Ah, back to school season! It's like a mini new year when I can hit a reset button after a summer of relaxed routines and schedules. I also find it's the best time of year to help my family form new habits to run our life a little smoother. Being a mom, we have to wear many so many hats and it can be tough to juggle everything that’s why a family routine can be a life saver for everyone! Just ask my boys what happens to their normally easy going mum when piano books can't be found and we are running late to get to soccer practice. Two words. HULK. MOM. I sure wish I were perfect at this, but over the years I've found when I plan a little in advance and establish routines, my kids know what they need to do when, are much better helpers and we have more time for things of the fun, memory making variety. Because who wants to look back on these years with your kids and only remember homework and piano practice? Definitely not me! So here are my best tips for streamlining your life as a mom!
Establish simple routines for your busiest times of day.
For my house, that's in the mornings and after school time before dinner (it's called witching hour for a reason!). In the morning this is what we do:
- 5:30 I get up and work, write blog posts and fill shop orders.
- 6:30 I shower and dress.
- 6:45 The kids get up with their alarms (or an occasional nudge from me) and shower and dress. I help the toddler get dressed and get out the breakfast things.
- 7:00 The boys take turns eating breakfast and doing their piano practice, and unloading a section of the dishwasher.
- 7:30 I clear away breakfast and the boys head up stairs to brush teeth, make beds etc...
- 7:40 Everyone packs their backpacks, grabs their lunches and gets their shoes and coats.
- 7:50 ish after having morning prayer together, everyone gets a hug and a high five and heads out to school.
This has been our routine more or less for the last few years and it works pretty good most of the time. That's not to say we are perfect at this! There is PLENTY of flexibility in this from day to day. It is not unusual for one boy to take 25 min to stress over the fact his favourite pants are in the laundry, another to lay on the floor for 10 min trying to whine his way out of piano practice and the last to act as the cereal police to make sure his favourite cereal doesn't get gobbled up by his brothers. Hey, keeping it real here lest you think I run a perfect household here!
Our afternoons more or less go as follows:
- 2:40 The boys arrive home from school and have a snack. They are then allowed some free time until 3:30 while I do some supper prep.
- 3:30 Everyone completes their after school list: Empty backpack and lunch kit, Get agenda signed and put in backpack (complete any tasks assigned from agenda!), tidy their 'zone' on the main floor, complete a job assigned by me and pack their lunch for the following day.
- 4:00 ish The boys finish up any unfinished piano practice and homework, get the things they need for their activities that night, if we have any, and then are allowed free time until dinner.
- 5 or 5:30 Dinner time. We eat and clean up together and then dash to piano, or scouts, or soccer or whatever is on that night!
plan your days the night before in in a planner
My life changed infinitely for the better when I started taking 5 minutes before bed to make a quick outline of my day. It looks something like this:
and before I got fancy and bought a planner I used this:
By doing this I can plan ahead for time crunches and prevent complete meltdowns or our routines. I'm sure this has never happened to you, but when you realize 30 minutes before you need to leave that it would be much easier to go straight from cub scouts to that make up soccer game and that means you need to pack supper for everyone... Let's just say my day ALWAYS goes better and I get more done when I have at least a rough plan of what is happening when.
Sketch out weeks on Friday afternoons or Sunday nights.
Same principle as above. This is when I compile any appointments we have, the stuff from my master to do list and our regular schedule and map out what is happening on each day. It looks a little like this:
Excuse the splattered and messy pages! My planner gets used A LOT!
teach your kids to pitch in from an early age.
You've probably heard this a million times before, but it can be a maker or breaker in streamlining how your family runs. Teaching your kids to help with chores around the house will be more work than doing it yourself at first. But a few years into getting my boys to help they are able to do quite a few chores around the house pretty well without my help. (Ok, I probably have to ask a few times first 😉). We can have the main floor of our home, tidied, swept and looking great in about 5-10 minutes if we're all working well together.
simplify, eliminate and streamline.
You know all those hacks and ideas you have pinned on pinterest? Try them! See what works for you and makes your life a little easier. I've started reusing meal plans, am addicted to online grocery ordering, and am a lover of the one minute rule. If there is an area that is tripping you up, ask other moms, google ideas and try something new until you've figured out a better way! For example, when my boys bring home birthday invites, I now RSVP as soon as it gets into my hands, put it in my calendar and order the gift from amazon so it's all done and I don't have to think about it again until the day of the party. No more extra trips to the store to find a gift or forgotten RSVPs!
I hope you have a great start to this new school year and a few new family routines and habits will help you all have more time for the sweet, memorable moments in your home! If you need help getting started, check out my free weekly planner printable so you can map out your days and weeks and streamline for life a little!