Archive for category Works for Me Wednesday
My cousin just had her first baby in December, one month after my daughter was born. She just returned to work this week. (We work together. We are both first grade teachers.)
She has a beautiful little boy who seems to be a laid back, fairly undemanding child. He’s letting her get enough sleep at night, so far. But she is having trouble. She is getting up at 4:30 in the morning to be able to get to work at 7:00. She’s having a hard time getting things together to bring him to the babysitter, getting her older step sons dressed and fed, and getting herself ready for work.
She asked me today what time I got up this morning. Well, I happened to sleep until 6:10 this morning, which is late. Too late. But I still made it to work before she did. She wants to know my secret. How do I get ready so quickly?
I know a lot of my readers are stay at home moms, but maybe some of you are working moms. Or maybe you know a working mom who is spastically trying to get out the door in the morning. Or is tired of getting up and taking hours to prepare for her work day.
So, I thought I’d give some of my advice, on how I do things so I don’t have to get up in the wee sma’s to be able to leave the house… just in case any other working moms out there could use another hour of sleep!
Tiip #1 – (For breastfeeding moms)Sleep while your baby nurses.
Rebekah has gotten to where she generally sleeps from 9:00 to 4:30 or 5:00. This is good. But this hasn’t always been the case. Even when she was waking up two or three times a night to nurse, I wasn’t losing a lot of sleep.
Rebekah sleeps in a bassinet in our bedroom. When I go to bed, I pull the bassinet up to my bed so I don’t have to get out of bed to get her. Nursing lying down is an approved breastfeeding position. When she wakes up to nurse, I get her, put her in the bed with us, nurse her and go back to sleep. This takes about twenty seconds from the time she begins crying to the time I’m back asleep. I’m a light sleeper, so I almost always wake up when she’s done. I put her back to bed at this time. If I’m too tired to wake up again, well, she just sleeps with us. No biggie! I get plenty of sleep.
I have a friend who has her baby (same age as Rebekah) in a nursery down the hall. When her baby wakes up, she walks down the hall, nurses in the nursery, burps her, and has spent an hour out of bed before she returns. I’m not knocking having the baby in her own room from the beginning…I’m just glad that’s not what I’m doing.
***Just a note. Rebekah is not a big burper at all. She rarely burps. This may not be as easy with a baby that has stomach issues.
Tip #2 – Dress the kids the night before.
I dress my kiddos as much as I can the night before. Rebekah is always dressed in what she’s going to wear to the babysitter’s house the night before. Then I only have to change her diaper before we leave. If she’s going to wear a jacket or overalls, I put on whatever will be under that and then add the rest in the morning.
I also put my other two kids in the shirts they are going to wear to school the night before. They generally wear t-shirts to school. So far, this works well. There’s always those days the diaper leaks, or for school pictures and you want them in something they can’t really sleep in, but for the most part, this works very well. My older two kids have their blue jeans laid out at the foot of their beds. They can quickly put them on as soon as they get up.
Tip #3 – Do all or most bathing the night before.
Make sure all the kids have had baths the night before. If you have to have a bath in the morning (and I do!) learn to make it quick. But limit the morning baths to the adults, who are better at time management in the shower. (My daughter doesn’t know what a fast bath/shower is!!) All my kids have to do as far as grooming in the morning is brushing teeth and hair.
Tip #4 – Find a quick hair-do for work
I have curly, curly, curly hair. For years I would wear it straight. I had to get up and blow dry it completely dry with a round brush (no dampness at all or it would frizz in a mighty way!). I then had to use a flat iron on it. I loved it straight. I still like it straight. But I can hop out of the shower, slap in some hair gel, and just blow dry my hair until it doesn’t drip, and my hair is done in about five minutes. Tops! This works so much better for work. When I want to dress up nice, or go out for something special, I will take more time and possibly straighten my hair. But not when I’m going to work.
Most jobs just require that your hair be neat. Not model gorgeous. I’d skip any curling irons, flat irons, hair rollers, or anything that takes lots of time to fix for work. Stick with something simple that works with your hair naturally. If you have really limp hair, practice twisting it up in a clip. If you have course straight hair, just brush through it and pull it back in a barrette. This may take a bit of experimenting on the weekends, but find something you can do in under ten minutes. Or under five minutes. That’s even better.
Tip #5 – Minimal make-up
When I go to work, I wear slightly tinted lip gloss and mascara. I like to wear make-up when I go out, or to church, but just this small amount of make-up is good enough for work. It looks like I took time to look nice but only takes about thirty seconds to apply. Also, if you skip the make-up during the week, your complexion will actually improve and you’ll like the way you look without make-up more. Also, you look extra special at church or if your husband takes you on a date when you do the whole make-up deal.
Tip #6 – Pack up the night before
Before you go to bed at night, pack the diaper bag. Prepare all bottles and have them ready to add at the last minute. Pack any lunches for yourself or your older kids and put the entire lunch box in the fridge. Put everything out in a place near the door or on the path to the door to grab on your way out. Anything that can be put in the car the night before should already be there. My kids put their book bags in the car after they finish their homework.
If you have older kids (especially ones that are half dressed the night before and only need a few minutes to get dressed in the morning) have them load up the car while you change the babies diaper. They can pack all bags while you finish getting ready.
Tip #7 – Make breakfast simple
Have the oatmeal packages sitting in bowls near the microwave. Plan simple meals like cereal or pre-made muffins that take little time to prepare. If your older kids can get their own breakfast, let them. If your babysitter will feed the baby, let her. Or send breakfast to the babysitters with the younger kids. Whatever you can do to simplify this time will help. Anything easy to clean up is a plus as well.
Some of these tips will not apply or work for everyone. I understand this. But, if you are a working mother, it is important to manage your time so that you get enough sleep, spend time with your family, and get things done around the house. These are some tips for mornings. I’ll try to post some tips for evenings that will help you be able to work in exercise, family time, dinner, and chores at some other time.
If anyone else has time saving tips for getting out of the house without spending forever getting ready, please leave them in the comments! Even you stay at home moms have to leave the house…how do you get your crew ready to go? What do you do to save time (and your sanity) at this bewitching time?
This post written for Works For Me Wednesdays.
One of the things that I run into as a public school teacher is that I have a room full of kids on various different levels. You have students who are truly gifted and are ready to take off full speed! You have good average students who have been talked to and read to by their parents. They aren’t gifted exactly, but very well rounded. They’ve had lots of experiences, been to lots of places, and have lots of background knowledge. Then you have students who struggle academically. They have a learning disorder or just learn things at a slower pace. And then you have students who have been neglected and haven’t really ever been involved in a conversation with an adult until they entered school. And these students often see their first book in the school setting.
And of course, there are students that fall in between all of these categories or are a combination of any of these!
So anyway, I’m not a sit down and be quiet kinda teacher at all. I like for my students to be able to finish an assignment and move on to something else while others take the time they need to complete it. I like to work in small groups (4 to 6) for the most part of the day which leaves another 18-20 other students NOT in my small group.
Although the things I’m listing as alternative activities for kids is certainly NOT a complete list of what I have them do, it is a few ideas that work well in a home (for homeschoolers or summer learning activities as well as play). So here two ideas using dry-erase markers for some kid activities! And these are also rather inexpensive to create.
1. Build a dry-erase table. This one is not only popular in my classroom but at my house as well. (Sorry, no picture, I left it at school for the summer.) All you do is get a sheet of shower board ($10 at Home Depot) and have some handy guy build you a table with the shower board as the top. You can then use dry-erase markers to actually “write on the table”! It’s tons of fun. This one works well for schoolwork or play!
2. Page protectors!!! As a teacher you can go through tons of paper with worksheets or pre-bought workbooks. But they can only be used once or by one student. I collect sheets that I think will work well for more than one student or that some studnets might need second tries on later and put them in page protectors. Once again, using dry-erase markers these no longer are consumables and can be reused as many times as you like. I sometimes get pre-made workbooks and tear all the pages out and put them in a binder of page protectors (if you get the binders with clear fronts you can even slip the cover into the front of the binder.) You can also do this with mazes or word searches.
Doing an activity with a dry-erase marker somehow makes the activity more fun!
These are some student activities that work for my kids, my students, and it Works for Me.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
And I must agree. I love play. We play….lots! We are big believers in swimming, tree climbing, basketball, soccer, football, racing, trampoline jumping, trips to parks, carnivals, and bookstores (yeah, that IS play!)But I’m going to say that all play and no work makes Jack uninteresting as well. And fat, lazy, selfish, and a whole host of other things we’d rather Jack not be…..
I read this post, on the value of work, one day last week and it really struck me. I think the importance of hard work is something our culture is not passing on very well. Laura’s post is well written on the value of teaching your children to work.
Nick happened in at some point in the conversation wherein he was asked if he didn’t wish he had more free time and fewer responsibilities. He replied with one of our family mottos, “You don’t work, you don’t eat.”
This is something I’ve only recently started (last several months or so). And I want to encourage all parents out there to assign your child some chores…no matter their age. (Okay…if they aren’t weaned yet, maybe not!)
I was of the variety that thought my five year old just got in the way as I was doing chores. (And honestly, I’m far, far from being a neat freak….so anything getting in my way of working was a huge distraction!) I would have my children “clean their rooms” but really had never taught them how to do it! Uh, duh! Kids don’t learn how to do new things instinctively….well, except for things you’d rather them not learn!
I finally decided that doing all the chores for a family of four was NOT fun! And, I knew my kids were missing that work ethic that builds their character. My husband suggested a chore chart, not unlike the one his mother used for him and his younger siblings as a child.
I sat down with my children and explained his/her duties to them. They were rather excited. I even had them give a few examples of chores they would like to do. I then added some that I thought they would be able to manage nicely.
This is what we started with. I haven’t really updated it….we’ve made a few changes. I felt like Shiloh, my eight year old, could handle a little more responsibility. And then my step-children, ages 6 and 2, came for the summer, and we’ve worked in chores for them as well. But basically this is the break-down.
Shiloh, age eight- washes dishes four days/nights a week, sweeps the floor four days/nights a week, waters the plants daily, loads the washing machine, seperates laundry into rooms (boys room, girls room, mom and dad’s room, towels, etc.), cleans and maitains her room and laundry, and helps (a lot) with the two year old!
Landon, age five, and Daunte, age six – clean and maintain their bedroom, clear off the table after meals (dishes, food, and then wipe it down), pick up clutter in the living room and hallways, take out garbage, and fold and put away towels, washclothes and dishtowels.
Gabbie, age two – errand girl! goes through laundry picking out and throwing away dryer sheets, hauls (light) baskets of laundry to the appropriate bedrooms, brings single items to a particular place (“Go put this book on the bookshelf.”)
And believe it or not, there has been little to no complaining about the chores. The boys, in fact, have made a contest out of folding the towels and race to see who can fold the fastest and the neatest! They do a rather excellent job!
But I will explain how I have countered the complaining we have had. One day my daughter was setting the dinner table (I don’t think I listed that on her list!). She muttered ,”I hate this chore. I don’t want to do it!” After reprimanding the attitude, I explained that if noone did chores they didn’t like there would be a lot of things never done around our house. I explained a few of the chores I and my husband do not enjoy, but do anyway. And I explained why we still do them. That we are part of a family and had to contribute to the household. And then I explained that the things I don’t enjoy doing are better when I think of the fact that I am doing them to help the people I love!
And about a week later, after folding his towels, my son asked if he could have a dollar for folding the towels. I said, “Sure, but I want a dollar for cooking dinner, a dollar for cleaning the bathroom, a dollar for mopping the floors, a dollar for cleaning the porches….” He got the idea. I then had a similar conversation explaining that in a family we don’t get paid for the work we do. We do it because we are a family and we want to help each other out!
Believe it or not, those conversations seemed to work! I have had no problems since. (Although my step-son tried to give me money for the “chores” I do. Wasn’t that sweet. I didn’t take it though….even though I would love a sno-cone! Ah, pregnancy cravings!!)
Anyway, while skulking about a bit last week I found a blog post written by Amy of Humble Musings. Although the post wasn’t on chores or work it did have some information about the Amish culture that I found interesting.
The Amish have a saying about this division of labor: before the age of seven, children are a cost to the household; between ages 7 and 14, children pull their own weight; and after the age of 14, children contribute positively to the household economy.
I thought this awesome! I am a school teacher of seven year olds. I’ve run across very few (if any) children that pull their own weight at home! I don’t think kids are expected in our culture to ever pull their own weight.
I think I’m going to take this information and frame it in my kitchen. Children used to be taught the value of work. Sometimes it might be easier to “just do it for them” but what are our kids missing in character development when they do not get an opportunity to stand back and admire a job well done!
Our jobs as parents shoud include this training, as well as positive feedback, and praises for jobs well done. In Laura’s post on the value of work she tells about a time her son did a difficult job for her….
Besides learning necessary life skills through doing chores, there is also a sense of accomplishment that comes from doing a job and doing it well. I recently decided I wanted a new flower bed around the mailbox. Not wishing to deny my beloved son the opportunity for personal growth and fulfillment, I drew out what I was thinking, laid out the required tools, scrounged up some bricks, and told him to go at it. It was back-breaking work to hoe, dig, remove rocks, carry bucket after bucket of clay and weeds to the woods, and place the bricks just so. I did my part by providing the ice water, snacks, and ample smiles and encouragement. There were moments when he was not happy about this assignment; there were moments when I doubted myself for having him do it. But when it was finished and he could admire his good work, he was proud of himself and I was proud of him.
She mentions the encouragement she gave while he did this difficult task and her post mentions a few other rewards (not allowance!!) that came from his job well done. There is a sense of pride that you can only have in truly working hard.
I have every intention of adding to the chores of my children as they become older. I want them to grow up and appreciate hard work. I want them to have a good work ethic….but for now, we are starting small. Besides….I only have one child who should be pulling her own weight around the house for now!!
Besides, my husband and I are enjoying the slave labor! I mean, who wants to do all the work by themselves!
And that Works for Me!
A lot really. Especially when you have a house full of kids and they are thirsty all the time. (Who can blame them? It’s been in the 90′s all summer!)
With four kids in the house for the summer, and the ocassional babysitting of my three nephews or another friends three girls, we can go through massive amounts of Kool-aid, water, milk, and sweet tea. The first few days with this many kids in the house drove me nuts trying to keep cups clean for them to use.
I was also being asked for a drink 7 gazillion times a day. In the middle of folding laundry, using the bathroom, sweeping the floor, taking a shower, reading a book, blogging…. It is hot enough that I hated putting the kids off…I know they need liquids!! But with sometimes up to seven kids around you can be asked for a drink almost constantly.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it took me a few days to figure it out, so I thought I’d share just in case it could help you guys out.
I have now moved to plastic cups. I begin each day by getting a plastic cup for every child that will be in the house (except for the toddlers with sippies still.) I use a Sharpee and write the kids names on the cups. We then leave the cups on the table all day. Everytime I go through the kitchen I top off the cups with drink.
I do not get rid of the cups until the child is gone for the day or asleep for the night.
Believe me, this has saved me hours of pouring drinks and washing cups!
So….that’s a tip that Works for Me!
I’m all about short cuts in the kitchen. I do not like cleaning up! And since I do not have a dishwasher, I must admit I use more paper plates, cups, and flatware than I probably should! What can I say? I’m lazy!
Well, since I love easy meals too, I enjoy making things in the crock pot. I think food tastes really good cooking all day, anyway. So, really, it’s more than just easy. Some of my favorite recipes (and my family’s favorites) are crock pot meals.
Throw in a roast with a packet of Lipton Onion soup mix, and wah-lah, very happy family. Throw in ribs with a bottle of Hawiian marinade and a bottle of BBQ sauce and people will be begging for your rib recipe. (Really, I’ve had this happen! Shameful, I know!) Throw in chicken breast with a can of orange juice concentrate and yum, yum, yum!
A crock pot is an essential for the working or otherwise busy mom!
But, I detest, absolutely detest cleaning up a crock pot! I will tell myself that it really needs to soak overnight before I clean it. And I usually stare at it for ages before breaking out the steel wool and getting the wretched thing clean. Oh horror of horrors!
That’s why I was thrilled to discover this product!!
They are absolutely fantastic! Just line your crock pot, throw in your ingredients, and cook. When clean-up time comes, just lift the liner out of the pot and dispose of it. The crock pot is still clean! Of course, I still wash it, but it is just a quick rinse with soapy water. Takes about one minute!
So, this may be pretty simple. I thought I’d take it easy for my first Works for Me Wednesday. But really, this is a product that has become a staple in my kitchen!