Small Steps, Big Changes: Developing a New Routine 15 Minutes at a Time


Sometimes, as an outsider looking in at another family’s routines, it is easy to wind up feeling discouraged or overwhelmed.  If you’ve been feeling that way during our series on routines and rhythm this month,  I want to gently remind you that the routines for the families featured probably didn’t fall into place in one day or even one week.

In fact, a common trend I’ve noticed among families who have steady rhythms in place is that these routines evolved for them over time. Some of their routines are still evolving. They make small changes and adapt along the way.  They tinker. They adjust. They take baby steps.

If you are a parent wondering how to begin making changes to your child’s current routines, or if you just want to know how to get started creating rhythm, my advice to you is to keep it simple. Start small.  Set realistic goals.  Give yourself time to make changes. 

Specifically, give it 15 minutes.

You might be surprised at what a difference the adjustment of a quarter of an hour can make to your days. Making over your entire day all at once?  A daunting task.  Making small changes, with big benefits, just 15 minutes at a time?  Now that is something you can do!

Ten Changes You Can Make, 15 Minutes at a Time:

  1. Spend 15 minutes preparing the night before for the day ahead
  2. Set your clock for 15 minutes earlier in the morning
  3. Get in the habit of spending 5 minutes immediately after each meal washing the dishes with your child
  4. Start your bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier in the evening
  5. Spend 15 minutes outside with your child and work your way up to an hour (or more!)
  6. Do 15 minutes of structured play or crafting with your child
  7. Spend 15 minutes reading to your child.
  8. Take in 15 minutes of peace and quiet. Do nothing. Slow down.
  9. Have a 15 minute Tea Time or After School Snack with your child
  10. Set one 15 minute toy pick-up at the end of the day (or three 5 minute toy pick-ups during the day)

Photo by wwarby

Individually,  these items are fairly easy to accomplish.  Keep in mind that I am not encouraging you to do ALL of these things at once.

What I am asking you to consider is spending just 15 minutes every day working on one intentional change that you want to see take place.  Spend 15 minutes a day cultivating the habit and you are on your way toward developing  a rhythm.

Work your new routine into the fabric of your daily lives and then, once everyone is comfortable and your time is flowing smoothly, add in something new.

Take your time.  Tweak.  Tinker.

There is no time-crunch here, no deadline. Layer things in as you need them, take them away as you don’t.   These ideas are just the seeds, the rhythm that grows from them will be unique to your family. 

Above all, keep it simple.

What changes do you need to make in your family’s routine? What will you consider giving 15 minutes of your time to in order to develop an intentional routine?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace


  1. Thanks for the reminder. Find the right rythm is definitely a work in progress for most families. As the needs of our kids change, we have to change with them. Doing it 15 minutes at a time sounds like a good approach! It’s a perfect approach to the time change too.

  2. Good suggestions! :)

  3. When you break it down into 15 minutes, ANYTHING is achievable! Thanks for the suggestions. Keeping a consistent routine is one of the things I struggle with most.

  4. Oh you are so absolutely right!!! A fifteen minute time shift can totally change the feel of your whole day – start fifteen minutes sooner or leave something till its fifteen minutes late and can you tell the difference!!! Often times I will think I don’t want to start a project and before I look fifteen minutes are up, the project is done and everyone is playing happily again… Yet if I drag my feet for fifteen minutes – hairy scary wheels fall off!!!

  5. Oh yes, we are still in the process of creating our rhythms too! But this is very encouraging as I do often think that I’m taking a mighty long time figuring things out, because just when some of the things seem to fall in place, something changes and we have to figure it out all over again! Thanks Kara!

  6. Jennifer says:

    With the anticipation of adding a new baby in our home, I’m in the process of recognizing that our routines are about to change significantly & that I’ll need to be flexible about that. I’m encouraged by the idea that you can even break down 15 minute tasks into 3, 5 min tasks–something I’ll certainly keep in mind!

  7. Oh Thank YOU! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m one of those “all or nothing” kind of people ~ yeah, I’m working on it! But thanks for the permission to do it in 15 minutes, one step at a time. That changed my entire feeling around it. That feels doable!! YAY!!!
    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..Grow Potatoes in Straw =-.

    • Oh, good! I’m so glad! And you CAN do it! Just small, simple changes …. a little bit at a time.

      Best Wishes!

  8. I’m going to start my bedtime routine 15 min. earlier! It’s true that when you start small with a habit you want to develop that it usually grows naturally and you end up incorporating it into your life. Love these ideas!
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom´s last blog ..My Secret Sickness =-.

  9. That is a wonderful and encouraging idea… to just take 15 min. to incorporate something new. I have a bad habit of trying to do everything at once. Some of it sticks, but often a lot of it just ends up crashing and burning, and I get frustrated with myself. I know I shouldn’t do it like that, but the temptation gets me almost every time.
    I think I am going to pick one thing I’ve been wanting to implement, and just start doing it regularly for 15 min. a day and see if the success spurs me on to more. With spring arriving, I love the idea of spending 15 min. outside each day. So would my kids. Thanks!
    .-= Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home´s last blog ..Our Favorite Budget Management Tool =-.

  10. Already in the series I’ve taken to heart someone’s comment about getting up before the kids. It’s a risk in our small house that this will get them up, but worth it. What a treat to be showered, dressed, and with a cup of tea before they get up. Now, can I do it on the weekend?
    .-= Cheryl Arkison´s last blog ..Scotch and … =-.

  11. Maybe we should not be seeking a new routine at all? Maybe we should be getting away from routine for our own sanity?
    .-= Jabba´s last blog ..Crist Turns Back On Republicans – Enters Race In 2nd Place =-.


  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  2. [...] many ways, this return to steadier routines is actually kind of nice, and we do limit the number of activities the kids participate in, but I [...]

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