Previous posts in this series:
- Interview with author Kim Brenneman
- Laying the Foundation: Goals and Self-discipline
- Managing Your Week
One of the most practical helps for me for managing our large family is having a daily routine. With twelve people living in one home things can get chaotic if mom gets distracted and no one else knows what to expect or what should be happening. If everyone knows that breakfast is at 7 and that rooms need to be cleaned, bodies dressed, and specific morning tasks completed before then, then even when things go awry (like when a little one breaks lose with a marker, splashes in the mud instead of feeding the dog or decides to eat the mulch) the day doesn’t necessarily completely break down.
In the last twelve chapters of LFL Kim covers a wide range of topics from bedroom management to family worship and homeschooling to meal planning. She offers valuable and practical information, but for today I’m going to focus on routines.
In Large Family Logistics, Kim lays out three different types of routines that we’ve used for years and gives some ideas on how to get them into place. She talks about a morning routine, daily chore time and meal time routine. If you implement nothing else these three routines will keep your home running smoothly day in and day out.
Getting Started: A Morning Routine
A lot of ‘stuff’ need to get done each morning: getting dressed, making beds, personal hygiene (times twelve), feeding animals and people and cleaning up after all of these activities. If everyone has their own responsibilities (and does them) then you won’t get to the park for cross country practice only to discover that none of the little ones had their teeth or hair brushed and they are wearing clothes their clothes that they wore the day before while playing in the mud and eating spaghetti.
One of the tips that I found most helpful in this chapter is to be specific in your morning routine, doing the same tasks in the same order everyday.
Kim also reminds us that as a home manager it is our responsibility to see that we are helping our husband in addition to all the responsibilities we shoulder. So she suggests asking him each morning, “What can I do to help you today?”
Here is my specific, personal morning routine:
- read Bible
- brush teeth/wash face
- wipe counter in bathroom
- tidy bathroom
- put pj’s away
- make bed
- tidy bedroom
- change and dress Bella
- pick out clothes for little ones
- brush little ones teeth and hair and supervise dressing
- start laundry and tidy laundry area
- finish reading Bible
- check before breakfast chores
- breakfast – read Bible, memorization box and sing
- nurse the baby while the kids do table chores
- drink coffee while watching the sun come up
- do food prep for
- read a Psalm
- drink water
- make breakfast for husband and read the Bible with him
- do food prep for lunch and supper while the children do table chores
Eating: A Meal Time Routine
Every single day, three times a day we eat. Food preparation and clean up can take up a huge portion of our time and energy. In her book, Kim suggests that if we streamline the process and give everyone some responsibility it can save us a lot of that time and energy. The beauty of Kim’s suggestions is that they are so adaptable for each individual family allowing you to take what will work, adapt what you need and ditch what doesn’t fit. Here is how we handle meal time tasks in our home.
Breakfast prep is incorporated into our morning routine. Currently Matthew (12) makes breakfast and dishes the plates. Sadie (7) helps out by setting the table and Alyssa (10) fills up the cups and water pitchers (we drink a lot of water, more than 2 gallons at most meals).
Generally one of our middle children prepare lunch. In their eyes this is a privilege and they race through their school work so that they are available when it’s time to make lunch.
We’ve incorporated dinner preparation into our afternoon chore time. Instead of having a cleaning task during chore time, Amber makes dinner each evening. If we aren’t having a freezer meal then we often do this together. Sadie sets the table and Matthew fills the water pitchers as part of their chores.
Clean up for breakfast, lunch and dinner is always the same, each child has specific areas of responsibility and when they finish those they are to help anyone who needs help. Here are some table chore responsibilities that Kim suggests:
- scrape dishes
- carry to sink or dishwasher
- load dishwasher
- collect trash from table, put cloth napkins in laundry
- put food away
- wipe table chairs, high chair
- sweep under table
- wash dishes
- dry dishes
- put clean dishes away, unload dishes
- wipe counters
Maintaining: Regular Chore Time
We’ve done chore time since before we had children, but when I read Kim’s chapter on chore time last year we drastically changed our routine and after about a week Mark mentioned that he didn’t know what we were doing differently, but he had never seen the house look so consistently good for so long. If you still haven’t gotten or borrowed a copy of this book and could use any help with chores and/or maintaining your home, do it now.
You may be interested in these posts about chores:
- Training children, chore recommendations for little ones and motivating kids to complete their chores
- Specific chore lists
- Afternoon or morning chores
- I also wrote an article “10 Ways to KEEP your house clean” for Sarah Mae’s eBook 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way
You may also be interested in seeing our schedule with all little ones side by side with our current schedule because a daily routine with lots of littles is not the same as a daily routine when you have big kids around.
The other Moms of Many speak:
- Connie @ Smockity Frocks
- Kim Brenneman @ Large Family Logistics
- KimC @ Life in a Shoe
- DHM @ The Common Room
Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear how you manage your days.
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