This is a post from Crystal Heft of Crystal Starr
A daily routine for a Growing Family! Can it be done? Is it possible to have everyone doing what they should be doing and when they should be doing it! Can you imagine if you didn’t even have to say much to get the wheels turning and everyone hopping in step? Daily routines for growing families are essential to quell the chaos, maintain something resembling harmony, and to ensure important tasks are accomplished regularly. With a rock solid routine the house can all but run itself, even if mom is out of town or even just under the weather. Alright, all of that sounds heavenly doesn’t it? If only we could snap our fingers and have this bliss befall our families. Have you tried to implement a routine only to give up halfway through the week or even the first day? Let’s talk about how to overcome the obstacles.
A Routine Versus a Schedule
A routine is a set of events, circumstances, or to-dos that happen in the same order, normally at roughly the same time, pretty much every single day. A schedule is a list of events that are done at a precise and predetermined time. I know many families function wonderfully using a schedule. Mine does not. Or at least I, as the mom, do not. I have certainly tried! I figured a schedule could be my panacea! Everyone would know exactly what to do when! Except I became a slave to the schedule and stress became my constant companion. A blown out diaper, spilt juice and an extra mopping, or even just a child who was a bit under the weather, would throw off my entire plan. I’d quickly feel like a failure and simply give up. Simple pleasures, like reading an extra book to my three year old, or repeating the science experiment with my 4th grader became unacceptable. I was clock watching and the clock determined my every move. Can we say MISERABLE? A routine on the other hand is simply an order for doing what needs to be done. Routines are repeated routinely! There are few time restrictions other than things like appointments or play dates. Unlike a schedule, routines leave you room for joy, for catastrophe, and for spontaneity.
A Sample Routine
Routines are fluid and change as a family changes. A new baby, a new job, summer vs. winter – all of these things can make you change up a routine and that is okay. Here is what my family routine looks like currently.
- 7:30 – Children get up, eat breakfast, clean up the dishes and start on their morning work. (Morning work entails making your bed, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, cleaning up your room, and starting a load of laundry). Sometimes the children get up at 8:00am or even 8:30. That’s fine! We’ll get the routine going as soon as they are out of bed. Oh, the best part for them? The faster they get this routine finished the more free time they have before we start our homeschool day.
- 9 or so… We gather together for praise and worship as well as our Bible reading. Then we move onto our other schoolwork. Usually the older children work independently while I give some attention to the little ones.
- 10:00 or 10:30 or whenever we reach a good stopping point we head to the kitchen for some basic chores and a snack. I try to put nappers down for a nap at this time too.
- Whenever that is done we meet again to work on more school.
- Around noon time we stop for a bite to eat, some outdoor play, a few more chores, or whatever needs doing.
- The afternoons are set aside for special projects, fun lessons like art, or even walks through the neighborhood. Any work from the morning is set aside at that time.
- 2pm or so we have a rest time. Nappers nap, readers read, and whoever is in between gets to look at picture books or draw.
- 3pm or so we finish up any chores and the children run off to play.
- 5pm or so I gather the troops to help me start dinner.
That is currently the gist of our day. Unless of course we have an appointment or a class to get to. If so, when we get home we just jump back in to where we would have been had we stayed at home all day.
Routine Helpers, How to Enforce It
Write down your daily routine and display it where the whole family will see it. Use clip art or other graphics to help the non-readers understand what to do next. Since my time is limited and I never enjoy reinventing the wheel my family uses a system called Accountable Kids. Celebrate when a task is accomplished. In fact, in our house we get rewards at certain times. If morning work is done quickly, with a good attitude, and thoroughly, then the child earns a ticket. Tickets are used to buy privileges such as TV or game time with the iPad. Repeat the routine every day yet remember to be flexible. I like our family routine because my plans for the day are not derailed if we start lunch 20 minutes later or someone gets hung up trying to hunt down a book or if the baby explodes the diaper and I have to give a quick bath. At the same time, my children know what to expect next. We’ve been at this particular routine long enough now that they work at it pretty much automatically. With only a simple prompt from me like “Ok, chores and snack time!” Everyone gets hopping.
How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Routine
Be flexible! Just because you all slept in a half an hour later than normal doesn’t mean that you should just toss the routine. Get going a little later, edit out something that can wait for another day, and keep moving. Don’t allow discouragement. I know how it can be. A stomach bug passes through the house and everyone’s down for the count for a week. The washing machine breaks and you have to trek to the laundry mat three times a week just to keep up with the basics. Unexpected out of town visitors show up and you are playing the hostess for days. Once any of these life events settle down it can be so easy to just forget about that routine. Don’t! Get back in wherever you left off! You’ll thank yourself for it.
When to be Flexible
Always! Flexibility is important if you are going to have a daily routine in your growing family. If you are a mom reading this blog, chances are your family is larger than average or you’re hoping it will be some day. The larger the family, the more life is being lived in your home. Make flexible your middle name. Just jump back in wherever you are and keep on chugging. Celebrate the victories and move on from the defeats. Marvel at all you can accomplish with a simple and flexible routine.
You Got This!
A daily routine for a growing family really is possible and it can save your sanity. Always have grace with yourself and your children. If a routine is needed in your family you can make it happen. Be flexible enough to tweak it when needed. Be consistent enough to make it truly routine. In the end, savor it all and rejoice in how fruitful your family really can be.