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How to Juggle Life with Preschoolers

September 11, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about how to juggle life with preschoolers. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Melissa Tennent with Mississippi State University School of Human Science and Child Development and Family Studies Center.

Melissa, life seems to get more and more stressful, especially when it comes to getting kids out the door for school. Let's start with things that you can do the night before.

Melissa Tennent: Well, it's real important when we're juggling the family life, the schoolwork, and putting all of these activities together. Some things that we can do the night before is to, number one, layout everybody's clothes. Not just your preschoolers, but you're laying out the adults because we're all under that time crunch. Also, when you're battling with some two-year-olds, sometimes you might just need to dress them for the next day. It makes life a lot simpler and so you can just go ahead and dress them and they're ready to go out in the morning after they've had breakfast.

Amy Myers: So dress them in their school clothes. Yes.

Melissa Tennent: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It works.

Amy Myers: Sometimes they still have a little trouble wetting the bed. Is there a way we can circumvent having to clean that up in the morning?

Melissa Tennent: Things that I have done to help us all with getting sleep through the night is layering the beds. So you can use a washable underpad, so you'll lay the underpad, do a fitted sheet, do another pad, and then another fitted sheet, so when those accidents do happen in the middle of the night, instead of having to change the whole bed, what you're only having to do is take off that top layer and then you can put everybody back to sleep.

Amy Myers: And then you can bathe them the night before instead and pack lunches and snacks for everybody the night before.

Melissa Tennent: Correct. When you're looking through everything, you're getting those snacks together, you're laying out the food that you're going to take, even as mothers and fathers you're laying out what you're taking. Also, you want to go ahead and get your bags together. You have diaper bag, you have backpack, your work bag as a parent, everything that you need, so we're not rushing around the next morning.

Amy Myers: And meal prep. What are some tips for meal prep?

Melissa Tennent: Real important to do. You can either buy in quantities and then you can break up into sections. I do a lot of Crock-Pot meals. I do a lot of things where I freeze ahead. It could be that Sunday afternoon where you're taking meat and dividing it up. What you're trying to do is when everybody gets home and as activities become more and more, is that you've got a sit down meal that you can sit with your family. Not just quick and easy but it's healthy also.

Amy Myers: Okay. And making lists.

Melissa Tennent: Everybody gets a list. You can do a preschool list and that may sometimes be the word. And a lot of times what I would do is draw a picture so that my child could come through and he could check it off himself. If it's reminding them to do something like practice the piano or if its to take their clothes to the laundry or if it's to pick up, even to feed the dog, when really little, you can do it on a marker board. It's another way of keeping up with schedules. We've got the individual lists for everybody, bulletin boards so that we could see what needs to be done and what is happening each day so that everybody's the same page. Those can go on the refrigerator.

Some things that I have done as my child has gotten older is looking at a Google calendar. I have my family all a different color. And so my husband will know that if I am in a meeting, he can look at the calendar and he knows I'm in a meeting because I'm pink. Or if I know that he's got work out of town then I know that I need to help with doing things. I downloaded the app. I did it on my phone, you can do it on your computer.

Amy Myers: And decluttering? How can we do that?

Melissa Tennent: Important, especially with little ones. As they're outgrowing things, go ahead and get those things out of the house. Things that are given to you, go through that, keep what you need and then you're able to have what you really enjoy and what brings you happiness.

Amy Myers: And so, doing chores. Work first and then play.

Melissa Tennent: That goes with that list. I like to break it down into 15 minute little spurts. When you're really decluttering your house, it takes a lot of time. If you are like I am, I start moving things around and then I've got this room cleaned out, but then I've put other things in other areas. So just set the timer. I do that a lot of times. "All right, for the next 15 minutes we're working on this." And that has helped us.

Amy Myers: And don't overbook your child.

Melissa Tennent: Even preschoolers get overbooked with parties, with activities, with the lessons. It's real important that a family sits down, thinks about what's important. And then knowing what your time schedules are. Preschoolers will show you very quickly that they're stressed when they are overbooked. It is important for them to be under a routine. And that's getting enough sleep, they have to eat, and then we're not having the fallout. If we're falling out and if we're overstressed, that is a natural sign that preschoolers are telling you we've got too much going on.

Amy Myers: I bet folks could go on Pinterest to find some more ideas.

Melissa Tennent: Yes.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Melissa Tennent with the Mississippi State University School of Human Science. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: School of Human Sciences

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