Humans crave control (or at least the illusion of it) and children are no exception. This is where routine comes into play. Routines help children feel in control of their environment; knowing what comes next is a comfort to kids. Former foster children need this control more than most, and my three young ones are no exception. The surprising thing, though, is the the routine is also helpful to my home-schooled teens. Knowing what the Littles are doing helps them get into a routine with their school work.

Even the most laid-back home has a rhythm. The most effective routines are the ones that tap into the natural rhythm of the family. I spent a couple of days observing the kids’ natural sleeping and eating patterns to decide how to structure our routine. We adjust for the seasons: this is our winter plan:

6:20 – School son eats breakfast
6:45 – School son on bus
Mom time!
7:30 – Others rise
8:00 – Breakfast
Free play
9:00 – “School type” activities (letters, numbers, songs, cutting, coloring)
10:00 – Snack
Variable* (see below)
12:30 – Lunch
Outdoor play (weather permitting) – or “big muscle” play
1:30 – Rest time
3:30 – Snack
Craft time, project time or “Cooking Fun”
6:00 – Dinner
Free play (they often go outside in the warmer months)
7:00 – Relaxing time (puzzles, games, occasionally TV) or bath
7:30 – Stories and songs, then bed


Monday – prepare snack food for the week (make granola bars, cut up veggies, portion grapes, cut cheese sticks, etc.)
Tuesday – son has therapy and we run errands
Wednesday – toddler/preschool story time at the library
Thursday – strollers and bikes to the playscape
Friday – pick up son at school and go grocery shopping

Part of our “always” plan is that the kids are always welcome in the kitchen, and I can usually find cooking jobs for them to do; similarly, when we do laundry or dishes, they have their little things that can help. Our “school time” only lasts about 20 minutes– 2- and 3-year-olds have short attention spans– and the rest of that time is spent using the activities I have in their “school” toy box. For example, I have a spray bottle of water with a little vinegar in it which they use to wash the window by their table and to wash their table and chairs. I have a small dustpan and brush– they love this! There are puzzles, inch cubes, and other motor skills activities. There is a sensory play tub which changes for holidays and seasons. The play dough is stored there, etc.

I hope this peek at our schedule inspires you to look at your rhythms, make up a plan for your family, and enjoy marching to your own unique beat!