I am forever being asked about our routines here at Chaos HQ.
Some people are dead keen on finding out how I juggle the 6 kids with everyday life and others want to know why I am such a stickler for routine and organisation.
So first up I will address the latter issue….
Ordinarily, before kids, I was a highly organised person. It’s just how I roll.
I was the one with the CD’s in alphabetical order, the housework schedule and about a million lists for anything and everything you could imagine.
Not a great deal has changed although I have had to learn to deal with the unpredictability and random demands that life with children throws at me.
Since developing an anxiety condition, I have also found routine, organisation and predictability of events helps reduce my stress levels and keep the anxiety at bay.
I have also been told and read (somewhere ages ago) that children succeed and cope better with daily routine, and I am sticking with that theory. When we have no routine, the MonsterSquad are ratty and all out of sorts!
Now, as for the MonsterSquad, getting them organised takes a degree in negotiating skills, a truck load of patience and the occasional
alcoholic beverage….. ‘revamp’ of the routine. After all, if you’ve given it a decent shot and it’s still not working, try something else until you find what works for your family!
So here’s how I do it…
I get a pen and paper and jot down all family commitments. This means work, school, kinder, day-care, after-school activities, family activities and so on.
Having everything written down on paper in front of me really helps when I’m setting up a routine, especially the afternoon/evening routine.
It’s important to know how much time you have of a morning or evening to divide up the tasks for the kids, so you can allow a reasonable time frame for them to complete them all.
While my day starts at 5.30am, where I get up and go for a walk between 6am-7.15am, I set the alarms and start the MonsterSquad’s school days off at 7.30am. We then leave the house at 8.30am.
That leaves me just one hour to divide up for their morning tasks. A single hour doesn’t sound that long in terms of getting 6 kids organised for the day, but I have found, with the less time they have ‘spare’ in the mornings, the less fighting and arguing that they do. True Story!
For our morning routine, I then list the things that I would like completed before the kids go off to their school or daycare programs.
Pack Lunch in Bag (we make lunches of an evening)
Daily Morning Job
Then once I have the tasks listed out, I write an approximate time that it should take to do each thing on the list. I try to allow enough reasonable time for the slowest (usually the youngest) as a guideline and then work
Get Up (7.30am)
Make Bed (7.35am)
Get Dressed (7.45am)
Eat Breakfast (7.55am)
Brush Hair (8.05am)
Brush Teeth (8.10am)
Pack Lunch in Bag (we make lunches of an evening) (8.15am)
Daily Morning Job (8.20am)
Read Quietly (8.25am)
Once I have a basic outline, I show it to the kids. I explain that this is what we’ll be doing and really talk through each task, what it involves and give them demo’s if they’re unsure about anything. Our kids love a good practice with mum!
Also, if you’re adding a morning job to their routine, make it a quick and easy one.
After we have a few practice runs and get through the routine OK, I adjust anything that needs changing and once it’s right, I go about making it all pretty and laminating it for the kids to have on the wall.
* The first few run throughs will take longer than planned, but they will get better at it and things will fall into place.
* Let them be involved and be a part of it, the chances of them accepting a new routine are much higher when they’ve had a ‘Say’.
* Don’t give up after a few days. It takes 21 days to create a new habit.
Now, as for the evening routine, I basically do the say kind of thing as the morning one, although I have many more things to take into consideration with after-school activities and so on.
For a long time I tried to juggle altered routines for each child depending on what they had on, but I found this did not work at all for us.
It works best when we have a simple routine that everyone can stick by, and if a commitment falls over a certain thing for one child, that one child is just excused for that time.
For example: I might say dinner will be served at 6pm every night but Monster 1 has a dance class at 6pm on Mondays. Well dinner goes ahead at 6pm for everyone else and Monster 1 then has their dinner reheated after dance class. This way, instead of disrupting an entire routine and family for one child, the one child just works around the routine.
Our evenings are starting to look a lot like this at Chaos HQ:
School Pick Up: 3.30pm
Afternoon Tea: 3.45pm
Readers & Homework: 4.15
Daily jobs: 4.30pm
Free Play: 4.45-5.30pm
Baths & Showers: 5.30-6.30pm
Tv Time: 6.30-7.30pm (7.30pm – Bed for Eli and Levi)
Reading to self in bed – 7.30-8pm
8pm – Lights Out, Eyes shut, Mouths closed & SLEEP!
* The routine has to work for your individual family, and each family has different ways of doing things. What works for us, may or may not work for another family.
* Make the routine clear, let them know what is expected of them from the beginning.
* Most importantly, get everyone on board with the routine. Mum, Dad, Grandparents, Babysitters, Nannies and so on. If it’s across the board you’re more likely to have success.
* Display your routine in an area in the house where everyone can refer to it. That way there is no excuses as to not knowing what is expected!
I hope this has helped you get a better understanding of how to make it all happen at your home. I’d love to hear how it works for you and how you have gone establishing a routine within your family.
NEED MORE ORGANISATION IDEAS? Check out these posts with ideas that all compliment a new routine!