Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Simple Habits to Manage Your Mornings

Simple Habits to Manage Your Mornings

Getting out the door in the morning can be a three-ring circus, with breakfast battles, lost homework, and fits of fashion fighting for center stage. Developing good habits and adopting a strong morning routine can help everyone get out the door on time and happy. Here are 10 habits you can incorporate into your routine to make mornings more manageable. 

  • Check your calendar every night, so school events, appointments, and important meetings don’t sneak up on you. Also, check the weather report, so you know in advance if you’ll need cold weather gear, umbrellas, or extra sunscreen. 
  • Prepare lunches the night before, and pack any snacks children need for school or after-school activities. You can cut down preparation time by packing lunches while you make dinner, cutting extra veggies to bag up while making a salad or slicing meat and cheese while your pasta simmers. 
Developing good habits and adopting a strong morning routine can help everyone get out the door on time and happy. Click To Tweet
  • Choose clothing the night before (for both you and your children). Make sure to include underclothes, shoes, and accessories. If your child is a fashionista who likes to change outfits several times before deciding, asking her to choose the night before can save valuable a.m. time. Hang the outfit on the closet doorknob or on a special hook so your child knows exactly what she is supposed to wear. It can also be helpful to store clothing you don’t want your children wearing to school in a different spot than their school clothes. 
  • Set up a “launch pad” area for bags, backpacks, keys, and other important items you’ll need for the day. Pack briefcases, backpacks, musical instruments, and diaper bags the night before to ensure you have everything you need. Set aside time to check your child’s homework and ensure his backpack is packed before he goes to bed, so permission slips, lunch money, gym clothes, bus passes, and school papers and projects don’t get forgotten in the morning fray. Go through any reminder slips he brings home and add any new or changed activities to your calendar right away. 
  • Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep. A child (and a parent) who is well rested will have a much easier morning that one who repeatedly hits the snooze button. Children under the age of 10 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, and adults should be clocking at least seven hours. Also, waking kids gently, with kind words, hugs and kisses helps ease children into the day more positively than barking “get up!” while tossing clothes at them. I’m not a morning person, and neither is my oldest son, Wyatt. Going into his room and cuddling with him for a few minutes helps both of us wake up in a nicer mood.
Check your calendar every night, so school events, appointments, and important meetings don’t sneak up on you. Click To Tweet
  • A visual chart of each step of the “getting ready” process can cut down on the number of reminders you have to give. Consider making laminated checklists or task cards so the kids can mark off tasks as they complete them. Include such tasks as making the bed, getting dressed to the shoes, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, washing face, putting on sunscreen, and getting the backpack, lunchbox, and water bottle. Encourage children to take responsibility for getting themselves ready for the day. Kids are more eager to help when they have some control over the process.
  • Have a standard rotation of simple breakfast options, including a few “to go” items for those extra-crazy mornings. Knowing what’s on the breakfast menu ensures you have all the groceries you need, and keeping a small rotation of regular choices reminds kids that you’re not running a full-service restaurant. Crockpot oatmeal, toast, yogurt, cereal, and fruit are all easy, healthy choices. You can also make up an extra batch of your favorite pancakes or waffles and store them in the freezer, then microwave or toast them for a fast meal. Muffins, bagels, or breakfast bars make good “to go” options. For kids that don’t like traditional breakfast foods, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese, and crackers, or even last night’s dinner leftovers can be a reasonable way to fill their bellies before school. 
Have a standard rotation of simple breakfast options, including a few “to go” items for those extra-crazy mornings. Keeping a small rotation of regular choices reminds kids that you’re not running a full-service restaurant. Click To Tweet
  • Associate tasks with specific times, such as what time you should be eating breakfast, what time you need to be dressed, and what time you need to leave. Use cell phone alarms for reminders to get going. If you know you need to leave the house by 7:30 to get to school on time, set an alarm to go off at 7:20 and again at 7:25 to prod you out the door.
  • Television, computers and video games should be off-limits in the morning, even if the kids are ready to go with time to spare. Once kids get involved in a show or game, it’s often difficult to get them to shut down and go. If your children are ready early, encourage them to play with toys or read until it’s time to leave. 
  • Allow extra time whenever possible. Padding extra time in the morning routine can save you from disaster since anything from a missing shoe to a spilled cup of milk can throw the whole morning off schedule. Figure out how much time you really need to get everyone out the door (time yourself for a week to get an accurate number), then add 15 minutes. Leave five minutes earlier than you need to so you can be prepared for traffic slowdowns or that ill-timed railroad crossing. Keep a few extra supplies in your car for last-minute emergencies, like breakfast bars or extra mittens. 
Simple Habits to Manage Your Mornings

5 Mistakes You’re Making When You Declutter and How to Fix Them

5 Mistakes You're Making When You Declutter and How to Fix Them. Modern Simpicity. Photo by Fernando Lavin on Unsplash

Have you ever started started a decluttering project only to get frustrated and quit, feeling like you’re not making any progress toward that clean, tidy home you’re wanting? It can be disheartening to jump in with visions of clear, minimalist spaces only to wind up with stuff strewn all over the place and no plan for what to do about it. Decluttering is hard work, so before you dive back in, check your focus and make sure you’re not committing one of these decluttering mistakes. 

Mistake: Focusing on organizing over purging. 

Yes, we all want to “get organized,” but that’s not the same as decluttering. Organizing is not decluttering. When you’re organizing, you tend to focus more on how to store what you have, without giving much thought to whether you need or even want those items in the first place. 

We all want to “get organized,” but organizing is not the same as decluttering. Click To Tweet

Solution: Before you worry about organizing, spend the time to actually go through everything and decide what you really want to keep and what you can let go of. Don’t think of it as, “What can I get rid of?” Think of it more like, “Do I love this/use this enough to give it space in my home and spend my energy maintaining it?” Once you’ve gone through the decluttering process, then you can go back and organize the keepers — and it’s easier to organize when you have less stuff.

Mistake: Thinking that cleaning is decluttering. 

Similar to organizing, cleaning often distracts you from the focus of getting rid of stuff. With cleaning, you’re thinking about where dirt and grime are and how to make a space look clean and tidy. Maybe you drop clutter from the counters into drawers so you can wipe down the countertop. Maybe you start a load of laundry without looking at whether you want to keep the clothes you are washing. Maybe you’re rearranging trinkets on the mantle while you dust. 

Solution: Declutter an area before you worry about cleaning it. It’s so much easier to clean after you declutter — you won’t need to move items around to clean, and you won’t spend time stashing clutter instead of disinfecting and polishing.

Mistake: Purging other people’s stuff. 

This is one of the cardinal sins of decluttering — getting rid of other people’s stuff. If you take it upon yourself to purge a housemate or family’s member’s possessions without their permission, be prepared for a fight. Getting rid of other people’s belongings without their knowledge or consent is not cool. It’s not your stuff to get rid of. 

One of the cardinal sins of decluttering is getting rid of other people’s stuff. Don't do it. It’s not your stuff to get rid of. Click To Tweet

Solution: Try talking to your family about why you want to declutter and encourage them to join in. Then go about your business decluttering your own stuff, whether the rest of the gang jumps in to help or not. Even if they’re not initially on board, they may be inspired to give it a try after seeing you take control of your own stuff. 

Mistake: Not getting your kids involved. 

When kids are very young, then it’s up to you to declutter clothes and toys on their behalf. However, as soon as they’re big enough to have preferences, it’s best to get them involved, even if it’s just a few little things here and there — a shirt that’s getting too small or a broken toy. Giving your kids choices about their belongings encourages them to value and take care of them. 

Solution: You may just want to offer a couple of choices when they’re little, but work up to giving them more control over their stuff as they get older. You’re not just trying to manage stuff — you’re teaching them how to manage their own stuff. Kids know when they’ve outgrown “baby toys.” Preteens and teenagers should be able to decide if they don’t like certain clothes and want to donate them, as well as deciding when they’re finished with books, CDs, or old toys. Modeling responsible decluttering from an early age makes it a normal part of maintaining a home. Your child won’t feel picked on (why are you getting rid of my stuff?) and they’ll understand that we all need to let things go over time. 

Giving your kids choices about their belongings encourages them to value and take care of them. Click To Tweet

Mistake: Not looking at the big picture. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re decluttering. So much stuff — where do you start? While it’s tempting to just dive into a junk drawer and start tossing, you’ll stall out quickly if you don’t have a plan. 

Solution: Take a few minutes to map out a plan of attack. I like to start with decluttering the bathroom since there isn’t that attachment to toiletries and cosmetics that you may feel with clothes or books. Group similar items together so you can get a feel for how much you have, and you’ll be better prepared to weed out the excess. It’s eye-opening to realize you have four half-empty bottles of shampoo and a dozen new tubes of body lotion because you probably didn’t notice them when they were scattered throughout the house. Similarly, pulling out all your clothes will help you see that you have five black t-shirts and 20 pairs of jeans, making it much easier to donate the ones you never wear while still feeling confident you have what you’ll actually use.

5 Mistakes You’re Making When You Declutter and How to Fix Them

5 Simple Shortcuts to a Cleaner Home

5 Simple Shortcuts to a Cleaner Home

After all the buzz and excitement of Christmas, January feels like the perfect time to wipe the slate clean. I’m craving a calm, clutter-free home with lots of space to cook a healthy meal and unroll my yoga mat. 

That said, I also don’t want to put a ton of effort into cleaning. I’ve pulled together five shortcuts I use to help create a healthy, clean home while keeping it as effortless and affordable as possible. Check out these tips and look for a special offer from my friends at Grove Collaborative at the end.

Stay organized

When you don’t have to dig around for a bottle of cleaner, it’s much easier to stay on top of day-to-day cleaning tasks. I use a cute caddy from Grove to keep my most-used supplies readily accessible. The caddy is big enough to hold a few bottles of cleaner, gloves, and microfiber cloths — yet compact enough that I don’t feel like I’m lugging it around the house. I love the clean white look, but they also have a bunch of new ones in different colors! 

Use things up

It’s so easy to forget what’s already in my cabinets and buy something new instead. I realized that I may have a “cleaner hoarding” problem when I filled two baskets with new bottles when I cleaned out the pantry. This year, I’m trying to use up all those half-empty bottles of bathroom scrubs and glass cleaner tucked all over the house. Not only does that take care of responsibly using up what I’ve got, but it also helps eliminate the clutter of bottles under the sink! One product I always use to the last drop is Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose spray. It stays on my Grove order every month so I never have to worry about running out. 

Upgrade to better versions of everyday products

Let’s face it — cleaning isn’t really fun, and it’s even less fun when you’re coughing and stripping your skin using traditional cleaners full of nasty chemicals. As I finish up any old products, I make sure to replace them with earth-friendly alternatives that are better for my family and for the planet. Using fresh cleaners with natural scents makes the whole process feel a bit more like rewarding routines instead of dreaded chores. I also love picking out new scents from Mrs. Meyers and Method — new scents keeps the cleaning happy!

5 Simple Shortcuts to a Cleaner Home

Use less plastic

Whether that means storing leftovers in glass containers instead of disposable bags or refilling my hand soap bottles, I’m always on the lookout for ways to eliminate single-use plastic in our home. I love that I can order refills of my favorite soaps and cleaners through Grove so I can reuse my dispensers instead of tossing them out. I also love the way their gorgeous glass bottles look on the counter.

Stick to a budget

Between laundry detergent, dish soap, toothpaste, and paper products, household supplies can get expensive. One thing that’s helping me stick to my budget is using Grove for all of my cleaning products. Ordering my supplies online forces me to think carefully about what I need, instead of randomly throwing cleaners in my cart as I hurry through the grocery store. The prices at Grove are usually lower than my grocery store anyway, and as a VIP I get free shipping, free gifts, price matching, and lots of sales. 

Grove hand-selects the best eco-friendly products and delivers them (carbon offset) right to my doorstep, on my schedule. I get helpful reminders when it’s time to reorder, so that’s one less thing I have to think about. And they don’t just have cleaning products either — they also have a huge selection of skincare products, health care items, and pet products! 

If you want to give Grove a try, check out this fun offer. Right now, when you place your first order of $20, you’ll receive a free Mrs. Meyer’s trio + caddy + walnut scrubber sponges to help you kickstart your freshly updated cleaning routine. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here. You will receive a Mrs. Meyer’s trio (hand soap, dish soap, all-purpose spray) + caddy + walnut scrubber sponges for FREE when you sign up!
  2. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days. 
  3. That’s it! Click Finish & Pay to place your order. 

Bonus tip: If you spend $39, you’ll get a beautiful stoneware tray for free! It’s perfect for corralling dish soap and a sponge to keep your countertops tidy. I love the tidy look it gives my sink space.

Already a Grove customer? Get a free set of Grove walnut scrubber sponges with your next order! 

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