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Four Ways to Create A Realistic Family Routine

By Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on September 20, 2016, categorized in Health

Four Ways to Create A Realistic Family Routine

Routines. They help us stay organized and on-track. A good one can help set the tone for a positive, successful day.  But, routines are not one-size-fits-all.  And sometimes trying to shoe-horn a routine that isn’t right for your family creates more stress than their worth.

For some of us, the mornings are where the chaos makes its presence known. Can I get a nod from those who feel like getting everyone in the car with 2 shoes on their feet and food in their hands without being late is a small victory??

For others of us it’s the evenings that the chaos devil comes out. As you work to pick up toys in one area, messes are being made in others, and it’s all you can do to get dinner on the table. It’s a bonus if no one complains about what is being served.

Whenever it is that seems to send you spinning, here are tips on how you can create a realistic routine that fits your family and with your schedule.


  1. Establish Your Morning Routine. The Night Before.

Back-to-school can make the mornings come back with vengeance. Being dressed, fed and out the door with 2, 3 or more kids in time to catch the bus can feel completely chaotic and exhausting, two things no one wants to face before 8AM.  To make your mornings easier plan ahead by laying out your outfit (kids and adults!), packing lunches (leftover dinner is usually an easy option) and putting backpacks and bags packed and by the door.

  1. (Meal) Plan Ahead

Meal planning is an easy way to keep continuity and structure in your days. With a plan you’ll be able to keep your established routine and not feel flustered about what to make for dinner or not having time for breakfast.  Take a few minutes to prep breakfast the night before by doing things such as pre-making smoothie packs that can be tossed and blended in under 5 minutes in the morning, or making a batch of oatmeal that is divided out in the refrigerator for a quick reheat grab and go option. Large batches of muffins and breads that can be stashed in the freezer are also good options. Spend Sunday planning out your meals for the week, using your favorite websites or cookbooks for inspiration. Get your kids involved too!

  1. Doing It Once, Checking It Twice

How many times have you gone to the store two times in a night because you forgot something on your original trip? Save time (and brain-power!) by making lists which can help simplify your daily routine and allow you to efficiently tackle everything from your grocery store needs, to returns you need to make, to after school tasks. Buy a notepad that has a magnet and stick it on the fridge or use the notepad function on your phone. You’ll feel like a super hero as you get things done and cross things off!

  1. Follow The Cues Of Your Kids

Routines are not one-size-fits-all and what works for your neighbors may not work for you. If your kids are sleepyheads in the morning and you have to drag them out of bed work to get a lot of the morning tasks, like packing lunch and backpacks, done the night before. On the other hand if you’ve got early risers and evenings are a battle, do bath time (or showers), pack lunches, etc. in the morning. Finally, some kids do well with detailed schedules for the day (even when out of school) while others need a bit looser structure. Decide what works best for you and your family.


How do you create realistic routines for you and your family?