To the Mama Who is Stressing Over Your Kid’s Birthday Party

To the Mama Who is Stressing Over Your Kid’s Birthday Party

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Dear Mama Who is Stressing over your kid’s birthday party,

Oh darlin’. I get it. You want so badly to make your child’s birthday party magical and perfect. And you are stressed out about it. You want everyone there to be blissfully happy. And you want some amazing pictures for your instagram and to grace the pages of a Shutterfly album (which is also on your endless to-do list).

But oh, sweetheart. You. Are. Tired.

Your eyes are glazed over from scouring Pinterest looking for the perfect themes, decorations, and designer treats. Maybe you’ve already put in a ton of time into planning and ordering and have had it. Or, perhaps you are simply realizing all the hours (and $$$$) it’s going to take to put on this dream party.

I seriously know how you feel. I’ve been there and felt the exact same way. 

And my friend, I have some great news for you. Unless putting on an amazing party brings you immense joy, you can stop all this planning. You don’t have to sacrifice your life at the alter of children’s birthday parties. And you can still be a rockstar mama. In fact, I would argue that NOT stressing yourself out will actually ultimately bring your child more happiness and will help you be an even better mom than you already are.

And yes, you ARE good mom, already.

But simply put, your child does not need this party. Your child can experience the joy and magic of turning one year older without giving you gray hairs and forcing you into sleep deprivation. Crazy stress is not the only vehicle for a fun and exciting party.

To the Mama Who is Majorly Stressed Over Your Kid's Birthday PartyBut I get you.

It was 2:30am and I was furiously hand sewing ballet tutus for toy dinosaurs when I suddenly questioned every step in my life that led me to that moment. What on earth was I doing staying up at all hours sewing a tutu for a TOY dinosaur?!?! Despite a headache and serious sleep deprivation, I had been determined to have a picture perfect Ballerina Dinosaur Party for my 4-year-old. Like jerking awake from a deep sleep, suddenly I was looking at the pile of tiny tutus I had spent hour making FOR A DECORATION (*eyeroll*) and I was like “This is ridiculous.”

And it was.

But like so many moms, I got caught up in wanting a picture perfect Pinterest/Instagram-worthy birthday party. 

So, some real talk here. I’ve got a question for you to ponder: Who exactly is the fancy birthday party for?

It is for your child? Other moms? Social media? For yourself? A combination?  

If I was answering in that moment with the tutus, I would have had to admit it was for all those reasons. While creating a magic experience for my daughter was my primary motivation, if it was my only motivation, I’m 100% certain I would have gone about things differently.

As you well know, kids find joy in the simplest things. A cardboard box or simple kitchen utensils can keep kids busy for hours while the mountains of expensive toys gather dust. I’m telling ya’ mama, your child does not need a fancy party to have fun and feel special.

A better way

Just days after my stressful and exhausting dinosaur party, I went to a birthday party for one of my daughter’s friends. I tell ya, this mom had it figured out. We met at her in-law’s house who had fun playground equipment and they had rented a bouncy castle. As it was morning, they got a few boxes of donuts for the treat. Also, the in-laws had a pony so the birthday girl’s dad guided kids around on little rides while the mom chatted completely stress-free with the other moms and the children joyfully played. No gift bags, organized games, decorations. or photo props. Just a bunch of deliriously happy kids and relaxed parents.

Frankly, this mom was a birthday party ninja.

Okay, I know what you’re about to say. I get that we don’t all have in-laws with playgrounds and horses. Or even funds for a bouncy house rental, for that matter. But, I’m telling you, my friend had birthday parties figured out.

She used the resources that were already easily at her disposal and she kept it super simple. While I ran around my kid’s party, exhausted and frantically trying to go through each activity, my friend sat relaxed and happy, visiting with all the moms. She actually appeared to be enjoying herself. The difference couldn’t have been more stark.

The 3 F’s of a Rockin’ Birthday Party

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve come to realize that a successful kid’s birthday party really only needs 3 things: frosting, fun, and friends.

That’s it. Really.

At the end of the day…

Remember, mama: at the end of the day, what your kids need most is a happy, healthy mama who takes care of herself. Feeling loved by you and connected is what will shape their future–not a party.

So go hug your kid(s) and get some sleep, my friend. You’ve got this. 

To the Mama Who is Majorly Stressed Over Your Kid's Birthday Party

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7 Books You Should Read Right Now

7 Books You Should Read Right Now

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

7 Books You Should Read Right Now

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books and that’s kind of the same thing.

I love to read. Despite 4 kids 5 and under, a busy house, and classes to teach, I find time most everyday to read. After my kids are in bed, I enter my relaxing nightly self care routine that includes reading. It feeds my soul. In the last year, I read dozens of books ranging from science to fiction, history to self help.

Of those books, here are my absolute favorite books that I’ve read from the last year. 

7 Books to Read Right Now

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

If you pick this up, prepare to not do anything until you’re done reading. You aren’t going to want to out it down.

Tired of all the non-fiction books I’d been reading, I picked this up one evening and figured I’d read if for a few minutes to relax and unwind. About an hour into it, I figured I’d just read to the halfway point (about 225 pages) and call it a night since I couldn’t put it down. Once I surpassed page 300, I knew I was in it for the long haul and finished the book before I finally slipped into bed at 4:00am. I cried. I laughed. It was a quick and absorbing read. I loved it. 

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowlings

Never read the books? Just do it. You don’t get a special counter-culture prize because you held out reading Harry Potter. And as great as the films are, they really are nothing to the books. If you have read them, they’re even better in multiple readings. As I was nursing a newborn, I devoured the series in just a few weeks. Even reading it the 3rd time through didn’t diminish what a fantastic book series this is. Oh man, I love Harry Potter.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

If you’ve never heard of her, Angela Duckworth is definitely someone you want to check out. This book is a fascinating look at grit, the power to succeed and overcome obstacles. She delves into fascinating (and motivating) examples of resiliency and perseverance and unlocks the keys to obtain those qualities. To begin, there is a quiz to evaluate your current grit levell. THen, in the course of the book, she gives solid steps to increase your grit. This is one I will read and re-read. Not only did it inspire me to be more gritty and resilient, it’s helped me focus on how I can help my children develop the trait. I’ll definitely need several more reads!

The Miracle Morning

Want to change your mornings? Then check out this extremely motivating book. This book literally changed my life. Though it’s not without its flaws (he really needs to cite his sources and use footnotes), it motivated me to start waking up and exercising at 4:00am. This book was a major paradigm shift for me not only in completely changing my mornings, but it was very instrumental in helping me get the courage and determination to start this blog. Definitely a super motivating book.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin has made it to 2 places on my list. I adore her–and her podcast “Happier” is amazing too. Former Supreme Court clerk turned researcher and writer, Rubin is obsessed with happiness. She researches it extensively. This book is her exploration into her year-long “happiness project” where she, using research as her guide, actively set out to increase her happiness. It’s so inspiring and will surely leave you with many ideas about how you can be happier.

The 4 Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

If you like personality profile quizzes, you are going to love this book. And if you don’t hang with me here. After exhaustive research, Rubin created a personality framework based on how people respond to both inner and outer expectations.

People fall into 4 categories: Upholders (that’s me), Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels (take the quiz and tell me what you are). It is sooooo interesting. And it’s extremely helpful for understand ourselves and people around us.

As I read I felt like a light bulb went off. I understood myself better and I understood why I can get frustrated with people who respond to expectations differently than me. It has helped me look at people with more compassion and understanding.

If part of your day-to-day includes trying to get people to do things for their own good (uh, like every mom) then this book is fabulous. Also amazing for teachers and doctors. I’m making my book club read it right now.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

I found this quick read to be downright delightful. While some die-hard Potter fans find fault with various parts of this, I loved it. It’s a playscript and not a novel, so it reads differently. But once you get into it and can envision it on the stage, it is transporting and very engaging.

It picks up the story when Harry Potter’s own children are at Hogwarts. I loved every second of it and hope to see it on stage one day. I thought it was a perfect addition to the Harry Potter series.

Have you read any of these books? What are the best books that you’ve read recently?

7 Books to Read Right Now

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Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom’s Survival Guide

Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom’s Survival Guide

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom’s Survival Guide

“Take time off…the world will not fall apart without you.”  (Malebo Sephodi)

As moms, we often put ourselves last on our list of priorities. With all the balls we juggle daily, we are afraid that if we spend even a little time on ourselves, all the balls will drop and we will fail spectacularly at this whole mothering thing. And even if we do manage to do something for ourselves–like take a nice bath or go out with friends–we often end up feeling guilty about it.

But let’s be honest here: taking care of ourselves is not a privilege we must earn. It’s a human need. And more than that, it’s 100% necessary if we want to be the best moms we can be. We are better equipped to take care of our children, families, and countless duties when we are taking excellent care of ourselves. We don’t need to “earn” self-care. It’s a necessary part of taking care of our bodies, minds, and souls.

Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom's Survival Guide

Self-care means leaving survival mode behind.

I’ll be honest: I am naturally wired to burn the candle at both ends. I have to work really hard to plan and execute proper self care. But in doing so, I have seen a massive difference in my life and family. I’m a better mom. I’m more patient. My body is healthier and I feel more balanced. And I’m so much better prepared to handle the stress and difficult situations that naturally arise in my day.

Self-care isn’t a one time deal.

It’s something we need to do regularly to reap the benefits. You can’t go to Target by yourself, read a good book and call it good in the self-care department for the year. It needs to be built into your routines so that you are regularly replenishing yourself.

“How Can I Fit This is My Crazy Life????”

Tell me if this sounds vaguely familiar: You’re exhausted, but you are working through your kid’s bedtime routine regardless. You can just smell the freedom that comes when the last snuggles and kisses are exchanged. Though you have a long list of stuff to get done, instead you wander to the couch, snack in hand, and proceed to binge-watch something until you zombie walk to your bed and snag a few hours of sleep.

Then, you wake up fare before you’re ready to a child who needs to be fed/clothed/etc. So you tear yourself from the bed and groggily trudge through your morning.

Been there. Done that. And let me tell ya: there is a better way

Rejuvenating Mornings & Evenings

First off, self care will look different for every mom. It all comes down to what rejuvenates YOU physically, mentally, and spiritually. But as our mom days are often packed with non-stop chaos (or is that just me?), I finds mornings and evenings to be the optimal times for quality self-care. Changing my evenings and mornings has quite literally changed my life. 

Before my kids are up, I almost always read uplifting books, exercise, shower and get ready for the day (hair up, clothes on, and perhaps some mascara). I often meditate and I sometimes write in a journal. These practices nourish my mind, body, and soul and set me up to be a happy, patient mom ready to tackle the crazy that will inevitably come my way.

In the evening, after I put my 4 small kids to bed, I wind down first by unplugging from technology. This is when my husband and I can finally talk and really connect. Almost without fail, I take a hot bath with epsom salt (this is my absolute favorite) and essential oils while I read and relax my mind and body. I breath deeply (this method is pretty fantastic) and will sometimes meditate if I am still having trouble shutting off my brain.  

But that’s me. These practices renew me daily, help me sleep well, and feed my mind, body, and soul.

Self-Care will look different for each of us.

To create your self-care routine, you’ll need to reflect what activities bring YOU peace and relaxation. When can you find time in your day to spend some time on yourself? Before you can do that, there are a few steps you need to take to make room for self-care in your life. 

THREE STEPS TO GETTING STARTED WITH SELF-CARE

Step 1: Create Your “White Space”

Imagine a white piece of paper with writing on it. There are margins on all sides and spaces between the paragraphs. There is clear organization and flow. The white space provide direction and organization.

Okay, now Imagine another piece of paper with crammed writing covering the entire surface. Overwhelming, huh? Not sure where to start or end and there are no white spaces to be found.

Which paper best resembles your life? The one with rests and white spaces? Or the one that is so full it’s impossible to make heads or tails of what is going on?

As moms, we are so busy and maybe even feel overwhelmed from time to time. How can we fit in self care as well? Well, maybe we need to cut out some activities that aren’t important. We need to find white space in our lives. While much of what we do is extremely important, we also fill our lives up with a lot of non essentials.

To say yes to self care and better mental and physical health, you may need to say no to other things.

Step back an evaluate what you spend your time on. What should you cut out? Don’t let good things get in the way of doing THE BEST things. Don’t worry about fulfilling anyone’s expectations for you or what other people are doing. Evaluate what will be best for you and your family. And don’t be afraid to cut out things that are no longer in your best interest.

For me, this meant saying “no” to a lot of outside demands. It also meant not trying to fit in work after my kids went to bed. I used to stay up super late grading papers, cleaning, and working on a host of other things that I could never get to during the day. To get better sleep and make the most of my mornings, I needed to completely change my evening routine.

Step 2: Guard the “White Space” in Your Life

If you’ve cut out the non-essentials from your life, you’ve made room for the white space. If you are anything like me, your natural inclination is to look at that white space and want to fill it all up.

Instead, guard that white space with ferocity. That white space equals balance and your sanity. That white space allows you to fit in the much needed self-care activities that will improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health. 

You may find that this white space actually allows you to accomplish more everyday. The 7th habit in Stephen R. Covey’s super-famous Seven Habits For Highly-Effective People is “Sharpen the Saw.” Which means taking care of yourself and feeling renewed so that you can operate at max efficiency. So if you want to be a “highly effective person,” guard your white space and try some self-care (and read his book–it is UH-MAZING).

Step 3: Build Your Self-Care Routine

Again, your self care routine may look very different from mine. But you want to make sure that you are including activities from the 3 core areas: physical, mental, and spiritual. Below are just a few ideas to get you started. Pick a few of the following and try them out this week.

Body/Physical

  • Exercise regularly
  • Go for a walk or hike
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Have a dance party with your kids
  • Ask your partner for a massage
  • Get 15 minutes of sun (with sunscreen)
  • Snuggle with your spouse or children
  • Take a nap
  • Take a hot bath with epsom salts and/or relaxing essential oils
  • Spend time in nature
  • Smell you favorite things

Mind

  • Declutter a problem area
  • Journal
  • Start a file on your computer writing favorite memories of your kids
  • Read
  • Go outside and be in nature
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Go somewhere by yourself
  • Laugh–watch a funny youtube video, read a comic
  • Complete a task that’s been nagging at you
  • Start a book club

Spirit

  • Read something uplifting
  • Go on a date with your husband
  • Try a new type of food
  • Cut out negative people on social media
  • Call/email an old friend you haven’t talked to in ages
  • Unplug from all electronics
  • Meditate
  • Recite Affirmations

Most important: Get started

Mamas, you are so important. So much rides on your capable shoulders. Make sure you give them a break (even it’s a small one) everyday.

In the comments, I’d love to hear from you. What rejuvenates you? Am I missing anything on my lists? What are your obstacles to self-care?

Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom's Survival Guide

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10 Things Moms Can Do Everyday to Have More Joy

10 Things Moms Can Do Everyday to Have More Joy

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

10 Things Moms Can Do Everyday to Have More Joy

Being a mom can seem like endless drudgery of doing the same tasks over and over and over. After mopping and vacuuming, five minutes later a child leaves crumbly cracker trails in her wake. After hours on laundry–gathering, washing, folding–the dirty clothes seem to pile again immediately.

But as you know, being a mom also brings moments where your heart feels like it’s going to burst from joy and happiness. Moments where you are overwhelmed with love and gratitude for your children and you life.

Unfortunately, those moments may not be a frequent as we want them to be. But making simple changes can increase our daily happiness and overcome feelings of drudgery and overwhelm.

Here are 10 practical strategies that be practiced daily to increase those sublime moments of happiness–and generally just make us happier.

10 Things Moms Can Do For More Daily Joy

10 Steps for More Daily Joy

1) Wake-up before your kids & do something for yourself.

You can't pour from an empty cup.

Whether you exercise, read, meditate, pray, or write your to-do list, take time for yourself first thing. Filling your own cup first thing in the morning enables you to lift up and help those around 

you. This book completely changed my mornings and drastically improved my life. 

To make the most of your mornings, check out Makeover Your Morning and Be the Mom You Want to Be. If you, like myself, are NOT a morning person and need extra help to wake up in the  mornings, here are some awesome tips to help get you our of bed in the morning.

2) Make your bed every day.

It takes just a minute or two and making something look neat and organized right off the bat is a great way to start the day. I used to think it was a pointless exercise, but I’ve changed my tune. Making my bed starts my day with a sense of accomplishment and organization and it makes my bedroom more peaceful. Slipping into a made bed at the end of the day simply feels better.

3) Exercise.

Just 20-30 minutes of exercise a day–a quick run, a dance party, or an exercise circuit–has amazing effects on mood, health, sleep quality, and energy level! If you are looking for a quick workout solution, I personally LOVE The Shaun T workout video series T25. It’s really helped me get in shape after having babies when my days are jam packed. There are seven really amazing 25 minute workouts. For ideas on ways to fit a workout into your day, check out 6 Ways For Busy Moms to Fit in a Quick Workout or follow my Pinterest Board (below) full of quick exercises for moms! 

4) Use your phone at the right time for the right things.

Have you ever gotten on your phone and suddenly your kids start throwing epic fits. So you get frustrated and then everyone’s upset. Why does that happen? When we are on our phones, we are no longer engaged with the world outside of out phone, even if we acknowledge its existence. So you’re disengaged from your kids. What do they do? They act out. Why? Because that’s how they know they can get you off your phone.

Your smartphone can help your life be more efficient. There are so many fantastic apps and features that can boost your productivity and help you stay organized. But it can also be a complete waste of time and energy. And it can be a distraction from the things that matter most.

5) Hug your husband for at least 20 seconds a day.

After a busy, often hectic day away from one another, it’s easy to feel disconnected at the end of the day. Try a 20 second hug. It is relationship-building and a mood booster! It releases oxytocin which creates feelings of trust and it also helps to relax your body. It may feel awkward at first, but embrace the awkward and reap the rewards.

6) Snuggle each child individually giving them 100% focus.

No matter how chaotic your day is, give at least a few minutes of snuggles and undivided attention to each child. LIke hugs, snuggling is going to build your relationship with your child and make everyone happier.

It’s amazing the peace it’ll bring to your home. Your kids will have fewer meltdowns and you will all be much happier. When I snuggle my children, I can literally feel the tension leaving their bodies. I love it!

7) Choose your battles wisely.

With your spouse and your children, make sure you choose the right things to focus on. Whether battling over mismatched clothes, messy hair, toilet training, or a picky child, make sure you’re picking the right ones and letting the rest go.

Personally, I let my girls dress themselves. Sure, they are often clad in a mismatched array of patterns and colors. But they are happy and developing a sense of self and I don’t have to worry about it.

And I usually only make a stink about brushing hair on Sundays before church. We brush our hair for Jesus. On school days, they rush into their classrooms with spectacular bed head–passed the girls with their perfectly coiffed braid and bows. If they don’t care, neither do I (though I suspect that will change in a few years).

8) Schedule downtime at the end of the day.

Stress is often a culprit in our bad moods and unhappiness. After the kids are down, treat yourself to a relaxing routine. Take a bath, read a book–do something relaxing and rejuvenating that will prepare you for a good night’s sleep.

9) End your day reciting your “Top 10 of Today”

With your spouse or by yourself, go over the 10 best parts of your day. Can’t make it to 10? Shoot, even the top 1 or two will still be a mood booster. Focusing on the positives brings sunshine to even the cloudiest of days. More on my top 10 habit here.

10) Make your sleep a top priority.

This is much more important than a clean house. Your sleep is directly related to your mood, your energy, your health, and how you interact with others. SLeep deprivation can literally kill you. Check out this fantastic video done by a sleep expert. Mom getting enough sleep = happy home.

Need help? Here are 10 amazing strategies that can help you get dramatically better sleep tonight.

Am I missing anything?

What daily practice helps you be happier? Answer in the comments or email me at erin@theincrementalamam.com.

xo

Erin

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Makeover Your Morning and Be the Mom You Want to Be

Makeover Your Morning and Be the Mom You Want to Be

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Makeover Your Mornings and Be the Mom You Want to Be

Ever wish you could have a just a few more hours in the day to get things done? All the time, right? Just a couple more hours, and then you could finally rock your to-do list, exercise daily, and be the mom you want to be. Well guess what!?! Changing your mornings will absolutely make you feel like you have more hours in the day. Waking up early–before your kids–and using your time intentionally will absolutely transform your day. You will be happier, healthier, and accomplish more EVERY.SINGLE. DAY. It’s nothing short of a miracle!

When the first thing I see in the morning is a child staring back at me, I already know that I’m starting the morning a few steps behind. I’m know that I am going to be frantically rushing around all morning.

9 tips to make over your morning

Crazy Morning = Crazy Day

If we start our day frenzied and rushing around trying to take care of hungry kids demanding food, finish the dishes from the day before, prepare kids for school and respond to urgent call/texts, we’re probably not going to have an amazing day.

However, if we start the day on our terms by preparing ourselves for the day–BEFORE our children are fluttering their little eyes–we are setting ourselves up to have an amazing day. Since we’ve taken care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to take care of our families. Even if you are not naturally a morning person (I am definitely not) you CAN become one. Check out my 9 Tips to Make Waking Up a Breeze

Mornings are AWESOME for moms

Many of the most successful people in the world are early risers. People seeking success in business often adopt the practice. But who better than moms to benefit from having personal time in the mornings?

As moms, we don’t really get a lot of time to ourselves during the day. So we run the race all day, put the kids to bed, and finally have a bit of uninterrupted time to get stuff done at night. But how much can you really get done? You are completely exhausted and not as effective late at night. And even if you do stay up late and accomplish a lot, you pay for it the next day!

Waking up before your kids and using the time at the start of the day as opposed to the end of the day will be a complete game changer. You owe it to yourself and to your family to start your day every morning taking care of yourself so that you can seriously rock your day.

My Transformation

There is absolutely nothing natural about waking up early for me. I am about as far from a natural morning person as one can possibly be. Waking up was always soooo hard for me. I’d be crying on the inside everyday waking up for school growing up. As I got older, if I had to be a work at 7:00am, I would literally wake up minutes before I had to leave, rush around getting ready, scurry out the door while zipping my fly, and slap on some mascara at stop lights while I sped to beat the clock.

But I always held out hope that one day–one magical day–I could become a morning person. I just felt in my bones that it would change my life. And then I became a busy sleep-deprived mom and I felt like my dream or being a morning person would just have to die. Resigned to my fate, I felt I was never going to be able to wake up early everyday.

But guess what? I was wrong.

After my 4th baby started sleeping mostly through the night, I decided that it was time to try to wake up before my kids. If i wanted to exercise in the mornings before my husband went to work, I needed to wake up at 4:00am. Yes, 4:00am. By that point in my life, I’d probably woken up at 4:00am only a few times in my life. I knew I needed help, so I researched. I read books (like this one that completely changed everything).

And miraculously, I started waking up at 4:00am. From the first day, it has been a complete game-changer. I am happier. I’m a better, more patient mom. I exercise consistently. I feel more balanced. And I feel like I have a few more hours to get things done everyday.

If you, like me, are not a morning person–never fear. You CAN become one. You really can. You can pop out bed every day with a smile on your face. If I can change, ANYONE can. I am now completely obsessed with mornings, sleep, and productivity! Check out my posts 9 Tips to Make Waking Up a Breeze and 10 Strategies For Moms to Get Dramatically Better Sleep.

So what exactly should one do in the mornings?

As humans, we have a finite amount of willpower. We literally use it up throughout the day. Research shows that willpower decreases as the day goes on. So how can you make the most of the mornings?

Simply put, you should be doing things that require the most willpower.

Many things with which we fill our time will get done one way or the other (e.g. cleaning, laundry).  So in the mornings, we should be doing the things that can most easily get pushed aside. For most moms, I’d say that is self care practices like exercising, meditating, uplifting reading.

Doing things that renew you and make you feel wonderful set you up to have a fantastic day. While everyone can benefit from early mornings, it’s going to look different for everyone. Here are several recommendations.

9 Things to do in the morning (before your kids wake up)

1) Make your bed

I used to think making one’s bed was a pointless exercise, but I was wrong. It takes a few seconds and give you an immediate sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It helps your sleep and happiness by creating a bedroom sanctuary. Slipping into a made bed at the end of the day just feels better.

2) Drink Water

Drinking water first thing in the morning jump starts our systems. It also helps to wake you up and give your energy. Lots of successful people do this.

3) Exercise

Exercising in the morning is awesome. You get to check it off your list, boost your mood, and jump start your energy level first thing For ideas on exercises you can do from home, check out my post on 6 Gym-Free Ways for Busy Moms to Fit in a Quick Workout.

4) Read Something Uplifting

As moms, it easy to feel like we don’t have time to read anything other than Llama Llama, Red Pajama (which is actually delightful). But setting aside time for reading something uplifting (and adult) ensures that we can reap the tremendous benefits. You could read a parenting article, a great novel, religious text, a self-help book or any great book that lifts you up and inspires you.

5) Meditate

Mediation is amazing. In The Miracle Morning, the author recommends meditating in the mornings. I was seriously skeptical, but I decided to drink the kool-aid and see what happened. I quickly became a believer when I suddenly felt more in control of my very busy brain. Where before I struggled to shut off my brain when trying to fall asleep, it suddenly became much easier.

Meditation is basically clearing your mind and focusing on your breath and perhaps your body sensations. You don’t have to shave your head, wear a robe, or start believing the healing power of crystals.

I like these free guided meditations from UCLA Health, if you want a place to get started.

6) Set your intentions for the day

While it’s going to look different for everyone, setting our intentions at the start of the day is am important key to a productive, successful day. How do you want to feel today? What do you want to accomplish? Exploring these questions is helpful to ensure that we are on our A-game in parenting and in life. Various examples include:

    • Journaling
    • Create to-do lists
    • Discussing with your spouse/friend what you want to do (like an accountability partner
    • Prayer
    • Affirmations

7) Get showered and ready for the day

For busy moms, this can be a real struggle. I feel ya, 100%. But there is a power that comes from taking a quick shower and putting on “real” clothes. You don’t need to be ready for the Oscars, but just feeling clean and a little put together with some mascara and a fresh ponytail will do wonders for your productivity and happiness.

8) Spend quality time with your family

Whether your spouse or your children, mornings are a great time to spend quality, relaxed time with your family. You’ve already accomplished so much before your kids wake up. So once they wake up, there’s no need to rush around and focus on things yet to get done. You can truly savor your breakfast with your family or have great conversations.

9) Avoid Technology

Nothing will waste your time more than “quickly” checking email or social media. It sucks you in and in the blink of an eye 30 minutes of precious time is gone. And you have nothing to show for it. Save it for later. Honestly, it can probably wait.

Make Your Morning Amazing

I am a firm believer that how we spend our mornings shapes our lives. Waking up early have been one of the most important things I have done to be a better mom and achieve my goals.

What does your ideal morning look like?

9 tips to make over your morning

9 Tips to Make Waking Up a Breeze

9 Tips to Make Waking Up a Breeze

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9 Tips to Make Waking up a Breeze

Waking up early and accomplishing a lot before breakfast is a well-know productivity hack. Moms especially benefit from having personal time before the kids wake up. Maximizing your mornings can be completely life changing (check out my post about making over your mornings). But despite wanting to wake up early, many of us find the task incredibly difficult. As a very unnatural morning person, I’ve had to research and get every hack possible to actually get out of bed without hitting snooze a gazillion times. 

Tips to wake up early

The tips are divided into 2 categories: preparation and once the alarm goes off in the morning. If waking up is a struggle, it’s never going to change without preparing the night before.

9 tips to make waking up early easy

PART I: The Preparation

1) Go to bed early

This is essential since you don’t want to be operating on a sleep deficit. Sleep deprivation basically leads to a host of health issues (including weight gain) and, ultimately, a shorter lifespan. Most adults need at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. Decide what time you want to wake up, subtract 8 and you’ve got your bedtime!

2) Make sure you are getting quality sleep

Quality sleep is essential to feeling well-rested, yet it’s not always easy to come by. Check out my post 10 Strategies For Moms to Get Dramatically Better Sleep.

3) Have everything set out in the morning

Have everything you can possibly think of ready to go (check out to help develop your own awesome morning routine). I work out every morning, so I lay out everything: socks, shoes, clothes, sports bra, and headphones. If I’m going for a run, I leave out my house key lanyard. I even have a big glass of water ready and waiting by my bathroom sink (see step 8).

4) Set your intentions for the morning the night before

To make you morning happen, you need to mentally prepare yourself to pop out of bed when your alarm goes off. This can take many forms–you do what will work best for you.

  • Visualization: This is a powerful strategy that I use. I visualize myself smiling and popping out of bed and going through my morning routine step by step. This was especially helpful in changing my morning outlook. I trained myself to jump out of bed with a smile when my alarm goes off. 
  • Plan: Create a written plan with what time you will get up and each thing you plan to accomplish in the order you plan to do them.
  • Use an accountability partner: If you want to wake up to exercise in the mornings, get a partner to do it with of that will help you pop out of bed. You could also just tell your spouse what you will be doing the next morning. Letting someone else know of your plans makes you more likely to keep them.

5) Have the right alarm situation

Making sure you have an alarm set that you will not snooze is essential. Like so many things, there are a lot of options–you pick what works best for you.

  • Alarm across the room: This serves 2 purposes–it gets lights and technology away from you when you’re trying to sleep (thereby imporving sleep quality) and it makes you actually get up and out of bed to turn it off. This was a game changer for me.
  • Alarm across the room AND alarm on phone by your bed: This is my preferred way to wake up. I keep a really soft alarm on my phone by my bed that gently wakes me up. My alarm across the room is set for 3 minutes later. Since I don’t want to disturb my husband, I get up easily with my gentle alarm, turn off the oter alarm before it even goes off and get on with my morning.
  • Use Step Out app: This app is completely genius. If you can hit snooze a million times without even thinking, this is the app for you. You can set it up so that in order to turn off the alarm, you actually have to take 10 or 20 steps. ANd by that point, you are awake! It’s awesome.

BTW: Try and get an alarm that isn’t horribly annoying. If the sound is too grating, it’ll put you in a bad mood the minute you hear it.

PART 2: The Morning

So you’ve done everything that you need to do the night before to prepare. Clothes are laid out. Alarms are set. You’ve visualized your morning and you have some accountability set up. You slept a solid 8 hours and the alarm goes off.

6) Smile first thing

I know it sounds cheesy, but smiling and telling yourself how excited you are to wake up really works. It actually will help make you happy and excited to wake up. Fake it til you make it, baby!  

7) Pop out of bed, turn off the alarm, and beeline straight to your bathroom.

Don’t even let yourself think about getting back into bed. You had to get up to turn off your alarm. Make it second nature to then head straight to the bathroom without even giving it a thought. You’re only partially awake at this point so you will rely on muscle memory. Make going straight to the bathroom part of your muscle memory. 

8) Drink a glass of water and brush your teeth right away

This is going to start to really wake you up and get into your morning routine. The water starts getting your systemes revved up and will give you more energy. Brushing your teeth not only gives you something to do as you wake up, it wakes up your mouth. By this point, you are at least halfway woken up.

9) Put on your exercise clothes/clothes and get busy with your morning!

You’re still probably waking up, but getting dressed and physically preparing for the day is going to really help you keep waking up. To make the most of your day, I HIGHLY recommend working out first thing and getting it out of the way.
For more one making the most of your mornings, check out my post here

You can do it!

Trust me, if I can train myself to be a morning person, absolutely ANYONE can! You’ve got this.

What is your biggest struggle in the morning? What tips are you going to try?