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3 routines we have (pretty much) down + 3 routines we need

This post is sponsored by Munchkin

I love routines.

I find it so comforting to know when something is going to happen and knowing what I need to do to make it happen. It takes a lot of stress off of me and I don’t spend much mental energy trying to figure out when, where, and how to do something.

 

The more things I can streamline into a routine, the more time I have to focus on my family and the less stressed I feel.

I’m delighted to team up with Munchkin for this post, since I love their products and use them all the time, from our Luna Gate that keeps Tally from falling down the stairs and breaking her neck (and manages to look lovely at the same time, plus lights up at night when you walk by it so you don’t trip in the dark) to our large collection of Munchkin Latch bottles (Tally is starting to warm back up to the idea of a bottle, which is good because I have a bunch of travel coming up).

They do a fantastic job creating products that do their job really well and are beautifully designed to boot.

three daily routines we have down

Reading at night
I am so happy that this is finally part of our daily routine now. We’ve been cruising through books (we just finished The Great Brain this week and now are on to Firefly Hollow). Finally deciding that it was worth the extra 25 minutes or so to read aloud to the girls before bed and resetting my mental clock for when my girls went to bed has made a big difference. Also, because they know that if they take too long getting ready for bed, I won’t read as much, they’ve gotten much less draggy about putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and cleaning up. Win-win.

Family Dinner
Bart and I both grew up in families that had dinner together basically every night, and so I don’t think it ever really occurred to us not to. Even when it was just the two of us for the first five years of our marriage, we sat down for dinner together nearly every night. Now it’s a nice beginning of the evening routine for our family as we wind down from our day. And starting to use this meal plan has made a massive difference in my life – I have so much less mental stress about what to make for dinner each night, and it’s been amazing.

Laundry
Doing all the laundry in one day at the beginning of the week really works well for me. I can crank through a bunch of loads during the day as long as I make sure to get the girls clothing sorted early on so it doesn’t stall me up after I’ve finished the grown-up laundry, and then the girls can help sort and fold their clothing before they go to bed. Over the past few months as we’ve been potty-training Star, we were doing a lot of extra laundry, but now that she’s fairly well set, our laundry routine has returned to mostly normal and the 3-in-1 Potty now gets to function only as a step stool.

And then there are areas where we have no good routine and I’m trying to figure out what the right routine would be for this stage of our life:

daily routines

daily routines

three daily routines we want to improve

Library
This one might be a surprise, but we don’t currently have a great library routine. Last year, when Ella was homeschooled, we went almost every Wednesday morning for story time and that worked really well, but now I don’t want to go without Ella, which means the afternoon, but sometimes those afternoons fill up fast, and so I end up just running to the library alone to grab my holds or swinging by to drop off due books in the book drop. I haven’t decided if I should just choose a day and commit or if it’s better to keep it more flexible depending on the week.

Bath time
I remember when Ella was my only child and Bart was working long hours, and she’d take a 45 minute bath almost every night to burn through that long stretch between afternoon nap and bed. Now? The idea of a nightly bath just is incomprehensible to me. We usually try to do baths for everyone on Sunday morning before church and one or two more times during the week, but we have no good routine for it. The girls usually love taking baths and once they get in, they’ll stay in as long as I’ll let them, playing with all their toys (I’m especially obsessed with these new Munchkin CleanSqueeze™ Mold-Free Bath Squirts which unscrew so they don’t get all moldy inside. How brilliant is that?). I also love this inflatable duck bathtub. Would it be weird to take it to the splash pad this summer?

daily routines

Snack Time
I don’t know why I struggle so much with snack time, but it never has come easily to me. I forget to buy snacks for the girls to eat when they get home from school, or nobody really thinks about snack time until 5:15 and then I don’t WANT them to snack because they won’t eat dinner. And I want snacks to be fun but not too unhealthy and I don’t want to make a big mess, and . . . basically snacks are just hard for me! If you have great snacking tips for kids, I’m all ears. Maybe it’d be easiest to set out their Miracle Cups and Splash bowls with snacks before I leave to pick them up from school and then they’d be ready and waiting when we get home (this idea just came to me now. I’ll have to try it out!)

I’d love to hear what routines work in your house and what routines you need!

daily routines

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

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10 Comments

  1. Snack time used to be awful for me. It felt like coming up with yet another meal and the kids would often fill up on or whine about snack and then not be hungry at dinner. When my husband and I were trying to overhaul our dinner problems (the kids were so picky they would refuse to eat 75% of what was in front of them) he suggested they get one granola bar after school every day and that’s it. It has been a dream and relieved so much stress on me. Now the kids come home and they know they can get themselves one granola bar (and/or a banana) and that they have until 4:00 to eat it. Once 4:00 rolls around the kitchen is closed until dinner. This (along with some other new dinner rules) has helped a ton because I no longer have to think about or provide a snack for them. They can take care of it themselves and it doesn’t get out of control.

  2. Snacktime is so hard for us too. I like the granola bar/banana idea. I think having it be the same thing everyday would help alot, both because its easy for me and would eliminate the indecision of what snack to have on the part of my girls.

  3. Could you push the library to Saturday so everyone can go and you have an extra adult (I assume Bart is home on the weekends) to wrangle the kids and give them a little more library freedom?

  4. I agree, routines are my favorite! The longer I’ve been at this (mostly) SAHM thing the more I keep incorporating, I really like not thinking and not making decisions, since I have routines in place for so much! But everything will change when my son starts school in the fall!

  5. You’re kids are probably such good eaters at dinner time because you don’t give them snacks! Snacks I provide for my 3 year old are- his leftover oatmeal or greek yogurt that he didn’t eat at breakfast, the leftover sandwhich he didn’t finish at lunch (I put it in a baggie in the fridge), unsweetened apple sauce with a cheese stick, slice of whole wheat bread or toast, fruit, cheerios, a slice of deli turkey. I read an idea in a parenting magazine to put out raw vegetables (no dip) as your making dinner, like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips. And they can eat as much vegetables as they want. If they’re really hungry, they’ll eat the vegetables! If they fill up on vegetables before dinner….yay! I’ve do this sometimes and it really works! Sometimes I pour him a bowl of frozen mixed vegetables to eat, as I make dinner. I don’t warm them up because he prefers it frozen for some reason.

  6. Our snack routine lately is yogurt and cheese sticks. It’s good and bad bc they can get them themselves. Sometimes I allow a banana too. But I forget to buy the cheese all the time and actually put them on my grocery list immediately after the last grocery order so in song.

  7. Maybe for the bath time you could have Ella try a shower by herself at night–she seems pretty mature to do that (with supervision at first)? Then you could give a bath to the other two girls in the evening. And maybe bathe the baby in the morning? I always dreaded the bath time also, but I have boys and with those dirty hands, feet, and bottoms, I had to come to terms with a daily shower/bath–LOL.

  8. As a nanny, I noticed some families doing bath right when they get homeroom school or preschool, instead of waiting until after dinner. With multiple children, sometimes it really helps to have that particular child have alone time and ease into the afternoon family togetherness activities.

    For snacks the ultimate formula is: One salty (chosen by child) and One” sweet” (chosen by child) and One “healthy” chosen by momma and put into bowls before pickup time.) The idea is that the kiddos may help themselves to one of each salty & sweet during snack time (though you’re controlling the portion size and also providing extra healthy option.)

    The setup is: two boxes/bins in the pantry. Individual servings of salty snacks in one and “sweet” snacks in the other. It may be helpful to have another area to store the “back stock” of snacks that don’t fit in the bins. Buy snacks in bulk at the grocery, or get those already divided into individual servings if you prefer. During weekly meal prep time, rip open that giant box of pretzels and divide it into snack size ziplocks & fill up your salty and snack bins for grab-and-go ease throughout the week. Before pickup, just pull out your two bins, cut up some fruit or cheese, and put out those splash bowls for the kids. OR grab some snacks from the bins and head straight to the park/library after pickup!

    Salty snack ideas: PB filled pretzels, pirate booty, ritz rackers, nuts, granola bar, goldfish, chips, popcorn etc.
    Sweet snack ideas: applesauce, fruit strips, raisins or died fruit, fruit cups, etc.( fruit snacks, juice box, chocolate, cookies, chewy bar, popsicles. if you’re more lenient on sweets)
    “Healthy” snack ideas: apple slices, cut strawberries, clementines, banana, any sliced stone fruit, melon, cheese slices, string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, pepperoni slices, turkey slice rolled up, spoonful of peanut butter etc.

    I treat snack time like any other meal – we sit at the table and clear our dishes/trash when we’re done. If you’ve got a bar area for them to sit, it can be a good time for mama to ask about school while cleaning out lunchboxes & backpacks. It can take a couple of weeks to get into a snack routine. But once it’s a system, man, kids are into it! Good luck!

    1. This is super healthful and I’m saving this comment for the time when my kids are old enough to start school. Thanks for the ideas!

  9. I always prepare snack with me to take to pick up. Each of my kiddos gets their own container to eat in their carseat. By the time we get home, snack is done and we can move on to other things (often baths!).

    I do some sort of fruit or veggies (and often Bolthouse yogurt ranch) or some of both — whatever I have on hand. The kids are hungry, so they eat whatever I bring and I don’t feel like they are spoiling dinner, since what they are eating is healthy. I have had success with: apple slices; grapes; bananas; blueberries; raspberries; cantaloupe; pineapple; peaches pears; oranges; clementines; snap peas; raw cauliflower; lightly steamed (and chilled) broccoli; carrot coins; jicama; celery; bell peppers; and cucumbers (seasoned with Penzey’s Ruth Ann Muskego chicken and fish seasoning).

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