Tax Season is upon us here at the Simple Kids household, which means I don’t have a lot of writing time on my hands these days. As Amelia was watching out the window at the garbage truck yesterday (Trash day is a favorite part of our weekly routine) I thought of this post from the archives you might enjoy on rhythm and routines, originally published in March of 2010.
During the month of March at Simple Kids we’re talking about rhythm and routines. Keeping in mind that every family’s needs are different and therefore every family’s routines work differently, I thought it would be fun to ask some real moms with families in a variety of situations and ages and stages of childhood what their morning, meal, homework, and evening routines look like.
I was inspired by their answers and I found a few tips that I think I can incorporate into my family’s rhythm. I have a feeling you’ll be inspired by these families, too.
Melisa, mother of 4 – ages 13, 11, 9, and 3
“I am now a huge proponent of rising before your children. My morning starts pretty early as I LOVE my alone time! I rise and work on my own meditation, prepare school lessons and get ready for the day. The children are generally up around 8 a.m. and we begin the work of the day. Chores that need to be done, breakfast that needs to be prepared and eaten… so many things that seem so important in the morning!
When my older children were younger, my days often felt like they were spent in the kitchen. This can be so exhausting but I wasn’t willing to give myself up to cold cereal each morning either. I began to find ways to make the morning go smoother by having the children help, even when they were young. We approached morning work with joy because we were doing it together.
Now the big kids each take a day to cook breakfast – they have their favorites. My daughter loves to make muffins or waffles on her day, my oldest son is king of scrambled egg sandwiches and my middle son will often go for fruit and toast. Our youngest often will unload the dishwasher while his older siblings cook or he’ll help someone stir. They work together – this doesn’t mean they don’t fight. There are loud mornings and smooth mornings here.
We try to keep in mind who might need extra sleep some mornings because of activities the evening before, etc. but the entire house runs smooth because I am there to make it so. I am the Beacon for them. I set the stage, the tone, the expectations. Everyone knows what is expected of them and if they feel like it is too much they feel comfortable in letting Erik and I know. While I will often say this is not democracy (a dictatorship!) it is a house with loving limits and rhythm. The way the morning starts, frames our day. A smooth morning will do wonders for our spirits.”
Photo by Cozy Memories
Meal Time Routines
Annette, mother to four – ages 11, 8, 6, and 2
“If I haven’t done it the night before, I like to start the day with a fresh tablecloth and cloth napkins. Not only are cloth napkins better for the environment and, in the long run, less expensive, but they also bring an air of reverence to the meal. Using non-disposable, non-plastic products tells my children “This meal is important. You are important.” It helps create a mood in which we can all slow down and enjoy the meal.
I very rarely have to call them to breakfast because they usually show up in kitchen, dressed and washed and brushed and with bowls in their hands! When I do call them, I sing a little song such as “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” on muffin days or a made-up “Come to the Table” song. Once they are served– we usually do this with me filling their bowls or plates right from the stove– they go to the table, where the silverware is waiting in a basket, along with their cloth napkins. After a morning blessing on the meal, they’re ready to eat!
After the meal, they each clear their own dish. Even the two-year-old can do this! I have a sink full of water waiting, and each child wipes their dish clean, rinses it, and places it in the dish drainer. We don’t have a dishwasher, and while there are times I mourn this lack of convenience, I’m actually thankful for the opportunities it gives us to slow down and do things the old-fashioned way. We encourage this small act of service by example and gentle encouragement. When a younger child hears you thanking an older child for helping to care for our things so carefully and making the house a lovely place, they want to do it too.
A song or rhyme always helps as well. One of our favorites is:
“Wash the dishes, wipe the dishes,
ring the bell for tea.
Three good wishes, three good kisses
I will give to thee”
followed by the appropriate number of kisses, of course!
Each child has their own napkin ring, and barring any major messes,at the end of the meal they place their napkin in the napkin ring and it gets stored in a compartment in the silverware basket on the table, ready for the next meal. With all of us working together, there’s very little additional cleanup left to be done, and we’re ready to carry on with our day.”
Photo by John-Morgan
Tracey, mother of two – ages 9 and 7
“Most of my children’s homework is done in the car. I store pens, pencils and other necessary supplies in the car door pockets for easy access. During our drive home, they can complete worksheets or other writing tasks, as well as assigned reading.
Since our route includes a number of stoplights, I use the time while we are sitting still to call out spelling words, drill them on math facts, or quiz them over notes. Larger projects have to be completed at home, but we try to make the most of our commute by getting the basics done.”
Jean-Marie, mother of two – ages 6 and 2
“I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old, and play is still VERY important for our routine. At least 2 days out of the school week we head to the park after school. I also bring a bucket of chalk with us. In-between playing and running and sliding and jumping I quiz my daughter on her spelling words for the week. She has fun writing them, sometimes even adding her own flair with different colors or heart-dotted Is. Since kids are expected to sit through 5 – 6 hours of school I try to make our home learning and practice process fun.”
Angela, mother of two – ages 4 and 1
“Our routine has changed a little over the past year as we added our second child and as our oldest gave up nap time. Even with the small changes, we’ve kept our routine pretty simple and very consistent – bath, books, bed. We have found that having a familiar routine has not only helped avoid night-time melt downs, but it also provides some familiarity when we travel or are away from home. It’s some thing we can take with us almost any where we go.
Not only has this familiar routine helped keep bedtime simple (and drama free), but it’s often one of the best parts of our day. One of our best traditions is probably our family hug followed by “kisses all around”. I don’t know what the kids will remember when they grow up, but this has become a very special family time for me.”
Mandi, mother of four – ages 5, 3, 2, and a new baby
“Our evening routine is one of the most important in our home because it really helps set the tone for the following day. For us, that means filling up water bottles and setting out activities and clothes (and sometimes even breakfast) so that they’re waiting for us in the morning.
Each step only takes a minute, but it has a much larger impact on our morning routine! Getting ready the night before is not always easy. A lot of times, I don’t really feel like spending extra time on things that don’t seem to matter at that moment, but when I skip this routine, I always end up regretting it in the morning.”
Thank you , ladies, for letting us peek into your daily routines:
- Melisa, A Little Garden Flower
- Annette, Seasons of Joy
- Tracey, Girls to Grow
- Angela, The Journey on the Way
- Mandi, Organizing Your Way
What about your family? What do your morning, meal, homework or evening routines look like? What questions do you have about developing simple routines and rhythm?