Reader Advice: What Works for You

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

Over the past month, we’ve been talking about rhythms and routines here at Simple Kids.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and been able to take some things away from it that will help enrich the lives of you and your kids.

I know I have personally benefited from the wise words left in the comments.  I thought I would highlight some of that advice here today, so that others can benefit from the ideas and thoughts shared, too.

On Tooth Brushing

At the beginning of the month, contributor Vanessa Brown wrote about tooth brushing and shared some tips for developing  a routine.  Reader Alicia had some good tips for ending toothbrushing battles, too.

I liked Tammy’s suggestion in the comments for keeping two sets of tooth brushes: “We have two sets of toothbrushes/paste for my girls, so that after breakfast they can brush their teeth downstairs in the bathroom next to the kitchen. The evening brushing happens upstairs after bathtime. Its just easier than going up and down the stairs.”

Photo by Kara Fleck

The Flow of the Day

In this post I shared with you why I feel that having anchor points in our day is important.  There are certainly going to be a variety of factors that determine an individual family’s daily rhythm and routine.  Some of you consider yourselves to be more “rhythm” people and some more “routine” people.

I really enjoyed what you had to say in the comments:

I think one of my favorite things about having a rhythm is that if the day starts going off track, there seems to be a place to pick things up and start again.” – Kara

“It’s usually more about knowing what to expect next than it is about getting it at an exact time. Sometimes being too committed to a schedule is the bigger problem. You’re more likely to get a tantrum from a child when you skip half of the bedtime routine than you will when you follow the same routine but hit the pillow a half hour early or late. This is helpful for parents to remember when there are those changes in schedule. As long as the basic routine of the anchor points remain fairly predictable, kids generally do OK. Of course, as with most things, we have to know our own kids and make the adjustments they need.” – Amanda Morgan

One of the good things about establishing anchors and rhythms/routines is that it makes it easier to get through resistance in doing certain things. The fact that we do a big house clean on Saturdays is accepted practice. And when it comes to family fitness – a big part of our household – because we accept that most afternoons we’re going to go on a bike ride or play soccer or something, there is less grumbling from the kids (and parents). We just do it. Eventually it becomes something that we just instinctively do as part of our day – something I’m so glad we’re passing on to our kids.”Sarah

The “Witching Hour”

Contributor Jaimie Franchi’s post on surviving the “witching hour” as a single parent gave advice that resonated with many of us – single or not.  Readers chimed in with their own ideas on dealing with and trying to avoid this potentially stressful time of day.

“I second the early food prep and prompt 5:30 dinner time. If I don’t eat regularly, I find I’m less patient with the children. Supper usually recharges me for another few hours of graciousness!”Aimee

“When I was working outside of the home, I found that I had to spend good one-on-one time with my daughter first when I got home before anything else. If we had some close time snuggling with a book or whatever, then from there I could start with dinner. Without giving her that first, she had such high needs for me that trying to get anything else done was a battle.”Alicia

“I’m of the traveling husband single mom set and lately its been freezer meals that have saved me. Once a week, I double cook and freeze a dinner. Once a week, I thaw a dinner that I froze a previous week. That’s two of my meals for the week. Other nights I prepare something quick-spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, chicken breasts, etc. Being organized helps so much and also releasing myself from the pressure to cook an amazing meal.”Kristen

Small Steps Toward An Easier Day

When I shared some of my suggestions for small changes that you could make in fifteen minute increments, many of you had your own good ideas for small changes that have a big impact on your days, as well.

I think most of us need a gentle reminder from time to time that solid rhythms and routines don’t just happen overnight.  I was encouraged by many of the comments and perspectives in the comments:

“I think it is SO easy to be perfectionists and think that if we can’t finish something 100% then its not worth doing at ALL. I am learning as I juggle homeschooling two under 6 and having a less than one year old, along with church service and home, is that a lot CAN get done in 15 minutes, and even if I don’t get it done I am 15 minutes more done than I was before then!”Courtney

… it’s always encouraging to be reminded that those families that seem to have their routines down pat didn’t get there overnight. Their years with toddlers were probably as crazy as mine! :)” – Andie

Photo by Kara Fleck

The 80/20 Rule

I think one of my very favorite reader comments comes from something that reader Alissa said in this post on rhythms and routines during challenging seasons of life:

“I think in the challenging times, it’s also important to remember and embrace the 80/20 Rule:

– Do you feed your family healthy, nourishing meals most of the time? Then embrace this time as the 20% to pull out the box mac n’ cheese.
– Do your kids get a bath nearly every night? Then this is the 20% of time they go without.
– Do you limit television? Then this is the 20% of time that an extra show or afternoon movie will let mom take a nap!

In challenging times, we’ve got to remember that it’s OKAY to adjust our (self imposed) standards. These times are temporary – we’re not creating lifelong habits by the things we do 5, 10, or even 20% of the time.”

Thank you, Alissa, and everyone who reads, comments, and emails.  I appreciate so much what you share here and the variety of perspectives and experiences that you bring to the conversation.

We’ve been talking about rhythm and routines and we’re not done yet: contributor Catherine has a post coming up this week on kids and outdoor spaces and we’ll be moving on to discussing creating kid-friendly spaces within our homes in the coming weeks. The contributors and I are looking forward to sharing with you and to finding out what you think and what works for you in your homes.

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

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  1. Thank you, Kara, for highlighting these comments – I missed some of them. I particularly like Alissa’s because sometimes we need to give ourselves a break and a pat on the back at the same time. And our children also need to learn that sometimes things aren’t always what you expect and learn to deal with off-nights.
    Sarah Clachar´s latest post: Healthy Fast Food- 7 Ways To Eat Better Quickly

  2. Love, love, LOVE seeing all of this community come together with such great ideas. Sometimes it’s so helpful to hear what others are doing that works. Thanks for collecting these, Kara!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy´s latest post: 40 Days of Community- Weekly Fellowship and more thoughts on Green Like God

  3. Thanks for your kind words Kara! I love this recap of highlights from your series. I’ve learned so much from this community, and just love that I can find so many great resources.
    Alissa´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday- Downhill

  4. I love the 80/20 rule. It’s a sanity saver in all areas of my life!
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  5. I am fairly new to your blog and yet it has already become one of my most prized resources. This series on creating rhythm has come at exactly the right time.

    I look forward to continued reading! My gratitude!
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