Part 1: How Nicely Routines Can Work
The kids went back to school today. I’m pretty excited to have some semblance of a routine and regular schedule again!
Last night we talked about our school-day routine before getting the kids to bed. We make beds when we stand up out of bed. We brush teeth when we go to the bathroom. We take a shower before we get dressed in our school clothes that are laid out the night before. We don’t play or eat before we’re dressed and ready. We put our socks on before we come downstairs. We keep our shoes in the shoe place by the door. I went over all this and then went back over it in question form: “What do we do as soon as we stand up out of our beds?” “What should we put on our feet before we come downstairs?” “What should we do just as soon as we’re dressed?”. The kids went to bed with a nice solid sense of what needed to happen the next morning.
So this morning went really well. I got all the big kids to school on time (the clear morning routine plus the fact that everyone can now actually find their clothes and the fact that I’ve finally figured out the fastest route between our home and their school sure helped). After dropping off the big kids, the twins and I had a quality reading time and I so enjoyed snuggling with them by the fire while we read. I replied to a handful of emails while they drew pictures (30 minutes of email time in the mornings – max – that’s one of my New Years Resolutions) then we had a nice little lunch together before I took them to school (another resolution – lunch at 11:15 so they can be at school by noon – and we were on time!). I came home, got dinner in the crock pot (resolution to figure out what to have for dinner before it’s actually dinner time), and spent the last hour and a half working through my “to-do” list for this website and making a plan for what needs to be done during January (and I’m feeling much better now that I finished some things that were hanging over my head and have a targeted list of what I can realistically get done this month). Then I had 20 minutes to write this little post before I go pick up all the kids (resolution to write more often and write shorter more targeted posts and resolution to do a better job being on time to pick up the kids).
Routines are wonderful things. I’ve missed them dearly. And routines sure help with resolutions.
Of course, most days the established routines get messed up here and there. Unexpected things pop up – usually at the least opportune times. But having a routine that generally works is a very good thing. It’s so good to have times where you can usually plan on having a little quiet time to get things done in peace, other times when you plan on being totally available to your kids. Knowing what to expect and setting up expectations for your family members about how the day should go generally makes the day go better.
So today, I give thanks for routines – imperfect and flexible but generally tried-and-true routines. Long may they live.
Part 2: How Some Days Routines Just Don’t Work Out
Well, I did do a good job getting the routines rolling and I enjoyed a couple good days. But here’s how our “routine” went this morning:
I got up 10 minutes late. I used the snooze button on my new phone – thought it was a 5 minute snooze – nope – ten. I dragged myself out of bed and headed upstairs to make sure the kids were up and going on the good old routine.
Nope. Ashton was reading a book instead of taking a shower and the rest of the kids were asleep.
I sent Ashton into the shower and got the other kids up. But I’d been tired the night before and forgot to set out their clothes – or go over what the schedule and routine was for the morning. Ashton had no school shirts that could be found anywhere. Isaac got dressed quickly and headed downstairs – I asked him to set out the bowls and make sure his homework was ready in his backpack. I got the twins going on getting dressed and got myself ready.
Time for breakfast – just 10 minutes late – we’ll still be OK. I realized Ashton was still in the shower and headed upstairs to ask him nicely – again – to HURRY. On the way back down I heard another shower and found that Eliza had decided to take a shower too even though it’s not her shower day so I asked her to HURRY.
I got downstairs to find Isaac wandering around aimlessly, no bowls on the table, no homework ready – what had he been doing for the last precious 10 minutes? He had no idea.
I whipped up some quick oatmeal and got the kids sitting down to eat. Ashton finally came downstairs demanding that I find him some shorts to wear for gym that day and that they needed to be shorts that went past his knees and his old ones were too short. I explained that needs for things like new gym shorts should really be stated in advance of when you actually need them. We have shorts that go to the middle of his knee but he said they would be too short. I searched through his stuff and handed him the longest shorts I could find and asked him to put them in his backpack right away so he didn’t forget them.
I finished everyone’s hair, checked all the backpacks, reminded everyone to clear their places (somehow it’s SO hard to remember), and asked everyone when their socks are supposed to go on their feet – “before we come downstairs for breakfast” they chorused back. Well, no one remembered that little part of the routine so everyone went upstairs to the laundry room where we keep socks and got socks on, got coats on, got backpacks, got shoes on (some people strangely doing this in slow motion while I urged everyone along with increasingly less-nice urgings). Then I realized Eliza didn’t have her glasses on and had her go back upstairs and get them (much to her dismay – going ALL the way upstairs is so HARD. Tell me about it – I’ve already done it like 10 times today myself…)
I sent the kids to hop in the car while I looked for the keys that I really thought I left on the window sill. Turns out Ashton had taken the keys to the car. I got in the car and saw that Ashton somehow had no coat on – even though I’m pretty darn sure I reminded each child to get their backpacks AND their coats when they headed to the closet. Reminded Ashton for the hundreth time that it is winter and we should always put on a coat when we go outside. He said he was perfectly fine without a coat. The temperature thing in the car said 18 degrees. I sent him back in for the coat.
We headed out – just 8 minutes late. In the car, we had a little quiz to see who could remember all the steps in the morning routine. Eliza passed it off with flying colors. Ashton passed it off too – but somehow KNOWING what he’s supposed to do and actually remembering to do it are two different things. We dropped Ashton off at school and then I asked Isaac to tell me the routine and he didn’t answer. We all realized he wasn’t in the car. Oops. The kids in the back thought he was in the front seat by me and I assumed he was in the back.
We headed back home and found a very sad Isaac sitting on the back steps (with no coat – and it was still 18 degrees). He’d been in the bathroom when we left. I’m not sure how he missed all the commotion of trying to find the socks and get the coats and shoes on. We all felt bad we’d left him!
We got Isaac’s coat and headed out to school for the second time.
When I got back from dropping off the kids, I saw that Ashton’s gym shorts were sitting on the kitchen counter. Glad I spent that extra 5 minutes looking for them.
So yes, routines are beautiful. But when the mom gets up 10 minutes late and the reminders of the routine didn’t happen the night before and someone needs gym shorts, even the best routines just don’t quite work out.
Tonight we’ll do a better job setting out everyone’s stuff and remind everyone about what needs to happen when and I’ll get up on time and we’ll just keep working on improving where we can and muddling through where we have to!
This was originally posted on Saren’s personal blog in 2010.