No bells and whistles – here’s the list:
1. Do the morning routine without whining, heel-dragging, or complaining.
Every weekday morning consists of the same things: clothes, breakfast, teeth-brushing, feeding the pets, packing up homework, etc. Why do you think this morning will be different? Kids: you’re not going to get out of brushing your teeth, so just do it. Dad: the dog needs food every day, so don’t forget about it. If I can keep track of the 60 things that need to happen every morning, you can keep track of your five tasks.
2. Find things yourself.
If you don’t know where something is, look for it yourself. Then, when you’re done, put it back where you found it, and remember for the next time.
3. Be ready on time.
I get cranky when I have to idle in the ballet studio parking lot while you chat with your friends, or keep supper waiting while you linger at the office. If we’ve agreed upon a time, be there.
4. Pick up your stuff!
Socks, books, granola bar wrappers: if it’s not in its place, pick it up. Amy Bowman of New Nostalgia has a great post about how she trained her kids to pick up their “personals” (clothing, cups, anything they got out but didn’t put back) every morning and evening. She said there were a lot of tears as her girls learned that leaving a cup out after breakfast meant no allowance points for the day, but the learning curve was quick and now they have happy kids and a clean house.
5. Do something nice without being told.
Want to make my day in 15 minutes? Unload the dishwasher and run a new load of dishes. Only have five minutes? Empty the overflowing trash bin in the bathroom. Trust me: I notice.
6. Do something really nice without being told.
We’re into the gray, rainy season in Seattle, which is why I was completely astonished to find that my husband had sent me a Smiles and Sunshine Bouquet from a local flower delivery service, just so I had something bright to look at in my office.
And then there was the day that my youngest left me a folded up note in my purse, the same way I leave my kids folded-up notes in their lunch boxes, as a surprise. “Have a grat day,” it said. He’s got the right idea, even if he needs to work on the spelling.
7. Cancel an appointment.
I don’t care what it is. Soccer game, dinner party, playdate, even if you’re calling to cancel my own hair appointment. All I can think is “I’ve got two hours of extra time now! Wa-hoo!”
8. Entertain each other.
Sometimes the best gift a mother can receive is to have her children’s father offer to play a board game with them. Board games teach math skills, critical thinking, planning, and problem solving — and some games, like Monopoly, last all evening long.
9. Don’t act like going to bed is the worst thing in the world.
Oh, my dear little children — if you only knew how much I wished I could be tucking myself in right now for a good night’s sleep. You are the luckiest people alive, to get a full nine hours of sleep every night. Now go to bed and stay there.
10. Tell me you love me.
Whether it’s from my kids after I give them a goodnight kiss, or from my husband after a long, hard day of work and parenting, sometimes those three little words are all it takes. Love is what keeps our family going even during the tough times — telling a mom you love her is always the best way of letting her know how much you value her and your family.
Is there a simply thing that isn’t on this list that makes YOU happy?