Back to School – Tips for Your Morning Routine

morning_routine
Back to school is an exciting time for all! A good friend said it best on her Facebook page, “First day of school! Yay! Parents be popping champs everywhere”. The idea of champagne sounds amazing but a fancy coffee (meaning not from my Keurig) and a quiet morning after a successful send off is as good of a celebration as any in my book! I’ll cash in on the mimosa over a ladies brunch on the weekend. The truth of the matter is though, the first week or two of Back to School is often complete mayhem in the mornings. Getting out the door on time is a struggle and we all seem to become a hot mess. Congrats to those mom’s who nail it on the first day, but this is just not our family. It takes a few practice runs to get out of the lazy summer morning habit and back on track with a more timely regimen. Routine! Routine! Routine! You’ve heard it before, but today’s post is a friendly reminder about how to de-stress your morning by implementing a solid routine. We seem to have things back on track and I’ve finally had my fancy coffee and quiet breakfast celebration. Below are a few of my favorite tips to help you with the morning struggle.

  1. Do it the night before – This is by far the most important tip to remember and implement. Ask yourself, “What can be done the night before to save time in the morning?” When you really stop to think about it, you realize so much can be done the night before. Once you create this habit, your morning will be much calmer and organized. Pack lunches, lay out clothing, have homework or school papers signed and in school bags, tidy up the house, do all dishes, and bathe the kids the night before. Don’t forget about YOU! Pick out your clothing, shower and do your hair the night before (if you can). The less you have to do for yourself, the more you can be free to deal with any hiccups in your morning routine.
  2. Mom get up 15 minutes earlier – This was hard for me because my son likes to climb in my bed early in the morning to cuddle (and often falls back asleep in my arms). Like many mom’s I cherish this time SO MUCH! I would let it last as long as possible because I’m dreading the day he stops this morning ritual and becomes too old to want mommy cuddles. I should probably prepare my husband for a complete meltdown when this unavoidable moment happens, but let’s get back to my point. The problem with this situation, is that I’d be scrambling to get out the door because I laid in bed with my son too long, and everyone paid the price. Lesson quickly learned/remembered–> Summer is over, mommy! I still cuddle with my son, but I make sure that I’m in charge of the wake up time. If he is still sleeping, I slip out 15 minutes earlier to make my coffee and start breakfast. The key is to stay ahead of the morning schedule.
  3. Teach children to DIY – Encourage your children to wake up and immediately dress themselves in the clothing that you conveniently laid out the night before. If they like to choose their clothing, then let them pick an outfit the night before. Put cereal and bowls accessible so that they want to help get breakfast ready. How many times have you heard, “I can’t find my shoe(s)!” Have your children put their shoes by the door the night before so that you don’t waste 5 minutes searching for the missing shoe(s)! Create a chart listing out the morning routine, post it on the refrigerator and encourage them to do as much of the list they can, all on their own.
  4. Reward when ready – This relates to #3. If they are ready on time or earlier, then praise them for doing much of it themselves and consider using a reward system. Maybe they get to watch 5 minutes of a cartoon, choose dessert that night, or read an extra chapter of Harry Potter. These rewards work great in our house. My personal favorite is the cartoon because it gives me a few quiet minutes to finish up anything for myself, and it keeps them from wrecking havoc on the house that I worked so hard to tidy up the night before. A reward system encourages children to repeat a positive behavior which in turn will create good habits. A calm and organized morning is definitely a good habit to create!
  5. Manage bedtime – During the summer months kids are often up later than during the school year. It takes a little time to readjust from those late nights, but focus on getting them back in bed at the same time every night. It’s easy to forget how much the bedtime routine impacts the morning routine, until you start struggling with a grumpy over-tired kid in the morning. Eat dinner earlier, read earlier, eliminate any technology or TV before bed, and make their bedrooms as dark as possible if the sun hasn’t set yet. I always love when the time changes and we “Fall Back” because bedtime becomes much easier. BTW, the time change happens November 6th of this year.

Mornings set the tone for the day so implementing these simple tips/reminders can help make your mornings happy, healthy, and focused! Happy Back to School all!

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Who is excited and ready for summer fun at the pool? One of the best parts of moving to the burbs of San Francisco has been enjoying the seasons, and summertime is one of my favorites! As I type this, I can almost smell the bbq and hear the kids splashing. With summer around the corner, it’s a great time to start grabbing suits for the kids, and yourself. If you follow my Instagram, then you know I’m loving the one piece trend for its function and style. I’ve shared a lace one piece that felt sexy but classy, and a stunning, vibrant Mara Hoffman print. So, when Target launched its Marimekko collaboration three days ago, I fell in love with the line’s playful prints. When I spotted the black and white Marimekko mommy and me swimwear, I knew I had to grab the look, and enjoy these matching moments while I still can! Audrey looks absolutely adorable, and I love that mine has a belt to accentuate the waist. Plus, I’m clearly not a super model in some ad, I’m a real woman with a real body, who writes an honest blog about life + style that works for everyday women! Both suits are affordable (under $40) and the quality was just as good as the more expensive suits I’d bought. Ladies, the fabric is thick and snugs all the right places. Another benefit, it won’t stretch out immediately like some other brands, which seems to always happen with Audrey’s suits. This is not a sponsored post, I’m just really happy with the quality, and wanted to share. Grab Audrey’s suit here, and mine here before they sell out! Or shop the entire Marimekko Collection, so many cute items for your backyard and home.

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

Marimekko Mommy and Me Swimwear

5 Tips for Battling Bedtime

Sleeping

Most kids are challenging in one way or another to put to sleep. My daughter has generally been pretty easy to put to bed, but more recently she has started dragging the process out. Do her excuses sound similar to your childs? “I need a glass of water” , “One more book”, “I can’t find Mickey”, “Can you look under the bed for monsters?”, “I need to show you the picture I drew at school, and I can’t find it”, “I’m not tired”. The list could go on, and she is getting more creative.

Then, there is my 3-year-old, who has always been more challenging to put to bed. I’ve had nights when I had to wrestle him into his pajamas, and bribe him to get in bed and stay! Yes, I said bribe. These are things you do when you are losing the bedtime battle! So, as a mother of two toddlers, I can tell you that we still have our battles, but these are my 5 top tips for keeping the sanity at the end of the night. If you stick to them, they work, most of the time!

1. Set Expectations – An hour before bedtime, start talking about bedtime. Setting expectations applies to all sorts of scenarios for toddlers, such as leaving the park, or ending a playdate, but it’s extremely important for bedtime. As soon as we finish dinner, I mention that we need to start getting ready for bed. My kids know this means we aren’t going to bed yet, but soon.

2. Stop liquids 1-2 hours before bed – Okay, I’m not saying to deprive your child of water if they are thirsty, but if you focus on hydration earlier in the day, then they won’t require as much water before bedtime. It’s very easy to have a day full of activities, which can distract us from drinking enough water. If this happens, your child will be drinking much more water at night. Let me set the scenario –> Have you ever just finished each child’s bedtime routine only to have child 1 yell from his/her bed, “I have to pee!” So, child 1 gets out of bed, goes to the bathroom then does some other procrastinating and annoying thing, you take a deep breath because you might lose it, and then tuck child 1 in bed AGAIN. Oh wait, child 2 heard child 1, and yells, “I have to pee too!” You repeat the same thing, and next thing you know you have just spent another 30 minutes tucking them BACK in bed. This scenario might happen again, or your child may be more likely to get up during the night. My tip–> front load the first half of the day with water, and keep it plentiful up to the last two hours of the day. Then just supply as needed.

3. No technology 30 minutes before – I just recently embraced this rule. Sometimes I like to fall asleep to TV, so I assumed a little educational TV would help my children wind down too. They often watch one show, and then we’d read for 10 minutes before bed. Well..I started to pay attention to what those smart doctors were preaching, and noticed the closer to bedtime we allowed TV, the more stimulated and challenging they were to put to sleep. Ding ding, they were right! So, if you haven’t embraced this one, give it a try.

4. Routine – Most parents know this, but having a set bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do for your kids. They like knowing what to expect and what to do next. When I set the expectation of bedtime an hour before actual bedtime, my kids know this means, bath, pajamas, brush teeth, pick up toys, and reading time. It also encourages confidence and responsibility because they can do part of the routine on their own.

5. Consistency – Now that you have a routine down, stay the course. If you aren’t consistent, your kids won’t care about a routine. They go hand in hand. Obviously, sometimes you have off nights, friends are visiting, you are traveling, but you can still incorporate some of the routine. Set the expectation of bedtime, and then start the steps of the routine you can do!

Please feel free to comment and share any other suggestions that might work for you and your family! I love hearing what works for other parents!

PlanetBox Review and Giveaway

Giveaway closed. Congrats Patti Masters who decided on the rocketship lunch set for her son who starts school next year! Thank you to all who participated.

I have been packing lunches since I can remember. I’m pretty sure my parents started me doing this task at a young age because they were sick of doing it themselves! Can’t say I blame them. However, if you asked them now, I’m confidant they would say it was more about teaching my sister and I responsibility, and less about passing off the daunting daily task. As a mother of two, I’ve got a hunch it was a bit of both. So when Bay Area based, PlanetBox reached out to me for a collaboration (Giveaway details at bottom of post), I was thrilled to try their product. I’d met friends at the park whose children were using PlanetBox, and I’d always liked that they were functional and eco-friendly. When our package arrived and we opened it, Audrey was super excited about the magnets, and that the lunch box looked like it was for Astronauts. Already, it had the “cool” factor.

Planetbox!

We agreed to test the product out together. So the results of this review are from both mom and child. Before I list the reasons why, let me just say, we love PlanetBox!!! Not only did it replace plastic baggies, and plastic boxes, it inspired us to rethink the way we make lunches. I think y’all know food is a big deal at our house. Cooking, eating, trying new recipe’s –> it’s all about building memories in the kitchen. I want my children to enjoy trying new foods, and sometimes that can be a struggle. The fact that I can say this product has encouraged my daughter to help make her own lunch and explore new foods is a win in my book! So here are our top 5 reasons we recommend PlanetBox.

  1. Super easy to clean – Great for busy parent’s. Regardless if I clean the lunch box right after lunch or hours later, everything comes off easily with hot soapy water. Even better, it’s dishwasher safe and comes out looking super shiny after each wash. No more wondering is this really dishwasher safe? Am I exposing my kids to harmful chemicals? BPA safe?
  2. Eco-friendly – I have tried the reusable fabric baggies, and other eco-friendly products, but nothing stuck. The reusable bags fell apart, started to smell (even after washing), and food was easily smashed. I still found myself using plastic. Not good. With PlanetBox you can cut your plastic usage down tremendously. As adults we know the power of going green, and the importance of caring for our planet, but teaching our children to embrace these habits at a young age is not only mindful, but crucial for their future environment.
  3. Kids love it – Because of the magnets and compartments, kids are thrilled about making their lunches. They want to get involved. Here is my mommy tip for the first few times you use the lunch box –> Put out several bowls of different healthy foods, and let your children fill the various compartments. Get them excited and provide options that they get to choose from. This teaches them how to use the lunch box, and also encourages the act of trying new foods. My daughter loves coming up with new ideas to fill each compartment, and how they are all different sizes. Bonus – The cute little treat spot in the middle!
  4. Longevity – These lunch boxes are more expensive than some of the other options on the market, but they are built to last. You will save money by not replacing cheaper lunch boxes every year. Plus, I like that it’s one large container to open instead of a bunch of little containers, which can add up in cost. The magnets can easily be removed or changed out for older children, so the product can grow with your family.
  5. Multipurpose use – It’s not just for kids. It’s perfect for adults. The individual compartments and containers are great for keeping portions in check, and I love the outside compartments of the bag for carrying additional items. It makes the perfect travel caddy for flights, trains, car rides, and picnics.

Bowl

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will receive one PlanetBox Rover set ($70 value) in their choice of color/design shown below. We will choose one winner after 3/23/16. Good luck! (US ONLY PLEASE)

 

Threecolor_options

How to Unload Your Halloween Candy

candy_overload

Call me crazy or maybe you agree, but candy is not the greatest part of Halloween! Any toddler, tween, or teenager would of course, beg to differ, and likely snarl at the outrageous comment. Lol! Don’t get me wrong, parents are not excluded from enjoying the chocolatey chewy goodies that land in our children’s trick or treat bags. However, as a parent of two toddlers, Halloween means more than just candy and spooky decorations. Before we talk about my favorite ways (I narrowed the list down for you) to use leftover candy, I want to share how Halloween becomes more meaningful as an adult or parent. These two thoughts come to mind.

  • The way it brings a family together.
  • The creativity it fosters.

I adore the Facebook and Instagram posts. You know the ones where the entire family is dressed like Superheroes, or Star Wars, or whatever theme it may be. It’s all too funny and sweet when you see the neighbor Dad dressed as Whinnie the Pooh or Mario Brothers instead of his everyday suit. Dressing up is not a requirement for parents, sometimes you need a year off, and I completely understand not wanting to spend the money or time on a costume. After all, Halloween is really about the kids. That being said, when my husband wore a Buzz Lightyear costume last year – wings and all, my children were beyond excited. It’s silly and special memories like these that bring a family together. Let’s talk creativity. If you head over to Pinterest you will find endless inspiration. This year I volunteered at my daughter’s Halloween Festival, and some of the costumes were out of this world! Many of the children spent days and weeks building and creating their costumes. This teaches kids hardwork and fosters creativity and ingenuity. What parent doesn’t love that!

Leading up to the big day, our family read spooky books, made Halloween crafts, visited pumpkin patches, and attended fall festivities. It’s a fun week, but after all the fun, and all the trick or treating, what’s left?? A MOUNTAIN of candy that my family certainly doesn’t need to finish! So, here are a few of my favorite ideas for unloading your Halloween candy.

  1. Donate – This is an obvious choice, but if you are looking for places to donate, here are some great options. Your local church. Operation Gratitude – Heads up, ship candy no later than November 15th! Homeless shelters. Nursing homes. Ronald McDonald House Charities.
  2. Vacu-Seal and freeze candies for later months. Not all candies are meant to be sealed and frozen, but many chocolate candies will keep for months when stored properly. Empty snack size bags and separate each candy into piles. After sorting the candies, vacuum seal each pile, and store in your freezer. Don’t forget to label and date the bag. Think of all the Valentine’s Day and Easter treats you could make! Or desserts for your child’s upcoming birthday party.
  3. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner from Halloween. Cookies, brownies, trail mix, and cakes are great desserts that could incorporate Halloween candy. Again, I would separate and store for easy use. These Outrageously Peanutty Snickers Brownies look amazing! I’ve personally made these Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies and trust me..they go fast!!
  4. Get Crafty! Every year San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel builds a life-size Gingerbread house that is two stories high and completely covered in candy. It’s spectacular! Use your leftover Halloween candy to make your own Christmas Gingerbread house. The kids will love this activity!

Hope this helps with the candy craze! Happy November all! Until next time..