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Thursday, January 5, 2012

RL's Routine

Instead of just giving you a timeframe of our routine, I also wanted to show you what is involved. This is how we live OUR life.  This is about ME and MY family  This is what we are.  I'm only stressing this because everyone's situation is unique and different.  You may be a two income family, or a single mom.  You may have 1 child, or you may have 10 children. There is no such thing as a perfect family. We all just try to do our best with what we have. Here is an inside view of my family doing exactly that. Some days are great,  some days just plain suck, and some days go by without any ups or downs. 

Let me give you a little background first. I'm doing this because I think it plays a huge role in our "routine" and how we live. 

I am a stay at home mom who does not "work". My job is mommy. I have 3 children ages 3, 22 months, and 7 weeks. My husband works 4 days a week, 10 hour days.   All of our children have their own bedroom and we have a designated playroom.  We chose to have each child at the time that we had them.  We have three healthy children.  I have a great relationship with my husband.  He helps a TON with the cooking/cleaning.  I personally do not need a lot of me time.  I don't get manicures, pedicures, massages, etc.   I don't need time to do my make up because I don't wear any.  My hair is often pulled back in a pony tail, and my attire consists of sweatpants and a t-shirt.  AK can attest to that.  LOL  That's not to say I don't get dressed up to go on a date with my husband... but I'm not going to play in the dirt and roll around on the floor with my kids wearing a sun dress.  We are a limited TV household.  My husband didn't even own a TV when I first met him!  We adults NEVER watch TV during the waking hours of our children.  My oldest may watch 1-2 shows a day or she sometimes watches none at all.    My 22 month old sometimes catches glimpses when my 3 year old is watching.... there is no way around it, but she can care less about it.  They have never watched a movie in it's full length and they have no clue who Nemo, Ariel, or Simba are.  I actually tried to sit down with them over Christmas to watch Happy Feet and they lasted maybe 10 minutes.  It's just not them.  They were given the gift of other ways to play and they prefer that over the screen.  Oh.... we also have a cleaning service that deep cleans once a month... floors, rugs, etc. Another important thing... sorry just throwing these in as I remember... my 7 week old is bottle fed.  

Again, I am only saying all this because I feel this has an impact in how our days go by.  It wouldn't be fair for me to give you a routine, have you look at it, and think I don't have help or amazing resources.  

My day usually starts at 5am when my husbands alarm clock goes off. That thing can wake the dead.... and he still sleeps through it!  I use that morning time to pay bills, check email, and prepare for anything that I didn't get to the night before. If I'm really tired I can fall back asleep until my middle child wakes up. She's the first to get up around 6:30. Aside from the night time diaper, my middle and oldest do the same thing every morning...take off night time diaper, go pee, grab juice, a plate, morning snack, and head up to the playroom. Morning snack always consists of fruit and either a bowl of yogurt or yogurt drink. They are not limited to that but that's what they usually chose. 

Let your children help you and themselves.  My 22M old in "her bathroom" as she calls it.. AKA laundry room.  If you added up every time my daughter had to pee it would probably take up an hour of our day.  Giving her the tools to "I do it by myself", it frees my time up and gives her a tremendous amount of confidence.  

Most parents put locks on their cupboards.  Not us PAHM's!  By putting this rope around the cupboard door my children are able to get their own snacks, plates, cups, etc.  Not only does this instill capability, but it makes it easy for me when feeding my infant and my older two want a snack.  

Make transitions easier by preparing ahead of time....  

My oldest and youngest typically both get up at 7. My oldest sometimes requests a show during this time. She is slow to wake up and she sometimes needs that "zone out" time. If she chooses to watch a show she watches it downstairs by herself while I am up in the playroom with the younger two.  While I am feeding my youngest my older two always play independently. We usually are all in the same room and I am present to them as well. My youngest is not in a routine during the day yet.... I feed her when she's hungry, we play when she's awake.  As for my older two we have child-led play indoors from waking time until nap/rest time.  Around 11 we head downstairs for brunch.  I say brunch because this is usually when my children want to eat breakfast.  This is their best and favorite meal.  They either help me make breakfast, play independently, or do kitchen "chores".  They love making coffee, putting away the dishes, or doing laundry during this time.  

You would be surprised at how much you can get done with the 5 minutes it takes her to fill this!

Laundry baskets that are kept out when doing laundry.  Each of my girls have their own unique basket. I always do their clothes separate.  They love when they have a full dryer of clothes to sort into baskets!  

After the sorting is done we take the clothes up to their bedrooms.  My 3 year old can and loves putting her clothes away by herself.  For my 22M old we have these baskets at the bottom of her closet.  She sorts her socks and underwear, and grabs me hangers as I need them.  

After brunch my 22M old goes down for a nap and my oldest takes a rest.  My oldest will sleep if she is tired but most of the time she listens to her audio books or plays quietly with or without me in the playroom.  This is another time when she sometimes chooses to watch a show.  

After nap.. around 1 or 1:30 they usually go for another snack and we do something outside.  I like to try to get out at the very least once a day.  This could consist of just playing in the backyard or going to the playground, museum, etc.  I feel this is the best time to get out for us because everyone is well rested.  I would never take my kids out just for the sake of getting out, or go grocery shopping for instance right before nap time.  We always chose wise times to leave the house.  I also make sure that I am aware when we do go out.  I know that if we happen to get out in the morning that I better be ready to be home by 11 or we will have meltdowns!!!  

Around 4 or 4:30 is when we head back home.  Around 4:30 I start dinner.  Again, my older two either play upstairs with each other independently or help me in the kitchen.  They often go for their busy box during this time as well. 

5:00 we eat dinner. 

5:30 we head upstairs and play for 30 min before starting our bed time routine. 

6:00 my husband usually walks in the door. Together as a family we clean anything that is left out in the playroom.  My husband and I then give baths. We try and get as much one on one time as possible during that hour. The girls take baths separately... My husband will give our 22M old a bath while I am with my oldest and vice versa. After baths we read 4 stories together as a family and then they get 1 story to read with us by themselves before bed. If my husband gave our oldest a bath then he reads to our 22M old before bed. By 7:00... 7:30 at the latest, my older two are asleep.  

If my husband doesn't make it home in time for baths, I often set this INVITATION up for them.  

We are up with my youngest until 9ish. She usually sleeps 8 hours takes a bottle and sleeps until 7.  After all the girls are settled we try and prepare the best we can for the next day.  We also try during this time to prep as many meals as we can.  Some days we do enough for a week... some days we don't do any.  My husband bought me a kitchenAid stand, an extra freezer, and half a cow for Christmas.  LOL  I'm hoping that helps!  Ohhhh how the times have changed!!

Some extra "tips" that work great for us.....

Make it easy for your children to clean up their space by giving everything a home.  If you don't know where it goes... how are they supposed to know?  

Make it easy on yourself by staying organized.

A word doc I made with a custom grocery list.  We print one out each week and check off what we need.  

After so many requests for our food magnets and grocery lists we decided to make them accessible to you.  We created a document (13 pages) that includes:

Benefits to your child (infant, toddler, beyond toddler)
Directions for both magnets and velcro (for those of you without magnetic refrigerator)
2 pages of fruit
1 1/2 pages of veggies
1 page of common foods
2 types of grocery lists

Click on button below for an instant download
Total Cost is $3.50

Add to Cart

I have pictures of all our snacks.  I have a copy laminated and a copy printed out on magnet sheets.  We use the laminated copy for the girls to circle their selections for the week.  Also, when you go grocery shopping, this is a great tool for your children to bring to the grocery store and find the picture!  For the magnets I keep a picture of what snacks are available on the outside of the refrigerator.  This not only helps my children to see what we have, but when we are out of something the magnet comes down.  When we only have a few magnets up, it's time to go shopping!  

Take advantage of your resources!

Our front door looks like this often.  I LOVE Amazon.  How can you not take advantage of diapers, wipes, toiletries, snacks, etc. all at your doorstep with the click of a button.  If you haven't joined Amazon Mom yet, you need to right now!  Everything ships free to your doorstep in two days.  Also, check your local grocery stores.  Our Sam's club has free order ahead pick up.  You can select your items online and within 24 hours they will have it all ready for you to pick up.  Many of our grocery stores do this for a minimal fee and they always have free trials.  95% of our grocery shopping is done with me not actually having to go to the store and shop.  

I hope this helps give you an inside view of our day.  Some of these things you may already do yourselves, but hopefully you picked up something new!  

I also want to add that this changes often.  Our summer routine is much different than our winter routine.   We also don't get out as nearly as much as we used to now that we have our youngest.  I am sure that will change once again when she's more mobile.  



  1. I love having a routine in our house, it makes life easier! I use a grocery list that is amost identical to yours....I thought I was the only one! People laugh at us because we have a spreadsheet for everything! Being organized is so important to us. Thanks for the post!

  2. We have a spreadsheet for everything, too! LOL LOL :-) If we weren't as organized as we are I think our life would be drastically different!

  3. I love it! Routine, meal planning, scheduled laundry day (one day a week)...these things all help to make our family life run so smoothly! I've always had the daycare in my home, but organization is key to keeping my house from looking like I run a daycare. I am a stickler for organization, and clutter busting - I can't function if my home is a mess, but I have to admit, my house isn't quite as SHINY as yours. Where is your dust? lol Maybe I need to invest in a hired cleaning service. It's something I'm seriously considering. I'm not sure if once a month would be enough though - I'd still have to vac and dust a lot in between. I'm thinking once a week for for floors, bathrooms, and dusting. What all does your service cover? Do you find you have to clean much in between?
    Thanks for giving us a peek at your daily life. I really enjoyed it!

  4. WOW! You are amazing!! I have only 2 (a soon to be 5 year old son, and a 8 week old daughter), and I have like NO organization. You have an awesome schedule... I may copy some of the things on here, like putting snacks within reach of kiddos! You have such great ideas! Thanks so much for posting stuff! :)

  5. I have 22 and 33 month old boys, yes, only 11 months apart. Keeping a routine is essential for my sanity and I think the boys do better when they know what to expect. I too keep the snacks in their reach so they can help themselves. They also help with chores, like putting the laundry in the washer, scooping up the dirt I sweep, bringing the rumba (vacuum robot) to a room, sorting the recycle and bringing me their dishes once they are done eating. I hope this helps them have initiative when they are grown men, fingers crossed, lol.

  6. Quick question. How do you deal with the older one's sleeping arrangements? I know you said they have their own room but do they sleep in big bed, toddler bed, crib, etc? We are having a hard time with our 28 mo sleeping in her own "big girl" bed. We tried to transition away from the crib but she seems to feel secure in it and has no interest in actually sleeping in her big bed. It is more of a play place than a sleep place. Any suggestions?

  7. WOW! Thanks for posting your routine. I love how you have everything organized - it keeps me sane as well. My daughter can open our kitchen cabinet herself too but I need to make more of an effort to put the things she likes to eat at her level - thanks for the great ideas!!

  8. I so wish I had you when I stayed home and my kids were little. My oldest just turned 16 yesterday, my daughter is 10 and my little guy is 8. I loved your laundry idea, putting their socks and such in the baskets. I may do that for my kids. Thanks so much and if you have any ideas for older kiddos please share :) oh, and your bathroom ideas are just wonderful. My kids loved to play in the sink with their toys!

  9. I love how you said that you don't wear makeup, etc. I am the same way--I usually am wearing a tshirt, yoga pants, and some Crocs with my hair back in a ponytail. Awhile back there was a huge argument on Pinterest about women who have respect for themselves will do their makeup, hair and dress nicely every day. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Your cleaning service must really help. I spend a large chunk of my day mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping and vacuuming, etc. I don't feel that it leaves me very much time for the kids.

  10. we have a routine also in our house. have since jalen was 3 months old! i always knew when he was ready for a nap. what times are the best times to either grocery shop, go to the park or playdates etc.. having a routine is amazing! i also make a shopping list. which isnt printed. but i really love that idea of printing it and saving it and then editing it everytime! ha! thank you! and yes i am in shorts and tank tops everyday in my house with a pony tail. my hubby laughs at me! :) thank you for your wonderful blog!! <3

  11. I love that this website has never really been about breastfeeding, vaccinating, co-sleeping, etc. That stuff is all over all of the other sites I read (and my own). It's really nice to see that your routine really serves your family well and it helps me to see where I have some open spots that would welcome change and more organization. One Question: When does your husband eat dinner?

  12. This is full of great ideas! Thank you! We definitely need some organization in our toy areas as I agreen that lack of organization can lead to frustration for all of us. I am curious whether your routine changes much when your husband is home? I think we may also make once/month deep cleaning a part of our lives too. We just never have time to do it.

  13. @Happy hooligans our cleaning service includes: steaming the hardwood floors downstairs, deep cleaning carpets upstairs, dusting, and bathrooms. Our house is never really "messy" We pick up after ourselves, we use the swifter vac/vacuum almost daily, and our bathrooms are never a disaster. We live extremely simple! We don't have knickknacks, etc. We have what is absolutely necessary and thats about it. This makes dusting and keep stuff clean and organized easy.

    @arrenels My oldest has been in a bunk bed since 27 months and my 22M old we just converted last week. So far so good. I do notice it takes her a little while longer to fall asleep, though. Here is a great article from AHA parenting to help you with the transition... http://www.ahaparenting.com/Default.aspx?PageID=1276255&A=SearchResult&SearchID=3276034&ObjectID=1276255&ObjectType=1

    @Erin I forgot to mention that! I will have to add it in. I always sit with my kids while they eat dinner but I don't actually eat. My husband and I have dinner together after everyone is in bed. Sometimes this isn't until 9:00 but we love sitting down together after the day is over. If we get hungry we just snack on something.

  14. @Meghan My routine does change a lot when my husband is home. We get a lot more one on one time with them and we get out to the parks/playgrounds more. My husband always takes my oldest on some sort of date on his day off. He is going to start integrating my 22M old on those adventures as well.

  15. I apologize if this question has been answered before, but where did you get those plastic containers for snacks? Thanks for the info- I love learning about other people's routines.

  16. I love the magnets on the fridge idea! We will be starting my son off with his own fridge this summer, so definitely doing that! I will also check out the Amazon Moms, I had never heard of it! Thank-You for sharing your routine and ideas!

  17. I love this post! One question is your fridge always so free of stuff, or is that a mini fridge for the kids? I love the idea of having snacks in the fridge for them, but can't seem to prioritize the real estate for it.

  18. I love to see how other moms breakdown their daily routine. It's so helpful in finding news ways to shake things up (or organize what's been shaken!). Thanks for sharing.

  19. @Jill Containers are from Walmart... $1.97

    @Christa.. that is a mini fridge for the kids. They also have a couple shelves downstairs. However, we also have an extra refrigerator and freezer in the garage! If there ever was a natural disaster I think we would have enough food to survive for a year. :-D

  20. Where did you get the stock photos of fruit and snacks?

  21. Ah-may-zing! Wow, I'm so impressed. Love hearing about other families routines. I think the huge benefit you have is that your husband is home at 6 each night. Mine works way long hours so I'm by myself with 3 kids and I wear out.

  22. I really like the idea of doing laundry separately. I despise laundry, the hardest thing is sorting them all out, so I'm going to try this, see if it makes life a little easier... I'm assuming your oldest are girls? I have three boys and although I want them to be independent, we have the exact same food containers at their level, but they cannot resist the urge to dump out the entire contents on the floor and smoosh them into thousands of tiny pieces (goldfish especially). Same with toys at their level, if it has parts and pieces you can bet its going to be thrown around everywhere. Their favorite "play" is mess making. I broke down last year and hired a weekly house cleaner, couldn't live without one now. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Could you recommend some good audio books for a 3 year old?

  24. You have the most phenomenal executive function skill. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your world. It is inspirational.

  25. I have 2 full time jobs - mommy and biologist at a state agency. Being a full time working mommy requires tons of organization and I don't have NEARLY the level of organization that you do! Love your ideas for letting them choose snacks for the grocery trip and organization for the play room. Great job.

  26. Oh my goodness. You are amazing. I want to be like this. I have a long way to go, but I'm making baby steps to this. Way to go. That's awesome.

    Veronica @ http://watchmeplaynlearn.blogspot.com/2012/01/week-19-day-2-winter-sensory-fun.html

  27. Is there any way I can please bother you for a copy of your fridge magnet file, please? I have done this as well, but I LOVE the look of yours! If you don't mind, my email is mandee.tejada@gmail.com Thank you so much for the fantastic ideas!

  28. Thank you so much for sharing your routine. It must have taken a lot of time, but so helpful to so many I'm sure, including myself.

  29. This is great! Can you tell me what audio books your kids listen to? I've been looking for some for my daughter who is 2 1/2. Thanks! (leighgaha09@yahoo.com)

  30. This was such a great post - thanks so much. I too am very curious about your stock photos. I used to teach early intervention and we used Boardmaker, which I loved. Now that I am home full time, I do not have access to it, but need something like it desperately for my girls. I would love a post on how you did your photos!

  31. The stock photos were for personal use only. I found them off the Internet. I would feel uncomfortable sending the file as the rights do not belong to me. I will work on a copyright free document and let y'all know when I finish.

  32. The audio books we have are Curious George, The Big Pumpkin, Harry and the Lady Next Door, Giraffes Can't Dance, and The Giving Tree.

  33. Just to chime in: Sholastics always have several books with audio CD. I have purchased Diary of a Worm, How I Became a Pirate, The Kissing Hand and several others.

  34. Where did you get the wire baskets for your pegboard? Thanks!

  35. I love your ideas, but can't fathom using them at my house. How do you keep your kids from getting into them and destroying everything? My 24 month old destroys EVERYTHING he sees/touches. No amount of sensory play I provide stops him. In fact, after a few minutes everything gets thrown across the room.
    I'm a big believer in letting kids do things on their own, and I let mine as much as I can. But everything turns into a disaster if he's left alone for any amount of time.

  36. I am with Janice... I am about to attempt to set up a little art corner in my 25 month olds bedroom and I am excited for him to discover new things but I would NEVER trust him to play with scissors or do hardly any of these things on his own without eating everything or terrorizing everything. Every child is different :)

  37. I am a little overwhelmed reading this. My two boys, 17 mos apart, 2.5 and 13 mos...they are very high energy and crush food, spill everything, drop anything breakable to see if it will break. I still use two high chairs and the traps that snap on just so I can contain a bit of their food mess and keep myself sane.

    Am I doing something wrong, Play at Home Mom? I also have a lot of help from my husband, he also works 4 10 hr days (though he pretty much works on Fridays for at least 5 hrs b/c he has a side web design business to attend to, it pays our ridiculous health bills).

    I have to admit, I have shyed away from things like coloring and play doh and paint b/c if the older one does it, the younger one just bugs him and grabs at him while he's doing it and the older one is just barely able to do these things without being insanely destructive about it. He is gentle about NOTHING.

    So I don't even know where to start with all this or what I need to do. We have a loose schedule, we go to the Y every day where they get time with other kids and I get exercise and "me" time (I have had severe PPD, still do, since after my second was born), they have naps, and mostly somewhat set meal times and the rest of the day...they just play with each other and their toys.

    I have felt something lacking and plan to do more hands on things when 13 mos old is a bit older and can do it too, but what you are describing sounds so nice...and so unattainable, at least by me. Suggestions community of SAHMs???

    1. Brandon, maybe start small. Do a couple of messy activities in their high chairs like fingerpaint and shaving cream or even just a puddle of water to slash in (put a beach towel under the highchairs). Just put them in there with just diaper and then you don't have to worry about cleaning clothes and once they are done playing put them in the bathtub with paints, glow sticks or more shaving cream, put some food coloring in the water. Maybe them being a little more contained will help you feel like they are not wrecking your house and you can gradually ease into letting them experience other things freely. When we lived in an apartment with our first I would put a plastic shower curtain on the tiled kitchen floor, strip him down to his diaper and let him play in the paint or shaving cream. (Careful it is slippery) but then all I had to do to clean up was put him in the tub and throw the shower curtain in the tub once he was done. I don't know if any of this helps but that is where I started 3.5 years ago with our first! Good luck.

    2. Brandon, thank you for your honesty. I feel the exact same way! I have shied away from messes and unnecessary cleaning since I became a mom and now I have a son that I have conditioned to not be into exploration... if that makes sense. I'm trying to start small with some less messy activities, just to get my oldest (26 months) to be interested in such things. It does get better, slowly, but surely. My oldest used to be... less than gentle, shall we say? Just recently I trusted him to play with some glass jars full of "stuff" to explore. And you know what? He didn't break or throw a single jar.

      So my advice to you is to pick one or two things you want to try (perhaps on the less messy side) and just DO them. Once you start doing it, you realize it's not that hard and you start to get more creative and you will likely realize that the messes aren't that big of a deal. :)

  38. I like the food magnet idea. Great way to have them involved in what they want to eat. We juts had an awful stomach bug here last week and both my 10 month and 3 yr old are now back to basics and afraid to eat anything out of their comfort zone. Its been hard. Maybe having the 3yr old pick some food for our grocery list will help. He loves going grocery shopping! All the ladies know and love him and my husband! (Yes, husband does the shops)

    And a day with a bit of routine is key. A base to start from and then go with what happens. My 3yr old is a boy - a very experimental, discovery boy. Lots of tearing arts and crafts apart kinda boy. He likes to build and then destroy. I've come to accept it. I also learned that we had way too much TV time. He now gets one 30min show when he wakes up. He's also a slow waker. But then he plays on his own for a bit until its time to get ready for his morning daycare program.

    We're slowly learning how to be more Child Guided in play. Step by Step. But I go back to work in a little over a month and hope my husband can carry on with some of it!

  39. I hope someone didn't already asked this and I missed it...is the mini fridge right in the playroom? Did you have to go through a lot of "training" to get your kids to only eat snacks at set times? Or can they get a snack whenever you want? My 28 month old (boy) seems to want to eat all day sometimes. I have been wanting to give him access to his own snacks but have been holding back, not because I'm afraid of him making a mess, but because I think he'll be in there ALL the time. If the mini fridge isn't in the playroom, then my question would be do you allow food in the playroom, or is food limited to just the kitchen? Is there a limit to how much they can take out each time...like you can choose 2 items, etc, or is it up to them? Also, what time do you go to bed? If you are prepping all those meals after 9, I'm thinking it's late? Thanks so much for sharing your routine! So helpful!

  40. I just stumbled on your site from a pin in pinterest--thanks so much for sharing your schedule, organizing your home, and creative play ideas. We currently live in a small space in DC, but I hope to create a play space for our little one, and even do some of your fun activities outside. I will definitely share with others. Thank you!


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