Author Archives: Kerry Lyons

A dog’s life: it’s SO GOOD

August 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Out and About | Tips and Quips - (0 Comments)
Finnegan: a very happy dog whose day was SO GOOD thanks to IAMS

This week I was treated to a unique experience, a trip to the city with my four-legged friend Finnegan, courtesy of IAMS.

En route to the IAMS SO GOOD event

On our way to the IAMS SO GOOD event in NY

For the first time in years, I spent my morning with our dog rather than at my desk or with our kids… although, I kind of think of Finnegan as our sixth kid… or perhaps more aptly put, as our first child.  We LOVE this dog.  He is a released golden retriever/lab mix from the Guiding Eyes for the Blind and he is amazing.  Always so happy to see us, so gentle with our kids, and so eager to love.  And…

Really really itchy!

There have been nights — rare nights — that all five of our kids are sound asleep.  “At last!”, we think to ourselves, we are ALL going to sleep through the night!  And then it begins. Finnegan scratch, scratch, scratches, with his collar jingle, jingle, jingling and there we lie, wide awake, tossing and turning.  Something is keeping him up.  And that something is keeping us up.  And that’s no good at all. Believing that “something” is very likely found in his food, I was game to give the new IAMS SO GOOD! brand a try — I’ll give anything a try if it will help me (and Finn!) sleep through the night!

Our family is a firm believer that “you are what you eat.”  We do our best to eat locally-sourced foods and splurge on organic fruits and veggies when we can; we belong to a CSA and enjoy family trips to our farmers market on Wednesday evenings.  My husband is a hater of high-fructose corn syrup and we try to stay away from processed foods.  Don’t get me wrong – we’re not health nuts.  We do enjoy the occasional Doritos, Oreos and other “junk” food.  But we try to avoid it.  And, as it turns out, perhaps Finn should too.

While at this IAMS event, my eyes were opened to just how much “junk” is really in some dog food.  Added sugars, dyes and artificial preservatives. It kinda makes me itchy just thinking about it!


Ew. These nasty things could be in your dog's bowl. And Finn's too!

The new SO GOOD! dog food leaves out that bad stuff and fills the bowl with good stuff — natural stuff like chicken, veggies and fruit.

IAMS SO GOOD only has wholesome ingredients, like these

They even had Oprah’s former chef, Art Smith on board, talking about the value of wholesome foods.  As he put it earlier this week, “the more wholesome, the better.”  I couldn’t agree more.  For people and for pets too.


Finnegan: a very happy dog whose day was SO GOOD thanks to IAMS

NOTE: This is a sponsored post for IAMS.

Moving Day

July 30th, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Laughter and Disaster | MaMa Moments | Tips and Quips - (4 Comments)

Where did the month of July go?  It marks the longest stretch I’ve gone without sharing our trials and triumphs here at the “Lyons Den” and here’s why — this month has been a hot, hard, horrid disaster!  As my friends and family know all too well, when the the going gets tough, well, I’m not that tough; I go radio silent.  And the past few weeks have been really tough. Why?  Because we moved.  And believe me, even though we are beyond thrilled to have found our “forever house”, it hasn’t been easy.

According to answers.com, moving is one of the “top five most stressful things in life;” the other four are debt, work, relationship troubles and loneliness.  Which is kind of ironic because, if you ask me, moving brings them all together.  The reality is that this move has put us in greater debt; we missed days of work to move and settle in; our relationship has been repeatedly tested as we bickered about what furniture goes where, which pictures should finally find their place on the curb and how much to spend to renovate the kitchen.  Thankfully, loneliness has not yet been an issue but if all of this keeps up, I can see how it could be.

According to the article I read on wiki answers, “the very thought of moving can fill people with dread – and experts say that as the most expensive and life-changing financial transaction most people ever undertake, it’s probably also one of the most stressful.”  I can attest this is true — and, if you add five kids, one “big red dog”, and an average temperatures of 95 degrees with 100% humidity to the mix, it’s all the more stressful.

But that’s not all.  Let me share a bit more about what’s been stressing me out over the past few weeks — with a warning:  you may not believe it’s true.  If I’ve seen or talked to you lately, I probably mentioned that “when I finally get the chance to write about this, I”m sure folks will think I’m making it up.”  Well, I’m not.  Here’s a rundown of life in the Lyons Den for the past few weeks…

  • July 2nd:  Triplet A discovered on living room rug in a pool of barf upon our arrival home from work. The summer stomach virus has arrived.
  • July 3rd:  Our oldest complains of a tooth-ache at dinner but, as Triplet B starts to burn with fever, he is ignored.
  • July 4th:  We pause on the packing to enjoy a great day with my sister and her family, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Triplets A&B are kept comfortable with Tylenol & Advil. Fevers run amok but vomiting has ceased.
  • July 5th:  Tooth ache complaints continue. We call the dentist. They are closed for the July 4th weekend; the message cites a number to call in case of emergency.  We decide it’s not an emergency and spend the day packing.
  • July 6th: 3AM:  We are awakened by our sobbing 8 year old moaning with pain.  Sh*t!! It turns out that tooth is an emergency!  9AM:  Movers arrive to take the outdoor furniture, contents of garage and all packed boxes. Mayhem ensues as we track down our dentist, find an endodontist who is working on the Saturday of July 4th weekend and try to keep the kids from being trampled by the movers. 1 PM:  Poor kid has an emergency root canal.  Ugh.
  • July 7th:  It’s 100 degrees and we spend the day cleaning the new house (which does NOT have air conditioning) and packing up the old one. I want, I NEED to have our new kitchen in working order before we make the final move.  I scrub the counters, line the shelves, stock the pantry.  I have convinced myself that if only I have the means and space to feed our family, it will all be fine. Of note, Triplet C spends the day intermittently sweating, drooling and napping on a hardwood floor as his fever spikes.  He (and three other kids) have also picked up a nasty case of poison ivy.  Things are not looking good. Literally.
  • July 8th: It’s Monday. I go to work and try to act like everything is under control. It’s not. At 10:00PM we make a run to the new house to stock the fridge. We notice a drip over the stove. It’s coming from the ceiling. Run for cover! The ceiling collapses. And so too does my morale, my sense of control, my ability to feed our family!
  • July 9th: Moving Day.  It’s 94 degrees.  We still have four kids with poison ivy, one recovering from a root canal and one complaining of a sore throat.  We shuttle between the new and old house answering questions of movers and plumbers alike.  “Put that there. No, there!”  “What? Did I turn off the water on the third floor?  No. But I’m flattered you think I’d know how to!”  8PM that night: “Emergency!!! Mom, MOM!!!!! Come quick! There’s water everywhere!!!”

And then, I think I kind of blacked out for a few weeks.  There were more plumbers and an electrician.  There were numerous trips to the pediatrician.  Sinus infections. Strep throat. Poison ivy. There were numerous trips to the dentist.  There were busy days at work and long nights unpacking.  There were (and are) boxes, boxes everywhere.  There is a gaping hole in the kitchen ceiling and just today, it “rained” inside — to be exact, the bathtub water from upstairs rained into the spaghetti pot on the stove.  Bon appetit?!

It seems we are now the proud, tired, broke owners of the “money pit.”  But you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Because in the blur of the past few weeks, between the endless sweat, exhausted tears and consistent sense of being completely overwhelmed, there have been neighbors on the porch, friends in the kitchen, family checking in and more friends hanging out.  Despite leaky plumbing, sick kids and horrid heat, we’ve managed to make this place our home.  And while it’s far from perfect, it’s still very sweet.  And with that spirit rediscovered, I look forward to sharing more tales, tips and quips in the weeks and months ahead… and maybe, just maybe, we will finally get these boxes unpacked.  But if not, well, c’mon by anyway… turns out a box is a mighty fine place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine!

Moving Up

June 21st, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in MaMa Moments | parenting | Tips and Quips - (0 Comments)
It was this realization that brought tears to my eyes.

It was this realization that brought tears to my eyes.

Tuesday was our oldest son Liam’s “Moving Up” ceremony.  He moved up from 3rd grade to 4th and will be entering a new school in the fall.  Like many parents sitting in the hot, crowded auditorium (vying for a seat with a view!), I wondered how this day came so quickly. It seems like yesterday that I put my wide-eyed, innocent not-yet five-year old on a bus for the first time.  I didn’t cry then.  Perhaps because I had other things on my mind — like his little sister who was two and his triplet brothers who were 11 months.  Or perhaps because I knew it would be easier to have four kids under four at home than five under five!  Or perhaps because I knew he was ready. Ready to ride that bus and join the ranks of kindergarteners.

This week, as I sat in that sweaty gym, looking up at the beaming faces onstage, I wondered, is he ready?  For  4th grade? For a new school?  For all the life lessons that lie ahead?  My mind immediately jumped to life lessons vs. school lessons the moment his class marched dutifully onto the stage and I saw their shirts emblazoned with “Class of 2022.”  That’s when I cried.  That’s when it really hit me.  Today, 3rd grade graduation; tomorrow, high school graduation!  I don’t know if it was the notion of my firstborn graduating and leaving home (I know, I know, I am getting WAY ahead of myself here!) or the realization that many of the life lessons he will encounter between now and then will be hard ones.

By the time 2022 rolls around, he will have likely had — and lost — his first love; he will be on a losing and learn that it’s only in Little League that everyone gets a trophy; he may be bullied — or worse yet, be a bully; he will experiment with many things and he may be left out, left behind or left for lost.  Lost in text books that are complicated and relationships that are even more so.  He will grow up.  And that’s what makes me cry.

These lessons, like many good ones and all the ones that can’t be taught from a book lie before this little boy who is my first… and who is not so little anymore.  He is too “cool” to wave to me from the stage; he only barely makes eye contact a I weep in that overheated, overcrowded gym.

I pulled myself together to pay attention as his classmates shared their memories — memories of the nervousness in kindergarten, the smiling faces and warm welcome in first grade, the trip to the zoo in second grade and their combined efforts to make a new third grader from Japan feel at home. This show of 3rd grade compassion and empathy yielded even more tears.  Then, they recited a touching poem in unison that concluded with these words:

“When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

More tears.  And a reminder that they, our children, are always looking. He will look to me to help him navigate those tough life lessons that inevitably lie ahead.  And I will be there.  I will be looking.  Just like I was when the bus pulled away that first day of kindergarten… and every day since.

Last day of preschool

June 5th, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in MaMa Moments | triplets - (0 Comments)
1st day of school_on steps

1st day of school... how can the last be here already?!

When you have identical twins or triplets, the life you lead is different.   You are stopped on the street.  You are asked “are they identical?!” time and again.  When they were first born, you probably couldn’t tell your own babies apart.  And as they get older, you realize other people probably never will.  You find tips and tricks to identify them to the outside world – different colors, a freckle here, a scar there.   You want the world to know that while they look identical, they couldn’t be more different.  And you find yourself explaining this again and again.

Today our identical triplets “graduate” from preschool.  Today is a day I know I will cry – tears of joy that they are happy, healthy and moving on; tears of sadness that this phase in my life – in their lives – is over.  No more preschool.  No more babies.  Just big kids.  Big kids who are eager to get out into that big world and show their differences.  It’s my job to help them.   It’s my job to explain what sets them apart.  I do it time and again and today, I thought I’d share a few excerpts of the note I sent to preschool on day one:

  • Physical factors:  Much to our own surprise (and against all odds!), all three of them crawled, sat, walked, talked, potty trained, etc. at the normal ages of development.  We think all three are right-handed although, apparently with identicals, one is bound to be a lefty so, keep an eye out for that!  (Note: it’s still unclear if this is true or which little fella may be a leftie!)
  • Play & Social Experiences:  They play well with each other, with their brother and sister and other little buddies.  Caution: if someone picks on one of them, the other two are prone to defend their brother — not in a violent way, but enough to make their presence known. You’ve been warned!
  • Goals: Basic algebra and conversational French. Gotcha!  We just want them to have a happy, healthy, positive classroom experience that sets them up nicely for kindergarten. 

Ok, now for what you really wanted to know — their differences/nuances/how to tell them apart:

  • Kevin: Stick with me here — his nickname is KooKoo Bear.  Don’t ask. It just happened.  So, if you hear the other guys call him KooKoo, that’s why.  His color is red; his crocs are orange.  He has two parallel freckles on the bridge of his nose. He is sweet, easy going, laid back and very helpful. When in need of a haircut, he can be identified by a little twist on the nape of his neck. He’s a big talker with a lot to say.
  • Declan: His nickname is Little Duck. Also called Duckling. Again, embarrassing but true and you may hear the other kids call him this. His color is blue; his crocs are turquoise. He is the most “attached” to his color.  He once got so mad when we gave him a red sippy cup that he threw it at us and said “I’m BLUE!”  He is super smart.  He was the first to do everything — walking, talking, sitting, etc.  We think he will go to Princeton. (Ha! Gotcha again!)
  • Cormac:  This one got off easy with the nicknames — we call him Mac, or MacMac. On occasion we call him Mac&Cheese but I don’t think that will come up.  His color is green, his crocs are too.  He has a freckle on his left eyelid and a sparkle in his eyes.  He can be a bit mischievous but responds well to reminders about right choices.  He wakes up giddy — bouncing off the walls jolly. The kid is a pleasure to be around.  Unless he is really tired, in which case, he is not. Hopefully this won’t happen at school!

Ok, well, I hope I haven’t scared you.  They are all truly a joy to behold — happy, curious and sweet with just enough mischief to keep ‘em real.  They love stories and music and we know they will love preschool.  And we hope you will love them. 

“We hope you love them,” I said.  They did.  They loved them. They taught them.  They learned to tell them apart.  They discovered their differences and delighted in their similarities.  Just like we do.

What I learned as a mom this spring

May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Tips and Quips - (0 Comments)

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Extreme Parenting: Spring Sports Edition was the last post I wrote — over a month ago… the longest lapse in my posting to this blog since the triplets were born.  Yep, it would seem that this spring’s schedule is more of a challenge for me than juggling three newborns with two toddlers… at least they all napped and the weekends belonged to us, not Little League!

Over the past month, I’ve actually started several posts that never got completed.  Titles included “Why Little League Moms Pray For Rain” and “I Don’t Think She Can Do It.”  These have more a negative tenor than I usually take and I suspect have remained incomplete because I eventually got some sleep, a big cup of coffee and my usual sunny outlook back.  But I’m not gonna lie — it’s been a busy, challenging time here in the Lyons Den.

I spent Monday nights wondering what to write for my “Tuesday Tip” but, after baseball practice, lacrosse practice, late dinner, showers, homework, catching up on the work I missed because I left the office for the aforementioned practices, well, I was out of steam and short on tips.  To give you a glimpse of our lives over the past month, here are a few “lessons learned” along the way… which I share in the hopes that you may learn from our mistakes, missteps and occasional victories — on or off a baseball field!

  • If a child is hit squarely in the nose with a baseball, that nose “in all probability is broken.”  And yes, I can attribute the quote to our pediatrician.  Who, by the way, you should see if you suspect your child may have a broken nose.  Don’t ignore it for 24 hours like we did and send him to school the next day.  Oh, and Tylenol will help to ease the pain… for both of you!
  • If you think your kid has poison ivy, he probably does.  Here’s a tip:  do NOT put him in the bath tub with his siblings.  That, as it turns out, is not a good idea.  A good idea is to treat it liberally with Calamine Lotion, keep it covered to prevent itching (and therefore, spreading!) and offer Benadryl at bedtime to prevent overnight scratching.  Oh, and if it’s oozing, it can still spread.  This was news to me but now you know!
  • If you are traveling on business and see on the morning news that record-setting rain is on the way, skip your meeting and go to the airport.  Pronto.  Get on the next plane before the first drops fall; if you don’t, you may find, as I did, that your business trip will get extended by several days… leaving your spouse to supervise the spring sports schedule solo, which is no easy task!
  • If you are buying a house — especially if you are buying your second house — be prepared for a lot of financial interrogation. As you might imagine, it’s not like it was ten years ago; while mortgage rates are alluring, the approval process is complex and takes time.  Time that might turn your hair grey, as it has mine.  Consider yourself warned!
  • If you are overwhelmed by work and life in general, admit it.  Tell your husband, tell your friends, tell your sister, tell your boss.  I don’t like to admit that sometimes, I can’t “do it all” — and I most certainly can’t do it all well.  Simply saying so seems to light the load.  In my case, my husband hit the grocery store, my friends reminded me that no one can do it all and do it well all the time, my sister offered empathy and advice, having been there herself and my boss suggested I find a few hours a week to get the balance back.

Am I there yet?  No.  But, I’ve written my first post in over a month and that’s a good sign… almost as good as the fact that there are only a handful of Little League games left.  And actually, knowing that summer and a break from the scheduling insanity is right around the corner, I think I might enjoy them!

spring sports overload

All winter we wait.  We optimistically think, “This is last snow storm, spring must be right around the corner!”  We put away our heavy coats and sweaters, often prematurely.  We look for the bright yellow and vibrant purple of crocuses peeking out through dirty, grey snow.  We listen for birds chirping in the pre-dawn hours to confirm that spring has arrived.  And then, finally, the wait is over.  Spring arrives.

We have visions of long family walks while the sun warms our backs; of tending to the garden and nurturing new plants to life while our brood frolics around us; of lazy afternoons on the patio soaking up the sun.  And then reality sets in.  As lovely as spring can be, in our house, it’s more like Extreme Parenting, Spring Sports Edition.  In short, it is a nightmare.

For starters, when you’re watching a soccer practice at 9:30 AM or a baseball game at 5:30 PM, what little sun there is lacks the power to warm your back. Or anything else for that matter. It is freezing out!  Especially when your heavy coat and sweaters have been packed away.

There is simply no time for walks or gardening or soaking in the sunshine when you look at the calendar for Saturday and need to determine how you can be at the Girl Scout Cookie pick-up at 9:00, soccer at 9:30, hip-hop at 9:30 and baseball at… 9:30!  Reality check: you can’t!  And your kids can’t either. For ages you’ve known that a clone would be a good thing for you. For all moms.  In fact, I’ve even suggested the notion of a “sister wife” to my husband — just another gal around the house who would be my pal around the house and help out as needed — car pools, laundry, shuttling kids and equipment to and fro… and if she occasionally “helped” my husband out too well, that’s fine by me because the reality is, this spring schedule is exhausting!  But I digress…

The spring sports schedule has me thinking that even our kids need clones.  How else can they be at the baseball practice and soccer game?  At lacrosse and hip-hop?  It’s just not right.  I’ve always prided myself on “just saying no” and not overscheduling our children but I fear this spring has done me in — so much so that I am already looking forward to next winter, when the days are short, the activities are few and I dream of curling up by the fire… a fire which, for the record, we only lounged by a handful of times this past winter but even so, a girl’s gotta dream.  I just never thought those dreams would include a sister wife and a fireplace!

5 signs vacation is over

April 10th, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in MaMa Moments | Tips and Quips - (0 Comments)

The week including Passover and Easter was spring break for many of us here in the Northeast. Our family didn’t have any extravagant plans but, I always relish a simple break from the routine…. especially the respite from making lunches!  The days flew by quickly — too quickly — and suddenly it was back to school, back to business, back to reality.  Just a few days in, I was  TIRED.  Ten days later, I don’t how I’m going to make it to Memorial Day, our next day off which feels eons away.  That week the kids were off from school was simple, easy, more relaxed and oddly enough, even more productive in some ways — I was able to sort through hand-me-downs and pay bills in the pre-dawn hours while the little ones snoozed.  I realize that doesn’t quite sound like a vacation but there was a sense of self-satisfaction that came with making a dent in my monumental to-do list; there was mental clarity in knowing things were organized and tidy; there was a sense of relief when the clock struck 7:00 and I didn’t have grab grumbly kids out of their warm cozy beds.

Here are my Top 5 signs you’re not on vacation anymore — any you’d add?

  • I never thought I’d be glad for a school break because it meant I’d have time to put the laundry away but, it’s true.  Then, our clean clothes were in drawers; now they are in baskets.  And there they will likely stay until they get worn, washed and put back in the basket.  If they get washed at all.  There’s a good chance our clothes  won’t see the inside of a drawer until the next school break.  Good thing for all those hand-me-downs!
  • Dinner is planned before breakfast is consumed.  During the vacation week, we just rolled with it.  One night we had pizza and “make your own sundae” night.  Another, we made a last minute decision to take the crew out for Mexican.  Now, it’s back to defrosting meat before the coffee pot even perks up for the day. It’s hard enough to face my own thighs some mornings but chicken thighs before sunrise can be a tough way to start the day!
  • Bedtime is at 8:00. Sharp!  While the kids were off from school, we hung out well past their usual bedtimes.  There was extra “kid TV”, movie night and a strong likelihood to honor the requests for “one more book!”  Now, it’s a 50 yard dash to the bunk beds as soon as the sun starts to drop in the warm spring sky.  “Brush your teeth! Go to the bathroom! Go to bed! NOW! Good night!!”  And the door is shut, the lights are out, and the work begins — house work, office work, all the things that we let slide while they were on vacation. I have to say, I’m missing the “kid TV” and “one more book!”
  • Activities and Sports and Playdates oh my!  It feels like someone shot the starting gun at about 6AM on April 1st, which was their first day back in school.  It was also the day that lacrosse, baseball, soccer and everything other spring activity you can imagine started in full swing, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I am the April Fool?  What are we doing?!  Racing here, racing there, grab your helmet, where are your cleats, get your water bottle, and on and on.  Truth be told, they seem to thrive on it but I am already ready for a vacation!
  • Rise and Shine has reverted to Rise and Whine.  Need I say more?

We spent the greater part of that week off close to home (and 48 hours in Philly, which I will share highlights of at a later date!) and still the transition back to our regular routine was a tough one.  I imagine it would have been even tougher had we actually really taken a vacation and returned with piles of laundry — see?  With five kids, it’s really all about the laundry!  Speaking of which, I need to go do some!

Last week our two “big” kids got their report cards.  We were a bit nervous about the parent-teacher conferences since it sometimes feels as though it’s not only the students being graded — and, in fairness, when your first grader writes about the day you forgot to pick her up at the bus stop, it’s not the best reflection of your parenting skills!

As we faced their teachers across the pint-sized desks, we were delighted to learn our kids are both doing really well.  Sure he can be a bit sloppy or she could try a little harder but the reality is, they are doing it all — reading, writing and arithmetic.  And, even more importantly, they are kind, respectful and well-liked.  Gotta say, my husband and I were high-fiving each other as we left those little desks and skipped out the door.  Something is working — between the kids, their teachers and us, things seem to be moving along in the right direction and that deserves some recognition and celebration. So, how did we celebrate? (more…)

The people I work with often marvel that when I travel for business, my husband isn’t completely overrun by our children when he gets home from work.  They can’t help but wonder how anyone could manage the mayhem of five kids at the witching hour — that charming time from roughly 5 or 6 until 7 or 8 when stomachs rumble, tempers flare and exhaustion ensues.  While it’s not easy, it can be done –even with five kids eight and under.  Even when you’re “home alone.”  How?

  1. Have a plan and stick to it.  Know what’s for dinner before you walk in the door.  In fact, you would ideally know what’s for dinner before you walked out of the door in the morning; that way, you can have much of it prepped and, if the sitter can simply pop it in the oven, that’s all the better!  Tonight I was home alone with all five kids and have to admit, I was the worst offender as it relates to the rumbling belly, short temper and overall exhaustion.  What saved the day?  Knowing that dinner was as easy as warming up left-over pork chops, microwaving some rice and serving up some pepper sticks and carrots.  Was it gourmet?  No. But it did the trick.  It went down in a jiffy and we all made it ’til Tuesday without falling back on mac & cheese or chicken nuggets.  Yay us!
  2. Have a routine and stick to it.  In our house, it’s a quick dash from dinner to pjs.  The quicker they hustle out of their clothes and into their pajamas, the more time we have for reading and snuggling, which is a favorite part of everyone’s day. Here’s our routine:  eat dinner; kids clear their plates; kids with clean plates get dessert; after dessert, kids put on pajamas, put dirty clothes in hamper, brush teeth, pee, read books, pee again and then it’s lights out.  Typically by 8:00.  Is our routine flawless?  Absolutely not!  But, everyone knows what is expected of them and, we all are motivated by the reward of a few extra minutes snuggled up with heads on shoulders and feet entwined as stories are read and tales of the day are shared — which, thankfully are part of the routine!
  3. Put the kids to work.  See bullet #2.  They clear the table. They put the dirty laundry where it goes.  And yes, I nag them.  A lot.  Too much some might say.  But, eventually they get it – a few plates will get broken and clean clothes might end up in the hamper but, it’s a small price to pay for a bunch of kids who pitch in, understand their roles and responsibilities and, perhaps most importantly, take a few things off of your list!

Is it a perfect system? Nope.  But is there anything about parenting — or for that matter, children — that’s perfect?  I don’t think so.  I think we all just do the best we can each and every day.  A plan helps. A routine helps.  Having kids help helps.  When all is said and done, I just hope mine remember the extra moments we spent snuggling more than those angry rants when I first walk in the door from work!  See?  I told you.  Far from perfect.  But, a-ok.  And that’s good enough!

Time to go!

It’s a universal challenge:  getting out of the house in the morning on time — ideally with your children in tow, snacks packed, shoes tied, coats on, teeth brushed and hair combed.  It was hard when we had one tiny tot. It was harder when we had two.  Now that we have five, well, it’s not easy but, we’ve learned from our mistakes and, in the spirit of sharing, hopefully you can too!

  • Wake up earlier.  It’s painful but trust me, it works.  We made two mistakes in this category. First, we often hit snooze until a baby cried and demanded our attention; at that point, it is too late. You’re already behind the 8-ball.  An early rise is critical to the success of our morning mission.  It allows us to literally be one step ahead of the little people — which is where you need to be if you’re going to drag them out the door on time.  The second mistake we made was letting them sleep in; after years of being told “never wake a sleeping baby”, it seems counter-intuitive to do just that but, you must.  They need time that transition time from the land of nod to the day ahead and the more time you allow them, the less hustling and bustling and screaming and yelling there will be. Trust me on this!
  • Prep the night before.  Make the lunches. Pack those snacks. Put out the clothes. Pack the backpacks. Sign the forms.  Write the notes.  Set the shoes by the door. Locate the gloves, hats and mittens.  It’s not fun but it’s a lot less fun to tackle these tasks with whining tots and as tempers rise and the time ticks away in the morning.  And, whatever you do, don’t forget to set the coffee maker!  What the heck – you may even want to pick out an outfit and pack lunch for yourself!
  • Let them “do it self!”  Kids love to help. So, put them to work!  A toddler can find his shoes and put them by the door.  A kindergartener can pop a snack into her backpack.  And a third-grader can and should be responsible for neatly packing up his homework and picking out clothes for the next day.  So, let them.  It will ease the burden on you, make them feel great and teach an important lesson about responsibility along the way.

I suppose last but not least, allow room for error.  You know what they say about the best-laid plans right?   Well, the morning routine is no exception and sometimes you just need to roll with it.  Sometimes you are going to be late.  And that’s ok.  That’s when it’s good to remember one of my mantras, for better or worse, better late than never!