Welcome to the last week of our Living Simply series, today is all about ROUTINE. A little refresher… I’m teaming up with 3 of my favorite local bloggers to share how we are focusing on mindful, purposeful living in various areas of our lives this fall. Go here for week one which was all about mindful rhythms of self care for MAMA and go here for week two about KIDS. Go here for week three which was all about Living Simply in our HOMES. Make sure to visit the other blogs, I’m excited to see how all four of us pursue the same goal of purposeful living in different ways.
Today is all about ROUTINE and I’m so excited about this week! I’m going to share a few ways that we changed up our routine last year that has changed our family life for the better. Its all about the witching hour, that time between 4-bedtime when everyone is tired from the day, cranky and hungry. The house is so messy and dinner needs to be made and cleaned up. Baths need to be done and the house straightened up from the day and by the time you finally crash at 9 you are exhausted. Is your stress level rising just thinking about it? Mine is.
Last fall we were deep in the trenches with two 3 year olds and a newborn. We felt like we were running a race every night until we finally crashed in bed. The dishes never seemed to be done and the laundry was piling up every night. I finally realized that if we weren’t intentional about that 4-7 time and pursuing peace in our days it definitely wasn’t going to happen by accident.
Our goal was to have the kids down and be done with most housework by about 7 so we could work on house projects (this is when we get a lot done!) or be able to rest and recharge. I’ve had people ask how we do house projects with three young kids and this is how! If we are done with housework by 7 then we can work from 7-9 on projects. Disclaimer: right now our girls are good sleepers. They go to bed consistently early (by 6:30) since we dropped their nap and they sleep all night. When we go through sleep regressions and things like that its definitely more of a struggle to be done by 7.
This is definitely not a ‘how to’ post. I’m going to share our normal daily schedule but not at all in a ‘this is the right way to do it’ way. Every family is different. Your family may stay up later or have ball games after school or things like that so this is not about the exact schedule we follow as much as it is about the concept of pursuing peace in your schedule in a way that works for you. If you have a consistent area in your family life that causes stress then I encourage you to sit down with your partner or kids if they are old enough and brainstorm simple purposeful ways to alleviate stress. You may make dinner in the mornings after school drop off or only do baths every other day. Your schedule and stress points will look totally different based on you and your partners schedules, personalities, dinner and bath preferences but I thought I would share some of ours in case it helps anyone. Our schedule will change as the girls grow and we enter different family seasons but I hope we always pursue peace in our home.
Last year around Christmas we sat down and wrote down pain points in our schedule and came up with ideas on how to fix them. We worked backwards from the time we wanted to be done and came up with a pretty detailed schedule for a ‘normal’ weeknight. It gave us goals and we’ve done pretty well sticking to them. Side note: Luke gets home around 4:30 every day when he is in town so he is there to help. But he travels a lot a week at a time for work and I stick to this schedule when he is gone as well and it saves me! Doing everything solo is exhausting (single parents, you guys are HEROES), but when I know I’ll be done and be able to rest at 7 with a clean house it makes a huge difference!
Our normal family weeknight schedule
4:00- do a quick 5 to 10 minute straighten of the house. Not the playroom, normally we straighten that right before bed. If we straighten it at all. Its one of the things I’ve let go to stay sane. As long as the girls are working to keep our shared family spaces clean by picking up toys throughout the day I typically let them have as much freedom as they want in their space (freedom is my code name for them making a mess I don’t clean up).
4:30 - Luke gets home and we go on a family walk. (If Luke is out of town this is when I bathe the girls).
5:15 Luke bathes the twins while I make dinner. (If Luke is out of town the twins play in the playroom or watch a movie while I make dinner). Baths before dinner made a huge difference for us. Getting up after eating dinner with a dirty kitchen and wriggly tired babies to bathe added so much stress. Now that the twins are 4 and don’t get tons of food everywhere while they eat baths before dinner totally works for us.
While I’m making dinner I try to clean the kitchen as much as I can. My goal is to sit down to dinner with a mainly clean kitchen so its just plate washing after we eat. I do lots of roasting (on foil so easy cleanup). We roast vegetables and chicken sausage and have it over rice and gnocchi. There are so many variations of that as well and I love roasting because its just chopping and then you have 30 minutes while it all cooks. Easy dinner! We also do lots of crock pot meals and soups, etc. Sometimes I will pull together stuffed peppers or something like that in the early afternoon so its just sticking it in the oven while we go on a walk.
5:45 Eat dinner.
6:15 Luke puts Wren down while the twins and I read, right now its their Bible and the illustrated Hobbit. Brush teeth and then bed for twins at 6:30 or 6:45.
6:30 Final straighten of the house and kitchen.
Laundry folding normally happens after 7. I try to move all the laundry over throughout the day as I can so its all clean and then fold it all while watching TV after the girls go to bed.
I know that sounds super detailed and structured but it really just gives us normal rhythms that the whole family falls into. The girls relax so much more knowing what is coming next and I’m much less stressed. Doing these few things makes family dinner relaxing, I’m not worried about how much more we have to do or who is going to bathe the girls. I can actually focus on them and enjoy our time together. The twins also love our reading time before bed, we snuggle up on the couch and read the Hobbit and pray together and its a really sweet way to end the day.
Our home is still crazy loud and people get cranky because they are tired and hungry but having a plan just takes away the added stress of ‘when do you want to eat? Do you want to bathe them now or later?’ Having this plan sets us up for success and has made the biggest difference in our home over the past year.
That’s the end of our Living with Simple Purpose series! I hope it was encouraging to you, I know I loved seeing how my friends pursue simple living in their homes. Writing posts like these helps me reflect on our family values and gives me inspiration to keep at them. I’m so grateful for each of you readers, thanks for being here!