29 January 2018

Routines - for the entire family

January, week 4 in The Simple Home

This is the final post for January, so let's recap what we've done so far.  This month has been all about planning and organising the year ahead as much as we can.  Hopefully you've been able to set up a home admin area - it might be a dedicated office or it could be the kitchen table with box of your admin things that can be used on the table then put away. Much of your home organisation can be done in your home admin area where you have what you need at hand. If you need to write something down or look something up, it's right there. Your calendars should be set now with all the known 2018 appointments and events, your food planning should be done and, if you're doing them, menu plans created. It will help a lot if you have a list of 2018 gifts organised and you've written a list of home maintenance that can be carried out during the year. These lists, menus, calendars and plans can be stored in your home folder and left in the admin area so all your bits and pieces, the things you need to run your home, are in one place. I hope you've had time to organise a drop zone, charging station and your work spaces to better suit how you work because that will be very useful as you progress through the year.  Some of those places might have to be modified in the coming weeks, so don't be afraid to adjust as you go.

Now it's time to think about how you do your housework, what works and what doesn't, and when is the best time to do your work. A routine is a sequence of actions that are performed in the same way and at the same time. Routines will help you develop the habits of a working home and will make life easier. There are many ways of establishing your routines. For example, my morning routine is to have everything - breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, getting the lunch ready, making beds, laundry and watering the garden finished by 9am. Then I go on to do other things like craft work or writing until lunchtime - our main meal.  I try to get the active tasks done in the morning because I get tired in the afternoon.  If you go out to work or work at home, you could make up a list of tasks you want to complete before you leave for work or start work at home. These might include breakfast, packing the dishwasher or washing up, getting the children off to school and workers off to work - with lunches packed the night before, and having something either in the slow cooker or defrosting for dinner that night. And while everyone else in the house is getting ready for the day ahead, they should be doing their routines too.  Children should make their bed, dress for school, put PJs away, have breakfast, pack their lunch and homework in their school bag and clean their teeth.

Part of the routine is that everyone knows what they have to do and you don't have to prompt them to do what they have to do.

At this time of year, routines, with children and partners doing their fair share, should be part of a family discussion. Of course, parents will do most of the housework but you should explain that housework is not YOUR work, everyone should help because you're all part of your family.  Usually younger children will do what they have been taught to do and will follow the example of the family, especially the older children. Many older children see the advantages of helping at home but if they don't, withholding pocket money for a couple of weeks will often adjust their thinking.  I think that when routines are working well and everyone is doing their fair share, households run more smoothly, there is less stress and tension at home and there is more time to have fun.

None of us are born knowing what we have to do in life - be that in the family home, at school or at work. It has to be taught and that is done effectively by discussing chores and routines with children when they're young and by them observing you, their role model. If you develop positive habits when children are young, and tell them what your expectations are, they usually grow up with a sense of responsibility and purpose, knowing they're part of their family and willing to do their fair share.  I've seen children grow up without been taught how to look after themselves, and with no expectations of helping with the housework, and they've tended to sit back in their adult lives too and expect everything to be done for them.  

During your family discussion, work out who is doing what, at what time and how long is should take to complete the work. You can have afternoon and evening routines as well as weekly and monthly ones.   For example, evening routines would be preparing lunches for the next day, setting the table for breakfast, preparing breakfast and leaving it in the fridge, preparing clothes to be worn the following day, showering and putting dirty clothes in the laundry hamper. It's convenient if you can get everyone to have a simple breakfast during the week and then make a fuss of breakfast on the weekends. Weekly routines would be doing the grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning floors and bathrooms, taking the bins out and in again; monthly routines would be cleaning out the chicken coop, lawn mowing, house maintenance  etc.  Here are some good checklists that may help you establish your routines and some chore charts.

Weekends are a great time to establish a family routine of spending time together doing something you all love, such as homemade pizzas and a movie, a game in the park or swimming at the beach. This teaches younger family members, and reminds older ones, that the work to keep the family home running well benefits everyone and it gives you time to be together and have fun.

You can develop routines for the entire family that aren't so much about housework but more an exercise in building a strong family. These might be sitting down for your evening meal together - with no electronics at the table (ever), showing support for each other by attending important events together or spending time with the children to help with homework and talk to them about school and their friends.  Everyone will have their own way of doing all these things, and that is a good thing, but it all needs to be organised, discussed and possibly written down now, in January, before the year starts getting really busy.  Here is a site with a good discussion about family routines.

Be guided by what you read here, there is a lot more in the January section of The Simple Home too, but in the end, make sure you have a set of routines that make sense to you. Those routines have the potential to help build useful and productive habits to take you and your family through this year and many years to come.



  1. I’ve been off work since December. Routines are up the creek- for now, great post.

  2. Hi Rhonda awesome post ,i dont normally have a routine but i think i need too now because i am getting older i am finding it harder to keep up with the household duties,thankyou for todays post xx

  3. Excellent advise here. I am thankful that we put these routines in place long ago and as far back as 30 years now. It made our lives so much easier. Now that our children are adults I can see that it carried over for them, too. One of our daughter in laws spent so much time in our home when she was a teenager that she runs her home exactly like mine which is a compliment. When she and our son got married and they were driving off to their honeymoon her mom said that she did not even know how to load a dishwasher. I turned to her and said that yes she does because she loads it at my house all the time. She was quite surprised. So, our influence as homemakers is certainly far reaching.

  4. I love routines. They really help me to get things done efficiently. Every night I prepare a lunch box for the next day and keep it in the fridge. I fill water bottles and prepare snacks as well. In the morning all I have to do is to put them in the insulated bag and take it to work. This saves me time and money because I don't have buy lunch from the cafeteria.
    I make short lists of things I have to do on weekends because that's when I have the most free time.
    I also have a daily to do list at work (it's a digital post it note on the computer) so that I don't forget important deadlines. I find that crossing off things from the list very satisfying. :)

  5. What a great post Rhonda- I’ve recently stopped working to look after my husband. We’ve also moved to a rural property so I have a lot more tasks to do. I’m finding it very hard to get into a solid routine so reading this has reinforced for me what I need to do thank you

  6. We had a discussion with our girls, aged 3,6 & 9 about chores. We discussed the notion that being a part of this family requires doing tasks to help everything function a little smoother. Chores such as cleaning your bedroom, putting shoes & clothes away, simply doing what is asked is just part of living and not everything with be rewarded financially. 'Extra' tasks such as wiping down the kitchen cabinet doors may be something worth a little extra $$. For example, on the school holidays I got my 2 older girls to take everything out of the kitchen cabinets, wipe/dry clean and put back neatly and I gladly gave them $5 for that task. It saved me a lot of time and they did a great job! Jade

  7. Thank you Rhonda,

    I am not in a good routine at the minute. For the last six months we have been in the process of moving house (I'm not sure what the process is like in Australia but here in the UK it is very convoluted, and someone in our 'chain' pulled out at the last minute so its taken even longer). We're feeling in limbo - SO ready to get started at the new house, and frustrated that we still can't move yet.

    But obviously there are still things to be done here, so perhaps I should be embracing where we are for now, as well as getting on with making lists of suppliers to change when we eventually go, and packing the last few things.

    Thanks for this series, its lovely to travel through The Simple Home with you and I'll be re-reading everything once we're in our new home.


  8. Great post Rhonda, I have been doing a lot of thinking and tweaking to our routines to set us up for the year ahead. I am really conscious of ensuring my daughter learns lots of these skills too, even though it can be tedious at times! My daughter (10yrs) has a list of chores to do each week. We discussed it together and she will get a weekly pocket money if she does everything without having to be reminded too many times.😉 It keeps her on track and contributing to the household. We've also added a new job which we will change every month or so, so she starts to become competent and independent in lots of areas. This month it is washing up her school food containers, last month it was making a smoothie and learning to make tea and coffee. It really is worth taking the time to teach them and the boost of pride she feels when she can do these things is written all over her face! My own challenge is to consistently meal plan, so I don't have to think about dinner all the time and to keep on top of clutter on the kitchen bench! Thanks for all your wonderful ideas.

  9. Routines are great and i used to be very good at it and have good days and not so good days but I let a lot slip once i stopped working out of the home. Having the whole day to do as i please has led me to procrastinate getting things done . Recently though it has been preserving season and i find i like to get most done in the morning before 11 am and the heat sets in for the rest of the day. I may have to go back to work come end of May as dh has struggled to find another job due to employers not wanting to employ someone with a long tern terminal illness so then i will have good routines once more. I need to get into them before it actually happens. Thank you for the encouragement Rhonda.

  10. My routine revolves around the early morning because I'm a muddle-headed wombat of a late evening! I am always awake before the rest of my household so I use that time to get some things done. Our dog gets fed and walked, the floor gets swept & school and work lunches are made fresh up at my kitchen bench of a morning. I'll water the garden or set a sprinkler if it's needed. On days I come home after school drop off, I put a load of washing in the machine so it's ready to hang out when I walk back in again. I get a lot more done of a morning because I naturally have more energy then. Meg:)

  11. I love this article, I love routines.
    I am forever writing down what I should be doing for the day on little bits of paper. Then I lose the bits of paper and generally tend to forget an important task. Having an admin folder would keep all those bits of paper contained.
    I would also add a garden planner to note down jobs that need doing soon and jobs that can wait until a quieter moment.

  12. Very good post, I have always work in jobs that had a set schedule each day. I do better if I have a schedule at home also. Now that I’m retired I’m putting together a schedule for myself. I also like to get most of the hard stuff done in the morning while my hubby is busy working outdoors or in his shop. Then we have the late afternoons and evening to be together.

  13. And explain why you do what you do for the house. DH and I both remember suddenly saying "aha" for certain chores when we finally became home owners. "aha, this is why Parent spent several days carefully finger spreading caulking into driveway cracks". Not to make it look "pretty" but to make things last longer. Both of us had seen that happen growing up, but didn't really know why Parent was doing this incomprehensible activity.
    in hindsight, Parent probably did patiently explain but teenage brains don't always key in, and now those brain cells are expiring. : )

  14. Such great read Rhonda, this is an area I am struggling with and need a better routine & rhythm in the home especially with the children.

  15. My routine is a bit flexible since I finished up full time permanent shift work work 7 months ago. However the bit that stays the same is getting up in the morning somewhere between 730 & 8am and feeding the cat then letting the chickens and rooster out and feeding and topping up their water.
    Then the rest of the day depends on what is occurring-some casual work will require making sure I have a lunch to take with me and what tasks I can do on the way home such as picking up a bag of chook food. If the work is going to keep going for a few days I'll make sure I have lunches available in the freezer.
    I know I have a swap to attend each Saturday morning so Fridays see me packing the car for that.
    Otherwise theres not much else that has regular planning. I hate housework so its done when I feel inspired to do so.
    Preserving is good fun so its often done on a Sunday with fresh goodies from the swap the day before. U got some of the dreaded cucumbers from a swap on Saturday and did make your pickled cucumbers. 3 cukes made 5 very small jars. Tip of finger sliced on the mandolin.
    An admin centre should be something I should introduce. Then no more searching for that important bit of paper on the coffee table or kitchen table.
    Routine: thinking seriously about more of them
    Claire in Melbourne

  16. Like Karen, I found that since I've been off work I tend to procrastinate more because I have more available hours during the day. Also, it doesn't help that I've had severe morning (all day) sickness. Thankfully is easing and I have more energy now.
    I love reading in the post and comments how you ladies set up routines with your kids. I hope when the time comes I'll be able to work out what works for me and my little family :)

  17. Hi Rhonda, I have been following the first month with interest, I am not yet organised with my home binder but it is a work in progress, however routines are something I have had in place since I first got married in 1976, they are what keeps my home running smoothly and me from being frazzled. Our Grandmas used to say keep up don't catch up and it is true, if you fall behind doing chores suddenly you have a task before you that looks like a mountain, so do a little every day, routines keep you sane. from 1944 Judi

  18. Rhonda,
    I admire you for having a solid routine like you do.
    I do well with a routine for the first 2 to 3 hours of my day and then I'm all over the place with no structure! :( Our kids are all out on their own and so I can easily procrastinate. But you're making me re-think that maybe I should have more of a routine the rest of my day as well.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post! :)

    Sue M.

  19. That planting guide on the wall is very interesting......

  20. I am só happy to be back in blogging! One of the first blogs to read was (ofcourse) this one Rhonda. So happy to see you are still doing fine. Hope to be able to follow you as much as I would love to!

    Love from Holland

  21. Thank you for this post. I think daily routines are the stuff of life.

    My daily routine is a life saver that keeps me centered and more than often saves my soul. When everything else around me is spiraling out of control knowing what I will do almost every day calms my mind.

  22. This post really struck a nerve. As a young mother of three and a teacher, I was super organized. Every spare moment was precious. Since retirement, I am all over the place. Every year in the process of aging has brought new surprises. I need more sleep and my pace has slowed. My plans are often not carried out because of fibromyalgia. The key to keep in mind is to mind the most important issues of the day. I have decided to get a person in two days a month to do deep cleaning. This will be a hardship financially, but we do know how to be frugal. My husband loves to garden and that continues. He hates housework and I have felt quilt about asking. He is great about marketing and keeping up with the household business. Basically, he is a gem so I'm determined to release him of cleaning! You truly do need to accept the reality of aging to maintain harmony in the house. In the same vein, your weekend reading on the subject of aging was fantastic. As the Kenyans say, "blessings on your head".

  23. I am just getting back into a routine after living in an rv while we looked for a house to buy in our new city. It feels so good, though I did have to reevaluate my routine. Our oldest has moved out and I am working on starting a blog and business, and every house seems to ask for a different set of tasks in addition to the usual.

  24. Routines are the core of our family operations with both adults working and a toddler. It may seem boring to have so much structure but we find it brings us a sense of clam and peace. Our daughter is much happier because she knows what to expect. Our mornings: Wake at 5:30, make beds right away, coffee for adults, milk or water for daughter, I unload dishwasher while the rest play, I place lunches in their bags, and sip coffee, husband makes breakfast for my daughter while i shower (6am), 6:15 I join breakfast table, 6:30 husband showers while my daughter gets dressed, she can watch 15 minute kids programs while adults chat about day, 7am we all leave the house. At work: I eat lunch for thirty minutes and walk for 30 minutes of fitness. Evening routine: My husband returns home earlier at 3:30/4pm and he runs on treadmill in basement and makes dinner, and I pick up daughter at daycare and we all eat at 5:15pm. Family play time or movie follows meal, I make next day lunch and sometimes overnight oatmeal, then bath time for daughter every other night at 6:15pm, brush teeth at 6:45, bedtime and books at 7pm, lights out at 7:45 pm. Couple time from 8-9. I sleep by 9pm and my husband sleeps by 9:30/10. Rinse, wash, repeat! We both try to be home every night for dinner though once a month my husband misses for a meeting or guys night out and my daughter and have a dinner “date” at a local restaurant or pizza out. Best, Nadya

  25. Having 2 young boys (9 and 11) I have felt it important to establish routines since they were young. However, moving house over the Christmas season threw all routines out of whack and I felt like we were swirling into chaos, so we sat down and worked out who was doing what after dinner. Other times of the day the rountines are so engrained they just happen...getting ready for school, tidying bedrooms on a Sunday, putting out bins etc. I think because they have been doing these routines since they were little they just do them and also see why they need to do them.
    One amazing thing I have noticed is moving into a house with no dishwasher...we had a dishwasher for 5 years in our previous house, so it was a shock for the kids to not have one. But it has turned into a great bonding time...they chat about their day or whatever is on their mind, so in my mind its win win - less electric used, another life skill for my kids and a time for them to chat, which as they approach teen years is getting harder!

  26. Hi Rhonda I recently left my job aged 55 and am now home with my hubby trying to make a go of our small beef cattle farm, with less money routines have become so much more important, making food from scratch allocating mending/repairing time, helping hubby, checking emails and ebay and gumtree where I am listing and letting go of surplus clutter, the daily routine is starting to be a normal rhythem now and I am embracing this new happier less stressful life regards Kat

  27. Wonderful post Rhonda!

    I need to get my morning routine set in place. I have put it on paper, now to put it into practice and create a new habit.

    Thank you for all you do,


  28. Working on my routines and feel that I am making progress, it is so easy to lose motivation when retired. Have really enjoyed reading the comments as well as the blog. It is particularly heartening to read of the younger generation doing this, I wish I had the benefit of Rhonda’s wisdom when I was younger. Patricia

  29. Years ago I set up my routines with help of "Flylady". It was work in progress, but over the years I have become fairly organised, are not late for appointments anymore etc. It did help a lot that I was fortunate enough to work part time (only 2 days out of the week). In a couple of weeks I'll be starting a second job, so I'll need to evaluate my routines again. It helps me to give days a specific "task". Like mondays I clean the downstairs, do my groceryshopping. Tuesday en Wednesday I work outside the hous, so for those days I will be looking into "cook once, eat twice" menu's and slowcookerdiners. Thursdays will be for the upstairs in my house to be cleaned, errands to run, extra laundry since I change the bedding this day too and on Fridays I work outside the house again.
    Weekends I will try to keep empty from big household chores inside, so there is room for extra chores like washing windows, gardening etc. Sunday is usually my day for administration, planning the week, menuplanning, making the list for the grocerystore.
    My oldest one pickes up routines as wel (he is almost 20 now). The youngest has ADHD,without medication for a couple of years now, but since routines are very important to him, it is a challenge at his age of 17 now to stick to them. It will take him a longer time than the oldest one, but he'll get there!
    I would encourage everyone to set up routines!

  30. It is helpful to read the comments of others who have retired and the struggles they have with routines. I retired at a young age last year, and I find that I have good days where I am very productive and other days when it’s hard to get motivated. I am a morning person, so I adhere to the idea, as you do, to get tasks knocked out early in the day. Then if I have the energy, I can work on extra projects later in the day. If not, I don’t feel guilty about taking it easy in the afternoon.

  31. I have always had my routines and they have always made my life simpler in the long run. Being retired these past 18 months I've let things slip a bit. As another comment mentioned - having too much time can be a bit of a curse - you let things slip because there is more time later.
    I'm getting back into a regular morning routine and I'm also working out a weekly routine for bigger chores (1 day for shopping - 1 day for batch cooking - 1 day for laundry) - that sort of thing. I'm also looking for some part-time work as I think having that commitment is important to keep me on schedule.
    I thought that I would enjoy having so much free time but I've found that I actually enjoy having weekly commitments - it gives me something to look forward to and provides the structure that I actually really need.

  32. Rhonda,
    Your posts have been a fantastic inspiration to set things up well for the year ahead, and I am really enjoying reading through The Simple Home again as I follow along here. I've been a stay at home Mum since just before my daughter was born (she's 15 months) and we are expecting our second baby in August. Reading your books has given us so many ideas to enable our little family to live well on one income. Thank you for your inspiration, I look forward to continuing to follow along.

  33. Thank you Rhonda for such an awesome post. Your comment 'Part of the routine is that everyone knows what they have to do and you don't have to prompt them to do what they have to do.' really struck a nerve. I do tend to take on the mental load of ensuring everyone does their job and its something I have been trying to change, so it was so good to have it reinforced.
    I have recently taken on more work outside the home and so have had to change the way things work a bit. Your advice in your book for a working adults and kids was a gift. I don't feel so bad about what felt like giving up the simple life, just a shift. Thank you.

  34. I agree so much with what you just wrote about! Our little one is only a year old but we have big plans for being a family that works together. My husband and I are already modeling this for her. We work in the yard together, we take care of the house together and she's learning how she can help in her little ways. We also keep our phones away from the table during all meals so that we can focus on each other. Keep sharing all these useful ideas because they help reinforce my decisions and inspire me (and I'm sure others too)! Thank you!

  35. Reading your blog Rhonda and re reading your book 'The Simple Home' has made me realise how disorganised I am!!! I am perhaps lucky to realise this! I am retiring at the end of the year so I am really settling in to a different routine. I agree with the main meal at Lunchtime!!! so I will certainly be adopting that!. Looking forward to 2018!


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