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January Is the Perfect Month for Parents to ...

Photograph by Twenty20

January is the perfect month to start cleaning up our parenting acts. I've thought of some easy shifts that will go a long way to make our lives easier and our kids' lives happier. Here's a list of doable ideas to eliminate stress and set a fresh parenting tone for 2016!

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1. Make lunch the night before

This is one of the easiest ways to make your morning smoother. How? Packing lunches the night before makes you more available to help with the inevitable toddler meltdowns, the missing shoe hunts, those last few math problems, making breakfast and remembering to change out of pajamas yourself before dropping your kids at school. When you have one or more kids to get to daycare, preschool, school and to a job yourself, 15 minutes will feel like an hour.

2. Start bedtime routine half an hour earlier

If you're like my family, getting kids to their beds is only half the battle. Once they are there, the wind down can take up to another hour. And even then, once I've left the room, they are still chatting with each other. Even if I start the bed routine at 8 p.m., by the time they're asleep, it's close to 9 p.m. and this is horrible for everyone.

The past few nights I've been starting at 7:30 p.m. and it's still not quite there yet, but I can feel my kids starting to hit their first wind down mode at 8 now. I've also been spraying their pillowcases with lavender oil and put the 10 minute Headspace meditation app on to get them to shut up be quiet and meditate.

3. Use lice shampoo for the heck of it

Nothing gives me chills like receiving a lice warning from my kids schools. So now I just keep lice shampoo in the shower at all times and rotate it with their regular shampoo. (Wait do I even "shampoo"? Mostly I just put some soap in their hair and call it shampoo.) I'm not a professional lice-buster, but I'm hoping this routine adds a touch of lice prevention. I also spray lice repellant and use lice prevention oil in their hair in the morning. It actually smells amazing, and I use it, too!

4. Get a tooth brushing app

Sonicare makes an app that has changed my kids' tooth brushing game big time. They are obsessed with it to the point where they are fighting over who gets to brush first. Yes, I really did just say that. The app automatically turns on the brush, this cute creature bounces around, the kids name it and feed it, and well, honestly, I don't really know more than about it. I'm just glad to see my kids racing to brush their teeth.

5. Organize Tupperware

All those tops that fit on nothing and cracked plastic containers only waste your time and drive you crazy.

No, it's not the 1950s, but rather the age of minimalism and functionality. All those tops that fit on nothing and cracked plastic containers only waste your time and drive you crazy when you're trying to pack a lunch. Lay all your crap out, embrace your inner 1950s housewife and organize that shit. If a top doesn't fit, toss it. Same with bottoms. I will confess to being very proud of my Tupperware drawer. OK it's not even Tupperware, it's cheap IKEA plastic, but you get the point.

6. Get all new bath toys

Your kids don't need 50 moldy toys in the tub. It's an eyesore and a health hazard. Plus, they usually only play with one thing anyway. Hey, maybe take the mismatched Tupperware and use that.

7. Give away baby books

This is the perfect time of year to pass on those baby books and the five copies of "Goodnight Moon." Keep one. Get your books down to top faves and cycle the others out. You'll see how much room opens up for you. Pass them on to a school, local library or friend with younger kids. Don't hold on to baby books!

8. Instill a "10 minutes of silence" game at night

This is awesome. Try it. Thank me later.

9. Keep frozen bananas and buy a blender

When your kids are crying for sweets or ice cream and you've got nothing, frozen bananas are your lifesaver. Throw them in a blender with, well, anything, and you've got the best all-natural ice cream dessert ever. Try almond milk, fruit, yogurt, coconut, cocoa, crumbled cookies, nut butters, jams, cereal—whatever you have lying around. Your kids will go bananas.

RELATED: 5 Things I Refuse to Do for My Young Kids

10. Exercise + meditate

This is for you. If I don't exercise I will literally go insane. Try an exercise app that makes you do an intense seven minutes. Your energy will shift immediately. Also, there are tons of mediation apps now. See what happens when you add five to 10 minutes of quiet time a day. You'll love it.

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