Top 6 Ways to Achieve Consistency

So, I love schedules. It is just one of those things for me. I have to know what is coming next. But, much to my sadness, we all know we can’t know what is coming next for all aspects of our lives. SO, I try and at least know what is coming next in my day to day life. The problem is I can’t always stick to a schedule…

I have tried everything. I have done cleaning schedules that only lasted for a few weeks. I have tried meal planning (which I consider to pretty much just be a schedule). And then there are the routines I have tried to establish with my daughter. There was the morning routine, the bedtime routine, the after school routine…You get the picture.

Now, I am not saying that none of these have worked. I mean I have been able to get my daughter to bed at the same time ALMOST every school night. AND, my 6 week old has almost the same routine every night. See, the problem for me and I would guess a lot of you, is that we aren’t hermits. We do have things to do at night that will either mean our kids won’t be in bed by 8 or that the baby falls asleep in the carseat on the way home instead of swaddled up after a nice warm bath. I mean really, how are we ever going to make our routines and schedules perfect when life is ever changing.

I guess the reality is all we can strive for as mothers and wives, working women and stay at home moms is a little something called consistency.

I mean after all it is this consistency that helps us stay sane. So, I have decided to make a list of not my top six ways to keep a schedule or a routine, but instead my top ten ways to stay consistent in our daily lives. Because let’s be honest. No matter how many times we hear people saying that their schedule is this or their schedule is that, they aren’t perfect. And, if they do keep their schedule to the T every day of their lives, they one, don’t have a life and two, don’t enjoy the excitement that a little spontaneity brings to our lives.

  1. Write down a schedule/routine                                                                       So I am aware that I just said that it is truly impossible to really stick to a schedule, but its hard to have consistency if we don’t have something to at least be consistent with. So, if you feel like you life is a little more chaotic than you would like, take some time and think about if you lived in a perfect world where every thing was predictable, what would your routine be. For example, this is what my mornings would look like if every day were exactly the same:

5:30: Wake Up and take a shower

6:00: Wake up Declan and feed him

6:15: Change Declan

6:30: Wake up Madelyn

6:30-7:00: Eat Breakfast, make lunch and check budget

7:00-7:10: Get Dressed

7:10-7:20: TV Time

7:25: Out the Door and on the way to school

You would think with such a pretty schedule, our morning would be nice and peaceful. You would think the routine would be established and we would have no yelling or crying or “delays” but see my 6 week old understandably doesn’t always decide that 6 is when he wants to get up. More times than not, he wakes up before than which means no shower for me. And more times than not, my 6 year old doesn’t want to get out of bed or decides to take 45 minutes to eat a simple bowl of cereal because she wants to talk. And majority of the time, there is crying involved because either Madelyn doesn’t want to listen or be told what to do and Declan decides he didn’t eat enough at 6 and wants to be fed again at 7. So yes, it is very easy to see that this pretty little schedule is not perfect but children and adults for that matter, do better with consistency. So I write out the schedule so we all know at least the things that must get done so we can get out of the door on time. It allows us to at least be consistent with what we do in the morning.

2. Do the same activities no matter how out of order or out of wack

There is a saying that after doing something 7 times it becomes a habit. So, if you want to make sure that your daughter consistently brushes their teeth, just take a week to make sure every night they are brushing their teeth.

3.Don’t be too hard on yourself

There will be times when your life doesn’t feel orderly at all. A child will get sick, a family member will visit or life will just start to fall to pieces little by little. Even though we aren’t trying to even set a schedule, life will give you lemons and some times its just not that easy to make the lemonade. I know that my family consistently goes to church every Sunday. It isn’t even a question anymore for us. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some Sundays where we have sick kids and just can’t make it to church. It will feel like your Sunday is destroyed but because you have consistently made a point to go it won’t be hard to get back into next week.

4. Know Why you want to be consistent

Just like everything in life, if you don’t why you are doing it, you won’t do it. When I decide I want to start working out simply because everyone else is doing it, I never consistently do it. I guess for me “just because everyone else is doing it” doesn’t really tell me why I am doing it and so I just don’t do it.

5.Don’t Get Ahead of yourself

You can’t be consistent at saying your prayers every day if you haven’t even decided what prayers you are going to say. Go back to #1 and write out what it is you want to be consistent with.

6.Allow an off Day Every Now and Then

Again, we aren’t hermits and consistency will allow you to have off days and just be well, plain blah!

So there it is. Consistency is key to staying sane, not schedules! On those days when you just feel like you can’t do it anymore because none of your schedules are on time, just remember you consistently do it and it will all be ok!

Quality Family Time

Let’s face it guys. Our world is changing every second of every day. What was high tech only a year ago is now in many cases obsolete. What was once safe for our kids to eat or do is now highly looked down on. Think about it. Just five years ago, laptops were high tech. We had touch screen laptops and skinny laptops that ran on high performing processors. Now, how many of us would rather do a google search on our phones than even bother pulling out the laptop. Just about 10 years ago, we were told to lay our kids on their side to sleep, now we are told over and over and over to lay them on their backs. My point is our world is evolving faster than it ever has. And, sadly, with this faster evolution comes a faster pace of life. Whether we are working moms who have literally no time to even stop and think about this stuff or we are college students, who between classes and studying barely have time to eat a good nutritious meal, we are all always on the go. It’s no wonder when we finally have time at the end of the day or on the weekend all we want to do is sit on that couch and browse through Facebook as we watch the big game. I mean seriously does anyone else find themselves doing this? I know for us (even with me not working) it is hard to get up and go on the weekend at all. See, the result of this fast pace world is no quality family time.

We only have one TV in our house. So sure, we are all sitting in the same room but majority of the time our Saturday or Sunday afternoons look like this: My husband is sitting in his reclining chair either looking at chive or youtube while he occasionally looks up to watch the college game or the NFL game on the TV. I usually sit on the opposite side of the room and in between feeding the baby and napping, I browse though Pinterest and Facebook. My daughter attempts several times every hour to get us to play with her. After about the third time we all end up upset. I am asking my husband to play with her because I feel guilty but all he wants is to relax after a long week at work. The fact is we are all just so exhausted and Facebook is just so much more appealing. SAD right?

So how do we stop this epidemic? As a society, we are finding ourselves more and more exhausted and less and less able to spend quality family time. Majority of children are closer to their tablets or their phones then their parents. Even in my family where my daughter is not allowed to play on electronics, she is still yearning for time with us. How do we fix this? How do we allow everyone in the family to relax and unwind while still giving the children attention. Well, for starters. PUT THE PHONE DOWN!

Yes, even if you are reading my blog. PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Even if you are checking work emails, PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Even if you are talking to your sister who lives across the country PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Sadly, with our fast paced world comes even less opportunities to truly make memories as a family. We are all going to look back at our lives, even our children, and think wow, my childhood was full of me playing on the tablet or wow, my childhood was full of my parents on their PHONES! Can you imagine that? My childhood memories are certainly not that grim and honestly, one of the things that has always kept me going was my childhood memories.

So I have a dare. I dare you to PUT THE PHONE DOWN! I dare you to turn off the TV. Go outside and play a game of family football. It is fun no matter who you are. Or go grab some cards and play slap jack. Or even better, go grab the bible and make up a fun game. Ya, maybe these things require you to get up after a long week but believe me, playing football for fifteen minutes as a family will make memories that will last a lifetime. Sitting around watching football and playing on your phone won’t create anything but children who don’t know what true fun is.

The Ultimate Catholic Christmas Bucket List

I love Christmas. Not very many people in my life know it, but I LOVE CHRISTMAS. There is just something so magical about it. So many of my favorite childhood memories were during Christmas time. I can remember decorating our tree. We have home videos of me introducing my sister, brother and me as we began to decorate our tree. Somehow over the years, decorating the tree became this huge production for me. Then, we started going to see the Christmas Lights right after our Christmas program. This too became something so important to me that I became very upset if we didn’t do it. There was also the Gingerbread House, the cookies, Tamales on Christmas Eve, Singing in the Christmas Eve Mass choir, leaving cookies and milk for Santa and the list goes on and on. See for me, there is no other time of the year that filled my childhood with so many fond memories.

Now that I have my own children, it is very easy for me to get overwhelmed when December comes around. I want to make sure my children’s memories are filled with as many magical Christmas moments as mine was. That is why I started making a Christmas bucket list. It was my way of making sure we were doing everything that made Christmas Magical. I also do it because let’s face it, with all the secular Christmas traditions it is easy to forget the focus should be Jesus and his birth. This list is my way of keeping my children, but mostly me, in check when it comes to focusing on what really matters this time of year.

So here it is, the ULTIMATE CATHOLIC CHRISTMAS BUCKET LIST!

  • Go to MASS every Sunday During Advent

This one is a big one. I hope for all of you it is a no-brainer but I figured it can’t hurt to put it front and center on my bucket list. We should all go to mass EVERY Sunday but there is something so special about seeing a giant advent wreath at the front of the church. I remember seeing first one candle lit, then two and then the PINK one and thinking Christmas is almost here! Of course, it is a good reminder of how we need to prepare for Christ’s birth but it is also a great way to countdown to Christmas and most importantly get our kids to mass but not only that it makes them excited to go to mass because it means they are one Sunday closer.

  • Light your Advent Candles EVERY Night

This one is very similar to the first one. Again, it is about reminding us constantly that we are getting closer and closer to Jesus Birthday. It is also about making sure even with all the craziness we are sitting down for dinner as a family and saying a special prayer. We used to say our normal prayer before eating and either read a reflection or simply say “Come, Lord Jesus, Come”

  • Get a Real Christmas Tree

So most people get Christmas Trees but there is just something so special about getting a real tree. Go as a family to pick it out and if you can, even go to a farm. Spend time finding the perfect tree. I promise it will make it even more memorable if every year your tree is a tree you picked out at as a family. Besides, who doesn’t love the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree???

  • Decorate your Christmas Tree

I don’t just mean make it look pretty and all matched out. No, that’s not really magical for a child. I mean decorate it with memorable ornaments. The ornaments that each have a story. My great grandmother used to make us ornaments every year and so now I put those up on my tree. I also have all the ornaments my kids have made. There is nothing more special than pulling out your favorite ornaments every year and putting them on that tree.

  • Put out the nativity together

I know it seems silly but another one of my many great memories was putting out our nativity set. My grandpa had made the stable for my parents and my dad has made us our stable. So let your kids set out Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. Don’t put out Baby Jesus yet though! And make sure the wise men are on a bookshelf somewhere else and slowly move them closer as you get closer and closer to Christmas and the Epiphany. What better way is there to teach your children that the wise men were not there on Christmas!

  • Go Ice Skating

No real reason for this one other than it is a fun way to build memories your children will never forget.

  • Have a Happy Birthday Jesus Party

This one is just yet another way to make sure Jesus is not forgotten in all the magic of the season. Have your children decorate a cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus. You could even explain to them the legend of the candy cane or do other fun birthday party stuff. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy a simple cake and a few candles will make it memorable

  • Have a Polar Express Movie Party

So I guess it doesn’t have to be Polar Express but I absolutely love the Polar Express! Not only is it just flat out magical, it has a great message. We don’t have to see to believe. Not only does this apply to Santa Clause, but it can be applied to our faith in Jesus. We don’t see him but  because we place our trust in him, we can really see him working in our lives.

  • Bake (and decorate) Christmas Cookies

Yet another way to make sure we are spending time with our families. One of my fondest memories is baking with my mom. I would read the recipes to her or pour it in the mixer and as I got older I would even get to measure the ingredients. Just don’t forget to make it even more special with aprons! We had Christmas aprons that only came out with our Christmas decorations and my sister and I would fight over who got to wear the cute one.

  • Go see Christmas Lights

Try and find the neighborhoods that go all out. Sometimes it is an entire neighborhood and other times it is the one house that goes all out, even with their own radio station. Just make sure you take a night to drive around and listen to Christmas music while you look at lights. You could even walk around and drink hot chocolate!

  • Go See Santa

Really no explanation for this one. One idea I really like though is making sure your children are thinking of others when they tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Maybe encourage their wish to be not for a toy but that someone in need is helped.

  • Buy a toy for someone in need

This is one that I never really did as a kid but started with my daughter. We used to do a gift for toys for tots because my husband is a marine but now that we are in Arkansas toys for tots is really no different than doing something like an angel tree. Just make sure to let your child pick out the toy or gift. There is nothing more exciting for a child to actually get to go pick a toy out around Christmas time and it is even better that they are learning how good it feels to help someone in need.

  • Sing Christmas Carols

I am not saying to get really crazy with this one and go door to door singing Christmas Carols (as awesome as that sounds). I am simply saying sing them in the car or while you put up decorations. You only get to listen to Christmas Carols once a year and again nothing more magical than a Christmas Carol.

  • Make an Ornament

Again, this one is about quality family time and making memories. Years down the road, there will be nothing you cherish more than pulling out all the ornaments your children have made through the years.

  • Go to Christmas eve Mass

Or midnight mass. I am such an early riser on Christmas (see the next item on the list!) that Christmas Eve mass just makes more sense. There is just something special and so exciting about sitting in mass the night before Santa Clause comes. The anticipation is so special and something you never forget!

  • Wake Up Really Early on Christmas

Will you be tired? Yes! But it will be so worth it when you are opening presents as the sun rises and your kids will never forget the excitement!

  • Send out Christmas Cards

This may seem like something weird to have on a bucket list but I just think actually sending out the cards is memorable. I remember we used to form an assembly line and we would each have a job. I would put the return address label, my sister would put the stamp and my brother would seal. Even if it makes the job slower, just remember the memories you are making for your children!

  • Have an Elf on the Shelf

I am just going to leave this one right here. There are like a million posts out there for you to read about it!

  • Read Christmas Books

Not just any Christmas books, the classic Christmas books. Some of my favorites are the Gift of the Magi, the Polar Express Book, and the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

  • Have a Nativity Advent Calendar

Just another great way to countdown to Christmas and to keep it Christ centered. Make putting up the next part a part of your routine every morning.

  • Go Shopping with your children for your spouse’s presents

This is just a great way to get some one on one time with your kids while teaching them the spirit of giving

I realize how extensive this list is. It is no wonder I plan for Christmas in October! Even if you don’t get to all of them though, just remember the magic of the season and how many memories you are giving your children.