- Bedtime - we try to make sure our son gets at least 10 hours of sleep a night. Some nights he goes right out. Other nights he lays in bed waiting to sleep. At his age, it is hard to know when he'll need the rest and when we can give him more leeway. The bedtime routine is a chapter or two of a book, prayer (each one of us takes a turn), and a song. We try to do the bedtime routine together as a family.
- No TV/video games during the school week. When I work late, my son and his buddy play on the computers at school, but otherwise, we try to limit his screen time. Over the summer, when he has a lot more freedom, there are days I wonder if the computer/TV has sucked out his brain. He can't afford that during the school year!
- Furniture is not for climbing. I find it interesting when my son's friends come over and I find them standing on a couch. It's just not something we do here.
- In the same vein, when we are somewhere with a flight of stairs, the rule is that "stairs are not a play place." I do not understand the fascination my son and his cousins have for playing on the stairs. I don't know if that enclosed space feels like a fort or if it is a novelty for kids who live in one-story homes.
- Family dinner - we eat together every night. During the week, we generally eat at the table. Eating in the living room is a treat (although, in some seasons of life it happens more often than others). Thankfully, my son is young enough that we can pull off family dinners with little angst.
- Homework first. This was a tough one to sort out this summer as my son was working through a summer workbook. Over time I realized there was less hassle for me if I just made him a list of his chores and responsibilities and let him manage it. If he wants to watch TV or play on the computer in the summer, his list has to be done, first. It worked well. During the school year, since we stay after school to work most days, we try to balance school work and play.
- Books and toys need a home - a shelf, a box, a spot in his room. My son often hears, "put that in its home." We try to weed out his things at least once a year, passing clothes and toys on to Goodwill and passing books on to the school or public library. It helps make space so new things can have a home.
- Monday is pasta night. This gives my husband and I leftovers to have for lunches. Last year, Wednesday night was eating-out night. Wednesday was my longest day at school and the idea of cooking when I got home held no appeal. The decision to eat out simplified my Wednesday and made me feel better about the whole day.
What routines do you use at home to keep life and family manageable?