Happy September, friends! Phew – summer break is officially over; and around here, we’re barreling full throttle into the season of school, soccer, Scouts, holidays, appointments, and more. In this month’s behind-the-blog break, I’m chatting all things time management this new school year, a milestone for Greg, and what’s always inside my coffee cup. Come take a break with me!

Megan sitting on white couch with blue pillows

Our New Favorite Morning Hack

We’ve long used timers on our kids’ watches to help them wake up, put shoes on, get out the door, etc. But they eventually become too easy to ignore (just hit the button and the beeping stops!)

Tired of being a broken record (i.e., “Put on your shoes, please. It’s time to put on yours shoes. Will you PLEASE put on your shoes. PUT ON YOUR SHOES!!!”), ignored, and always running behind, Greg and I brainstormed alternative ways to alert our kids to what they should be doing and when…without us being the ones to do it.

We ultimately decided on setting a variety of loud music alarms throughout the house; and it’s been a game changer.

Currently, we have our speaker system set for wake-up (different times and different playlists for each child) and then another “song alarm” set for when it’s time to stop playing and put shoes and backpacks on. These alarms are loud, difficult to ignore, motivating…and best of all: hard for them to turn off!

Why is this such a big deal?

First – Greg and I aren’t the ones waking the kids up or telling them to get out the door. The “third party” of the speaker (and the volume!) seems to have a greater impact on their desire to actually move than us screaming at asking them.

Second – it also means that Greg and I don’t have to be constantly watching the clock. The songs are serving as our own alarm too, which has allowed me some mental freedom to make beds, fill out forms, take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, etc without loosing track of my own time.

And finally, it’s SO FUN! We’re currently using “The Final Countdown” as our “get out the door” song; and the kids are now racing to have everything done before the song ends…and I just sit and watch it all! We’re walking to the bus stop happy and on time, rather than rushed and frazzled…and it’s been AMAZING!

I don’t know how long this will last; but I think we may need to implement a “time for bed” song too!

SONOS speaker on a black cabinet next to a plant

We use a system of SONOS speakers throughout the entire house. All the speakers are connected and controlled via an app, so we can play anything on any speaker at any time!

Sneaking More Time Into My Day

I really did think that once my kids were all off to school, I’d have SOOOO much time to work, exercise, run errands, go to appointments, go for a daily walk, and more. But with three kids constantly going in three different directions on top of a husband with a busy job and my own business, the days seem to wind down before I’ve gotten though half my To Do List.

I hate feeling like our days are crammed full and everything is rushed or behind. So I’m using this new school year to implement some new strategies in order to carve out more time in our already full days!

New Workout Schedule

It’s not like I didn’t workout during the summer, but my early morning wake-ups were not as routine as I’d like. Then the day would take off, and I’d never get my workout in.

While I can get up early some mornings, I lose motivation as the week goes on. So I’m switching my workout routine to 3 days of weights (early mornings) and 3 days of walking during soccer practices (evenings). I’m hoping that only 3 early morning sessions each week will be enough to keep me going; plus, I’m taking advantage of time I’d just be sitting around at the soccer field anyway.

Shower Time

By the time I get everyone off to school in the mornings, I’m usually eager to sit down and get to work myself. But the next thing I know, it’s 5:00 in the evening and I still haven’t showered or gotten dressed, which leaves me feeling sticky (and lame) all day long.

I’ve now intentionally shifted my workday to start at 9:00am, so that I can (guilt-free) take 30 mins to make beds, empty the dishwasher, take a shower, get dressed for the day, and pour a fresh cup of coffee before sitting down to work. Not only am I feeling more put together all day long, but this prep session has me more focused and productive too!

Dinner Prep

I like to spend time with my kiddos when they first come home from school, as they have snacks and do homework sitting at the kitchen island. But I’m usually just standing there while they eat and work. It occurred to me that I could prep dinner during this mid-afternoon break. Even just chopping veggies, browning meat, or prepping ingredients while they chat away gets me ahead come dinnertime!

Megan slicing a green apple on a large cutting board

What’s In My Coffee Cup?

Speaking of my morning cup, I got a few questions about my coffee drink of choice!

I’m about as plain as they come in terms of my morning coffee. My everyday/home choice is drip Dunkin’ (Medium Roast) with just a splash of half-and-half. But I AM particular about its temperature. I like it HOT, so I always have to have it in a thermal cup to keep it steaming as long as possible.

If I want something “fancy,” I’ll usually order a Soy Latte (Extra Hot), but I’m much more likely to get a cookie than a coffee for a treat 😉

Megan pouring a cup of coffee at kitchen coffee station

Into the Unknown

When I asked for some fresh “Ask Megan” questions last month, you guys really delivered (thank you!); and there were more than a few related to Greg’s military career, specifically: when does it end, what’s next for him/us, where will we go and what will we do when it’s all over?

Oh boy.

This seems so crazy to say/type, but we don’t have answers to ANY of those questions. Not a single one.

Generally speaking, 20 years is the earliest a service member is eligible to retire with military benefits. And so from the day Greg first joined the Marine Corps, we (more or less) knew what the next two decades held for him, for us, for our family.

There was a measure of predictability amidst the unpredictability. This whole military “thing” was what we were doing, whatever the job was, wherever it took us. And that forced allowed us to put a lot of the “what’s next” questions on the back burner.

Greg will reach 20 years of military service next summer. In what feels like a blink of an eye, we’re suddenly upon our first (of potentially several) “should we stay or should we go” moments.

And while we are both certainly fatiguing of the unpredictability (and the moving boxes), this inflection point hasn’t involved a big ol’ debate. Because at least in this very moment, both Greg and I are compelled to keep going.

Yes…both of us. He’s not quite ready to retire, and I’m not quite ready for him to retire either.

All the reasons why are long and complicated and sometimes even change on a daily basis. But our desire to keep going hasn’t really wavered.

So while we are (finally) on the brink of being able to choose our own path (and finally buy our own home!!), we’re continuing to choose the unknown instead.

Yep. That means we don’t know where we’ll be living next summer (or the summer after that or the summer after that), and we certainly don’t know what’s next for Greg or how and when this military chapter eventually ends.

The only thing we know is that it’s not the end just yet…

Megan hanging North Carolina state print on the wall

Ask Megan

I thought for sure with my kids back in school, I’d be back up to speed on my regular posting schedule, only to have a revolving door of sick kids at home! Fingers crossed, we’ve go all the new-school-year-germs out of the way, and I’m off and running now. Stay tuned, I’ve got some great things coming up in September!

See You Soon!