One of my favorite things about a new school year starting is the chance to begin fresh routines. If you’re like me, the lazy days of summer started out well but have ended a big chaotic.
This year my routine will be different, with both children in school, but I thought I’d revisit last year’s routine to see what worked and what didn’t. Hopefully my hits and misses will inspire you as you seek what will work best in your family!
Below is a copy of last year’s My Back to School Routine post. Drew was in elementary school and Alyssa was home with me her last year before kindergarten. In red I’ve made notes of what worked and what didn’t:
5:45 a.m. – wake up, brew coffee, have Bible reading and prayer time
6:15 – get dressed, throw a load of laundry into the washer, make breakfast
7:00 a.m. – wake Drew up, serve breakfast
7:30 a.m. – leave to take Drew to school
8:00 a.m. – serve Alyssa breakfast if she hasn’t eaten yet, my morning chores while she watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS
9:00 a.m. – TV off, help Alyssa with her chores
9:30 a.m. – Homeschool Alyssa (pre-K)
11:00 – Alyssa free play, me finish up any of my chores
11:30 – Lunch, coffee break and reading
Afternoon – I’ve kept this flexible, but it has included gardening chores, cooking or baking, playing with Alyssa, swimming
3:20 – Pick up Drew from school
Update: That was my basic schedule, and I kept to it all year for the most part. It worked perfectly for us. Below I expound a bit on what made up that schedule and why:
First Things First: Time with God
I began a new study of Acts in my Bible reading time in the morning. I’m using the Bible Study Journal created by Crystal Malloy, my friend who was serving as a missionary in Swaziland with her family. Let me tell you, I LOVE this journal. I only go through 8-15 verses per day and it makes me really get into the Word.
If you want to transform your Bible reading, I highly recommend this journal. There’s no devotional or commentary. It’s all about you reading and the Holy Spirit speaking to you as you dig into His Word. Get your copy here, or local friends, Heart and Soul has copies as well.
Update: I used this journal to study Acts all year. It was great and helpful, and I highly recommend it! (Now Crystal also has a spiral-bound version, which I would choose next time.)
Taming the Laundry Monster
I’m all about doing a load of laundry per day. No laundry piles up, and it’s never unmanageable. I put the load in the washer before breakfast, transfer it to the dryer after taking Drew to school, and put it away after I homeschool Alyssa. Easy peasy!
Update: This was another sanity-saver. Laundry rarely piled up and I was able to keep on top of it each week. For working moms, I used this method when I worked as well. I put a load in first thing in the morning, transferred it to the dryer, and folded/hung in the evenings. It saved doing mounds of laundry on those precious weekends!
Breakfast: When I Fail to Plan….
I’ve decided on a breakfast schedule to make things run smoother each day. I know I have a tendency to let my kids eat too many pop tarts so I’m making a point to make homemade pancakes each Monday and cook eggs and toast each Friday. Cinnamon rolls on Wednesday are the Pioneer Woman’s Maple Cinnamon Rolls that I make in a big batch and then freeze. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when Alyssa will go to Mother’s Day Out, I stick with simple pop tarts and cereal.
Update: This plan began to unravel during the year when Drew decided he didn’t like cereal anymore and when he got picky about eggs and toast. I ended up reheating pancakes from Monday on a different day of the week. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were usually very calm, however, so I know the plan was a good one. I just need to figure out which foods to put on the menu this year.
What I Eliminated
Another thing that is a huge change for us, is I’m not allowing screens before Drew goes to school. Last year, Drew would awake to watch PBS usually, and as we ate breakfast, they would watch Curious George and I’d check Facebook. I decided I’m perhaps missing a big part of their day! Their most tender hours!
But what to do with all the quiet? Enter Seeds Family Worship. These are songs (I stream for free as an Amazon Prime member), that are Scripture verses put to music. They are upbeat but soothing, perfect for mornings. Plus, Drew and Alyssa are hearing Scripture every morning.
The kids didn’t even notice the TV wasn’t on until the Friday of the first week, when Drew turned it on. I told him to turn it off because we aren’t going to have screens in the mornings. He protested, and I said, “I’m not either. I’m not on my tablet. None of us will have screens so we can have this time together.” That seemed to silence his protests and he turned the TV off. I am praying for resolve here! Right now Drew has been waking at a normal time but sometimes he gets in this habit of waking up early (6-ish) and that will be when it will be hard for me to keep this resolve. But for now, I’m staying strong!
Update: This was the biggest WIN of my routine. The kids got used to not having screens in the morning, and having worship music playing in the background helped set the tone for the morning. Not having screens on weekdays also had the added advantage of making weekends more special because that is their time for kids’ TV shows.
I’m totally okay with letting Alyssa watch an hour of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood while I do my chores. When the house is picked up, everyone is happy, and I’m able to mother her better the rest of the day. I’m trying something new on my house cleaning. I’ve decided to divide the house into sections and I work only on certain sections each day:
Monday: Kids’ rooms (sweep, mop, vacuum, etc.)
Tuesday: Great room, (sweep mop, vacuum, etc.)
Wednesday: Kitchen, toilets
Thursday: Master Suite (dust, sweep, mom, vacuum)
Friday: laundry room, office
Of course, daily chores include laundry, dishwasher, picking up clutter, etc. So far this has worked really well for me.
Update: I stayed true to this schedule for the most part, and it served me well. I did notice that I didn’t clean as thoroughly as when I used a more specific, check-listed method. But it worked well.
Alyssa has her own chores to do, but since she has a tendency to start playing when she’s supposed to be working, I have to be somewhat present during that time to keep her on task. Drew’s chores are split up between before and after school.
Update: This also worked well, though after a year Alyssa still resists making her bed. Drew’s chores, since he was in school all day, weren’t very involved, and he was able to easily complete them.
Intentional Scripture Memory
One last thing I’ve begun to do this year is give my kids a memory verse each week. I write it on the pantry door each Sunday and they have until Saturday to memorize it. Drew does this on his own, and I work with Alyssa during homeschool. If they can quote it on Saturday, they draw a craft stick from a cup that has one of four rewards: (no chore day pass, 30 minutes extra video games, ice cream for dessert, McDonald’s milkshake).
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).
This isn’t just an exercise. I’ve been deeply burdened that I need to arm my children with the Word of God more than I have been. They know so much from what they are taught at church, but I want to take a stronger lead in helping them memorize the Word. I can’t change their hearts, but I know the Word is what will, in God’s timing. When God does reveal Himself to them, I want in them a full arsenal of truth to take with them into life.
Update: This was great at the beginning of the year, and Drew especially took to it, memorizing each week with enthusiasm. It worked the best when the weekly verse corresponded with a song from Seeds Family Worship. The kids already had a leg up having listened to the verse in the mornings.
Toward the end of the year, though, the motivation lagged, and we ended up doing one verse for two or three weeks. I think one factor was when I switched to having them memorize Psalm 139, one verse at a time, and they didn’t have the songs to go along with it.
So, those are the routines we put in place last year and how they worked. What are you putting in place in your household this year? What have you done in the past that has worked well? I’d love to hear!