Make Mornings Manageable

Early morning organization tips to make mornings manageable | | Sponsored

Last year I made some changes to our routine that really helped make mornings manageable. I was sick of feeling like we were flying by the seat of our pants every day so I took a look at the things that were causing stress and drama and found some solutions. Last year was the first year I felt like I was the boss of the morning instead of the other way around! Today I’m sharing my Make Mornings Manageable Idea Board from Wayfair to hopefully inspire you to get your mornings under control, too. If you have additional tips, please share them in the comments!

Back to school organization tips to make mornings manageable | | Sponsored


Everyone had something to say about what was being packed in their lunch and it was never nice. Packing lunches always ended up turning into a rushed scramble that left everyone on edge.


I purchased several sets of plastic containers like this specifically for lunches. There are TONS of them so even if the dishwasher doesn’t get run the night before we still have containers for lunch. I also have the kids pack their own lunches because I physically could not listen to Isca tell me she threw her whole sandwich away because Noa put a quarter cup of mayonnaise on her bread again. Gag. They do this THE NIGHT BEFORE so they can take 700 hours to slice their own cheese and be sure the ice packs get in the freezer.


Similar to LUNCH DRAMA – it happens when your child has a dresser full of folded “nothing to wear” and they loudly let you know about it.


The best thing I ever purchased for one of my kids is a hanging 5-cubby organizer. There is a cubby for every school day and every weekend each cubby is filled with a complete outfit – undies, socks, shorts/pants/skirt, shirt, sweatshirt. I’m telly you it is a beautiful, glorious thing.


My kids are the s l o w e s t humans on the planet when it comes to getting ready in the morning. The get distracted by EVERYTHING. They take 45 minutes to finish a bowl of cereal, for crying out loud.

Solution #1:

I made a new rule – no breakfast until your bed is made, clothes are on, hair is done, prayers are said, and pajamas are put away. Hunger is a motivator that even crazy mom eyes + twitching upper lip can’t touch. Maybe it’s because they’re now wide awake when eating breakfast but they no longer take almost an hour to eat.

Solution #2:

Because they are part tortoise and because one of my children settles into a 30+ minutes bathroom break most mornings I also get them up pretty early: 1 1/2 – 2 hours before they leave the house. When I hear moms who get their kids up 30 minutes before they hit the road I’m like, “whaaaaaaat?” They must have given birth to kids who are part unicorn.


What day is it? Where is my library book? I can’t wear those shoes because I have PE today! Mom, did you sign my folder? You know the drill. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about this starting up again soon.


Get yourself some kind of homework station or command center. You’ll want a big ol’ dry erase calendar, a cork board, and some drawers and folders to catch all the papers that come home every day. Like, 8 trees will be ripped from their rain forest home to provide the papers that just one of your kids will bring home per school year. 90% of them will be crap you can recycle but the other 10% will have information you will feel like you should keep…somewhere.

I tape each child’s daily schedule to the outside of a vinyl zipper folder then I keep all the “important” papers with passwords and whatever inside that folder. The folders go on a shelf in our homework station so we don’t accidentally wear a dress on PE day or whatever. I also have a few plastic drawer units in our station to keep pencils, pens, scissors, glue, etc. in one place for homework and projects. A big basket to the side of it holds backpacks and lunchboxes. It was a huge part of keeping us organized last school year and I know it will help again this year!

For more inspiration and ideas to make morning manageable in your home check out my Make Mornings Manageable Idea Board – each picture is clickable:

I hope you were able to get some ideas to get your family a little more organized in the mornings to make life easier! Happy back to school!

PARA’KITO Mosquito Repellent

We have been using and loving PARA'KITO mosquito repellent all summer!!

PARA’KITO sent us some samples of their mosquito repellent earlier this summer and we have been so happy with them! This line of mosquito repellent is DEET-free and uses essential oils to naturally protect you against mosquitoes. It is available in the US and and in over 35 markets all over the world.

Roll-on Gel

PARA’KITO was a hit in our home this summer. Maryland is a warm and humid climate that is no stranger to rain. Because of this there is a lot of vegetation and oftentimes standing water. Mosquitoes abound and I am a rare delicacy for them. I have only gotten 3 bites this summer and that was because I didn’t realize I was standing in an area that was INFESTED with mosquitoes. As soon as I saw them everywhere I ran back to the car and grabbed our PARA’KITO Roll-on Gel. I applied it to the kids and myself and even after staying where we were for over an hour we didn’t get any additional bites.

TIP: Keep the roll-on upright. I tossed ours in my bag once and it ended up leaking. Now I keep it in one of the cup holders in my car – it doesn’t leak AND I always have it when we are out and about!

We have been using and loving PARA'KITO mosquito repellent all summer!!

Clips and Wristbands

Noa, my 10 year old, is a rough and tumble outdoorsman. He LOVES to hike, fish, and explore and applying mosquito repellent is the last thing on his mind. Because of this our favorite product from PARA’KITO is their refillable bands and clips. You wear the band on your wrist or ankle and the clip easily attaches to a backpack, belt loop, stroller, etc. They are waterproof and provide constant protection for 15 days once the pellet is opened. After 15 days you just toss the old pellet, open a new one and place it in the mesh pocket of your band or clip. Noa plays outside a ton and it is so easy for him to grab his band or the clip on his way out.

We have been using and loving PARA'KITO mosquito repellent all summer!!

Unidose Gel

Another great product is the Unidose Gel. These single-use packs are easy to toss in a backpack or to travel with. Each application lasts 5 hours.

We have been using and loving PARA'KITO mosquito repellent all summer!!

I highly recommend the bands, clips, and unidose gel if you and your family spend time outside and especially if your kids are heading off to camps or on fun outdoor adventures!

PARA’KITO is hooking some of you up with one of their wristbands! Two lucky winners will each get one wristband (first picture of the post, top left)! Good luck!

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Daily Summer Schedule

Daily Summer Schedule

It is DAY ONE of our summer and I have some goals, people.

1. My children will not forget everything they learned over the school year
2. My house will be clean
3. My children will not waste the summer watching tv and playing video games
4. We will do fun things and remember them

Soooo, I made them a daily summer schedule. No screens* of any kind until the following have been done:

Daily Jobs –

brush teeth
say prayers
make bed
get dressed/put away pajamas
tidy bedroom
tidy bathroom
tidy living room
comb hair
read 30 minutes
practice math* This is the exception to the rule because it saves a whole lot of paper. My kids like ABCya! and XtraMath
practice piano 30 minutes
free time to play, read, draw, etc. 2 hours

Weekly Jobs – these are spread throughout the week and divided among the kids, some happen daily, others once, twice, or three times per week

tidy rec room
kitchen counters
sweep kitchen
tidy entry
trash + recycling
vacuum bedroom
vacuum rec room
sweep living room
vacuum stairs + hall

We are also hoping to do several activities each week that get us out of the house or help the kids learn/get better at life skills:

national parks
state parks
local parks
library programming
city programming
summer movie express
kids bowl free
swim at the pool
go on a drive
local nature centers
ice cream outings
Smithsonian museums
bake and cook
paint and draw
jobs for hire – I made a list of jobs they can do this summer to earn some money. We will have some lessons about saving, spending, donating, etc.

That TV is such a sneaky time sucker, isn’t it?! “One more show?” “This only has 7 minutes left, can I finish it?”

I don’t want my kids to look back and not really remember what they did all summer. I want them to learn new things, use their imaginations, explore, and progress. We are setting some guidelines and rules about our TV, laptops, phones, and Noa’s DS so we can be sure to get as much life out of this summer as possible.

Do you limit screen time over the summer?

6 Ways to Enjoy our National Parks with Kids – Kids to Parks Day

This post is sponsored by National Park Trust.

National Parks with Kids

This Saturday, May 21st, is the 6th Annual Kids to Parks Day! To celebrate we are giving away a fun prize pack here on the blog and sharing 6 ways you can enjoy our beautiful National Parks with kids. You can participate this weekend by pledging to bring your child to a local, state, or national park on May 21st. Register here and you might win some great prizes!

6 Ways to Enjoy National Parks with Kids

1. Junior Ranger Program

Yellowstone Junior Rangers

Many of the National Parks have Junior Ranger packets available. They are only a few dollars or sometimes free. They do an amazing job of helping kids get a broad experience of the park and learn some interesting facts and history of the park. Once the packet is complete the kids are sworn in as Junior Rangers and they receive a patch or pin for their efforts.

Yellowstone Junior Ranger Program

TIP: The programs we have done (Yellowstone, Fort McHenry, Harper’s Ferry, and the National Mall) take a solid amount of time. Plan for a few hours, especially if you have several kids in different age ranges.

2. Journal – Write, Draw, Photo

I gave my kids blank notebooks before we visited Yellowstone so they could make notes about animals they saw, draw pictures about the day, or paste in pictures they took.

3. Picnic

There is nothing better than a picnic with a national park as the setting. Some parks have restaurants or convenience stores but we often pack a cooler with snacks and food to save some money. Be careful to clean up after yourself. Do not leave trash or food. Keep our parks and the animals that call them home safe and healthy! If you don’t see a trash can, keep your trash in your car or pocket until you do!!

4. Every Kid in a Park Program

Every Kid in a Park

This is a great program for 4th graders across the United States. Each 4th grade student has access to a free National Park Pass. These passes allow the student and their family free access to the national parks and monuments for one year! If you have a current 4th grader or would like information about the program, check it out here.

5. License Plate Game

This is a really fun way to make the most of parks that have large parking lots or lots of road to drive. We write down all the states and leave a section for international vehicles. We check the states off as we see them. It is amazing how many different plates there are out there! It’s one of our favorite road trip games.

Looking for more games to play on the road? Check out our list of 15 here!

6. Explore

Explore Fort McHenry

It has been my experience that kids and their imaginations don’t need much to have an amazing time no matter where they are! Each park has something special and unique – find it and experience it! It might be an amazing hike, colorful geysers, or enormous trees. Take it all in!

Fort McHenry Junior Ranger Program

Today we are giving away two great books to one lucky reader:

Kids to Parks Day

Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure

My girls LOVE the book about Buddy! We visited Yellowstone two summers ago and one of our best memories is getting stuck in a bison jam :) We were on our way to see Old Faithful one of the mornings and ended up stuck in a super long line of slow-moving cars. We had no idea what the hold up was. It took some time but eventually we found out what was causing all the traffic – BISON! They were everywhere. All over the road, the sides of the road, in the river along the road! There were several park rangers keeping them safe and helping the traffic maneuver the animals without disturbing them. It was so fun to see all the cute babies with their mamas and families. It was the best traffic jam I’ve ever been in and the kids often say, “Hey! Remember when we got bison jammed?!” I think that experience was more memorable than Old Faithful or any of the other amazing things we saw those few days!

National Geographics Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition

Noa has been eating up the National Parks Guide. He loves informational books like this and has been telling me the parks he would like to visit some day. When we plan road trips, large or small, I love finding national parks along the way. The parks are all so unique and it’s so fun to take some time to check them out, even if it’s just a few minutes or miles. This book has a map of the US with parks and monuments across the country.

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Rad Mom Cool Kid

Rad Mom Cool Kid