I'm going to go a step further than just leaving comments on routine questions in Facebook groups, and actually make a blog post about what our current routine is. It's something I'd like to do every year or so, to see how things change as time goes on and the kids get older (an idea I've stolen from a friend of mine who does this in her own blog 😉). So here we go. Here is what our routine looks like as of right now, in the fall of 2017. Sam age 6, Kate age 4, Henry age 2, and Anna 2.5 months.
I break our day up into blocks. I crave and thrive on routine, as do my kids for the most part, but homeschooling and raising 4 little ones requires flexibility. Breaking the day up in blocks honors both of those needs. I keep our waking, sleeping, and eating times the same and everything else just fits in between.
7am- Wake up. I'm a stickler about our wake up time. Sam and Kate watch for the 7 on their clock to know when to come out, and they read or play quietly together until then (except for bathroom breaks of course). Henry isn't old enough to really follow that rule yet, but before 7 I bring him some trucks and he's usually happy to wait until 7. Someday when I'm not waking up several times throughout the night, and when I don't have a baby in my bed by morning time, I'll be grateful for the chance to get up around 6 or so and have some quiet time to myself. For now though, I'll take any extra sleep I can get!
7-8:30am- A quiet, slow start to our day. Anna and Henry nurse and get their diapers changed. Sam and Kate play in their room or downstairs. I make my bed, wash my face, and get dressed. Anna is entertained in her crib upstairs or pack-n-play downstairs by watching what's going on around her or "talking" to a big sibling or two. I put away the clean dishes from the night before, get out everybody's clothes, possibly throw in a load of laundry depending on what day it is, and make breakfast. It sounds like a lot, but it's really a peaceful way to start the day.
A few times a month we have to be out of the house first thing in the morning, so between 7 and 8 we are getting dressed and cleaned up, and having a little playtime. When we have morning activities I pack our breakfasts to be eaten in the car. The kids all do much better if they have a chance to play in the morning, rather than eating and then rushing out the door.
8:30-9:30am- This block of time is for breakfast, morning school readings, clean up, prep for the school day, and getting dressed. Anna is typically napping at this point and her first nap is the one that she's most likely to take without me holding her, so she's usually in her swing. We do our Bible reading, devotions, prayers, and poetry readings/recitations over breakfast. My post-meal rhythm is always the same (it's so much of a habit at this point that it doesn't even feel like work anymore). Sweep under the table, wipe down the table (sometimes Sam and Kate do these tasks), wash dishes. We have a dishwasher, but tried a few days without it last winter and haven't looked back since. I lay out all of the day's schoolbooks on the kitchen counter and help Henry (and sometimes Kate) get dressed. Sam gets dressed on his own and then goes and does his copywork in the dining room as Anna is waking up from her nap and I'm sitting down to nurse her.
9:30/10ish- 11/11:30ish- This is our school block. While I'm nursing Anna I sometimes do one of our daily readings and Sam narrates it back to me while I'm changing her and getting her dressed. Anna has some floor time to wiggle and work on her rolling (she won't stay on her belly for very long at all now that she's discovered rolling onto her back!) while we do our "good morning board". The good morning board is mostly for Kate at this point. Days of the week, seasons, weather, etc. After this we'll play a game to get out some energy before doing some sit down work. Red Light, Green Light is a favorite, or we do freeze dance with whatever folk song our curriculum has us learning for that month. I usually do another reading while we're in the playroom. Especially if we have Shakespeare on the schedule, since we use toys to keep all of the characters straight. Next we move to the dining room for math and language arts. Kate and Henry stay in the playroom, or they come in the dining room to color or play one of the fine motor activities I have. Kate has been asking for help writing some letters and now that she can write her name, she likes to just write it over and over again. This has been going really well and her handwriting is fairly neat for a 4 year old! If we have any readings left, Sam and I move to the couch after his other work is finished and do a reading while Anna falls asleep in my arms.
11/11:30ish-12:30- This block is different almost every day. If we have errands to run, this is when we go out and run them, or I send the big kids outside on their own, or we all go out, or they play in the playroom while Anna naps. If we're home and inside, I do some chores if Anna lets me lay her down or if she falls asleep while wrapped. Sometimes she just wants to snuggle on my lap and I take some time to sit and snuggle her while I read or something. She's going to be too big for naps in my lap too soon, I'm taking full advantage while I can!
12:30-1ish- Lunch. I just have a snack while the kids eat. We practice French words during lunch, or do our art study, or do another reading if there's one left that day. Same rhythm for me afterwards. Sweep, wipe, dishes.
1-1:30- Clean up. Kids clean up the playroom (sometimes easily, sometimes with much arguing. Depends on the day. But the rest of the day goes a million times better when we clean up after lunch). I put school books away and get rid of any surface clutter that has accumulated throughout the morning.
1:30/2ish-3:45- Nap/quiet time. Kate stays in the playroom to play quietly on her own, Sam goes up to their room where he usually reads and/or builds with Legos, and Henry naps in his room. Once everybody is settled, I make my lunch and eat and watch a show while getting Anna to sleep. Sometimes she'll let me put her down and I'll workout, read, watch another show, or take a little nap myself. I try to keep this time chore free. If anything I sit and write a grocery list or menu. I need the time to rest before the late afternoon/evening gets going. Sam comes downstairs at 3 and he and Kate play together without Henry for a while. This is usually a good time to pull out messy things like paint or play doh, or like to make marble runs with a magnetic set we have. Not Henry friendly activities 😉 I wake up Henry between 3:30 and 3:45 (or bedtime is way too hard). He hates waking up from his nap and pretty much throws a fit at this point every day. I try to make it a very gentle wake up, but no matter what, it's a rough 15/20 minutes or so. He and Anna nurse. I usually have them go one after the other. Nursing them at the same time is just too much for me. I feel touched out enough as it is. On really difficult days, I just nurse them together though.
4- On Thursdays we get ready to go to ballet. Boys pack up toys in their backpacks and I pack coloring, stickers, and snacks. Anna nurses again and then I get Kate dressed and do her hair. We leave around 4:30 and get home around 6:15/6:30ish.
4-6:30ish- On any other day we go outside (but right now it's already starting to get dark, so outside doesn't last very long) or just play inside. This is when I'll work out if I didn't do it during naptime. Sometimes though (a lot of times lately) times gets away from me and my workout doesn't happen. Trying to work on that! A couple times a week I'll put a movie on, but I try not to do it every day. I'm finishing up that day's chores, starting dinner, doing any prep necessary for the next day (packing lunches and laying out clothes if we are going to be out of the house the next day). I fold laundry on the kitchen island and dining room table in the late afternoon sometimes. It forces me to finish and get it put away so we can eat! Anna nurses frequently throughout the evening, so I take a lot of breaks for that, not to mention all the "breaks" in my work to extract Henry from somewhere he isn't supposed to be. The house is too chaotic at this point for Anna to have any more solid naps, so she's cat napping off and on in her bouncer or in a wrap.
6:30- We eat. James' schedule is fairly inconsistent lately, but if we're lucky he's home by now and we eat together. If he's home he cleans up the kitchen and does the dishes for me because he's awesome like that. If he's not home I do it as quickly as I can, and leave dinner somewhere to keep warm for him.
6:50- I take a really deep breath and we start the process of cleaning up and getting ready for bed. I am really, really working on making it more peaceful, but currently it's rather chaotic and everybody is pretty whiny and argumentative. We're working on it. It'll get better. If James isn't home, I'm cleaning up the kitchen still while the kids get started on the playroom. When I'm finished, or while he does it if he's home, I clear any clutter from the living room and get everything ready for bedtime. Diapers on my nightstand for Anna, everybody's pjs and toothbrushes laid out. On bath nights I go bathe Anna first on her own. Once I have everything ready and Anna is bathed, if it's a bath night, I take Henry and Anna into Henry's room. Henry is more of a hindrance than a help during clean up, and I need to nurse Anna before everybody else needs me. So the little two and I have some quiet time in Henry's room while Sam and Kate finish up in the playroom and then pick up their room. On a bath night we then all go in the bathroom and get a bath. It's always a quick bath. I do not like giving baths. I would love it if the big 2 would shower, but right now it's not worth the screaming that ensues if I even mention the shower. Out of the bath, or just when everything is cleaned up, we do pjs and teeth and then everybody in Mama and Daddy's bed, or in Henry's room, for books. If attitudes have been less than stellar during clean up time, we will skip books. They love being read to, so that's a good incentive to behave and do their best cleaning up.
8- By now everybody and everything is clean and it's time to go to sleep. Sam and Kate get tucked in and kissed goodnight first and then it's Henry's turn. If James is home, this is his time with Anna while I nurse Henry and snuggle him on his own a bit. When James isn't home, Anna lays in her Moses basket on Henry's floor. By a quarter after/20 after 8, Henry is quiet enough to be left in his room to go to sleep and I take Anna to our room. James is usually home and showered by now, even on his long days, so we catch up with one another, read, or watch a show on my computer. In our current season of life, we are in our bed at 8:30 and are too tired to venture downstairs again.
9- Anna is ready for bed by now, so she gets changed, nursed, and snuggled until she's good and asleep. She starts out the night in her crib (in a corner of our room), and comes into our bed the first time she wakes up. Once she's down for the night, we usually are too! The first kid wake up (and James' alarm!) will come way too soon! Right now Henry is actually sleeping though the night about half of the time, the other half he's up once or twice. Kate is sometimes up once a couple times a week as well. Plus Anna of course. So my day continues on throughout the night.
Obviously this isn't what every single day looks like. Sometimes we scrap it all and go to Longwood Gardens instead (that's what we're doing tomorrow!), sometimes if we're out at MOPS or something all morning on a Thursday Sam and I will do schoolwork while we're at ballet that evening, sometimes we'll go run our errands during what is usually our "school block" and do schoolwork once we get home. The majority of our days go like this (or fairly close!) to this though. The kids behave so much better and are so much happier when they know what to expect next. There's less arguing (still arguing, just... less) when we're consistently cleaning up the toys right after lunch. Like I said about cleaning up after meals, it starts to just become a habit and doesn't feel like work.
I know our routine might seem way too structured for some people, and maybe nowhere near structured enough for others, but it works so well for us. Clutter and disorganization makes me feel very anxious, but with this current routine, I feel like I've struck a good balance that doesn't have me cleaning and tidying up all. day. long, but leaves me with a picked up house when we go to naps and when we go to bed.
And now I can't wait to make a routine post next fall! I'm sure SO much will have changed at that point! I hope you've all enjoyed this little peak into our life ❤