What my key routines are looking like in 2017

In a post I wrote earlier this year I shared the three key routines I recommend to parents when they ask me about getting started with being more organised around the home. You can read the full post here – Where to start getting organised at home?, but the three routines are:

  • Menu planning
  • A night time routine
  • A morning routine

Routines evolve over time, they need to change and adapt to the growing needs of the family. Often the core of the routine will be the same and it will be smaller peripheral things that you need to change to make sure everything runs smoothly. In 2016 this is how the key routines are looking at our house:

Menu planning

how to menu plan for a month in 35 minutes!

I have been using the same menu planning process for the last five years plus. It is pretty simple and has me planning out meals four weeks at a time. You can see the full detailed process in this post – How to menu plan for a month in 35 minutes! but in brief it goes as follows:

  1. I gain the family’s input. Each child and dad can choose up to 4 meals they would like to see included in the monthly plan.
  2. I add my choices, taking into account what everyone else has chosen to ensure there is some balance across the month.
  3. I create a matrix of activity and meal requirements. The matrix takes into account activities that will impact dinner prep.
  4. I allocate the meals listed across the days of the month, according to the matrix.
  5. I use the Planning With Kids Menu Planner App to collate menu plans and shopping lists.

A night time routine

Evening routine - getting prepared for the next day

I wrote a full update of our routine in 2015 – Evening routine – getting prepared for the next day and this routine is pretty much still exactly the same. The summary is as follows:

  1. Set Table For Breakfast
  2. Prepare Lunch Boxes
  3. Complete Notices
  4. Ensure Clean and Available Uniforms/Clothes
  5. Un-stack Dishwasher
  6. General Tidy
  7. Empty The Bin/s
  8. Check The Calendar
  9. Make To Do List
  10. Wind Down

I am finding however that as the kids get older wind down time can be very varied. Due to sporting activities and the general activity after school, if the older kids want help with homework or want to talk about things, it happens once the younger kids are in bed and everything is sorted and calm. Some nights I have almost no wind down time as there are a number of demands on my time.

It is also much harder now for my husband and I to have time on our own at night. We almost always go to bed before the eldest (now a uni student) and the 15 year old might also be up and around as well. It isn’t that they are sitting right next to us or the like, but there is a difference when you know they are up and around. There are moments when I look back to when I would have all five kids in bed and asleep by 8.00pm with some fondness!

A morning routine

School morning routine 2015

My morning routine has been exceptionally consistent over the last few years. You can see the last detailed update I wrote here – School morning routine 2015 but in brief it looks like this:

  • 4.30am – 5.00am – wake up and exercise. Exact time depends on the day.
  • 7.00am – finalise the lunches and make cooked breakfasts for those who want them.
  • 7.15am – wake any kids who are not yet up. The younger two will often give me an order for their hot breakfast the night before, so I will cook it and have it ready for them when I wake them up.
  • 7.30am – general tidy. If it is raining I will drive the teenagers to the train station.
  • 8.05am – 10 year old rides to school on his own and the 8 year old and I leave not long after to walk to school.
  • 9.00am – home and some household tasks before starting my paid work.

As a parent sometimes you wonder if the hard work you put in with getting kids to do things for themselves is worth it. At the start it can take twice as long, you face resistance and it isn’t always done perfectly. But I can testify that is indeed worth the effort.

Over the years the work I put in to get the kids to have their own routines in the morning means that my workload in the morning is not high and I have more time to just be with the kids, chatting to them as they get ready and even time for playing games with the youngest. You can see the kids’ routines routines here.

It is the same with lunch boxes too. I now only prepare two lunch boxes as the older three are responsible for making their own lunches from the items I have made and have in the pantry etc. Only four more years of making lunch boxes left for me now!

One change that has happened to my morning routine is the time I get up. I am actually getting up earlier to fit in running and CrossFit on a number of mornings per week at the moment. You can see my exercise routine here. This does mean I need to get to bed even earlier, which as noted above can be a challenge with needing to spend time with the teenagers, so I am looking at how else I can structure my routine so there is more buffer at the end of the day.


If you are relatively new to the blog you might like to check out my “Where to start” page which I have updated again. It collates the key posts on the blog to give you a guide through some of the plans, templates and processes that we have used to help simplify and add fun to our family life.

Have you changed your routines recently?