It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of each day during this season of motherhood with young children. Without intentional planning, our days can fly by in a chaotic whirl of frustration and irritation. Try these 17 real life mom tips for making your days go smoother so that you can actually enjoy your children and be the mom you really want to be.
You know THOSE days
We’ve all had THOSE days. Yeah… You know the ones I’m talking about.
The ones where we’re awakened by our kids busting through the door of our bedroom before the sun’s up, proclaiming “I’m hungry! Can I watch a show? Why is it still dark? Can I have some chocolate chips? My pull up leaked in my bed. Can I have some pancakes?”
And before we even have a chance to rub the sleep from our eyes we find ourselves in the kitchen in a half asleep stupor trying to make the coffee, make the kids’ breakfast, turn on their show, clean the mattress, answer the kids’ daily five million and one questions before breakfast, and feed the baby all at the same time. It feels like the day gets ahead of us before it even starts and then it feels like you spend the rest of the day trying to play catch up. Those are always the days where the baby has a poo-tastrophy right in the middle of running errands and you’re having to change a diaper in the front seat of the car without getting poop all over yourself or your car, while also continuing to answer the running list of questions that is pouring from your other child’s mouth, and your potty training toddler has to use the potty in the middle of it all.
Tell me it’s not just me.
Through trial and error I have found some tips that help the day go smoother. Here are 17 real life mom tips to help your days go smoother.
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17 Real Life Mom Tips to Help Your Days Go Smoother
1. Wake Up Before the Kids.
I know this is so hard to do if you’re not a morning person, if your kids are super early risers, or if you’ve been up half the night with one (or more) of them! I now have the habit of getting up much earlier than my kids, but I have found that even if I can manage to pull myself out of bed 10 minutes before the kids get up, it still makes a difference.
It at least gives me a few minutes to get acclimated to being awake before I have to speak. My kids have been habitually early risers so this took some practice. My oldest is old enough to read a digital clock so I put a colorful clock in their room and we made a rule that when the clock reads 7:20 AM they can get up. If your kids are too young to tell time, you can try using an okay-to-wake clock. Although I’ve never personally tried one, this one has great reviews.
2. Prep the coffee pot and/or breakfast the night before.
Depending on how busy your mornings are, 5 minutes of prep the night before can save SO MUCH stress. I’ve also found that it’s helpful for me to eat something before the kids get up because once they get up, it’s hard to find time to sit long enough to eat.
3. Put a lot of thought into finding your family’s ideal rhythm.
Everyone needs margin. You might be more of a homebody who finds that if you spend more than two mornings each week out of the house, you feel like you’ve been too busy. Or you might be a get-up-and-go type who goes stir crazy if you sit in one place too long. Either is fine, but if you’re a homebody who is also a people pleaser and overcommits, you’re going to constantly be rushed and stressed. If you are an extrovert who loves to be around people, but you don’t plan enough play dates or time out in a week, you’re going to feel lonely and isolated. Find what works for your family and plan mindfully, which leads me to my next point…
4. Have a planning time on Sunday night or Monday morning.
I have found this planning piece to be so so important. Look at your calendar for the week. Plan the big things and include margin. Margin allows room for us to adapt to changes in our week without losing our minds. Margin is what gives us the time to feed the baby, deal with potty accidents, answer our kids’ questions, and respond to the natural daily stressors without getting frazzled. If you can see that your week is too full and there’s not enough margin, see what you might be able to cut out.
You can download your FREE Unhurried Daily Planner below!
5. Don’t cram too much into a day and don’t overcommit yourself.
I have found that with each additional kid I have, I have to plan less into a day. Gone are the days where I could bounce from one thing to the next without taking breaks. I know that when my kids are older, it will be different, but for now we have to slow down and simplify.
I can plan a whole day of fun for the kids – the library, the park, play dates, etc. – but if I don’t plan time for naps, snacks, and rest everyone ends up cranky by the end of the day! Consciously decide to slow down.
Adults tend to rush everywhere – we value efficiency (and let’s be real… we’re usually running late to things).
Kids don’t rush. Their natural pace is slow. Their priority isn’t efficiency, it’s enjoyment and exploration. When you plan enough margin into your days and weeks, you have time to let them be slow without always having to rush. You create time to converse with your kids instead of just managing them. If you’re finding that you are in a season of overwhelming commitments, visit this post: Hope for the Hurried Mom – Tips for Surviving Until You Can Slow Down.
6. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to good things if saying “yes” to them takes away your margin and peace.
Most of the time when you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to something else by default. Take a moment to consider the “no” and be sure that you are okay with saying “no” to that thing in favor of the “yes.”
7. Take time to take care of yourself.
Take time to eat. A hangry momma is no fun for anyone. Prep or purchase one handed snacks and easy meals so that you can keep yourself fed even when your days are busy! Take time to drink enough water. Did you know that dehydration can actually result in increased aggression? Water is important!
8. Keep the kids fed, watered, and rested.
I guess this could be lumped in with the previous point, but I think it actually deserves its own attention. Most of us probably don’t forget to feed our kids, and for the most part kids are pretty good about demanding food when they need it if you do forget, but sometimes kids aren’t as in tune to their bodies to know what they need. It’s no secret that a high sugar diet will result in sugar highs and sugar crashes. No judgement here if your kids’ diet is high in sugar – let’s be real, we’ve all had those times where the only goal is to survive – but if their regular, daily habits include consuming high amounts of sugar and you are dealing with meltdowns on a regular basis, you may want to try slowly cutting back on some of that sugar and seeing how it makes a difference.
Kids need water, a high protein snack, a burst of physical activity, and rest on a rotating schedule throughout the day.
If your kids have been running at the park in the heat of the day for the last two hours and haven’t taken a break to drink some water or eat a snack, you can be pretty certain that a meltdown is around the corner because they are going to be dysregulated. Keep an eye out for your kids’ natural rhythms and encourage them to take breaks to meet their own needs beforethey have a meltdown. As your kids get older, you can begin to teach them how to begin to recognize and meet their own needs.
9. Identify triggers.
Work to become self aware about the kinds of situations that stress you out. When possible, look ahead in your day to identify potentially triggering moments and act preemptively to avoid or minimize those triggers. Begin to notice your child’s triggers and work to avoid or minimize them. At times that they are unavoidable, at least you will be prepared and will be ready to deal with your child’s dysregulated behavior.
10. Allow time for transitions.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how long it takes to get somewhere with kids. Allow time to transition well. It takes a long time to get kids buckled into car seats and load strollers into cars. It takes time to walk through parking lots with multiple kids and to allow time for potty breaks and snack breaks. Then there’s just the general slow pace children move at. If you allow more time than what you think you will need, you won’t feel so rushed and will be able to be more patient and present with your children.
Tip: It can be really helpful to provide your kids with a calendar and visual schedule cards so that they know what to expect throughout the day. Giving them an idea of what’s coming next in the day increases the predictability in their little worlds and can make a BIG difference in managing their behavior!
Grab a free copy of this printable calendar & visual schedule cards below!
11. Know your limits and your kids’ limits.
I have learned that I cannot handle three busy days in a row. If I schedule more than two busy days in a row, you can be sure that my house will be a wreck at the end of it and so will I.
12. Prioritize presence and eye contact.
For those who are goal oriented, it can be hard to sit and be present especially when things around the house are not done. Consciously make the goal of being present with your children high on your priority list for the day. If you struggle with being emotionally present and engaged with your children in light of your to do list, see this post called “Peaceful and Present” for some encouragement and inspiration.
13. Be prepared.
Pack an emergency bag for your car that includes things like towels, snacks, swimsuits, change of clothes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a few books or compact toys. It’s so much less stressful to handle the half gallon of juice that your toddler spills down the front of herself when you have a towel and a change of clothes in the trunk.
14. Monitor yourself and your kids’ emotional states throughout the day and adjust as needed.
Practice, model, and teach your children about emotional regulation. Here is a helpful post about Teaching Children to Regulate Their Own Emotions. If you need help regulating your OWN emotions (’cause let’s be real – we’ve all been there), see this post about taming the Mommy Monster.
15. Watch what you are consuming.
You will become what you surround yourself and fill yourself with. If you are consuming high volumes of sugar, you are guaranteed to have blood sugar crashes. If you are filling your emotional and mental “white space” with social media and television, how you think, act, and feel will reflect that.
16. Reframe your need for self care.
Rather than feeling guilty for needing a break, reframe your response. Remind yourself that you are modeling healthy boundaries for your children by giving yourself a time out when needed.
If you think self care just refers to days at the spa and solo shopping trips, check out this post to find out what it really means and why it’s important. You may also find this post about signs that you need some self-care and this one with simple self care ideas you can do today.
17. Put important things first in the day.
Look at your tasks for the day and put the most important ones first. I find that I almost always have unrealistically high expectations of the amount of things I can get done in a day. If I’ve put the important ones first, then at least I know that the things left undone at the end of the day were not my priorities for that day.
I hope you’ve found these real life mom tips for making your days go smoother helpful! What are some of your favorite real life mom tips for making your days go smoother?
Make sure you don’t forget to snag your FREE Unhurried Daily Planner Download!