Real Talk Real Moms Morning Routine

Are you a morning or night person? Well, being a parent of small children you better be willing to be both, but especially a morning person. The second that sun comes up my kids are up, and so starts our morning routine. It has taken us four years to figure out what works for us with many arguments about who got more sleep or more time to get ready along the way, but now we have a system that works SOOOOO well (although Ryan's new job may throw a wrench in it, but that's besides the point), so I thought I would share it with as part of the Real Talk Real Mom Series.

1. Plan to both get up at the same time. This is a huge tip because getting up at the same time will eliminate any resentment as to who got more sleep than whom. Ryan and I wake up at the same time - 6:30am. I work out at 5am three times a week, so those mornings I'm up alone and I get less sleep. However, regardless of the day, both parents must be awake by 6:30 no matter what. 

Now, I know what you're thinking, "But, what if your kids get up before then?" Well, Levi and Elle both are awake by 6am, but we let Levi play in his bed and Elle waits for us to get her up. Just be consistent with the timing and they will get the hang of it.

2. Don't plan to tackle the kids at the same time. Take turns! One parent gets ready while the other makes the oatmeal, pours the cereal, changes the diapers and gets the kids dressed. Then we switch after 45 minutes. I will also say that this getting ready time is PRECIOUS for the parent upstairs. It's ALONE time. The kids are not allowed upstairs while Ryan or I are getting ready. This ensures that we can have a moment to center ourselves, go to the bathroom in peace and listen to NPR. You know, the important stuff. Haha! (The next day we switch who gets ready first and who does breakfast first).

3. Check in half way through the morning with each other. There is a changing of the guards at 7:15 so that the other parent can get dressed. By this time the kids have eaten and are dressed, so that means it's the other person's turn to tackle chores like packing lunches, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash bins, making sure everyone goes potty, teeth are brushed and diapers are changed. Before we switch though we always check in and tell one another any chores that didn't happen or any chores that did happen beyond our usual tasks.

4. Try to both take part in the send off. By 8:10 we are out the door. We both help carrying everyone out the door, buckle the kids in and give kisses. I love this part because it reunites us before we all go about our days. I wish we could lay around in our jams, drink coffee, eat breakfast together, etc., but not every day is a weekend. So, doing a joint send off gives me a touch of family fuzzies daily. Most mornings Ryan does drop off and I do pick-up. And, when everyone leaves, I take the next 20 minutes to drink my coffee, read, pray and breathe. By 8:30 I sit down to tackle work. Doing this everyone morning centers me and brings me peace. 

Everyone does their morning routine differently. Be sure to read the other timelines and advice from the moms participating in the Real Mom Series. The Effortless Chic, The Life Styled, Oh Lovely Day, Design Addict Mom, The Fresh Exchange, A Daily Something, Hey Mama Co, Freutcake, Parker Etc., Sacramento Street


Phoenix, Arizona is the 6th most populous city in the U.S. and the 10th largest city based on square miles. Expect to be in your car a lot when you live in or visit this city. It takes me about 20 minutes to go anywhere. So, my kids don't really have a choice when it comes to liking car rides. 

I remember when Elle and Levi were first born and they would scream bloody murder at every stoplight. My heart would start to race, I would start to sweat a bit and the anxiety would creep in. You can't really escape the screams when you're stuck on the freeway in traffic. You just have to breathe through it and try to stay calm sometimes.  Add a 4 year old constantly saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Snack!" and you have a recipe for a mommy meltdown. 

There are, however, some lessons I have learned and things I do now to prevent fits and screaming sessions. 

1. Make sure everyone has been fed, gone to the bathroom and/or has had their diaper changed. 
2. Make sure to pack snacks for the car, as well as water bottles. Who cares if your car gets a bit messy and you have to vacuum more often. Let your kids snack in the car. You'll thank me later.
3. Avoid getting in and out of the car as much as you can. Drive-thru's are the best invention since sliced bread.
4. Choose music that keeps you calm or that makes your kids happy. If classical keeps you calm then go for it. Personally, my kids like to jam and dance, so I always turn on the pop station.
5. Stow toys that are just for the car. Having special toys they can only play with in the car makes car trips so much more exciting and fun. I put them in my glove box.

Ultimately, planning ahead and having snacks and toys will always pay off. My CRV does smell like spilled milk right now and has crumbs all over it, but I always have happy kids in the car. Haha! Although, this past week, Lexus let me take their RX 350 for the week and experience what it was like to drive a luxury car. Won't lie...It was pretty awesome to have leather seats, keyless entry and built in shades for the kids. I would say the perks of luxury car will also make you and your kids happy too. We're not ready to buy a new car quite yet, but now that I have been spoiled with amazing technology and engineering, you better believe Lexus is at the top of my list. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer



Every month I have a real conversation about different aspects of motherhood along with some other mamas in the blog-o-sphere as part of "The Real Mom Series." This month we're talking about education, and since we're in all different phases of motherhood you'll get to hear from many perspectives. Be sure to visit the other blogs to read more:

The Refined Woman, Design for Mankind, The Effortless Chic, Cloistered Away, Sarah Sherman Samuel

This topic of education is timely because Elle just finished her first year of preschool, and we are reassessing where she should attend next year. It's times like these where I wish I majored in family studies, psychology or education so that I know what is the "best" and "right" way to educate children. I wouldn't say we made a mistake this past year, but I would say we didn't really make the best choice for Elle and here's why...

I chose our past preschool based on recommendations from moms and educators in the area. You would think that's a surefire way to know if a school is good, but you know what I have found to be a better way to choose a school for your child? Your maternal instincts. Something told me that she just wasn't enjoying herself and she always came home tired and quiet. I thought it was because she just wasn't used to four hours of a classroom environment. 

In my gut I was 100% sold on her preschool, but I just kept telling myself, "But, it's the best in the area. Everyone says so." Well, this summer she has been attending a summer preschool program at a different school, and she has been coming home so rejuvenated and happy. It's an even longer day that her other school and she goes daily. I was preparing myself for a super tired three year old, but I was wrong. So, that got me to thinking, maybe her other preschool isn't really the best even though everyone says so. But, that really begs the question, how do I know what is best? Here's my two cents from a mom that is still figuring it out.

Well, I think the first step is to assess your child's personality.

Elle is an extroverted leader, and I think some teachers would classify her as a strong willed child because she argues everything to death (just like her mama). I love that about her, but it makes things challenging for a teacher. If  Elle can't see the personal benefit of something she simply won't do it. In fact, if you start any sentence with a command she will just rebel against it to try and assert power. It's just who she is and how she was made. All that to say, how schools handle behavioral issues is a very important aspect to how we need to pick a school. I felt like her past preschool constantly was telling her "no" and "don't" and "timeout." I also didn't feel that they embraced that part of her personality and tried to channel it in a positive way. So, we need to find a place that approaches correction with positive affirmation of good behavior. For example, "Good choice, Mary. Thank you for sitting on your square. Good choice, Ben..." and so on until the person not making a good choice realizes that they can receive the positive affirmation they are looking for by sitting down. Because Elle is extroverted, more time to play with friends is also a factor. Here past school only offered three hour mornings three days a week for her age, but there are other schools that offer daily school with longer days. 

The next step would be to tour the school and see if you have a good feeling about it.

Sometimes you just need to trust your intuition. You can read about a school on paper and it sounds fabulous, but until you tour it and talk with the teachers you won't know if it's a good fit or not. I've toured about five different preschools, and I definitely had better feelings about some schools than others. I would look at whether the school was clean, if it was safe, if it was organized, if the student/teacher ratio was good, etc. We also have a serious nut allergy in our home, so how they handle food at school is a bit of a factor. I also would ask about the teacher/student ratio. Children learn better in smaller class sizes because they can have more time with the teacher. It's just the truth, so if you can find a place that has a good student/teacher ratio then you're on the right track for success.

The next would be to see if the communication between the school and the parents is frequent and friendly. 

Anytime a teacher seems bothered to talk to a parent there should be a red flag. Parents and teachers have to work together to make learning enjoyable. Sometimes when Elle's teacher would ask me to work on something with her I felt at a loss as to how to do that. I really wish they could have given me some examples of how to work on fine motor skills. Instead, I just went to Pinterest to look up idea in hopes that those ideas would work. I also wanted to know more about what they were going to learn in the coming months so that I could reinforce those ideas at home.

There's no surefire way to find the right school. Sometimes you just have to try it and see. I thought I would screw Elle up by taking her out of school and putting her into a different one. I also thought I was a bad mom for making her go to school in the summer for longer days. You know what? Your kids may surprise you, and trusting your gut works better than you think! 


In my opinion, the idea of "co-parenting" should just be summed up in the word "parenting." I don't understand how the roles of parenthood were ever so divided. Being a parent is such a challenging, life-giving and selfless role that it really takes a team to do it well. I am continuing the Real Mom Series today on the topic of "Co-Parenting" with some other lovely bloggers. I hope you enjoy what I have to share, as well as my peers' stories. 

The Effortless Chic / Sarah Sherman Samuel / A Daily Something / Our Style Stories / The Life Styled / Parker Etc / Sacramento Street / Sugar & Charm / Apartment 34

Ryan and I grew up very differently, but one thing that we had in common was that our moms did most of the day-to-day parenting. My mom worked full-time and his mom stayed at home, but the roles of our dads were simply to work and be a disciplinarian. Our dads didn't do much of the feeding, cooking, laundry, diaper changing, homework, grocery shopping, hair brushing, play date going, etc. We both agreed that we wish we saw more of our dads in the picture, and so we knew if we had children that was going to be something we would be intentional about.

So, when we had Elle I thought everything would fall into place easily, but I quickly learned we had a lot of expectations to sort through. Co-parenting is something that, quite like marriage, requires constant communication. Right now, parenting is the source of most of our fights, but not because we dislike parenting, rather, it's because we want it to feel SO equal that the second we feel like someone is doing more than the other we start becoming resentful and agitated. 

When you first get married you divvy up roles. For example, Ryan does most of our bookkeeping, taking out the trash, dog poop clean up and we'll take turns on the dishes. I do the cooking, laundry, house cleaning and dishes. With parenting, we share roles. We take turns getting up in the middle of the night feeding Levi. If one gets up in the middle of the night for the 3:30am feeding than the other wakes up with the kids at 5:30am. On weekends, when Ryan is home from work, we take turns changing diapers, doing feedings, making meals, etc. But never do we have someone just doing dirty diapers because, duh, that would suck.

What makes the shared responsibilities muddy is the fact that I stay home with the kids and run a side business while he works a 40 hour desk job. I'm obviously changing a lot more diapers, making more meals, and playing mom more than he is, so when he gets home I want to be able to have a moment to myself. It's the kid free hours we fight over most and the sense of entitlement that we both feel to them. One thing that we both agree on is that being home with the kids all day every day is WAY harder than going to a desk job and having adult conversations. Ryan has stayed home with the kids for consecutive days while I was away on business, and he totally agrees.

So, we started daddy-daughter dates to give Elle more quality time with Ryan, and to give me a moment to myself. Another thing that we do is that we both have one night a week that we get to go out with our friends. Every other week we try to have a date night and hire a babysitter. Those three things have helped tremendously with balance. 

I would say the biggest thing that has helped us be better co-parents is a lot of communication. Sometimes we communicate with some yelling, but we have definitely learned it's better to talk than to bottle up any feelings.

Lastly, just realizing that we are in a different place than we were before children, and that we simply can't do whatever we want when we want has helped tremendously. Letting go of that expectation has saved us from many fights. 

We are an open book when it comes to our journey as parents, so feel free to ask more questions if you'd like. 

Photos by Creative Marriages