life Parenting

Routines & a back-to-school idea . . .

August 6, 2019

I spend a lot of time thinking about routines.  Definitely more than normal people.  I am also obsessed with others’ routines.
Routines don’t make up the entirety of our lives, but they certainly comprise a big fat chunk.  A chunk worth thinking about A LOT, in my opinion.

from the planner insta, which I am playing with again

Some past morning routines I have had:

– Getting up at 4 AM to marathon train during residency, while on rotations like NICU and PICU (I was . . . motivated.  Or crazy.)

– Going back to sleep at 5am after that last ‘overnight’ feeding and waking up to a well-rested and happy newborn with sunlight streaming through the windows, well past 7

– Sleeping until very late morning (11?) on weekends and following the smell of freshly made French toast into the kitchen (okay, I was an adolescent when I had this routine, but it does sound lovely!)

Current morning routine:
– Get up most mornings between 4:45 and 5:00

– Choose 2-3 activities from the following menu:

  • reading (non-fic/personal dev)
  • journaling
  • a workout (run or Beachbody)
  • write a blog post
  • prep a pod episode
  • perform weekly review/prep for week, monthly review or quarterly goal-setting. 
  • RARELY – work overflow.  I try to plan ahead enough that this is unnecessary!

The kids really need to be up around 6:45 – that’s the sweet spot. If they are up before 6, everything is derailed. If they sleep past 7 — well, it’s sort of nice while it’s happening, but then we end up rushing.

We figured out this summer that a bedtime around 7:45 for G and 8-8:30 for A&C (NOT 9!) are the sweet spots.

I may experiment with this new product from Erin Condren (referral link to use if you desire)

They just released a fancy customizable white-board family dashboard type system, and these pictures bounced into my inbox in their “Insider” newsletter. While I’m sure a regular white board would do the trick, this looks so pretty! I am considering a weekly calendar & a chore chart.

I would do 2 big rows for each kid – maybe one for tasks and one for behavior?
Weekly calendar

We stopped using our wall calendar when we moved, and honestly I think a weekly view might be more useful than the full month. This could include meal plans, who is doing drop off/pick up, any late nights for me, school events & due dates, etc.

They haven’t been released yet, but I think I am going to order! Will update when I do.

Oh, and I have to give a shout out to The Lazy Genius Podcast (recent ep on chores) because their recent episode inspired this idea!

Do you have a physical family “dashboard”?

(Josh and I use google calendar too, but I think the kids would benefit from something physical! And I like it too 🙂 )


  • Reply Lori C August 6, 2019 at 6:40 am

    I really like that weekly calendar! I may order one as well. Wish I could post a pic of what we use (and by “we” I mean me… kids and hubby barely glance at it) but basically it’s just a small whiteboard where I hand write the days of the week along with any notes. Usually the notes are just related to my husband or I being out, or what’s for dinner.

    I equally love routines, although my latest obsession is meal planning/grocery lists! I’ve been polling my friends to find out their favorite meals/snacks for their kids in an effort to mix things up a bit.

    Have a great week!

  • Reply Ana August 6, 2019 at 9:20 am

    We use a monthly white board calendar on in the kitchen, which me and the kids look at regularly. I like the monthly format for planning—see a blank weekend? book a sitter or set up an event—and I also add in a code for when I have clinic (i.e. early & fixed start to the day). My husband isn’t as good at looking at it, but when I see it, it reminds me to discuss logistics.
    Thanks for the rec on the podcast episode, I used to listen to the Lazy Genius and it fell off my radar somehow! I really really like the chore/behavior chart whiteboard. We tried so many methods with posters, free-form white boards….nothing stuck.

  • Reply Laura August 6, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I use a monthly view calendar that I hang on our door outside that way we can’t leave without looking at it (really forcing my husband to look at it, the fridge wasn’t working for him). It has helped a tremendous amount and we are no longer booking over things which was happening a lot. We put everything on it except meals, which goes on a whiteboard in the kitchen.

  • Reply Katie August 6, 2019 at 10:52 am

    I made a weekly chore chart for my 4 year old using a white board and a sharpie. I drew a picture and wrote the word for the task in dry erase marker so they can change as she grows. Some are behavioral (good listening after dinner) and some are tasks (brush teeth am & pm). She LOVES reviewing her day before bed and finds such satisfaction in checking the boxes herself. If she gets 7/7 complete, she can choose an activity (extra book at bedtime or a music video on youtube), if she gets above 4/7, she can choose an extra book. She is able to identify “where she went wrong” if she gets fewer than 4 (rare these days!) and talks about what she will try harder at tomorrow.

  • Reply Katie G. August 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    We have a chalkboard door in our kitchen and I wrote out the weekly schedule on it each Sunday night or Monday morning. I love it.

  • Reply Erica Sparkenbaugh August 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    We have had this weekly calendar on our refrigerator since G started Kindergarten in 2017. It’s like $10 from amazon and we love it.

    Every Sunday evening, I load up the board with pertinent information for each person (color coded markers) with appointments, practices, lessons, social/work events. We use it to decide which parent does drop-off/pick-up, keep track of medication for the kids, and to do lists that either adult can tackle.

    We have a separate white board where we write down the meal plan and grocery list.

    • Reply Lori C August 8, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      I’m so curious about this – I love the idea, but feel like my husband would be very resistant to discussing the week ahead and planning for it. (still trying to figure out why – I think by avoiding the planning discussion he rightly assumes I’ll just do it all…) was your partner easily on board or did he have to warm up to it?

  • Reply Diane C. August 6, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    We don’t have a physical calendar for the whole family- my husband seems uninterested and he has a superhuman ability to remember things, so I keep a google calendar and a paper one based in my work schedule for myself — but when my daughter started Kindergarten, I posted her weekly schedule on the front door- not one that changes, but one with all the routine school and extracurriculars on it- Thursday is PE, Friday she buys school lunch, Wednesday is Dance class, what days she rides the bus, what days she goes to aftercare, etc. It became her responsibility to know the info and prepare in the morning- to prep her hair and dance clothes, to wear the right shoes, etc. No whining, “why did you let me wear sandals to school when it is a PE day?” If she has something special like a project or homework assignment due, I will write it on a post It and stick on the weekly.
    Chores, though have been hit or miss- This summer I started writing her a chore list every morning and she seems to get great satisfaction from crossing things off. But some days she just doesn’t care so it is still a struggle….

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly August 7, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I am super obsessed with calendars and routines! Otherwise I’m just a hot mess everywhere. I am very devoted to my electronic calendar system for appointments but we recently got a weekly wall calendar for big stuff. I only use it for the broad strokes like “Husband out of town”, “Kid’s first day of school” or “Dog at daycare”. I like the exercise of filling it out each week because it helps me pick out the important stuff. I feel less anxious about a busy week when I’ve identified the few things that really matter. The kids like the calendar, too. I’ve had less luck with the job checklists. We’ve tried it a few times but they seem to get overwhelmed by the lists so we don’t usually stick with it.

  • Reply Arden August 8, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Thank you so much for mentioning The Lazy Genius podcast. I love her! I started binge-ing the podcast and she is awesome. I’m particularly loving her ideas about goals.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 11, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Yes! It’s so good!

  • Reply omdg August 8, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    I have a calendar that I make myself that is on our refrigerator that shows 18 weeks at a time. I couldn’t live without it. It has all important things for me (OR day vs. Research day, call, late, etc.), Dyl, and my husband. The au pair is supposed to put her stuff on it too. It’s a little annoying not to have an online calendar, but not nearly as annoying as maintaining an online calendar would be for us.

  • Reply Margaret August 9, 2019 at 1:42 am

    Oooh this post comes at the perfect time as I’ve been looking for a weekly calendar to hang up for the family! I have a google calendar which my husband could view if he wanted to… but doesn’t. Plus at almost 4 I think it would help the kiddo to see what’s coming this week. I’ve been looking for something to put on the wall (not fridge! that’s covered in magnets to play with). Also working on organizing a ‘drop zone’ for the family. We’re good with backpacks, shoes, and jackets but the wallet/phone/keys float everywhere. And while Tile is a lifesaver for finding keys a system would be better!

  • Reply Sara b. August 9, 2019 at 9:02 am

    So, the routines thing. I have to admit I get sad sometimes when people talk about how fabulous their routines make their life and I get routine FOMO. I’m in academic Emergency Medicine, and have a love/hate relationship with every week being different. I’m working on it – I’ve realized that I can HAVE routines even if they are infrequent – I try to go to a workout class in the afternoon after a night shift, I definitely have coffee routines, I had a good Friday meeting / weekly review routine (but I’m going to blow that up this year to spend some Fridays with my 4 y/o before she’s in school 5d/wk). I run at 5:15 weekdays, unless I got home after 11pm or have to be at work before 7, which is ~2 weekdays per week. I’d love to have a more beefy morning routine, but I now have 7am obligations ~4days a week and I just can’t get up any earlier. I’m trying to craft workday startup/shutdown routines, and I’ll get there, once I figure out how to find the margin to not be so wire-to-wire when it comes to work. And maybe once I manage to wriggle out of some of the 7am meetings.

    • Reply Margaret August 10, 2019 at 7:26 am

      Fellow shift worker here. I get it! I *love* the idea of a routine but of course my 10 week waterfalling days-swing-mids schedule isn’t really like that. I have started to adapt to a routine for each shift which is nicer, although takes 3 times a long. I’m with you on startup/shutdown, maybe I need to prioritize it so I can get up earlier. No suggestions really, just empathy!

  • Reply Nikki August 14, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I just attended a training which included a module on visualization tools – you should totally just get a regular white board and copy this because one of the key takeaways was to re-do the tools until they work perfectly! If you draw or tape out the lines yourself, you can always rearrange some tape or re-draw lines to tweak the white board chart to more perfectly fit your needs as opposed to being stuck with exactly those boxes. Just food for thought – agree the Erin Condren one looks very pretty! We have one of her annual wall calendars as a key planning tool at home and have loved it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 15, 2019 at 6:42 am

      Totally makes sense – at least the EC tools are fairly open ended but I definitely see what you are saying!!

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