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Groundhog Day is over

Monday, August 22, 2011 Leave a Comment

I am so glad school has started because it means we get back into a routine.

We all crave routine. Babies need it, kids need it, and parents need it. It makes us feel safe and secure to know things are predictable, that we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, that bedtime has a calming order. Think of your favorite childhood memories: mom reading us books after dinner, swim meets and practice, our mom&daughter springtime shopping trip, putting up the Christmas decorations, playing 20 questions at dinner. They usually revolve around routine and tradition (and food).

Summer for us meant we slowly but surely lost our routine. Bedtime crept later, mornings were lost in a lazy fog of cartoons, pjs and cereal, half-finished chores and the iPad. The pool, the museum, the pool, the movies, the pool.

Every day was groundhog day.

Then, on the second day of kindergarten (a) my boy didn't eat one bite of breakfast and I found him on the counter getting into the Oreos, (b) it took us 7 long minutes to get into the car and out of the garage (sit down, buckle up, mom I forgot my backpack, get back in that seat...), and (c) we were late to school, causing my boy great anxiety.

No more, I swore.

So I ignored the breakfast dishes and pulled out my Nanny 911 manual to help me get back on track.

The British nannies advise breaking your day into 15 minute increments and writing down how your typical day unrolls. If you find yourself stressed out, with too little time and too many to-do's (amen!), you need to devise a workable routine. Do it again with your ideal day in mind. You know, where you have time for everything and you're not late.

Of course, I thought. I managed huge advertising campaigns and budgets in my former career, surely I can do the same for my family. CEO of the Household!

Kid's days revolve around breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. To my chagrin, the in-between hours were one big block of chaos: chores, toys, picking up toys, cleaning up spilled cereal, Mount Laundry, Facebook, blogging, breaking up fights, email. Nothing ever completed, nothing structured.

I need a schedule!

Here's some tips to making your schedule:

1. Be realistic. Work backward from events like school bus pickup. If it takes 15 minutes to get shoes on, or 7 minutes to get in the car, don't think you're going to change it - just work it in. We might have to get up earlier.

2. Finish what you start. I am guilty of starting the laundry while I'm making salsa while I'm checking email while I'm filling out our Flex spending forms. In other words, I have too many projects at once, and nothing ever gets done. So Monday is for conquering Mount Laundry. Wednesday is for house cleaning. Sunday is for making good stuff from my Farmer's Market booty. Nap time is for Facebook and blogging.

3. No one can do it all. Everyone can do one thing. I got this from author Robyn O'Brien's book "The Unhealthy Truth." I think it applies to everything in my life.

4. Don't underestimate meal planning. This process brought out the most critical time-suck and crazy-maker of our house: dinnertime. The kids go crazy at 4:30, when I am just beginning to rummage around the fridge for what to make for dinner. That's crazy. I need to change this.

Do you have a family schedule? How do you arrange things? What tips can you share?