A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate

A Multi-Purpose Solution Quick DIY Two Color Painted Storage Crate 2

So I had these two problems that seemed unrelated…

Problem One:

We’ve been having a bit of a storage problem in our house. I bought this cloth basket with the intent of using it for either library books or blankets. I’ve tried using it for many things, and have stuffed many-a-library book into it.

Not Big Enough

Unfortunately, it is simply not big enough to really be functional – even though I wish it was.  So, it has been demoted to hold kids dress-up clothes until I find another functional use for it.

Back at square one, I am still in need of a storage solution to put under my living room end table for books or blankets.

Problem Two:

I like to use beverage dispensers when I host a large gathering – but I have no stands. I am always scrounging around before we host…for something, anything, that will raise the dispensers off of the counter.

Why not buy one? The sticker shock. Not only are they expensive,but they also serve no other purpose and take up space in my kitchen cabinets. They are not used often enough to justify it.

All that scrounging around for a solution always yields no results and I end up with the spigots hanging off the counter, with beverages dripping onto the floor.

Wet socks…sigh.

SO what do these two problems have in common? The solution.

Last week, while preparing to host a wedding shower, I stumbled upon this pin from The Better Half. Cleverly, they used a painted crate for a beverage station. Not only does the crate save me from floor puddles and lift the dispensers so they can be used, it also provides storage for the cups below – saving valuable counter space!

Genius.

On the same day (oh yes, this project was meant to be), the email title Easy DIY Library Book Crate from This Abundant Life caught my eye.

In a span of just a few minutes an inexpensive, multi-purpose problem solving solution was born – only I wanted mine to have two colors.

Lucky me, the unfinished wood crates were on sale and even less using a coupon at JoAnns. I bought the cheapest acrylic craft paint I could find ($0.69 per bottle) in two colors, and the project was funded and completed for under $10.

I used 2.5 bottles of white craft paint, and a half bottle of yellow. White paint was used as a primer below the yellow (becuase as I mentioned, I bought cheap paint and had no idea how well the yellow would cover).

A Multi-Purpose Solution Quick DIY Two Color Painted Storage Crate Photo

It took an hour to paint two coats, and then just a few minutes to seal it.

The painted crate was sealed with leftover indoor/outdoor Urethane sealer from the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign I made this winter. Now the paint is protected from condensation on the dispensers, and won’t come off on the carpet.

I love a solution that solves more than one problem.

Beverage Station:

Beverage Station

Book Storage:

Book storageLibrary Book Storage

Blanket Storage:

Blanket Storage

My Heart May Burst

My heart is so full, it just might burst!

As I shared on Friday, I entered Mother’s Day weekend with low expectations. I just wanted a regular day with our family, even if it meant tears, diapers and interruptions.

I did get a weekend with my husband and kids. It was lovely. And real.

There were certainly some less-than-desirable interruptions – including a 2-year-old who pooped in the tub (while both kids and all their toys were in it and daddy was outside mowing the lawn. Oh, how I love bleach!), a bloody nose to rival all others, a few time outs and a whole lot of tears and boogers.

But, there were also amazing moments I would never trade, even for a spa day – rolling down a grassy hill with the kids, (yes, it made me dizzy but made them crack up so was worth it), giggles and joy at the Children’s Museum, fun playing a new game together, and silly kids playing dress up. We also enjoyed sweet gatherings with my mom and my husband’s mom.

My thoughtful husband and children topped-off the growler of iced coffee they left me on Friday with a gift card to a favorite shop and Monopoly Jr for our family to play together (We all know the brains behind that gift…Thank you, Seth).

I was already feeling very, very loved. 

In addition, our son made a few gifts for me. His sweet smile as he proudly told me what he made and how he made them is enough to make my heart puff up.

The hand-made gifts started with a cute picture made at preschool of a butterfly made from his hands. So sweet.

butterfly

The picture came attached to an interview of the preschool kids about their mamas. Below are our son’s answers but all of the kids answers were hysterical.

  • What does your mother do? “She cleans the floor, vacuums and does laundry and helps me clean my room” – PS my house is not that clean…
  • What is your favorite food she cooks for you? “Oatmeal” – yep. Every day.
  • What does your mom look like? ” She has long legs, long hair and not very long arms” – hehe…can you picture it?

Then he made a cup of paper flowers at Sunday School and presented them to me. This all seems like a showering of love, right? My heart was already plenty full. 

Then Sunday afternoon we went to my mom’s to celebrate Mother’s Day and I was surprised by yet another gift from our son. Intrigued, I opened it.

Priceless treasures.

He painted two pictures on canvas when he was at my mom’s house and kept it a secret for several weeks! Impressive for a 4 1/2 year old. Not only did he keep the secret, look at these…they are amazing!

The first he called “Volcano with flowers” – pronounced by him as “o-cano with flowers”.

You won’t believe how he did this! He mixed all the paint colors together and used a paint brush to make the volcano. Then, he stamped the flowers using the bottom of a plastic cup. He used a large Q-tip to make the center spots. He used a knife to draw the stems and leaves with green paint. Check it out:

Volcano and Flowers

Speechless.

His second painting is Birch Trees. He made the tree outlines using masking tape. My mom said she helped him tear the small pieces for the branches but he stuck everything on himself. He used a paper towel dipped in paint to make the grass and sky background. When dry, they removed the tape and used a large Q-tip to add the brown to the trees and a knife dipped in black paint to finish it off.

Birch Trees

My mom has assured me that she gave him instructions but he painted these himself. I think we can all agree she is an amazing teacher (and grandma). Thank you Aiden and Grandma Pam.

Not only did I have a great Mother’s Day, but a whole weekend. Topped off by hand-made and thoughtful gifts I will treasure always.

Thank you all.  My heart is as full as it can be. One more smile. One more kiss…it just might make it burst.

There’s only one way I can think of to end this…”Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

What I Really Want For Mother’s Day – A Life Interrupted

This morning, like every morning, I came downstairs, with two frantic-for-breakfast kids in my wake. The view upon opening the fridge stopped me in my tracks.

There, on the middle shelf was a beautiful sight – a growler of dark roasted coffee, cold pressed for 24 hours. A full jug of coffee goodness. Even better, on it, a handwritten note from my husband proclaiming, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.

grolwer

Yes, my friends, this man is a keeper.

Today, as you know as you read this, is Friday. It is not Mother’s Day.

Delighted and excited to try some, I first did what mothers do – I made the kids breakfast and made sure they had water and anything they might need from me before trying to pour myself a cup.

This coffee is every bit as wonderful as you might think it is. Dark. Strong. And, unlike my normal morning coffee with the kids, I don’t have to worry about it getting cold.

It is intentionally, delightfully cold. Delicious.

That man is my hero.

Last night, before bed, I read a ScaryMommy blog post, titled “What Moms REALLY Mean When They Say “I Don’t Want Anything for Mother’s Day” that made me crack up.

Out loud.

By myself.

Yes, I do that a lot since I am a heavy mom-blog consumer and some of you are incredible blogging comedians.

This morning, watching our kids and drinking fantastic coffee, I was struck by what I really want for Mother’s Day and how appropriate it is to wake up to a Mother’s Day gift during a standard week day.

What I really want is not what I originally thought. Last night, I agreed with ScaryMommy and thought I wanted an uninterrupted day.

But I don’t. I think if I have an uninterrupted Mother’s Day, I will miss what makes me love being a mom. Mother’s Day isn’t about being served, thanked, showered with gifts, or praised. Mother’s Day is about being a mom, and being a mom means a life of interruption, both good and bad.

Although I sometimes complain about the lack of sleep, cranky or tired kids, or how I want to go to the bathroom in peace, even those moments bring a fullness and joy to life I can’t do without. You see, un-interrupted sleep means missing a chance to snuggle and comfort a child who is too busy to snuggle during the day. An extra long shower means I might miss something they may never do again.

It is true that being a mom means I don’t have as much time for myself as I used to, but who needs all that self-reflection and pampering anyway? What I did before kids was waste a lot of time and hot water.

I may have quick showers, less sleep and have to answer the question ‘why?’ in one morning more than any person should in a lifetime, but I also have priceless, funny, sweet, and sometimes messy (or stressful) moments with two incredible little people.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with our kids. They change me for the better, every single day, whether I like it or not.

Truly, Mother’s Day is better spent on a day like today, without a big family gathering or special meal. I don’t really like to be the center of attention anyway – it makes me feel awkward and weird. On the actual day, I am often distracted by events and our kids are usually off playing with cousins so I don’t see much of them until they are over-tired, crying and ready for bed.

I remember last year sarcastically thinking “happy mother’s day to me” as they screamed their way through bedtime baths, books and prayers – who could blame them? We had so much fun celebrating and playing, they were just plumb worn out!

Don’t get me wrong, the celebrations of moms are wonderful and important. All mothers, and those who love our children but may not be biological mothers are worth honoring. Absolutely spend time pampering the moms in your life this Mother’s Day.

But today, a regular Friday, is what being a mom is all about. Sure, we have bruises, time-outs, messes, and tears, but we also have life lessons learned, sweet sibling snuggles, playtime, curiosity, and all-out-hysterical-belly laughing.

What I really want for Mother’s Day, is a regular day with our kids – a day that wouldn’t be complete without interruption, grass stains, time-outs and dirty diapers (OK, I admit I could do without the diapers). While uninterrupted moments might be nice, I love them so much, I don’t want to spend the day with only the perfectly behaved portion of their day – I want all of it. Messy or not.

At a minimum, I thought this known sleep worshipper would at least want to sleep in. But really, I won’t. I will hear the rabble-rousing downstairs and know that I was missing moments with my family. I want to be there when my husband and kids are wrestling and they are giggling and tackling each other. I don’t want to miss it. Instead, I’ll use the day to reflect and be grateful for all parts of being a mom.

I will not trade it for even one day.

Today, a coffee growler made me feel loved, celebrated, grateful and well-caffeinated – a perfect combination on a not-so-perfect day.  The fact that it was given on a day that isn’t Mother’s Day makes it twice as appropriate and special. Thank you, Seth (and kids) – you know me so well.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to make a mom’s day special. Let the moms spend the day with the sweet kids who make them moms in the first place. The kids are the best gift a mom ever asked for anyway.

Even if they come with interruption and boogers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama! (Top 15 Posts From Year One)

happy first birthday thisgratefulmama!

Somehow…it’s been a whole year.

And yet, I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

Admittedly, this began as a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to post regularly, nor was I sure if I’d have enough content. Ha! As it turns out, I have a lot to say. I realize that to those who have spent time here, the idea of me running out of things to say might be a little funny. Maybe even laughable.

Honestly, I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy blogging long-term. I didn’t know if anyone would want to read it, or if this site could be at all unique among the millions of other blogs out there.

I perseverated over starting a blog for at least a year before finally taking the plunge. I am so grateful for the outlet this blog provides for me to process and share thoughts and ideas. Blogging brings an unexpected sense of purpose and direction. This may have started as a necessary and self-serving outlet to flush out ideas, but it has become much more than I expected or dreamed it would be.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy writing. I realize now how much I missed it – and have been surprised by how much I need it.

Every time I click the ‘Publish’ button, I find myself feeling refreshed and energized. I’d call it more of a ‘release’ button.

The publishing of my first post left me anxious, hopeful, excited, and giddy. In the first few weeks I was a stats junky…an addict (which is funny because no one knew the site existed). I was excited when just one person found the blog per day (or initially, per week). Imagine my joy when people not only visited the site but subscribed. I love taking time to check out readers blogs – you are writing some amazing and inspiring stuff!

It has been humbling and fun to see increasing traffic – growth happens sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but so far, the site is consistently growing. In fact, the number of visitors and page views in the first quarter of 2015 surpassed the traffic from 2014. I’m excited to see what year 2 will bring. Thank you.

During the past year, many of you have blessed me with your feedback. Some of you have written or spoken encouragement and kind words that have brought me to tears. Repeatedly. Thank you to all who have cheered me on and to those who have given both invaluable advice and constructive feedback. Your insight and support have been both impactful and treasured. I’ve been both surprised and honored by each of you who visit the site, and furthermore by those who use their precious time to read, reblog, share and comment.

This blog is pure joy to me, only amplified by each of you.

I hope you’ll keep reading and giving feedback, because I have no intention to stop writing.

The closing words from the very first post are still true today:

The name www.thisgratefulmama.com was chosen because it describes who I am striving to be, regardless of my circumstances. I certainly don’t have it all together, so what you’ll find here is a discussion of honest successes and failures, and hopefully some fun ideas. I hope you enjoy this blog and share your feedback with me.

To commemorate this first birthday, I compiled a list of the top 15 posts you visited over the last 12 months, in descending order of page views.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Top 15 Posts from thisgratefulmama – Year 1:

  1. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy “20 Questions” Before We Get Together
  2. A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower – soon to overtake #1
  3. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Something Good HAS To Come From All Of This…6 Beneficial Life-Skills Our Kids CAN Develop As A Result Of Having A Food Allergy
  4. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries
  5. DIY Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint
  6. Thoughts on Christian Persecution in Iraq – Please Pray for the Persecuted
  7. DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign
  8. I Chose To Stay Home With My Children – Not To Throw Away My Career
  9. DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors
  10. 7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown
  11. To the Busy Mom: 10 Reasons to Take Better Care of YOU in 2015
  12. Update Furniture You Already Own: DIY Spray Painted Bar Stools
  13. 6 Truths For A Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed
  14. A Salute to Working Moms
  15. Impatient for Patience

‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – Simple Food So You Can Relax!

Simple Food so you can relax Birthday

One of the most difficult decisions for me when hosting is picking the food.

In March, we celebrated our daughter’s second birthday. I’ve already shared how the house was decorated with a few strings of bird and sunshine garland, and a ‘You Are My Sunshine’ photo birthday banner, strung using patterned paper covered clothes pins.

Like most families, ours has a few special dietary needs (peanut and tree nut allergy, dairy intolerance, and at times gluten-free or low-carb needs). On top of all that, we want food that is well liked by both children and adults and prefer to make it all a day ahead. There were 17 adults or teenagers, and 3 children, for a total of 20 people.

Since this birthday party was for a 2-year-old, you won’t find any fancy recipes here. She is easy to please!

Plus, with small children, I often have other duties than hosting that require my attention – diapers, wanting to be held, injuries or simply a lot of people arriving at once are sure keep a mama in-demand. Make-ahead, simple food helps ensure a low stress level when I’m hosting and little ones need me. It also helps make it easy to delegate when people offer to help.

What’s the use in throwing a party if I end up stressed-out and cranky and then take it out on the very people the party is for? Keeping things low-key maximizes the time I have to visit with company and actually enjoy the festivities.

Why not keep it simple so everyone can relax?

 Main Dish 

chicken dish

We made a warm shredded chicken dish using a modification of this crock pot turkey recipe. Instead of turkey, the meat from 2 fully cooked rotisserie chickens (Costco ones are huge!) were used. All ingredients (except parsley and chicken) were combined with 1 cup water in a large skillet on the stove instead of using a crock pot. The sauce was heated over medium heat while mixing to ensure even distribution of the cream cheese as it melted. Chicken was added and mixed until coated, then cooled and stored in the fridge overnight. The day of the party, the meat was warmed on the stove until heated through. Finally, fresh-cut parsley was mixed in just before serving. Note: It was easy to reserve a cup of plain meat for our daughter who does not eat dairy. 

Simple Sides 

Simple Sides

Isn’t it great that the easiest sides are also often the healthiest? We served fresh-cut veggies and fruit, and a simple salted popcorn. It may not seem like much, but these simple sides are always a hit with our family. I count it an added bonus that they are low-budget and easy to prepare ahead of time.

 

 Dessert

cupcakes

This year I was unable to find a nearby bakery that could ensure nut-free cupcakes. Instead of driving across town the day of the party for two dozen, over-priced (but nut-free) cupcakes, I chose to make them myself. As some of you may know, baking is not my strong suit and often ends in disaster. However, for once, I managed to make some plain white cake cupcakes – and yes, I admit I’m lame and used a boxed mix and pre-made frosting. I’m somewhat proud of myself for attempting and not totally failing at piping frosting…Trust me, this is a victory. They sure aren’t fancy, but were of sufficient quality to please a 2-year-old (who smashed it as soon as she got her hands on it). From the look on her face, they were birthday-girl approved.

2 years old

Happy Birthday, Sunshine-girl!

 

What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door

rush2

This morning was busy. Although I got up early for a head start, we were still running behind, struggling to get out the door on time.  We made it to the car just in time, only to need to go back inside to change a surprise dirty diaper.

As we finally left the driveway, I was taking a deep breath to compose myself as our son vocalized what I was already saying in my head…Hurry mommy, we’re going to be late!

Then, he turned to his sister, “Baby, you maybe made us late”. Uh oh.

While I didn’t use the words ‘hurry up’, he picked up on my impatient rushing as I demanded they put on their shoes and coat now. Plus, I’ve told him ‘we’re going to be late’ or to ‘hurry up’ plenty of times. An ongoing pattern.

Sigh…while its one thing for him to tell me to hurry, I don’t want him blaming his sister. Wonder where he learned that? While I have been careful not to say a person made us late, I have been guilty of blaming something – You know, we’re late because of that lost shoe, temper tantrum, or…problem. Not surprising he was perceptive enough to translate that as blaming the person.

Yep. Nothing like my own hurried, careless words being repeated by our child to stop me in my tracks.

Perhaps rushing around like a crazy lady morning after morning isn’t doing any of us any good.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve really been teaching them with this pattern of impatient rushing. I often excuse the craziness of getting out the door by telling myself that being on time is a necessary life skill – And it is, but not like this.

I do want them to learn to be on time and respect the time of others. But I really want them to learn how to be on time without rushing, which requires preparation, flexibility, and grace. Even if we need to hurry once in a while, it can be done without barking demands. And, sometimes, unexpected things happen – it is ok to be a little late.

In truth, it is better to be late and not be a big ball of stress with two cranky kids in tow when we get there (you’d be cranky too if you were rushed into the car by an impatient mama!).

What is the point of being on time if you’ve exasperated yourself and those around you in the process? While I’ve heard the phrase “timeliness is next to godliness“, I’m pretty sure God is appalled by the rushed methods employed by many parents as we force our kids out the door.

While I may be reinforcing the importance of being on time, there is much more they are learning from my hurry – and most of it is unimpressive.

What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door:

  • Their last-minute (albeit important) need is a hassle they may even feel they, themselves are a hassle. I should be grateful we had the chance to change that diaper BEFORE we left, even if it means removing her coat, hat, mittens and boots, and putting them all on again (yes, it is snowing in April in MN)
  • Being too busy is OK, and a way of life – is this how I want them to treat their families when they grow up?
  • Being late is an excuse to forego kindness and gentleness – we taught Ephesians 4:32 to our son and often talk about being kind to others. As I hurry him along, sighing and making demands, I’m a hypocrite, undermining my own efforts. Of course he will turn around and do the same to his sister – he learned it from his mama!
  • Being on-time in tears, angry, or frazzled is better than being late – nothing like a stressed out, tearful family, on-time on to church…because that will get them in the mood to worship the Lord (note the sarcasm)
  • What’s next is more important than right now – There is nothing wrong with purposeful preparation, but worrying is a whole different thing. They will never learn to just be if I’m impatient to move on to the next thing or how what we are doing now is taking too long
  • Being on-time is more important than pausing to help them learn to zip their coat, tie their shoe, answer a question
  • Getting ready to go isn’t fun – if it always ends with an exasperated mama or daddy, or kids in tears…I would drag my feet too
  • Everything must be done quicklywe don’t have time to appreciate details, make observations or ask questions. Oh, the teachable moments I am missing!
  • A schedule is more important than what they are doing now
  • They slow me down – I never want them to think I’d rather they weren’t with me so I could go faster, but sometimes my words or actions may communicate exactly that. Ouch.
  • In a hurry, their feelings don’t matter ever tell your child you don’t have time for their meltdown? Sadly, I have, even when it was fueled by my own sharp tone? How wrong is that?
  • They can’t do anything right, or fast enough if we haven’t allowed enough time, they probably can’t do it fast enough. When hurrying, they will make mistakes, especially if I’m barking orders to hurry
  • If you’re late, it’s ok to be cranky, all the way there – sometimes we just need to accept we’re late. Don’t sit with clenched jaws in a car full of tension all the way there, turn on the radio and move on! Better to be there happy and late, than stressed and still just as late.

There are very few instances where the cost of impatient rushing is really worth it. Time to slow down, mama!

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

psalm11824

Once upon a time, I was a natural morning person. It was normal to wake before my alarm with a spring in my step – motivated to exercise, get ready and get to work early. That said, I wasn’t necessarily a ‘social’ morning person – I needed time to get my head on straight before attempting conversation.

Ready for the day – but only after being awake for an hour or two.

I purposefully went to work early to enjoy my coffee in peace while sorting through emails. By the time co-workers arrived, I was adequately caffeinated and focused. I planned my day but was able to be flexible. Like any day with kids, a day in my former job was rarely what I expected it to be.

Then, we had kids.

After 15 months of consistent and severe sleep deprivation due to a hurting baby, a semblance of sleep normalcy returned.  However, sleep has never been the same. In just the past month we’ve had all kinds of night-waking due to dirty diapers, coughs needing a nebulizer, bloody noses, wet beds, a cold or hot child needing different jammies or an extra blanket, illnesses, sore legs, itchy skin, teething, falling out of the bed, thunder storms (OR clouds that might storm), burned out night lights, children claiming they are not tired at 2 AM, and…sigh…I’m sure I’m missing something.

The result? I have admittedly become a sleep-worshipper. Now, the idea of me being a morning person is downright laughable. 

Problem is, sleeping in until the kids wake me is not pretty. I greet those sweet joyful faces with an ill-prepared, impatient, attitude, still in the fog of sleep. You would think after two years of being home with the kids I’d have this figured out.

The truth is, I used to get up and prepare myself for my job. Staying home with our kids is no less of a ‘job’ than my previous employment. Staying in bed means I haven’t prepared at all – we all pay for it. In fact, I could easily argue that being mentally ready and prepared is even more important now because consequences are endured by our children.

So, I’ve been experimenting with changing my routine to make myself into a morning person again. It’s time to be purposefully prepared…

I started ‘for the kids’, but in reality, it has been as beneficial for me as them.

Our kids get up between 7 and 8. Most days, it’s 7:30. By getting up at 6, I now have between 1 and 2 hours without kids.

Alone.

Quiet.

To do whatever I want as the sun rises.

It is no exaggeration to call these mornings glorious.

Why? Here are 7 benefits I’m now experiencing. Not sure you can wake up that early? Start with just 15 minutes. Trust me, you’ll like it so much, you’ll want more. I’m actually considering getting up even earlier.

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

1. Exercise

While I often feel like a glorified pack-mule, hauling bags and kids everywhere, usually the most aerobic exercise I get is a quick walk/run around the block. While I tell myself I’ll exercise during nap time, I end up cleaning or relaxing. If not first thing in the morning, exercise doesn’t happen. Getting up at 6 means not only do I exercise, I exercise without interruption.

2. Quiet Time

If you’ve tried to read your Bible, pray, journal, or do anything that sounds like reflection in the presence of a 2 and 4-year-old, you know the result is endless interruption and likely frustration. Getting up early allows focused time, leaving me recharged and equipped for the day.

3. Caffeine

What makes a peaceful quiet time even better? Hot coffee, and finishing the whole cup. Coffee after the kids are up is found on the counter by my husband when he gets home from work, cold and half-full. Now I enjoy caffeine mixed with workout adrenaline when they wake. In other words, by the time I see them, I feel fantastic.

4. A Step Ahead

Staying in bed does means warm blankets and a slowly brightening room – tempting, I know. But it also means when I hear crying and finally get up, I stumble bleary-eyed into our daughters room. She greets me with ‘Yucky’ and ‘Big One’ (you know what that means). After changing her diaper she points to her hair and says ‘knot’ because she twirls her hair and it is a rats-nest each morning. By now, her brother has joined us and is desperate for breakfast, and ready to burst into tears because I’m just not going fast enough. Even though we’ve just begun, mornings often feel like a rude-awakening – from the bliss of a warm bed into a reactionary mode where I’m always one step behind. Waking early means I’m alert and ready to help them. I usually have breakfast on the table so our son can go eat, preventing hangry whining – I call that sweet victory.

5. Planning

I love having a moment to plan the day. I might even pack snacks or the diaper bag before the kids get up. Plans may change, but I’m more likely to be flexible. Because I’m prepared, I can help the kids know what to expect so they are more likely to transition quickly, with a good attitude.

6. My Full Attention

Instead of being preoccupied the kids have my undivided attention because I’ve already covered my bases. I am more patient, responsive, and less likely to frustrate them by being absorbed by something else and asking them to wait.

7. Relationships

One of the greatest benefits of rising early is hearing the first noises our kids make. I can go in for morning snuggles before they fully wake up. Hands-down, this is worth every minute of forfeited sleep. It helps them wake with a smile. Another benefit is getting to see my husband before he leaves for work. A short conversation over coffee with a morning hug and kiss is delightful.

Ready to be a morning person?