137. Back to school routines that we have in our house

It’s back to school time! Are you ready?

I know we have been enjoying the slow pace of summer and will need to put ourselves back on schedule to make back to school run more smoothly. 

Over the years we have developed routines that we rely on in our school and workweek. I want to share our three favourites with you as you think about how you want to start out this new school year as a family. 

How routines help our kids and us for school days

  1. We can rely on routines to get stuff done.  It gives us the momentum and predictability and these habits set for us.
  2. I know what’s going to happen, and the kids know what to expect.
  3. There’s less drama over making transitions or how the kids are spending their time.
  4. If you have a kid who struggles with anxiety, knowing their part of the routine helps relieve a lot of that anxiety.

How to make routines more effective

  1. Introduce this system to your family, and coach them by creating that as a habit, reminding them repeatedly.
  2. Give our kids reminders that are gentle and not heavy, hard and serious.
  3. Do not be a bear about it.

I shared some more about how routines help in the episode on family Saturday morning chores


Our routines in the morning

  1. We make our lunches the night before school.
  2. The kids pack their lunch with a template we gave them.
  3. We give enough time in the morning knowing how much time everything needs to be done.
  4. The kids dress themselves and pack their bags.
  5. Start leaving 10 minutes before we think we have to go. This gives buffer, so you don’t feel rushed or panicky in case something unexpected comes up.

After school routine

  1. Before the kids come home, I give myself a pep talk about what kind of mom I want to show up. As the mom, that is a safe landing place for big feelings and frustrations accumulated throughout the day.
  2. For the kids, it’s to hang up their backpacks, put their papers on the counter, put their lunch dishes in the sink, wash their hands.
  3. Give them a snack or have them finish their lunch if they didn’t.

Things to remember when you build routines

  1. Routines take time to build like any habit, so you want to be gentle with you and gentle with the kids.
  2. Keep showing up consistently for what feels important.
  3. Start as you mean to go. Start treating them how you want to be treating them in the long term.

Want to bring in some routines to your week? Try the Family Rhythms worksheets 



This month I went on a getaway with three of my mombesties. For some years now we try to get away for a couple of nights, or at least a nice dinner.

This time we went to a cheap motel, walked around, ate good food, had a little shopping and a little wine. My fave part was going to an afternoon movie the second day and then being in bed with us all reading by 930pm 

But really I think the pleasure is just being with your friends, especially without kids. It is so special to spend time with your friends (date your friends) and I think it helps you fall in love with them even more/again. 




Today, I want to talk about routines. We are getting back into school. And it’s got me thinking about the routines that we pick up when school starts, I know that summer feels like our mornings, I’ve just been getting slower and longer and more drawn out. It’s harder for me to get actually getting going in the morning because there’s just kind of this wide open space that summer offers us. So I’m gearing up myself to start waking up a little bit earlier in giving myself a little mental pep talks about getting into action earlier in the morning

routines. routines are very important. I think someone like me, like a type nine, we can rely on routines to actually get stuff done, we need that momentum, and that predictability and those habits set for us. I know I also like routines with my kids, because I know what’s going to happen. I know the general flow. And that helps me when I have a moment here and there to start preparing for that preparing for what’s going to happen in the future a little bit, I’ll speak on that more as we go through this routines are also so great for kids, our kids really benefit from them. The first thing is that they know what to expect. They know this is kind of the routine we follow for morning or after school. And there’s less drama over making transitions or how they’re spending their time, they just know that this is what to expect. And I think there’s some comfort in that as well. They also know what’s expected of them, which is really important. If you have a kid who struggles with anxiety, and they want to get things done and they want to be independent,

knowing they’re part of the routine really helps to relieve a lot of that anxiety. So routines they are some work upfront, this is why most of us don’t have them is because they do take work not only to pick what routine we’re going to make, but also to stay consistent about it. So we need to introduce this idea this system to our family, and we need to kind of coach them through creating that as a habit, reminding them over and over again, the big key for moms who want to bring routines into their family is to not be a bear about it. Remember, we’re creating a new habit. And if you’ve ever tried to make a new habit in your own life, you know how much effort and time that takes like we are creating a whole new thought pattern. It’s like learning a whole new traffic route on your way to work. So the reminders that we give our kids, these can be gentle, these don’t have to be heavy and hard and serious. They can be fun, but it’s the reminders that turn into the routine. And as we have this routine now in place, I’ve talked about our Saturday morning chore routine. In one of the episodes, I’ll link that in the show notes. As we have the routine come into play, there’s just a lot less drama, there’s a lot less drama about what’s happening, when it should be happening, who’s doing what, there’s just a lot less pushback. And overtime, they need a lot less prompt as well, they start to just wake up and do the routine.

So this fall, we’re going to be relying a lot on the routines that we’ve said over the years since our oldest started school six years ago. And this fall, we’re also going to I’m sure be trying to set up new ones I shared in a recent simple Saturday email that I’m heading back to school this year, I actually have decided to become registered as a counselor. So I am starting full time school for that I’m also picking up some extra work with public health. So I know this year is going to be the year I go all in on things. And in that simple Saturday’s email, I talked about how I’m preparing myself for the experience that I want this year to be I want to be very intentional about what my priorities are, I want to brainstorm things that are going to make my life easier. And I really want to sink into the mindsets that are going to help me show up well.

So as we go into fall, these are the routines This is like the framework of our mornings and our days that I rely on. And I’m going to adjust them as I need to help. All of my other stuff fit into this as well.

The first routine I’m going to start the night before the night before school, we make our lunches. And we started this when my oldest went to kindergarten, we didn’t even give ourselves the option of making them in the mornings because we knew ourselves well enough to know that the morning wasn’t going to be a good option. I mean,

when my oldest was going into kindergarten, he was five, his little sister was four and his baby brother was two. So we just knew enough about ourselves in our lives, then we’re like no, we need to do this the night before. And last year, Connor actually got the kids packing their own lunches after dinner. It’s not something I even thought about or entertained. Like I like to have a little bit of control over what kind of food they’re bringing with them. But we just give them a template, we make sure they have a veggie and a protein and kind of the rest is up to them.

Not to say that this is a fun experience because there’s a lot of concessions and bartering going on. And sometimes I just have to walk away from it. Sometimes I prefer to just make their lunches for them. And sometimes I’ll say you know what, guys, I got you tonight I’m going to make your lunch and they’re grateful as well. But you know, I think just having this skill of making your own lunch is something that can be really helpful to them in life. So we’re just gonna stick with this one. The big routine when we think about school is that morning routine, and I think the key key to the morning routine is giving yourself enough time knowing how much time it takes to do all the things you want to get done, and then giving yourself that buffer room as well. So my kids, they get up between six and seven. And they’ll just sit and watch TV really quietly. And then I get up around seven. And our morning routine looks like we start with breakfast, I give them two breakfast options, and I make them breakfast and I go get ready while they’re eating. And by ready. I mean, I put on clean clothes, I’m just coming back home anyway. So it’s usually clean sweats, I put on maybe some mascara and concealer because I like how I feel when I wear those things, brush my hair, brush my teeth, and then we come out and they’re ready to clear up dishes, they’re going off to dress themselves. And I don’t make them change what they’re wearing. Unless it’s like, you know, you’ve worn that pink costume to school for three days in a row, we should wash it now. Or it’s minus 10 outside and you can’t wear runners and even some kids, they’re still gonna wear the runners and minus 10 and learn the hard way that that makes it freezing cold anyways. So they dress themselves, that’s just not a fight I’m going to have with my kids, it’s totally up to them what they wear long as they’re wearing clean clothes, and they’re covered in clothes. That’s kind of basic criteria. They also pack their own bags. And again, the routine needs reminder. So I’m reminding them, especially when it’s kind of back into school reminding them Don’t forget your lunch, do I need to sign anything? Did you pack your lunch, and I’m not expecting perfect like, I’m not expecting that every morning, everyone does all these things without me ever reminding them. I don’t want to turn this into a dramatic thing. So that’s my role in all this is just the gentle reminders. And then another key I think for the morning is to start believing, like 10 minutes before you think you need to start leaving, inevitably, as you’re trying to get everyone out the door, someone’s lost a glove, someone has the wrong shoes, someone doesn’t want to go to school. And so there is a little bit of work that has to be done. And if you give yourself that buffer time, you won’t feel rushed, you won’t feel panicky, you’ll be like, Hey, we got 10 minutes for this, we can solve this in 10 minutes. That’s a lot of time. So giving yourself that buffer time I think is really important. For us, we walk to school, it’s my favorite part of the day to just get outside. Because usually I’m going to come home and just work all day to be inside. So just getting outside rain or shine or snow Wilton bargain, down to school, let’s just get outside and kind of they’re excited, they’re mostly excited to get to school, once they’re outside in the fresh air, their attitudes definitely cheer up a bit more

than I walked them to the bus and come home. And then I start my own morning routine. And I know it’s gonna look different this year. Last year, it was a lot more slower paced, and now I know I’m gonna have to condense a lot of things and really prioritize how I’m going to spend my morning routine, then let’s talk about the after school routine. And for me personally, this starts before I even see them. I know that when my kids come home from school, they’re exhausted, they’ve probably held in a lot of feelings, a lot of frustrations from friends from expectations from whatever happened at school, whatever they’ve been carrying around, I know that that really accumulates in them, and each of them is going to express it a little differently. So I have to give myself a pep talk about how I’m going to handle them. Because they’re just gonna dump it on everyone around them probably. So I want to give myself a pep talk about what kind of mom I want to show up as the mom that is a safe landing place for these big feelings, these big frustrations and that my role in this is to guide them through healthy ways to deal with all of this, that’s kind of the pep talk I get myself. So we generally walk home from school, sometimes I’ll pick them up the walk home can be pretty hard sometimes because like I said they’re exhausted, they’ve been holding a lot in especially the kids in the younger grades, like when they start kindergarten, grade one, two, and three, they are kind of a hot mess, they need to crash when they get home. And they need like zero stimulation zero expectations like just lay just sit down, be still be quiet, like Do whatever you need to do. And I really try to remember that when I’m getting frustrated at how frustrated they are. So we get into the door. And my expectation

kind of the routine I want to see them do is hang up their backpacks, put their papers on the counter, put their lunch dishes in the sink, wash their hands,

all of these still need reminding sometimes. And all of these don’t always happen all the time for all of the kids because sometimes I want who just wants to stay outside and cool down. They want to stay outside and ride their bike around. And I think that’s probably better if they go do that and unwind it that way. And then when people are ready, they come in and have a snack. If they haven’t finished their lunch, I asked them to eat the rest of their lunch, at least the vegetable part of it because sometimes they eat everything but the vegetable and the protein. So we make sure to do that

And if I am planning this ahead of time, I will prepare something for us to eat when they get home. I’ll eat with them because I know I’m going to get hungry too. And if I have an extra five minutes before I go and get them from the bus, then I’m going to prepare some food, cut up something, make some popcorn, something anything just so it’s so much easier when we all walk in the door.

So this routine is kind of like the baseline. It’s the baseline of habit of what we know we want to be doing of how the time is going to flow and really I’m Just watching my kids how they handle it. And I’m looking for these little like warning flags. The kid who’s melting down all the walk home, the kid who’s whining at the door, the kid who’s kind of creating a path of stuff dumped everywhere that trails behind them, the kid who’s not wanting to eat a snack, like I’m, I’m just watching them and I know something’s up for them, they’re out of routine, they have probably had a hard day. So I know that I need to, depending on the kid going give them a little bit of support and attention or give them some space one of the two.

So because we haven’t really had any extracurricular activities, at least last year, during COVID, I really appreciated that the rest of our afternoons could look like the kids just playing, resting, doing whatever, we don’t turn the TV on till I start making dinner closer to five, but I want to make sure that they’re just getting time to go be kids and do whatever they feel like doing. It’ll be interesting to see which activities they want to do this year, and how that comes into play with our afternoon routines. But overall, we have the routine so that the structure is there so that the expectation is there, and things just get done. So those are three routines that make school days easier for us. And a good question that you can ask yourself is what routines do you think would make your life easier? Remember that these routines they take time to build like any habit, so you want to be gentle with you and gentle with them and keep showing up consistently for what feels important. Another really powerful thing that I’ve learned about routines is the idea of start as you mean to go, someone told me this when my kids were babies start as you mean to go, like start treating them how you want to be treating them in the long term. And I don’t know if that can really apply to like small, small babies. But I do apply it to kind of how this new season is honest now. And we’re at the start of this new season. So how do we want it to be going and if we can start that way, instead of you know, just starting on default on autopilot and trying to change a habit that has just been set, that’s going to be a little bit more tricky than just starting out from day one with the habit we want to be having.

If you like the idea of routines, I have done a post on family rhythms, which is very similar, but we’re talking about the daily rhythms, the weekly rhythms, I have a post on that with some worksheets on how to make your own. I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes. And I’d like to wrap up with the simple pleasure. And the simple pleasure is quite basically hanging out with your girlfriends. So I went on the lady’s trip this past week with three of my besties. And we’ve tried to do this for about four or five years now. Sometimes just the four of us sometimes more is we get away for a night or two. And last year during COVID we got away for a dinner and it was really nice. This year, we stayed in a cheap hotel for a couple nights, we walked around the city we did some wine tasting good coffee, did some shopping, ate some good food, just really relaxing. The second day We even went to a movie at 4pm because moms know how to do it. And then we were at home in bed reading by 930. Like that is how you do it. So really the simple pleasures just hanging out with your friends. And I’m going to say without kids because it is really different. You get to give each other that full attention. When you have these prolonged periods of time with people you just get to share kind of whatever comes into your head a little things, big things and just being with one another. I think we can forget how to just enjoy that person in front of us and spending that time alone with them will always help us kind of fall back in love with one

another. I wrote a bit more about this in an old post called why you should date your friends. I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes. But I do encourage you to plan a little bit of a friend date whether it’s an afternoon and night away or a dinner away plan a little bit of a date with your friends. Alright guys, thanks so much for being here. If you like this podcast, I encourage you to leave a rating and review in iTunes or share it with a friend. That means a lot to me and it also helps me show up in the search results of the podcast players. Have a great week friends


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