Routines

I know, we’ve all heard about how important routines and schedules are. Some of us may have every minute of every hour planned out on a ‘perfect’ schedule while others would rather just have a  ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of routine. I’ve always been kind of in the middle while I can say that at different times of my life I have leaned more towards one side than the other.

How do we find a balance?

Well, the answer is not the same for everyone, every family, or every situation. For instance, there are some children who thrive on strict routines and schedules and they don’t like change, I have one of those children. Then there are some families who are extremely busy with things, maybe a home business, and there is no way that they could guarantee that they would be home by 5:00 every day to eat dinner. Then we have work routines where sometimes there are deadlines and things that must be completed in a certain time frame.

I went through a period of time when I was really sick. I went from being a vibrant young wife and mother (who also held down a 40 hours + job) to almost being bedridden. I had a couple of different surgeries, followed by infections  and long recuperation periods. These illnesses triggered an autoimmune response in my body and I have been plagued by chronic pain ever since. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, DDD, herniated discs, IBS, GRD, hiatal hernia, migraines, and fibromyalgia among a long list of things.

My doctors prescribed a cocktail of medications to help with the problems but those medications caused lots of side effects. I was extremely fatigued, developed seizures, and was constantly having various rashes and other conditions that couldn’t be explained.

During this time my housework really suffered. My house wasn’t a total mess but it did get pretty bad. The more I tried the worse it looked. This caused major problems between my spouse and I. I was trying to keep up with the inside of the house, the outside of house, the garden, the animals, and the kids.

I was OVERWHELMED!

Then I found an index card system for housework. They also have a book called Sidetracked Home Executives which I never bought but maybe should have. I immediately jumped in and began to use the system. I tweaked it here and there to make it work for our family. I then developed a similar system for work and it made an amazing difference in my productivity levels.

Unfortunately my spouse wasn’t as thrilled with my new found method. I could never keep our home as ‘showplace perfect’ as he felt I should. The marriage fell apart and I moved with my four kids to our current home. This is where I found FlyLady, who has been a lifesaver to so many people. (You may want to check out the site for yourself.) A lot of the routines I will list below follow along with her basic plans. I again tweaked them to work for our family.

My house is not ‘showplace perfect‘ nor will it ever be. My house is lived in and it shows. I do get a lot of compliments like, ‘I would never know that you had so many kids here.’.  I’m not quite sure what they expect my house to live in but I am pleased to surprise them.

The outside of my house is a bit of a mess and I am working on that. Many people have stopped as they thought I am running a daycare. I guess I kind of am in a way. Some of the mess is beyond my control as it doesn’t belong to me.

I really believe that everyone should be proud of what the Lord has blessed you with. Be content where He has put you and make the best of it. I pray that you will find some helpful tips and suggestions as you read through the links. (If a link isn’t working please let me know in the comments below.) Please remember to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines. If something isn’t working then change it and make it work for you. Don’t get discouraged!

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Kids’ Morning Routine 

Daily School Routine

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly Routines

Monthly Routines

Yearly Routines

Laundry Routines

Yearly kids chores by age

Age-appropriate chore charts

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Morning Routines

Every morning is a chance to start fresh. I can set the tone for the rest of the household by the way I act in the morning. If I am flustered or in a rush then everyone else will sense my stress and they will react to it. If I am calm and collected it may not entirely rub off on them but it will help me to be able to react to them in a more positive way.

Some of my Morning Routine is dependent upon my Evening Routine, such as making sure the coffee pot is set. It also helps a lot to walk into a clean kitchen first thing in the morning. This last one has been a little bit harder to achieve, especially with teenagers in the house, but I take it one day at a time.

My morning routine has changed a lot over the past few years. I have added things as we added kids and I have taken away things as kids, and a husband, have left. We changed again when we began our homeschooling journey and have been changing it bit by bit to fit everyone’s needs. As my priorities have changed so have my routines.

These are not set in stone they are merely a guideline and a checklist that helps me to keep my household running smoothly. This means less stress and helps keep me from feeling so overwhelmed. It also helps because my children know what to expect and they know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

 

Things change, so do our routines. It is much easier to try to be flexible, as you can see I don’t really have certain times to do most things. I just have them listed in the order I normally do them and I just check them off as I go. Below are a few screen shots from my current morning routine:

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I usually try to get up around 5:30 – 6:00. I spend a little time in prayer and reading my devotionals. I need this little bit of quiet time to help me get through the day ahead. When my kids were smaller this may have occurred while breastfeeding a baby in my rocking chair. Just this morning my 3 year old was with me, throwing pillows and giggling at me, and I think kids do benefit from seeing their parents spending time with God and reading their Bibles.

Afterwards I try to get in about 30 minutes of exercise, sometimes I exercise before my devotionals so I can relax with a cup of coffee after my shower. I try to take a shower every morning, I know sometimes this isn’t possible with littles running around but right now I am blessed to be able to do this. I also try to remember to take my vitamins while I am in the bathroom as Mommas need to stay healthy so they take care of the littles.

I have a quick routine that involves me getting dressed so I am ready for anything that might come along. I also do a quick makeup routine (5 minutes or less) and I will fix my hair. My hair is usually pulled back in a pony tail or clip. I do normally straighten my bangs and will run the straightener through my hair every so often when I have time. (Again 5 minutes or less.)

I am trying to get into the habit of setting out the toothbrushes for the kids before I leave the bathroom too.

Before I head to the kitchen at 7:00 I will make my bed because I can’t expect the kids to make theirs if I don’t set a good example. I also pick up after myself and keep my room, my closet, and bathroom straightened and organized. Lead by example and set a good model for them to follow. They will pick up more things by watching you than you realize right now.

I turn on the kitchen light (and I have also started playing some soft music) and this signals the kids that it is time to get up. They are usually awake and playing quietly in their rooms. It did take a little bit of time to get them accustomed to this routine as they just wanted to get up and run through the house making as much noise as possible. This is also when I turn off the door alarm for my special needs son and he heads to the bathroom and then back to his room to get dressed. (Please note that his room is right next to mine and he will knock on the door if he needs to go to the bathroom or anything. The alarm is more to alert us that he is up and about as he does like to wander sometimes. (See He marches to the beat of his own drum.) I also turn the alarms on the doors to ‘chime’ mode so I can be alerted when anyone opens the door.

Before he heads to the bathroom it is important that I do a quick check in the Living Room as he will pass through there to get to the bathroom. If anything is out of place it can create chaos with him and set us up for a bad day.

My coffee pot is usually already going by the time I wake up (I love my automatic coffee maker). This is more of a reminder in case I have forgotten to set it up the night before or if the power has went out during the night.

I will use the time that the kids are getting dressed to unload the dishwasher. I normally place the items that go in the lower cabinets on the island and DD9 will put them away when she comes into the kitchen, DD8 will put away the silverware and cooking utensils. I put away the items that go in the top cabinets as well as the knives or fragile items.

After this I usually do a quick check on the calendar to see if we have any appointments or anything that needs to be done. This keeps me from forgetting or overlooking things. I will also check my FlyLady tasks for the day. When I finish with the calendar I will start our oil diffuser and the kids usually start piling in the kitchen to take care of their chores. (They don’t really see them or consider them as chores, just part of our normal everyday routine.)

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We love our sweet tea and I always try to have some on hand for when people stop by. I usually make it 2 gallons at a time and I check on it in the morning to see if it needs made or not. I will then start on breakfast.

Breakfast is an important meal and I know how crazy mornings can be when you have littles, or getting ready for buses or work, or just didn’t get enough sleep. For me, I like to fix a hot breakfast when I can and we have a ‘Breakfast Schedule‘ of sorts. Mondays are Cereal or Oatmeal, Tuesdays are French Toast, Wednesdays are Muffins, Thursdays are pancakes, and Fridays are Cereal or Oatmeal. On Saturdays and Sundays I have a rotating schedule that includes waffles, Dutch puffs, coffee cakes, scrambled eggs and grits, monkey bread, and a variety of other treats that may be more time consuming and aren’t feasible for me to attempt during the week.

I also check off as each child comes into the kitchen to make sure everyone is dressed for the day. You never know when something might come up and you have to leave unexpectedly. It is much easier to be prepared for the unexpected than to be running around trying to get everyone together for an unplanned outing.

I will also run back to the bedrooms to check and make sure they are  ‘picked up and while I am in the back of the house I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ the bathroom back there. This normally involves m spraying the mirror, counter, sink, and toilet with cleaner and wiping. I will wipe the light switches and door handles too, but make sure you do this before you wipe the toilet. Then I will put a little bit of cleaner in the toilet and ‘swish’ with the toilet brush. A quick straightening up of the towels and such and I’m done (5 minutes or less.). I do keep some disinfecting wipes under the sink so the kids can take care of quick messes through out the day. Everyone appreciates a clean bathroom when you are hugging the porcelain throne during a bout of the flu.

I will also have someone grab a load of laundry to start according to our laundry routine. Each person has a set day to do their laundry, and I wash sheets and whites on Wednesdays. This helps keep the confusion down, prevents the ‘She took my shirt’ drama, and keeps the laundry from becoming a mountain. Of course, when people are sick we do laundry as needed but normally we stick to our schedule.

The little boys are usually responsible for picking up stray shoes at the front and back doors, as most of the time the shoes belong to them. They will carry the shoes to the bedroom of the owner or place them in a basket by the door.

I will check for outgoing mail which is usually left on the top of my desk. Then I will empty the kitchen trash. When I carry it to the bin I will put the mail in the box and sometimes go ahead and feed the critters as well.

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After breakfast the kids will clear their own dishes and place them into the dishwasher. They then head to my bathroom to brush their teeth. I leave the toothbrushes on the counter and they will start the timer. (This is one similar to what we have but ours is no longer available.) When they have all finished they rinse their toothbrushes and place them back in the holder.

They will then come to the kitchen and DD8 will wipe off the table and benches as well as the counters. DD9 will sweep all of the hard floors and the porch steps. They do this automatically as I said before and they don’t really consider it as a chore. Everyone will then go to the playroom for a few minutes before we start school.

I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ my bathroom and put away their toothbrushes to keep anyone from being tempted to play with them when they visit the bathroom. Normally I empty the trash cans too when I ‘Swish & Swipe’.

When I go to the playroom we will work on our ‘Morning Board’. We have a variety of activities which include morning prayers, pledge of alegiance, graphs/charts, calendar activities, art, math, poetry and we have a ‘Morning Basket’ with books that we read from daily. When we complete this everyone does a ‘quick pick up’ and heads to the kitchen.

They will grab their individual work boxes and take them to the table. DD8 will bring me the laptops and DD9 will bring me the headphones. The boys will begin work in their work books that I put together earlier in the year and the girls will get started on Spelling, Reading, and Copy Work. I used the binder earlier this year and put together Spelling books, Copy Work books, Math books, Activity books etc. for them to work from. This frees me up from constantly needing to print out things or give directions as to what needs to be done.

At one point we did have a visual pocket schedule that hung on the wall to direct the kids as to what needed done but it wasn’t very flexible and was really aggravating to use. It worked well for one or two children but when I had five trying to use it then it became a lot of trouble.

While the kids are working I will make my To-Do list, clear a couple of Hot Spots, check my emails and bank account, and also see what is on the menu for dinner. We will also do a ‘Laundry Check’  to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, in case we forget to do it earlier.

I will set up the laptops for their school work and begin the rotation schedules. Two or three kids will work on the computers, with head sets to help keep it quieter, and the other two or three will work at the table. Sometimes the little boys will head to the play room for a bit.

Once everyone is settled into their work I will begin my cleaning tasks for the day. I will try to complete the FlyLady mission first and then work my way down the list.

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Next I will work on my weekly list of chores. It is pretty much the same basic things as listed on the older routine. I will try to go into more detail on Weekly Routines in a later post. I will also attempt to cross a few things off my To-Do list as I go through the day.

By 9:30 everyone usually needs a little break and we will stop for a quick snack. The kids will go play for a minute and do whatever they need to do before getting back to work.

We will continue to work on our school work and as they finish up they will head to the play room to read, draw, or just play. I will usually start on lunch about 10:30ish. Sometimes lunch is leftovers from the night before and sometimes its just a quick sandwich. When it is time to eat everyone will do a ‘quick pick up’ before they eat.

‘Quick pick up’ is just a term that we came up with when the kids were smaller. I may have heard it or read it somewhere but I don’t remember. The kids all know that it means it is time to pick up everything and put it away where it belongs.

We eat and the kids clear the table, clean up, and head to their rooms for nap time or quiet time. If there is laundry in the dryer it will get folded and put away before they go back for quiet time. I will finish up in the kitchen and start the dishwasher as we usually have a full load by this time. Normally DD9 will fill everyone’s water bottles before she heads back to her room. I also remind myself to drink water as sometimes I forget.

Once the kids are settled I will work on my Monthly Routines which will be more detailed in a later post as well. I know it sounds like a lot but most things are broken down into chunks that take me 15 minutes or less to complete, many of them are much less.

When the house is quiet I will sneak to my room for a  little bit of quiet time and I will read my Bible or work on whatever study of devotional I have out at the moment. This is usually the time I will use to run errands, as DD17 is home, and/or work on projects that need my full concentration. I may also use this time to catch up on making appointments, working on my To-Do list, or take a nap myself.

Please be sure to keep checking back and I will continue to work on the other routine links so you can get a better idea as to how we get it all done here. Just remember that you are the one who knows what your family needs and what will work for you and your family. Try something and if it doesn’t work then don’t be afraid to scratch that idea and try something else.

It has taken me over 20 years to get into a good routine that I feel comfortable with. Life happens and things are always changing. This means we have to be flexible and change too. I have found over the past 5 years that I have had to bend and stretch to make changes because I was being pulled in too many directions. I really had some days where I felt like a complete failure. I wasn’t, I just felt that way. I struggled with that and you may too.

My house doesn’t look like yours and yours may not ever look like mine. What my house looks like today may not be what it looks like 5 years from now. Kids grow, relationships change, and our standards will fluctuate.

Their was a time when I felt like my house had to be perfect or I would lose my husband. I was literally afraid that he would come home and not be able to see the vacuum lines in the carpet or that he would find a sucker wrapper I had missed in one of the kid’s bedrooms. That was no way to live.

Please don’t be held prisoner by unrealistic expectations from yourself or anyone else around you!

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Laundry Routines