10 Tips for Creating and Keeping A Morning Routine

back to school

The Hubs and I realized, through trial and error, that with four little ones it’s imperative that we create and stick to a morning routine.  It’s a necessary part of raising responsible children and keeping a calm household.  I thought I’d share with you what we do when it comes to the weekday morning rush.

First, it’s important to note that we do as much preparation as possible before the week starts.  You’ll notice several of these tips can be done on the weekend and a couple can be done the night before.

1.  Clothes.  I don’t know about you, but I praise God for uniforms.  Jayde isn’t in uniforms yet but it’s super helpful to know that Jaxon and Julia only have a couple of options when it comes to getting dressed for school.  On Sunday I pull outfits for each day of the week, make sure anything that needs ironing is ironed {thanks Hubs} and also make sure socks and undies are pulled.

2.  Groceries.  Weekends are usually the time we try and get our grocery shopping out of the way.  We make sure that we buy all of the lunch items we’ll need for at least the following week.  It makes things less hectic when you know you don’t have to make an extra trip to the store during the week, which in my house is inevitable.  I’m not yet on a weekly dinner meal plan schedule but that next on the list to talk to hubs about.  I’m sure he’ll love that. {insert sarcastic font}  We also only use paper ware during the week.  It seems to make meal clean up so much easier.

3.  Headstart.  Last year we headed out the door based on the time we knew we had to be at school, 8:30 a.m. which meant we were leaving around 8 a.m. and arriving to school just in the nick of time.  This year we got smart and reset mindset.  We did away with the 8:30 school deadline and created our own deadline of 7:40 a.m.  So now, we find that we’re not necessarily racing against the school clock anymore, which feels much better and less stressful.

4.  Homework.  Homework is one of the first things we do after arriving home from school.  To decrease the chance of a morning scramble to find homework, the kids know that homework is not complete until it’s made it’s way inside the folder, the folder has made it’s way inside the backpack and the backpack has made its way to the door.

5.  Backpacks.  When homework begins I check the kids folders for letters and information from the school.  I immediately read everything and if there are important dates for us to remember I put them on our master calendar.  Other items are tacked to our command center board so that they won’t get missed.

6.  Meals.  We have found it helpful to allow the kids to pick what they want in their breakfast and lunches.  Slow down now, we don’t let them get carried away with it.  They get to choose one item for breakfast the following morning and one item to add to their lunch.  We pick the rest to make sure they have a well balanced meal.

7.  Hair.  Every night, I make sure to freshly comb and style the girls hair.  Even if it’s just restyling it into the same style, I take time to do it so and put a scarf on it so that in the morning all I have to do is whip off the scarf, add some hair dress and barrettes and we’re good to go.  Since I realized how much sense it made to do hair at night, I’ve saved myself a ton of  morning frustration.

8.  Baths.  We used to do baths right before bedtime, but since the school year started we made a change.  When the kids get home, I have snack prepared and on the table for them.  They come in, wash their hands and take off their shoes and then sit at the table.  While they’re eating their snack we talk about the day’s peaks and pits.  After snack is homework and immediately after homework it’s up to bathtime.  Getting into this habit has been a little challenging because I find myself constantly repeating the plan of action while they’re having snack and during homework and letting them know that after baths they can have free time to do whatever they want, short of burning down the house.  So far so good with this part of the routine though because the bath tends to calm them down.

9.  Bedtime.  Last year, bedtime was 9 p.m., but the problem with that was we didn’t begin going upstairs until that time, which meant the kids didn’t actually fall asleep until closer to 10:30.  This year 9 p.m. bedtime means they are asleep at 9 p.m., which means we are upstairs brushing teeth, washing faces and reading books at 8:15 p.m.  I’ve seen a huge difference in their behavior in the morning.  They’re more energized and have a better attitude.  It’s also good for Hubs because we get more quality time with each other.

10.  Attitude.  Having a good attitude is very important to me.  It’s the determining factor on a good day versus a bad day.  With kids, it’s rare when things actually go exactly as planned, so it’s important to cut yourself and your family some slack when there’s a fumble.  Going about my morning this way helps me to be less effected if someone spills milk, has a meltdown, or is being uncooperative.

When it comes to parenting, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  What works in the Young home may not work for you, but when it comes to kids, I’m of the belief that you do what you have to do by any means necessary, even if that means creating a routine that feels uncomfortable at first.  If you tweak and tweak some more you’re bound to come up with a routine that works for your beautiful family as well.

Do you already have a routine? What do you do?

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22 BEST Labor Day Sales

labor day sales

In case you didn’t know, Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers in this country.  Just thought it was necessary to highlight that since, you know, it’s Labor Day and all.

In other news, here’s a list of Labor Day sales that might interest you!  Some of them have already started so get on ‘em!

Amazon Fashion: Up to 70% off women’s clothes, shoes, jewelry, and watches. Ends Sept. 1.

American Apparel: Extra 30% off sale items with code BIGDEAL. Ends Sept. 1.

Anthropologie: Extra 20% off sale items.

ASOS: Up to 75% off dresses.

Gilt: Up to 80% off select items

H&M: Labor day deals starting at $4.95. Ends Sept. 1.

Intermix: Extra 40% off sale (savings applied at checkout).

J.Crew: Extra 40% off sale styles with code WEEKEND. Ends August 31.

JewelMint: 50% off site wide including extra 50% off sale items. Ends Sept. 1.

Juicy Couture Black Label: Take $15 off purchases of $100 or more, $40 off $200 or more, and $75 off $300 with code JCLABORDAY. Ends Sept. 2

Madewell: Take 20% off select dresses and boots plus extra 30% off sale with code YESYES. Ends Sept. 2.

Nasty Gal: Labor day sale items starting at 30% off.

Nordstrom: Up to 40% off clearance items. Ends Sept. 7.

Of A Kind: 35% off select fine jewelry with code AFINEFRENZY. Ends Sept. 2.

Old Navy: 50% off site wide. Starts August 29 and ends Sept. 1.

The Outnet: Up to 50% off M Missoni merchandise.

Revolve: Up to 70% off select items.

Sephora: Up to 75% off sale items.

Shoemint: 50% off site wide and extra 50% off sale items. Ends Sept. 1.

Shopbop: Up to 70% off select items

Stylemint: 50% off site wide and extra 50% off sale items. Ends Sept. 1.

Topshop: 30% off select items. Ends Sept. 2.

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How to Work Your Curves

Newsflash!  The average American woman is a size 12-14, and sadly the average woman has minor body image issues.  Even women who are considered petite have days when a pair of super skinny jeans are not in the plans.  I’m here to tell you, that you don’t need to hide behind ill-fitting, boring clothing.  Sure, black is a sliming color to wear, but that doesn’t mean you have to look like you’re going to funeral every day.  Here are 5 ways to use your wardrobe to celebrate your curves.

First, patterns are still very much in style.  The key to making this look work is to find a dress with an allover dark pattern.  The darker the pattern the better.  Patterns keep the eye moving and take attention away from shape concerns.

Next, the easiest way to define your waist is to fake it.  Add a cropped jacket over a dress and voila, you’ve got a waist.  The jacket will hit at your natural waistline creating the illusion of a curve right where you want it instead of where you don’t.

In this warm climate, there’s nothing wrong with showing a little skin as long as  you do it tastefully.  As I tell my daughters, make sure you’re always appropriate.  I’m a huge fan of wearing layers, but did you know that when you wear too many layers you can end up looking larger than you actually are?  It’s true.  A great way to show more skin without showing more skin is to wear sheer fabrics.  Blouses with sheer sleeves as well as dresses and skirts with sheer hemlines will always allow you to suggest more skin without revealing too much.  And they’re much cooler during the hot summer months.

You’d be surprised to know that working your curves doesn’t only apply to what you wear, but also how you accessorize.  A bold sparkling necklace or dazzling drop earrings will draw attention where you want it.  The more spectacular the better.

Color is your friend.  I’m not sure who started the rumor that curvy women should not wear color, but that’s a complete and total fib.  Color looks amazing on curvy women especially in monochromatic tones deep blues and emerald greens, even a sapphire red.  This fall, think about pairing your solid monochrome dress with a dark colored pair of tights.  This combination will make your legs look amazingly slim and trim.

Here are a list of some of my favorite curvy bloggers to see how it’s done:

curvy bloggers

http://www.curvesandconfidence.com/

http://girlwithcurves.com/

http://www.diaryofachicmommy.com/

http://thecurvyfashionista.com/

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Bless me with Patience – Wednesday Prayer

prayer for patience

God deals with all of us in certain areas.  For me, it’s patience.  I try so hard to be patient and exercise grace when I’m being pulled in many directions, but boy is it hard.  I like this little prayer for patience and I try to remember it when those moments come.

In what area does God deal with you?

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Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump {PRODUCT REVIEW}

lansinoh signature pro double electric breast pump

Research shows that breast milk is the best nourishment for your newborn.  Who can argue with that?  Afterall, there’s nothing more organic than mother’s milk.  Regardless of your choice, what’s important is that your child is getting the appropriate amount of nourishment and is growing, period!  The decision to nurse or formula feed is a very personal decision should be made solely by the parents.  So, here I’m just sharing a little about my decisions with my 4 and a very helpful pump.

MY DECISION

With each of my 4 children, I started out nursing.  Although, when I returned to work from maternity leave I made the transition to formula feed.  I purchased a GRACO brand breast pump with the intention of pumping while at work, but the pump was so painful that I had to stop using it.  With baby #4, Jonny, I’m nursing primarily but also supplementing with Similac Sensitive Formula.  Because I’m no longer “on the leash” I have more flexibility to be able to continue nursing longer and to tell you the truth I’m very excited.  I don’t know how long I’ll nurse but as long as he’s getting the appropriate nourishment and is happy then I’ll keep it up.

NURSING HIGHS

There are so many great reasons to pump. For me, the greatest reason is the natural bonding experience. The other great thing about nursing, is it helps the baby weight fall off faster.  But, more importantly I’m beginning to realize that as parents we have such a short time to make meaningful connections with our children. My children are at a period in life when they want mom and dad around all the time. They want to play make-believe with us, read with us, sing and dance with us, tell us their fears and secrets and crawl into bed with us. In just a few short years, a lot of these things will be distant fond memories. The children will be finding themselves without mommy and daddy. We’ll be wishing we had those precious moments back and hadn’t shoo’ed the kids away to finish other meaningless tasks. For me, I want nursing to be the beginning of a life-long commitment to make a meaningful connection with my Jonny.

NURSING LOWS

I’d be lying if I said that nursing is a breeze. For me, it wasn’t. I gave a subtle reference in this post last week when I shared with you what to pack in your hospital bag and decided I’d share a little more. The downside of nursing is that it’s usually pretty painful at first.  Baby’s usually have a natural rooting reflex, which is to move their mouths to suck.  They also turn their heads to find your breast, instinctively.  While this comes natural, knowing how to latch on to my breast didn’t come as easily.  Early on, there were several times when I just had to ignore the pain so that my baby could eat.  It even got to the point when I dreaded the thought of nursing because the pain was so extreme.  It would eventually get better but it was a rough start.  The other low, which I can’t necessarily attribute to nursing, is engorgement.  When the breast become full with milk, the milk needs to be expressed or it will cause engorgement.  This is where a good breast pump comes in to play.

PRODUCTS

A few months into my pregnancy, I was surprised to receive a Klout notification that there was a Lansinoh perk waiting for me.  I checked it out and not paying super close attention, I accepted it.  A week or so later a Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump arrived at my front door.  I was super surprised and thought it was really cool for them to send it to me but to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to the “pumping process” again, but I’d give it a shot.  Fast forward to July 25, baby is here and I can begin using the pump.  My experience with this pump was nothing like my last experience.  What I love most about this pump is that it comes with a supper comfortable bra-like garment that allows you to multi-task while pumping.  Sure, it looks kind of silly, but I don’t care who you are, there’s no way to make pumping look glamorous.  You should have seen Jon’s face the first time I walked into the room wearing it, of course with a completely clueless look on my face.  He laughed.  My old pump was not hands-free so I was chained to my rocking chair with nothing to do but stare at the wall and pump, like some creepy old lady from a horror movie.  It was great to be able to control the suction level so that it wasn’t too strong.  Not to mention, it was also pretty quiet compared to the last pump which sounded something like a baby lawnmower.

Disclosure: I received this product free via Klout and chose to mention it on my blog.   Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:

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15 Things to Post {when you’re out of ideas}

15 things to post

 

Let’s face it.  It happens to all of us at some point in our blogging journey.  We get bloggers brain, when we can’t think of a single thing to blog about.  While some might suggest that it means you just sit it out and don’t blog, while the die-hard bloggers say you think of something and get to blogging.  For those die-hards, here’s a list of things to blog about that you might not have thought of before.

1.  Love story.  Tell readers about how you and your spouse first met.  Where did you go?  Were you immediately smitten by him or did he have to grow on to you?  How did you know he was the one?  Of course pictures of you back then are fun to share as well.

2.  Instagram.  I’m very visual as are most bloggers.  Share a few of your favorite pictures from Instagram and tell your readers the context of the picture.  Readers love to hear the back story to pictures.

3.  Personal favorites.  A round up of your favorites (bloggers, favorite places to eat, online stores, apps, etc.)

4.  Reader comment.  Dedicate an entire post to responding to a comment left by a reader.  You may want to keep the reader anonymous, but if you choose to share who the reader is for the sake of giving her a shot out, be sure and get permission.

5. Nightstand.  Your nightstand is usually covered with items you use or need before bed or when you wake up.  Take a picture of your nightstand and describe the items there.

6. A day in the life.  Your life.  Believe it or not, you’d be surprised to know just how many readers are interested in knowing the basics of what you do on a daily basis. Tell readers what a typical day looks like.  Include products you use, food you eat, etc.

7.  Recipe.  Share a recipe that you’ve successfully made, are planning to make, or only dream of making.  Tell readers why you like this recipe.  If you’re going to cook the recipe, be sure to take pictures along the way.

8.  Workspace.  You’ve seen it before and chances are you love it.  Maybe it’s just me but I love to see how people organize their desks to optimize space and cuteness.  Tell what inspired you and what were absolute must haves with your workspace.  Include pictures.  If you incorporated any DIYs into this workspace, you can write another post on how you created the DIY.

9.  Goals. What are you goals for the rest of the year.  How close are you to getting there?  What are the biggest obstacles, and opportunities to reaching your goal?

10. Burnout.  How do you cope with blogger burnout or lack of inspiration.  Tell readers if there are other bloggers, networks or groups you go to for inspiration.

11.  Solicit feedback.  Tell your readers how much you value them and ask them to give you feedback on how to make your blog better.  Follow through with incorporating some of those suggestions as well as responding to comments.

12.  Why did you start blogging?  Tell readers what your blogging journey has been and why blogging is important to you.

13.  Superstars.  Be it Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter or Bloglovin we all have our favorite accounts to follow.  Tell readers who you’re following and why you love them so much.

14.  Road trip.  Okay, maybe you don’t do roadtrips, but what was the most memorable trip you’ve gone on.  Tell your readers about why this trip was so memorable and of course all the funny or enlightening moments that happened along the way.

15.  Casual conversation. Whether you know it or not, there are tons of blog topics found in the casual conversations we have on a daily basis.  Tell your readers about an interesting conversation you recently had.  It may be a challenge to find pictures that match the subject matter, but give it a shot.

Hope this is helpfu!

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The Power of A Praying Mom – Wednesday Prayer

prayer god

Today is back to school day in the Young home.  I was really excited to celebrate it in a fun way {which I’ll share with you here in the coming days}. While I was able to pray with my littles and help get them dressed and have breakfast, I didn’t ride with them to school and walk them to class.  I’m still home with baby Jonny, but Daddy and grandpa {better known as Big Daddy} went with them.  I put Daddy up to the task of taking pictures of them and making sure they are settled and feel positive about the first day of school although we’ve been coaching them for the past 2 weeks.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that we had a little of our First Day of School breakfast party.  Just wanted to make things memorable and special for them.  Of course, as soon as the garage went down, I cried like a infant.  My babies are growing up!

How are you dealing with first day of school meltdown?

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