Since I've been at the mom thing and the homeschooling thing and the homeschooling-pregnant-mom thing for a while now, I thought I'd share 10 things that make my days easier.
1. Lay out clothes the night before.
I lay out mine, and those for kids not old enough to dress themselves. For my girls, I put the clothes away in their drawers already put together in outfits so they just have to pick one in the morning. It really cuts down on "getting ready" time.
2. Have a basic routine.
A routine should be something that helps you, not something that locks you in and denies you freedom. If you become a perfectionist about a routine you'll drive yourself and your family nuts. Don't do it. However, it is really helpful to know what you're doing first, next, last, etc. so that important things don't get missed. For my oldest child I even have a basic daily routine written out for him, complete with daily chores. I don't have to nag so much, and he knows what he needs to do and doesn't have to remember it all.
3. Don't be afraid to take a day off if you need to, or a nap if you can.
Is your little one sick and wants to spend the day in your arms? Are you sick and really need to lay on the couch and let Blues Clues babysit? I promise, that day will not ruin everything. Your little one won't remember the dishes in the sink, but he will remember your loving care. And there may be twice as much work for you when you get up out of your sick bed, but you'll also have the energy to get on top of it.
4. Meal Planning
This does not have to be fancy. I set up a google calendar for meals and have each one repeat monthly. If I find something I'd rather make, I take off something we're sick of and replace it. And of course, I feel free to substitute if we're in the mood for something else. Again, this should help you, not handcuff you.
5. Have some basic things in mind for the kids to do.
I learned the hard way that bored kids mess up your house. They find crayons and write on the walls. They find objects that aren't toys and use them in ways you don't want them to. But if you have a coloring area set up, or a few websites on the computer that they know they can go to without asking, it seriously cuts down on time spent finding new and interesting ways to be destructive.
6. Tell your kids what you expect.
If I'm taking five kids to the grocery store, or to someone's house, or to a restaurant, I'm asking them to navigate appropriate social behavior in a new place. So, it's really helpful if they know what behavior you expect, what the consequences are for not meeting those expectations, and if there is a reward for doing well. For example, I might tell my kids that they're not to ask for anything at the grocery store, and that they're to keep their volume down on their voices. If they don't, there will be time outs, and if they do, everyone will pick a treat at the check out. Or we might have a desert at a restaurant if they remember to use their nice manners. Or I might make sure they know how far they can run if we're headed to the park.
7. Break laundry up during the week.
I've found a little laundry each day is much easier to stay on top of than waiting days at a time to do it. I also recommend Jenny's Simply Clean Laundry Detergent. Made by a mom in Oklahoma it's one of my top finds this past year. I don't mind doing my laundry when the whole room smells so good!
8. Say yes, unless there's a really good reason to say no.
I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I'm just a little contrary. I get in a bad mood and I just plain want to say, "No!". But unless there's an honest-to-goodness reason to say no, it's better to say yes. The kids will be happier and they'll be more willing to listen and not argue when the answer actually needs to be no. When it's no, I'm happy to give the reason, but I won't argue it. Period.
9. Don't leave the house without a diaper, wipes, and a kid cup if your child is in that age range.
It's Murphy's Law of motherhood. If you leave the house without a diaper and wipes, your child will poop. If he or she doesn't, you've just won the parenting lottery, so make sure you buckle your child's car seat well on the way home and drive the speed limit or else you're just plain pushing your luck. And I add the cup thing only because, if for some reason I don't take one, I inevitably need it. If I take it, I may not use it. Err on the side of caution.
10. Give it to God.
I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. Lord knows our kids aren't perfect. All we can do is our best to serve God and serve our families. Ultimately, control of this world and our circumstances is not ours. It is His. Prayer and release is important for our own sanity, and because He knows better than we do what we need.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
2 Corinthians 12:9