A Well-Oiled Machine (Maybe Someday)


I am not turning into Captain Von Trapp, but I’m a little bit turning into Captain Von Trapp. Not that I’m blowing a whistle and expecting my kids to come, but I’ve realized that a few things really help our household run a little bit more smoothly, especially at the times of the day that have the most potential to be stressful. By that I mean, mornings before school and that time between five and seven that can sometimes be a little bit of a crapshoot.

We’ve shifted things a little bit over the past few months. Jack works out of the house, but he often works long and late hours. I work full-time from home. Remmy’s in kindergarten, Sophie’s in preschool, and now Minnie goes to a lovely little in-home daycare. I’m up early and I hustle (at home! by myself! it’s super quiet!) until about three, when I hop into the babe-mobile and pick up my girls. From 3 until 7 I do nothing but mom (as a verb). Occasionally I’ll have to check an email on my phone, but I’m really committed to trying to make that me-and-kid time only.

We’re planning playdates for Spring/Summer 2014 if you, too, like burning off energy at parks. I’m into it. Highly recommend.

In order to make things run a little bit more smoothly, I have just one or two lists (okay, it’s four) for the girls that help us get through the day. I KNOW! Four! So VonTrapp of me. (As an aside – I’ve said this before – I know that I’m getting older now that I watch the Sound of Music and think the captain is kind of hunky.)

Here are our routines. It’s okay if you tell me I’ve lost it. I’ve come to terms with it.

Kids' Daily Routines - NEON FRESH Kids' Daily Routines - NEON FRESH Kids' Daily Routines - NEON FRESH Kids' Daily Routines - NEON FRESHThey look super sterile, which isn’t helping my statement that I’m totally cuddly and not at all a dictator, but I promise I print them out and draw a bunch of goofy little sketches on them, as shown when I first introduced the ‘morning routine.’ These lists sort of serve as a framework – not just for them, but also for me (and Jack). Oh right, I can’t leave the house unless I have Minnie’s blanket! Oh, one of my girls is sitting on the couch in her underwear? Hey, babe, go check the list and see what you have to do next.

There’s less scrambling, less shouting-of-instructions (GIRLFRIEND GET SOME SOCKS ON WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN 90 SECONDS), and I don’t have that frazzled “Wait, did I just forget something?” feeling.

Last time, some of you asked for a printable PDF. I didn’t provide one last time, because schedules vary by family and needs, but here it is. You’re welcome to download it and draw pictures of Alf on it.

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  • Reply Jess April 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    The thought of you calling your girls “girlfriend” makes me happy. Please tell me you really do this.

    • Reply Roo April 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Hahaha! I totally do… I’ve had a couple of strange glances in Target because of it, but it’s whatever. ;)

      • Reply Jessi April 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

        Similarly, i call my daughter Sister. Partly it’s affectionate sass, partly it’s true because she has an older brother.

  • Reply Brianna April 15, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I gotta say I’m totally down with this. My sister does something similar. I remember her saying in her early mothering years, with two kids about 20ish months apart, that she could not wait until they were just capable of getting their own cereal prepared in the mornings. My niece and nephew are not aloud to come downstairs without being dressed, clothes in the hamper, and beds made. Now, frequently, my niece will wake my sister up completely dressed/fed/ready for school, with hair brushed, asking if she is allowed to watch TV now (they are not allowed any before school TV until these things are all done) and she is 9. So I’d say if starting these routines early makes you sound cold, then my kids better put on their coats, because if they can achieve what my sisters kids do (while she’s still sleeping) I’d take that over the craziness I see in some households. I want a smooth morning, like butter.

    • Reply Roo April 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Wow! Does your sister offer consulting services? Can I get on the phone with her for, like, 30 minutes and take notes?

      • Reply Brianna April 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

        I have told her, more than once, to write a book. Of course not EVERY morning goes that smoothly, and my nephew is not as responsible, but it goes well enough, often enough, that I frequently want to start the slow clap for her, in between scribbling down any advice I can get while she’s talking. So, depending on how much you’re willing to offer her for a consult, I’m sure you could get her on the phone. ;)

  • Reply Caitlin @ {walker whimsy} April 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I was just thinking I need to set up something like this! I have a horrendous tendency to swing wildly between “Hyper-schedule ALL THE THINGS!” days and “Ehhhh, pajamas are totally real clothes” days. I think it’s called, like, immaturity or something.

    Hopefully coming up with a doable routine will help me gain some balance. Thanks for the framework!

    • Reply Roo April 16, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Hahaha, I totally feel you, Caitlin. I feel like I’ve been on this looong, loooooong journey of trying to get systems in place. Wish there were hard stops/starts. :)

  • Reply Anna April 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    You’re super-mom! Storing this info in the back of my brain for later use. Having my first little one (a boy) in August!

  • Reply Cassandra April 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    “And do you or do you not having trouble following such simple instructions?”
    “Only during thunderstorms, sir.”
    I love that movie! And this list. :-)

    • Reply Rebecca April 15, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      lol! Cassandra–wasn’t expecting this, but thank you!

      • Reply Steph April 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

        OMG, Cassandra, that was amazing, lol…. that made me laugh so hard.

        Roo, excellent lists. I should probably print these out for my boys. Whenever my friends are surprised that my 5 year old makes his bed or unloads stuff from the dishwasher or switches clothes from the washer to the dryer (he thinks this last one is fun (!?!)), I just say “it’s called training camp” – I hope my future daughters’-in-law appreciate this!!

    • Reply Roo April 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Hahahahaha! I read the first line and was like, what? Where’s she going with this? And then I was all OHHHHHHHHH riiiiiight. :)

  • Reply Frida April 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I actually have a timed schedule for mornings with my kid, complete with time to relax (i.e. margin) when things run smoothly. I might make a picture list some time down the line but so far I haven’t felt the need since there’s only one of him and he still needs a bit of help help for most steps.

    Considering bed time routines I remember reading about your hamper routine. That inspired me to do the same thing with my son as soon as he could walk.

  • Reply Sarah F April 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I love this. So simple, yet so hard to do…at least at our house. Maybe I will print and put this on the fridge so my family can see that yes other families have list too!

  • Reply Megan April 15, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Awesome. Just awesome. It seems there are always days that run smoother than others (ie kids be crazy some mornings), but having a routine helps everyone. But can I just mention that it gives me an eye twitch when the hubs thinks it’s completely acceptable to deviate from it? (Doesn’t happen much, but…) Maybe I’m finding the captain to be pretty sexy now, too…? ;-)

  • Reply Natalie April 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I totally stole your morning routine from your last post. I modified to meet our needs and found cute font/icons for my son who can’t read yet (I’m nowhere near as talented in the drawing department as you, Roo!!) I put each kid’s routine in a plastic sleeve and stuck them to the fridge along with dry erase markers. Now they mark off each item as they do them in the mornings and then we head out the door. It’s been life changing. You are amazing, my dear.

  • Reply Steph Reiner April 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Wait… so we’re not supposed to call our kids with a whistle and teach them how to introduce themselves while marching?

    Also, Christopher Plumber was majorly hunky. I’d quit being a nun for him too.

    • Reply Roo April 20, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      Bahaha you mean you’d give up that habit?

  • Reply Devlin April 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    One simple question: (sorry for the inappropriate nature of my Q) do your girls wear two pairs of underwear a day?! I’ve recently made a huge stink to make sure my ‘change my undies every chance I get’ 2.5 YO gets one pair a day LOL. Am I alone in this? Am I focusing on the wrong thing? I’m just gonna go LOL at myself now. :D

  • Reply Natasha April 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Captain Von Trapp is sooooo much sexy.
    I love your lists-we don’t have daily ones, but I think in the fall when the boy starts school we will def be utilizing those. He moves slow motion in the am. The 9yo is pretty self sufficient, she gets up and ready for school without me (I’m usually sipping my coffee and blog reading while the littles snooze) but I still do her hair. We do have checklists for the more involved chores she does-like cleaning her bathroom, and there’s one her and Hurricane check when cleaning the playroom. I have one of those big monthly calendars (not dry erase, to paranoid something important will disappear) that has daily chores listed out along with appts/school junk. I even have MY chore schedule on there haha. I think helping kids with routine at a young age is def a good thing, whatever makes life easier. Meal planning helps me too, I hate ‘dinner panic’.

  • Reply Jessi April 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Daniel Tiger had given us a good baseline with his bedtime song and his getting ready for school song. I love that tiger!

  • Reply Violeta April 16, 2014 at 2:40 am

    I love you, Roo, and also when I grow up I want to be you (I am almost 30 though :)))) Meaning I am expecting my first kiddo and I totally pinned these lists of yours, so wish me luck!
    Also I’ve said it before and I am asking you again WHEN ARE YOU WRITING YOUR BOOK ON PARENTING.. because I will buy it!

  • Reply Athena April 17, 2014 at 2:08 am

    I love the idea of checklist! It makes everything easier and then you are able to remember things in the morning. I also like the idea of giving the girls ownership of what they are suppose to do.

  • Reply Larissa April 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

    So were you doing this same thing when your oldest was 3? I have a 3 year old and a 20 month old and this seems so unattainable at the moment. And in writing that I feel like I sound like one of those moms that can’t get her shit together and I swear I’m not.

    Did you see the Sound of Music reunion on Oprah a couple years ago? Even at 89 or however old he was at the time, the Captain was completely charming and flirty and wonderful.

  • Reply Larissa April 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Also, how much can I pay you for printables of your list WITH the drawings on them?

  • Reply Laurie April 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Most of those lists are shockingly appropriate to me, the single, 40-something with no kids.

  • Reply Awesomeness: DIY Mother's Day Gifts - dude mom April 18, 2014 at 8:39 am

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  • Reply Sarah April 20, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    The last time I watched the Sound of Music, I cried. Straight-up BAWLED. ??? You probably have something similar to the Alamo Drafthouse over in your neck of the woods…it’s a dinner (movie) theater but it has a crazy cool Austin vibe, so there’s things like Matrix marathons and 80’s sing alongs and SOUND OF MUSIC SING ALONGS. I feel like my 2 y/o and 1 y/o wouldn’t really appreciate it the way I would, buuuttt…

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