Monday, September 15, 2008

Establishing Routine

We're doing it....this marks the third week of the kids' school and the first full week (barring any emergencies or illnesses) for all of us. (They skipped last Monday due to Dad's heart attack). Already, I'm finding myself aware of how positive little steps at creating routines can be for us - and ways that I can prepare on the time without the kids that make things so much better for the time with kids. Here's a few things that have really made a difference:

- Laying out and ironing all the clothes that the three of us will be wearing for the week (I'm not fanatical about ironing, it's just that I'm terrible about taking clothes out of the dryer on time, so everything is wrinkled to start). This even includes the clothes that I'll wear to work out, and thinking through what I might be doing (i.e. Bible Study, get-together with ladies) that would require me to change from said work-out clothes. It sounds terribly anal, but I can't believe what a stress reducer it is for me to wake up and not have to think or scatter around for what to wear or what to put the kids in.

- Having kids awake and dressed by 7, then allowing 7-7:30 be their "Curious George" eat and slowly wake up time. This year, I've realized how smart it is to turn the tv off exactly at 7:30 - which prevents the children from being mesmerized my another show ("Syd the Science Guy" which, just because it is not allowed to be watched (time) - they are utterly fascinated by it and continue to ask, "just this once" - not givin' in). You'd think 10 minutes would be plenty of time to get teeth brushed and shoes on, but you'd still be surprised - we're still working at the efficiency on that end.

- Having snacks pre-made and ready to grab. Our school has a very strict nutritional policy on snacks, but also is very suggestive that you pack them. The first weekend, as per Brayden's request, I made a bunch of zucchini bread, cut it up into pieces, put them in ziplocs and threw them in the freezer. I'm so loving grabbing that stuff and shoving it in their backpacks without stress.

- For me, going immediately to the gym (i.e. "DO NOT PASS GO"). If it is in my mind that it has to happen right off, even if it's cut short by an activity, it's much more likely to happen.

- The tv not to be turned on until everyone has completed their homework in the afternoon. This sounds like it should be a given, but my son is actually much more pleasant if he's given some "personal time" to wind down playing a game or something. But, once again, I'm sticking to it, if they see it as a "given" without compromise, we'll end up with lots less fighting about getting it done later.

- Being consistent with the time the kids are supposed to start preparing for bed, and then actually be laying in bed. This is probably our least successful area, but we're working on it. Perhaps now that Round-Up, San Francisco, and Dad's Scare are over, it might become a bit easier.....

I think if I were to read a post like this by someone else, I'd find the author to sound very "full of themselves" and posting about unnecessary rules. So, I want to point out that I'm not much of a rules person and actually following some for a change (for the kids and myself) is kind of new deal. It's reducing stress, helping me feel more "in control" and seems to be making the transition into school time better. Of course, I'm sure, I'll be the first to mess them all up, but so far, so good.

Now, what things are you finding to be helpful for your family at this time of year?


Growin' with it! said...

can i come live with you! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Me? I am ALL ABOUT rules. I'm the one who has a hard time loosening up, who gets antsy if my kids are up past 8:30 no matter what the activity...Ms. Uptight.

So I totally identified with a lot of your discoveries. I'm a very strong believer in schedules, esp. for sleep, and their effect on kids' moods and behavior. If only Mom would follow her own rules she wouldn't be such a grump!

The two crisper drawers at the bottom of my fridge hold kid-friendly snacks (cheese sticks, fruit cups, yogurts) and that has been a real stress reducer. They also have water bottles that I keep filled and in the fridge door. I also recently moved the cereal and a bunch of plastic cereal bowls to a low cupboard next to the table, so they can be totally self sufficient for breakfast (unless the milk jug is too full). That really helps.

We have three big hooks just inside the front door for their school and sports bags. Life savers and space savers esp. with a son who scatters wadded up homework papers, etc. everywhere he goes.

Had to chuckle on the morning chill-out time, and turning off the TV at a natural stopping point! Yes, it's amazing how long it can take from, "OK, it's time to go!" to actually taking off! (Usually about 10-15 mins. at our house.) And sometimes I am the offender, running back inside for my coffee or the library books or something.

I am not as organized about clothing or packing lunches ahead of time, but I should be. Now, if only I could go to bed in my work clothes and makeup and have it look fresh in the morning, I'd be set! haha.

StephieAnne said...

Thanks Heather, great ideas -and, I really ought to move those cereals down - my kids have to climb the cupboards to get to them, but yet, I never thought about making it easier for them and myself. Thanks for taking the post as it was intended, an admission that for a person who "don't do rules" to a "wow, I see why rules work".....

HollieHobbie said...

I love these! I even have the little Monday through Friday clothes shelves in their closets....they are empty! I love how organized you are.
So are you a procrastinator about anything?

StephieAnne said...

Are you talking to me or Heather? If it's me, Hollie - UH YEAH!!!! Ask me how often I have a meal prepared for my family at night time!? And if the clothes weren't ready early, what that looks like in the morning......

HollieHobbie said...

I was talking to you, Steph. You are so incredibly organized it amazes me. I am such a procrastinator as a stay at home mom like "Oh that organizing can happen tomorrow"
I love your routine that you are following.