Friday, January 27, 2012

A Routine For Your Goals

It's the end of January.  How are you doing on your New Year's Resolutions? 

Rob and I just set ours a week ago, but instead of setting a goal, we set a routine.

We discussed changes we wanted to see in our family, and instead of just setting a goal, we decided to implement a few new routines.

A routine doesn't have to encompass your entire day.  We looked at two parts of our day and implemented a new routine for them that includes making the changes we had discussed.

For example, Rob and I wanted to get better at having morning family prayer and  couple scripture study.  We discussed what made it hard to do those things with our current routine, and realized that we were too rushed in the mornings and that breakfast was being served too late. 

We wrote down and implemented the following schedule.
6:30 - Mom and Dad both up, get ready for the day
7:15 - Breakfast
7:30 - scripture study
7:50 - Morning Prayer and dad off to work

We don't usually hit the times exactly, but the goal and the time in the back of our mind keeps us moving and helps us make sure to get all the parts of our routine in.

We have been doing this for a week, and it has really made a difference in our mornings. 

Similarly, I wanted to start Jane and Max on chores and so I added a new routine.  Right after we get dressed, we make our beds.  Just like that.  It is now a habit.  We sing a song to signify it is time to make beds and we just do it.  It's our routine.

Our last goal was to cut down on TV time and have more family time.  But we didn't leave it at that.  We isolated a specific problem time (when Rob comes home from work and has to take care of the kids while I make dinner).  Then we replaced the old routine (turn on the tv) with a new routine (play games).  So now every day when Rob comes home it is game time in our house. 

Do you think some new routines would help you with your goals?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Family Story Book

Last week Jane found some pictures of Rob and I on our wedding day.  She followed me around for the next 3 hours and asked me to "tell her the story" at least 20 times.  I started out with the basics, and then I started adding in the next details in "the story" like Jane and Max being born.  It gave me the idea for this project.

Our family story book is just a 3-ring binder filled with page protectors.  I printed off some black and white photos (when the kids are older and not prone to destruction I will print off full color photos).  I cut them out and pasted them to colorful cardstock.  I had the kids color and decorate the pages with stickers. 

Then I wrote in the story.  Right now it is very simple for short attention spans, but it can get more and more in depth as our family grows.  I included Rob and I meeting, getting married, all the different places we've lived, graduation and births.  You can include whatever you feel is important in your story.
If I could change one thing, I would have used lighter cardstock.  The crayon didn't show up well on these darker colors and the kids quickly lost interest in coloring.

Right now, it is fun to have a "story" all about our family, and looking at all the blank pages waiting to be filled makes me excited to see what the future holds.

Every family has a story.  How do you tell your children their "family story"?  What events would you include?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building REAL Self-Esteem

We all know that it is important for children to feel good about themselves.  However, I think there are right ways, and wrong ways to boost self-esteem. Keep in mind the ultimate goal of raising a child with self-esteem.  For me that goal is raising a child who eventually doesn't need self-esteem boosts from outside sources to understand their self worth.  Self esteem should ultimately come from one's self, not from the approval of others (even your mom).  Our job as parents is to authentically and honestly tell, and show, our children their worth.

Here are some positive ways to build REAL self-esteem.

1 - Focus on positive character traits your child displays, or you want them to have (a little self-fulfilled prophecy never hurt anyone), instead of what your child does. 

For example, today I started telling Jane that she was going to have fun at swimming lessons because she is such a good swimmer.  I thought about the message I was sending; things are fun if you are good at them.  I changed tactics, and the discussion became about how Jane was going to have fun at swimming lessons because she was brave and not afraid to try new things.  In the long run, those traits are more important to focus on than being a good swimmer.

2 - Make your child finish what they start. 

Self esteem is built by working hard and finishing things, even if no winning is involved.  Always finish a season.  Before starting lessons in something decide beforehand exactly how long your child (and you) are willing to commit before quitting is allowed.

3 - Never give praise in the form of comparison. 

 Your child's accomplishments should stand on their own.  Not because they are better than someone else.  Even when your child wins, try and focus on how hard they worked and how all that hard work paid off.  Comparing your child only creates an adult who is continuously comparing themselves to others in an effort to feel good about themselves.

4 - Allow your child to lose, and then have them try again. 

 This is life.  Winning always feels good, but it doesn't always happen.  Teach your children how to lose graciously, pick themselves up, and keep their feelings of self-worth in tact. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make the Most of Your Time in the Car!

One of my New Year's goals is to teach my children a new Nursery Rhyme or Finger Play every week, as well as a short child's song.  Last week was "You Are My Sunshine" and "Jack Be Nimble".  This week is "Three Little Kittens" and "Humpty Dumpty". 

Nursery Rhymes, finger plays, and songs are a great way to facilitate new speech and vocabulary.  Kids love to sing and they love to hear their mother sing (no matter how you sound).  They love the lilting, sing-songy feel of nursery rhymes and you will be surprised at how fast they can memorize.  They may not let on at first, but then one day you will hear them playing and singing and reciting.

Not only are nursery rhymes a great way to help inprove speech and vocabulary but they also offer a valuable base for later literary building.  Think of how often nursery rhymes are alluded to in our culture!  How sad to not understand because you don't know your nursery rhymes.

Teaching your children nursery rhymes doesn't have to be a huge affair.  I just say the rhyme we are learning a few times in a row and then say the other ones we have learned in the past.  I think the best time to do this is when you can truly have your children's the car!!  They aren't going anywhere.  So turn off the movie and the music and start learning some nursery rhymes!

You may be tempted to just put in a movie or tape of nursery rhymes.  This can work, but children really do love their mother's voice.  Hearing words from a real person means a lot more than from a machine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Circle of Life

This week we checked out "Heckedy Peg" by Don and Audrey Wood from the library.  It was my favorite book as a child.  I remember my mother reading it to me.  I remember sitting at studying the pictures.  I remember feeling scared, and then happy.  I loved it.

Jane loves it too.  I thought it might be too "grown up" of a book for her.  But she wants me to read it over and over.  She wants me to describe the beautiful pictures.  She listens intently to probably the longest book we've ever read together.  And then asks for it again and again.  And I happily oblige.  How could I not?  I understand the magic of the book?

It is interesting to find myself in this position.  To do something my mother did.  To find myself on the other side of this magical mother/child relationship.  I finally understand those words I so hated to hear, "I'm doing this because I love you".  In many ways I am my mother, and Jane is her mother's daughter.  In moments like this I can almost glimpse the future, as well as the past.  A picture of Jane reading to her own children, a memory of reading with my own mother.

This circle of mother having a child who becomes a mother and has a child has been ongoing since the beginning of time, and now I get to be a part of it.  When I think about it I feel honored, awe-struck, and nearly overwhelmed with responsibility.  What will Jane learn from me to carry into her part of the circle?  What we do as mother's truly has lasting effect, for our children, and their children.

What a beautiful job I have.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mothering With a Heart of Peace

We all want to be the best mothers possible.  We worry about how our words and actions affect the small, developing minds and bodies of our children.  Our children are much more in tune with our emotions (no matter how much we try to hide them) than we give them credit for.  They might not understand the circumstances but a child can tell when mom is upset. 

I wanted to write today about mothering with a heart of peace. 

I'm sure we've all had experience with days where we were mothering with anything BUT a heart of peace.  Worries, anger, unkind thoughts and feelings, anxiety and guilt can all take up valuable space in our minds and even decrease the number of productive minutes in our day. 

I remember when Rob was looking for a job at the end of dental school.  The anxiety of the job search had me on the computer all the time, looking for jobs, researching cities and towns, looking at homes and so forth.  I don't remember many specifics about that time except for THE SEARCH, but I'm sure my mothering suffered.  How could it not?  I was no longer living in the present, and that is what a peaceful heart allows you to do.

We are at our best as mothers when we try to be fully alive in the present with an eye of hope towards the future.  Many things can try to destroy our peace; family struggles, the news, co-dependency, past hurts or offenses, and especially worries that we our not doing a good enough job as mothers.

Family Struggles/Changes - Sometimes these can be financial, job-related, or marital.  It can be hard to try and maintain a peaceful heart during these times.  How do you banish these constant worries and thoughts from your mind?  As much as possible try and talk about these issues with your spouse in private.  During the day, instead of stewing with worry and calling every five minutes to discuss a new idea or worry, write your thoughts down and try to leave that worry on the paper until you can discuss it further.  Focus on what you CAN do to help alleviate a situation instead of feeling helpless about all the things that are out of your control. 

Take some deep breaths, and pray, pray, pray.  Then start making a list of all of your blessings and pray again in gratitude.

The news - It is a rare occasion when there is good news on.  Bad news sells, and it can make one start to feel like the whole world is falling apart.  It makes us forget how much good there is in the world.  Sometimes I just have to turn the news off.  I don't want to parent with anger in my heart because of some politician.  If I think about it too much, I find myself weighed down to despair over how much pain and heartache is in the world. 

If you struggle with these issues, I once again echo some of the same advice.  Focus on what you CAN do, and then leave your unpeaceful feelings with that.  Can you send money to a relief organization?  Maybe you can organize a donation drive.  Write a letter to said politician.  Or if you can do none of these things to help the situation, simply hug your family close and thank the Lord for the time you get to spend with them. 

Maybe you can contain your news reading/watching time to after the kids are in bed so as to keep a peaceful heart during the day.

Codependency - Codependency is depending on other people's opinions of you to determine your own sense of self worth and acting for the approval of others.  It never brings peace, no matter how good of a show you put on.  You have to decide what is best for you and your family.  It may not be what other people do, and that is ok.  We are all different, with different beliefs and priorities.  Stop comparing yourself to what some anonymous poster says on the internet or what some thoughtless person has said about you.  You know your situation.  A few years ago I wrote a statement down to help me get centered when I realized that I was letting other people's thoughts weigh too heavily on my mind. 

It went something to the effect of "I know what I am doing is good.  I will not let the thoughts and opinions of people who do not even know me to affect my feelings about myself or my mothering.  I know why I made the decisions I did, and can not live my life for others."  Do you need to write down your own centering statement? 

Past hurts and offenses - It is hard to truly be in the present when you are harboring anger or guilt over the past.  Some things can be very hurtful, and somethings may require counseling.  But one of the best things you can do is work to rid these feelings from your heart.  Maybe you need to call someone and apologize.  Maybe you need to forgive someone who will never apologize.  I promise that the Lord can help you forgive if you pray sincerely.  We may need to forgive someone over and over, but the struggle to forgive feels far better than the gnawing in your heart of anger.  Just think of the burden that will be released.

Mommy Guilt - As mothers, we are often too hard on ourselves.  Sometimes though, we feel bad because we know we could do better.  If you are feeling bad about your mothering get off the blogs, get off facebook and pinterest, and spend some good face time with the real, flesh and blood people in your life.  If there is something specific in your mothering, read some books on that subject.  Wise use of time and a sincere effort to always learn and improve will leave us with a feeling of peace about our motherhood.

Sometimes just having children in our house makes us feel like our home is anything but peaceful.  However, your heart still can be.  For the little things that come up every day, turn on some peaceful music, go on a walk, take some deep breaths, smile, pray and be grateful.  Carve out some peaceful time for yourself everyday, perhaps in the morning before everyone else is awake.  You can use this time to pray, read, meditate, plan out your day, watch the sunrise, or dream about the future. 

I hope we will all do what it takes to mother with a heart of peace.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes with Cinammon Molasses Syrup

I love to make big Saturday breakfasts.  I made these pancakes the other day and loved them so much that we are having them again.  They are healthy and moist and delicious (although for some reason, I think the batter smells gross) Save the leftover pancakes and heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds and spread with peanut butter for a midmorning snack.

**The original recipes can be found at and, respectively.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes

  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinammon
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • Directions

    1. Place the rolled oats into the jar of a blender and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Whisk together the blended oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, cinammon, dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
    2. Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the applesauce. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
    3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
    Molasses Cinammon Syup

    • 1/2 cup demerera sugar (or brown)
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 6 Tablespoons water
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
    1. In a small pot, whisk together sugar, molasses, water, and cinnamon over medium heat.
    2. Bring to a slow boil and continue stirring until ingredients are fully incorporated.
    3. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Cool slightly. Transfer to a jug for serving or a glass jar for storing.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    One of those days

    It was just one of those days.

    You know the kind.

    You wake up, feeling good.  Today is going to be a good day.  Then the baby wakes up.  Earlier than normal, but that's ok.  You figure he will play while you finish getting ready.  And then the screaming starts. 

    You delay it for a bit with some trains, but it comes back up the stairs.  The screaming.

    Halfway through breakfast.  More Screaming.

    Then he gets his sister to start Screaming while they're playing.

    Thank goodness for The Wiggles.  However now you have than nagging guilt that your kids are watching too much TV and you have to weigh the options of having your children's brains rot for an hour or have The Screaming come back.  Today, brains rotting is by far the better choice.

    It is now officially 9:00 am.  Congratulations.  It's going to be one heck of a day.

    You get home from swim lessons and as soon as you walk in the door; It begins again.  The SCREAMING.  Up until this point you had done ok.  But now your teeth are grinding together and you are closing cupboard doors rather forcefully to keep from yelling.  MORE. WIGGLES. NOW.

    Finally naptime.  Then the park.  Beautiful, wonderful children. How could I ever have lost my temper with you? 

    Except for then you come home and both children decide to make up for lost time, and the dog's in on it now too.  Before dinner, through dinner, after dinner.  Your life has devolved into

    Until finally, you actually do lose it.  And you SCREAM back.

    Then the guilt sets in.  And it doesn't matter that you played with your kids for an hour that morning, or that they played outside for another hour that afternoon.  It doesn't matter that you made three good meals that day and cleaned up afterwards.  It doesn't matter that you read stories and played kissy monster.

    Because you lost your temper, and either your children are the spawn of the devil or you are the worst mother in the world.  And as you look at how beautiful they are sleeping you know it can't be the first option.

    So breathe.  Take a walk.  Read a book.  Draw up a bath. 

    Because you are not the worst mother in the world.  We have all been there.  We will all be there again. 

    Tomorrow is another day. 

    "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
    ---Mary Pickford

    The Rhythm of Family

    I got this book for Christmas and I love it.  It has thoughts, activities, recipes and crafts to do every month and season.  If you want to establish a love of nature and what each season has to offer, I would highly recommend this book!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    A SIMPLE Toy Rotation

    Now that Christmas is over, we see once again how much money seems to be wasted on toys that are played with for a few days and then forgotten about.  As parents, I'm also sure you have had the experience of going to a friends house where there are less toys, or even relatively similar toys as yours, and your kids are excited to play with everything!  Why don't they do that with their own toys, we wonder. 

    A toy rotation helps keep toys new and exciting in a child's mind.  I have always felt overwhelmed by a toy rotation because I thought it meant splitting up my children's already small collection and remembering to change them out at a certain interval.  It just seemed like too much work.  I just read in Jamie Martin's "Steady Days" about a different toy rotation that I think I can do.

    Choose a certain toy/toys for each day of the week that you can also engage in play with.  At a certain time each day, pull out that day's toy and play with your children.  This kills two birds with one stone.  It keeps some toys special and "new" and it reminds you to play with your kids. 

    I sat down and made my rotation yesterday.  I thought of the toys that I know my children enjoy but that just sit idle when they get overwhelmed by too many toy choices.  My rotation is subject to change, but right now it looks like this.

    M - Blocks
    T - Little People
    W - Tent and tunnels
    Th - Ride-on toys
    F - Potato Heads

    Just as a last note.  I think toy rotation are mostly beneficial for toddlers and preschoolers.  Around 5-6 years old, children starting making a plan for their play instead of just letting it coming to them, and having their full assortment of toys helps to deepen the imaginative play.  Younger children, however, get overwhelmed with too many choices and end up playing with nothing.  Analyze your families needs and do what feels right, and works for you.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Buttermilk Syrup

    I first tried this at my mother-in-law's house.  It was so delicious that I had to come home and make my own.  I found a recipe on and tweaked it a little bit.  Enjoy this wonderful home made treat.  You may never buy syrup again!

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Put sugar, buttermilk, butter, and baking soda into large pot (it gets really frothy and expands so don't put it in a small sauce pan).  Cook over medium to medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Stirring constantly, keep boil going for about 7 minutes until syrup has changed from white to golden brown, and started thickening.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

    You can store the leftovers in the fridge and microwave them to get the syrup back to the right consistency.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Friday Night Traditions

    Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.
    Susan Lieberman

    Traditions are so important in a family. They provide consistent memories, family time, structure and something to look forward to.  For children, traditions make up the routine that keeps them feeling secure. 

    We usually associate traditions with holidays and special times of year.  Today I am challenging you to start a new tradition.  One that you can celebrate every week!  I think Friday night is a good night for family traditions, but you can choose whichever day works for you.

    I remember growing having the tradition of Sunday Night scones, Friday family movie night, and monday game night.  Of course, rarely altogether.  Traditions come and go.  Just because you start a tradition doesn't mean you have to commit to it for the rest of your life.  Traditions are only fun so long as they make sense in your family.  Once they consistently become a drudgery or work, get rid of them.  You children will still look back on these traditions with fond memories even if they don't last for years and years.

    So what are some guidelines for fun weekly traditions? 

    1.  Anything that can be done for free or very cheap.  That way the tradition can still provide a sense of security even when things might not be financially ideal.

    2.  Something that the whole family can enjoy and participate in.

    3.  Something that encourages conversation and fun.

    Your tradition can be small or large, short or long.  It is up to you and your needs.  Make sure you are flexible with your traditions.  A Friday movie night may soon turn into a Friday Football night when your child joins the team, or a Monday tradition may have to become a Wednesday tradition as schedules change. 

    Still at a loss for what new tradition to start?  Here are a few ideas for fun weekly traditions.

    Dinner by candle light
    Game night
    Movie night
    Special Dessert night
    Story telling night
    A long walk/hike
    Dance party day
    Arts and Crafts night
    Doorbell Ditch a treat
    Secret acts of Service day

    The possibilities are endless, the memories last forever. We are implementing a weekend game night (sometimes Friday, sometimes Saturday).  What new tradition will you start?


    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Treating Motherhood as a Profession in 2012

    The name of this blog is Motherhood: My Full Time Job.  I have been thinking lately about what it means to treat motherhood as a profession and have made it a goal to do so in 2012.

    What does it mean to make motherhood your profession?  As I pondered this question, I realized that it was a lot more than just staying at home with your kids all day. 

    When you have a career you wake up and report to work at a specific time.  You adhere to a dress code.  You become an expert in your field.  You have goals and expectations.  You are always looking for ways to improve.  You record your work and progress.  You prioritize, schedule, and make a plan of attack.  And last, but not least, you take a break from work!

    You can probably see where I am going with this.  We can do all these things in our careers as mothers; most likely with the effect of feeling more satisfied and accomplished at the end of the day.  I don't have all of these down, but I am working on them and the few that I have fully implemented have made a huge difference!

    Wake up and report to work at the same time every day.
    Set your alarm clock for the same time every day; approximately 30 minutes before your kids wake up.  If you have children in school, you probably already do this.  If you have young children, I have found this makes a huge difference!  I use this time to shower without interruption, get dressed, start breakfast and read my scriptures.  You can choose how you want to use this extra time.  It will be hard at first, but I promise the organization that results is well worth it!  Along with this goal I would recommend having all your kids ready by a certain time every day.

    Adhere to a dress code.
    We always laugh at the commercials where the mom is vacuuming while wearing high heels and pearls, but how good do you feel when you put on a string of pearls, or a pretty dress?  Now I'm not saying to only wear dresses or professional wear, but feel good about the way you look.  Put on attractive clothing, do your haid and makeup.  It really makes a difference in just feeling like you've got it together.  Already do this?  Add that string of pearls! ;)

    Becom an expert in your field.
    Some people like parenting books, some people don't.  I personally love them, but I think you have to find the kind of books that fit your style.  Do you have a parenting style?  Do you know what it is?  If you don't have a set idea of the way you want to parent, I challenge you to browse around Amazon for a few different parenting books that look interesting and then read them!  I am a mix of attachment parenting, waldorf early childhood learning,  and a firm belief that in a lot of things, less is more!  My current favorite parenting book is "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.
     A word of caution.  It took me a few years to be able to do this, but when you read a parenting book it is imperative that you learn to keep an open mind while at the same time sift through the information and be ok with agreeing with some of it and discarding what doesn't sit right with you.
    Already feel like an expert in your parenting style?  Find books about other aspects of your parenting as they come up; Early childhood education, learning styles and disabilities, child health,etc.

    Have goals and expectations.
    We have all though about it, but now lets write it down.  Think about the kind of adults you want to raise.  I'm not talking specifics like profession, but generals like happy attitude, grateful, helpful, good citizens, hard workers, life-long learners, etc.  Keep this big picture in mind when you do the next exercise.  Think about some short term goals for your actions as a mother that you hope will help your children achieve the big picture.  These goals may help you model this desired behavior, or maybe you will engage in these behaviors as a family, etc.  You can set it in a time frame of a year, a month, a week.  The important thing is to write it down, hang it where you will look at it often and evaluate frequently.  You may change your mind about a certain goal, or you may realize that you have accomplished it.  Don't expect perfection, just progress!

    Always look for ways to improve.
    Of course as a mother there are no pay raises, quarterly evaluations, performance reports or promotions; but you can still always be looking for ways to improve your mothering.  Develop a new skill, hone a talent, try something new, take a challenge!  You have to decide how to do this.  I personally like to try a new recipe every week.  This year I am trying to increase the number of things I make from scratch, as well as grow a garden and lern how to preserve my harvest.  Perhaps you want to improve your efforts at being eco-friendly, a better budgeter, a historian, gardener or whatever you want.

    Record your work and progress.
    Kids grow up so fast, don't let the memories fly away with the time!  Take pictures, write in your journal.  I can tell you after only a few years of parenting and looking back on pictures and blog posts, you forget so much!

    Prioritize, Schedule, and make a plan of attack.
    I don't think children should have a packed schedule.  They need plenty of time for free play and family time.  Prioritize all the demands on your family's time and determine what is truly important and get rid of the rest.  Set a flexible schedule with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at certain times.  Choose a certain day to do your grocery shopping, go to the library, etc.  What time of day will you read books?  I suggest setting up a schedule more along the lines of a sequence of events with a few specific times rather than trying schedule everything down to the minute!
    One thing I have started doing that makes a big difference is sitting down every night after the kids go to bed and making a plan of attack for the next day.  I look at my calendar to check for appointments, I write down things I may need to get from the store.  I plan my menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Then I think of things I want to do the next day.  I always try to plan at least 2 games or activities to do with the kids (they can be as short as 30 seconds or as long as an hour).  I also try to plan an activity for the kids to do on their own that I can pull out when I need a few minutes to get something done.  I personally put down time frames for everything, but rarely follow my schedule to the letter.  It just reminds me of what I want to have done by the end of the day.

    Take a break!
    Unlike other jobs, being a mom is not a 9-5 job, but you can still take a break!  For starters put your kids to bed at a regular, early time, every day so that you can count on some time every evening without the kids.  I would also find an activity to participate in outside the house, without the kids.  One that will give you a much needed break but not have you always away from your husband in the evenings (spending time with him is important too!).  I have found this respite in book clubs, service clubs, and currently in a community orchestra!

    Well there you go.  Take a look at this list.  What do you already do?  What do you want to start doing, or do better?