Mom Hacks for Building Routines- that actually work!
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You know how some days go seamlessly (although probably not as often as you’d like if you’re a mom, ha) and some just become a complete disaster before it’s even 9 am?
Mom life is definitely not for the faint of heart. It requires a level of patience and flexibility that you didn’t know you possessed until you had kids.
Yet, on the flip side, being a mom is amazing, right? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Mom hacks that make life easier
Today, I wanted to share some tips with you from my own experiences, and other mom’s experiences, that helped them navigate each day a little easier. And every bit counts! I have been scrounging the internet and asking every mom I know to compile all of the best mom hacks out there!
It turns out there are a TON of awesome tips out there. So this week is all about establishing routines for the mornings and night time. PLUS, some great kid activity hacks that I always find help with routine too.
When it comes to routine, having a good one, or even semblance of one, can literally help you keep your mom-sanity 🙂 They can be so simple yet oh-so life changing when you use them. Read through and pick the ones that work best for you! The best part? You can apply most of these no matter what age your children are.
Starting off on the right foot when we wake up each day can really make or break the rest of the day, right?
Set yourself up for success by getting started with positive vibes as often as possible, even if it doesn’t all go as planned 😉 Because let’s face it, that’s life.
Establish a routine
This is might seem like a duh, but it has worked miracles for my family and isn’t as common for families as I thought it was. Since my daughter was about 3 months old, we have pretty much had the same routine each morning. (We got our inspiration from this amazing book- The Miracle Morning for Families.)
We wake up each morning to some quiet time for feeding, journaling, reading, meditation and any other silent activities that we enjoy. Then it’s time to get moving for a workout. My daughter loves joining in and thinks it’s what normal people do at 8 am every morning 🙂
Waking up stressed and in turbo mode right away in the morning can make the whole day feel like an overwhelming whirlwind. Add in some simple ways that work for you family to take a moment and pause together. It can be a game changer for sure!
Related article: 12 Tips to Wake Up Earlier without Feeling Tired
I haven’t personally tried this because my daughter is too young but I see mamas raving about these all the time!
When moms ask for help on how to get their kids to stay in bed longer, a light alarm is usually the answer.
Set these babies up to the time you want your children to rise and it will turn green when it’s time for them to wake up. It’s a simple way for them to start understanding time and setting morning boundaries.
Sounds pretty awesome to me!
Picking out clothes the night before
Mornings are just easier when you plan ahead. So prepping clothes and food (see more about food prep in next month’s meal mom hacks) can make for a lot smoother morning.
Get your kids excited for picking out their own clothes each night to give them a great sense of independence.
My daughter isn’t quite old enough for this yet but I always give her a choice in the morning to help with her toddler resistance 😉
Talking about your plan for the day the night before (or in the morning)
There is definitely a theme to this morning section, making a plan and having a routine!
While it’s good to be flexible, having a plan so that everyone is on the same page with can help everyone feel in sync. Because living by the seat of our pants every moment can get a little rough after a while.
Many of my friends write out a general, very flexible schedule that they keep posted on their fridge so that their kids know what to expect. This is more important than ever right now when a lot of our routines have been displaced!
It also helps from getting stuck in a routine “rut” and wondering what to do next.
Allowing enough time for kids to go at, well, kid speed
I can’t believe how frustrated I get sometimes with my toddler’s turtle speed approach to mornings (and most of the day). But all kids are programmed to live “in the moment” and don’t understand why you so urgently want to jump in the car or move on to the next activity.
What’s the rush mom? 🙂 Is the look I usually get. So I have to take a deep breath and remember that it’s okay if we take our day at kid speed. If you truly have a deadline then push them along, of course.
If not, simply allow time enough for your kids to explore and do things at their own speed, even if it’s a speed you struggle with!
Give them a “choice” in the morning so they feel empowered
This one was huge for me with getting my daughter dress and fed. No one likes being told what to do, whether 1 or 99 years old, right?
Give your child a choice and suddenly they might feel a little more in control of their day. By giving my daughter two (or more!) dress choices or breakfast choices, all of a sudden she is excited to get the day started! It’s a win-win.
Related article: 61 Easy Self-Care Tips for Moms that Don’t Have a lot of Time
Bedtime routine and sleep
Who doesn’t want better sleep and fewer headaches when bed time rolls around? (Can I hear an Amen from all the sleep-deprived mamas in the back? ha)
There are so many great tips out there, here are just a few that I have used personally and have had recommended to me.
Establish a routine
Okay, you knew this was going to be the first recommendation right? 🙂 Just like kids thrive with morning routines, night time is no different. Instilling good habits into your children at a young age is so important for setting them up for success.
Research show that everyone gets better sleep when they are on a consistent schedule. That means the same bed time and night time ritual as often as possible.
When the entire family gets good sleep, it makes for better days, improved health, and less overall stress. It’s a win-win!
White noise apps
Maybe it’s my fault that my daughter is a relatively light sleeper because we have no dogs or other children around to get loud when its nap or bed time 🙂 But that fact is, she’s a light sleeper like me.
The first time we went on a wine country trip with friends last year, I was mortified at how much the adult conversations echoed from downstairs late into the evening. So I frantically searched for a way to drown out the noise and found an amazing baby sleep app with all kinds of white noise options.
The best part is, this app is totally free! If you don’t want the app tied to your phone, there are also less versatile white noise options out there that many new mamas swear by. So find what works for you and get some sleep!
We now use it almost every night in the summer when our windows are open and all the neighborly sounds are blaring through. And honestly, I sleep better too 🙂 A life saver for our sleep!
Toddler sleep nests
Most of us have heard of sleep nests that help snuggle in your little baby. But, did you know they make these things for toddlers too? For all ages, they’re pretty amazing.
We first got one for a “travel” bed for my daughter, and it turns out she LOVES it. Just recently, she outgrew her crib and instead of investing in a toddler bed she is happy to sleep on the floor with her nest. And then I don’t have to worry about her rolling off her bed in the middle of the night.
Other mamas have told me that their kids love to nap in their dog’s beds. And a toddler bed is literally a comfy little doggy bed for your little one. There are a ton of affordable options both on Amazon or choose a cute handmade one on Etsy (like we did).
Minimize screen time and sugary snacks close to bed time
Evenings can be tough. Everyone tends to be at their wits end and it can be easy to give into screen time and sugar snacks right before bed. Yet, the blue light from screens and a dose of sugar can really mess with your little one’s (and yours!) natural sleep schedule.
Instead, opt for quiet activities to wind down like coloring or reading. And if you must do screen time, try to nix it at least 30 minutes prior to lights out!
Food companies are great at sneaking additives into our kid’s snacks that leave you wondering who just “put a quarter in them.” Opt for whole grains, fruits, veggies, or protein/fat rich snacks like nuts or cheese right before bed if they’re hungry to help sustain them through the night.
Related article: 31 Self-Care Tips that Will Make You a Better Mama
A calming mantra for when they’re feeling fidgety or fussy
This has been a favorite nighttime tradition for my daughter that has evolved with time. On nights when she is restless (and it seems like she has lost her mind) a little consistent mantra has done wonders for her to calm down and slip into rest mode. Here are some of the ones we like:
- Deep breathing
- Singing or humming her favorite nursery song “You are my sunshine”
- Telling her that she is loved on repeat with deep breathing
- Running through all of her friends and family with words like: “Grandma is sleeping…” or “Grandpa loves you…”- this is her current favorite and she often joins in on naming some of her favorite people
Half the time when we’re done I’m sleeping too 🙂
Giving them the play by play
I got this tip from a friend that has her toddler’s sleeping schedule down. I was amazed when we came to visit and my friend simply told her daughter it was time for bed and left the room (my daughter would be howling).
She told me that she has been giving her daughter a “play by play” for months so that she knows exactly what to expect. Thus, she doesn’t panic at all after they finish their 3 designated books because she tells her how many books are left until sleep time.
How cool is that? I have yet to try it, but it seems like a solid option to me.
Related article: 18 Baby Hacks that Make Mom Life so Much Easier
Baby or kid activities
I often find myself wondering how I can keep my daughter entertained and engaged in the world. Of course, all mamas want their kids happy and excited to learn about the world around them. Try some of these simple activity hacks!
The best part for me is that when my daughter plays hard, she sleeps SO much better, which makes my night time and morning routine that much easier 😉
Just let them explore
With pinterest showing all the fun activities we can do with our kids it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. As a new mom, I often felt “mom guilt” over whether I was providing my child with enough entertainment. Yet, this can be a dangerous rabbit hole to go down.
Because the truth is that pretty much everything is new to a baby or young child and they love to literally explore whatever is around them.
Encouraging independent or “free” play is really just as important, if not more important, than structured play. And it doesn’t require anything but you’r child’s beautiful wild imagination 😉 (I got my inspiration from the book Simplicity Parenting.)
So, takes a few deep breaths and a remember that it’s all good if every tupperware container in the kitchen gets thrown on the floor or your child is covered in mud from head to toe.
Related article: 11 Mom Motivation Tips for When You Need Them
Set a timer for transitions
Moving from one activity to the next can be tough for kids, especially when they’re enjoying the current activity.
This is why telling your kids how many minutes they have left and a setting a timer can be magical. It takes the pressure of you as the “bad guy” and gives them an understanding of time and boundaries.
When kids know what to expect it always helps with the transition!
Omg, these are a life-saver. If you’ve never heard of a busy book (also known as a quiet book), check out these.
We were gifted one when my daughter was a year old and she absolutely loves it. We save it for special occasions when we need a BIG distraction like plane rides, car rides, or an unplanned zoom meeting that I can’t miss for work.
There are so many different versions of these that cater to different ages. They are a bit more spendy on Etsy but are also beautiful and can be custom made. For me, when we need a more advanced busy book I will most definitely be investing in one for our daughter. If you’re crafty, it would also be fun to make one for yourself!
It’s such a great way to keep your baby or toddler entertained without feeling like you have to glue them to a screen!
Crayola color wonder or Water Wow
For anyone that gets anxiety every time the crayons or markers get pulled out, you need to invest in some mess free options.
Two easy go-to’s are color wonder paper– which you can buy in a variety of themes with matching markers- or Water Wow products that literally just require water to get started.
Color wonder still gives kids the flexibility to color “outside the lines”; while water wow products are more structured. Choose what works best for your child and breath easy while they get in some coloring.
Related article: 64 of the Best Frugal Tips for Families
Use an empty kid pool as a play area or sand box
Pools can have many purposes and are fun all summer long no matter what your imagination comes up with.
I’ve seen some great ideas for pools- like turning it into a play area with boundaries for your baby or toddler.
Personally, we bought a small plastic pool at Ace Hardware this summer that we threw some sand in for a small sandbox.
You know those times when everyone is just driving you nuts? You can probably all benefit from a little fresh air 🙂
Fresh air, sunshine, and some time spent literally “grounding” yourself in the grass or sand can have some major psychology and physical health benefits. We are not meant to be couped up inside all day long- even though it’s easy to do so.
My daughter always seems to mellow out when we make an effort to get her outside every single day. When we miss a day you can totally tell because she gets restless at night.
Not sure what to do outside, especially in these weird social distancing times? Try a scavenger hunt, a walk, drawing with chalk or finding some sprinklers to run through.
To amp up the outside factor, why not have a camping adventure in the backyard? S’mores optional 🙂
OR go on a real camping adventure if you’re feeling up for it- a family favorite in our household.
What a fun family night and a great way to stay cool after some particularly hot days (depending on where you live).
This one has two-fold benefits. It gets your kids outside and busy while growing food that is healthy for their bellies.
Did you know kids are significantly more inclined to “eat their veggies” when they get to participate first hand in tending and picking them. My daughter is almost always excited to try the foods she gets to pick out of the garden.
It can be as simple as a mini window garden or you can go all out in the backyard with a big garden– whatever works for you 🙂
Small group play
While toddler time or baby time might be out right now, if you’re comfortable grab a few of your trusted friends and create a play “bubble.”
I saw this idea of a “COVID bubble” recently and thought it was a great solution for kids that are dying for some social interactions (my daughter literally begs to see “friends” everyday).
Of course, this depends on where you are, your family’s health, and other factors related to your comfort.
Summertime means pool time at our house to fight those hot days. Here are my favorite hacks for the pool:
Reusable swim diapers. Even if you want nothing to do with cloth diapers (to each their own ha), these are a must. They are easier than swim diapers and are much more cost efficient too. We always got away with one with my daughter and just rinsed it in between. But you might switch between a few if you are always in the water, especially in the summer months.
Add a mini-slide. Placing a small slide on the edge of our kiddie pool has made for more hours of fun than I would have thought possible. Of course- keep a close eye on your little as they’re sliding in the pool. So much fun!
Related article: 6 Toddler Activities to Keep Them Busy and Learning
Routines make life easier
There you have it, some ways to add both fun and structure to your day.
The truth is, when you feel organized and less stressed, it’s easier to stay patient with your children as the days goes on.
Which of these mom hacks do you think could work for your family? Or what mom hacks did I forget to mention for routines and activity?
I learned from asking mamas and doing some research that there are a TON of mom hacks out there. So, keep your eyes peeled for future mom hacks articles on other topics to continue to make your life just a little bit easier 😉 These topics will include:
- Common trouble points (the car, bathroom, and laundry)
- Meal time- so important it gets its own article!
- Working from home (relevant to almost everyone these days)
- Getting organized
If you want to see any other mom hack tips in the months to follow, I’d love to hear or share your ideas!