t expect perfection, do expect a fight or two along the way. Be ready for it, and when things turn out as you expect – or better! – then you’re good to go!

7 – Smile as much as possible: your happiness may rub off on others (like your kids and the other customers who you accidentally bump with your unruly cart!)

 

Grocery shopping with my kids is definitely a blur…

Do you have any tips for grocery shopping with the kiddos?

Thanks for reading!

–Alana

Makeover your car!

I don’t want to scare anyone, but this is what the inside of my car looks like on a regular basis:

Yuk!  I am so tired of it!  I feel like I clean out my car every other day, and within minutes of my monsters kiddos getting inside, it looks like that!!! I have finally decided I need to take action.  Here are a few ideas for making over your car:

1 – Set some rules: I’ve seen the inside of cars who don’t allow food to be eaten in them and WOW, are they nice! Unfortunately, at this phase in our life (lots of carpool and growing boys who are always hungry), that rule won’t work for us (though I highly recommend it!). However, there are some rules that will, like: if you bring something into the car with you, you are responsible for taking it out (or it may disappear forever). Setting some basic rules that everyone can follow helps kids feel ownership over keeping the car clean!

2 – Make it easy to throw stuff away: This is another way they can own it!  There are some really great trash containers out there for your car. While it is not safe to give kids access to plastic bags (suffocation hazard!), there are many other options like trash pouches and sturdy trash containers that sit on the floor. Figure out what works best for your family and let the kids be responsible for keeping their area tidy!

3 – Get an occasional car wash: My husband is not a big believer in car washes (somehow it always rains after we get one!), but having the outside of your car look nice is an inspiration for keeping the inside clean.

4 – Be prepared: have the appropriate wet wipes/sanitizing gel on board for messy situations!

5 – Have an emergency bag: In the trunk of our car, we store an extra set of clothes (and socks!) for each person. Change these out every season (for us in Texas it’s either cold or hot!), and you’re set. I can’t tell you HOW often we have to use the emergency bag.

Question for you: how do you make your car more inviting and keep away the mess?

Thanks for reading!

Alana

 

Makeover your picture frames!

I love putting pictures of my family and friends up in my house,  but over the past four years that we’ve lived there, I realized that I haven’t changed many of the photos out…I don’t even have one picture of my newest little guy up yet!

So my goal over the summer is to change out some of my old photos for updated ones, and maybe even purchase a new picture frame or two!

Whenever you get a free moment, try changing out your old photos for new ones. You don’t have to do it all at once, just try changing a few at a time and then see if your husband notices which ones you changed 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!
Alisha

Makeover your walls!

If you’re not into painting the walls in your house, but you’re looking for a way to redecorate, how about hanging something up?

Try one of these options:  hang up some of your children’s artwork (framed or unframed!); check out your nearest thrift store and buy a gently used piece of art; or take some of your favorite pictures, blow them up and make a collage.

Here are some examples…

Kids’ artwork! Love how colorful it is!

A fun collection of artwork and photography around a mirror…

A fun pop of color on an otherwise empty wall!

Using our favorite pictures as a focal point in the dining room…

Thanks for reading!

Alisha

 

Simple Routines Keep Us On Track

Being a teacher, I know that kids thrive on routines. And just like a teacher sets up a routine in her classroom, it’s easy to set one up in your own house for your own children!

Once my newborn gets a little older, I hope to get him on a more consistent feeding and napping schedule. But my three year old is at the age where he can start getting into a routine that requires him to take on some responsibility.

I created a daily chart and a nightly chart to hold him accountable for things like brushing his teeth, going potty or taking a bath.

Although our days are not always the same, there are certain things he knows he has to do as soon as he wakes up or before he goes to bed.

Our system isn’t perfect, but it’s a start to managing our time together at home!

Question for you: What types of things are a part of your routine?

Thanks for reading!

–Alisha