Routines, Schedules and Hooks: Getting it All Done

When it comes to managing our home, our routine (or schedule) has been the single most valuable tool.

Many people are intimidated at the thought of setting up or using a routine or schedule. Many say that they function best without one, but I would disagree. πŸ™‚

The truth is that nearly everyone has a routine or schedule.

How many of you have a day that looks something like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Eat lunch
  4. Eat dinner
  5. Go to bed

Do you do this nearly every day? Then YOU use a routine.

Now, it’s just a question of whether you wish to use your routine to accomplish more than eating and sleeping.

I recently posted our full schedule in detail here. Below you will see the basic, underlying plan, from there we hang on all the extra details.

I read long ago that one key to consistently getting things done is to “hang” important tasks on “hooks”. A hook is something that occurs daily. The five events listed above are the “hooks” we’ve used to build our routine.

Below are the tasks that we have hung on each of the “hooks” listed above.

1. Waking up

  • Read Bible – Depending on reading level our children read through the Bible between 1-4 times a year. (This year the 7 year old is joining the older kids in reading through 4 times.)
  • Dress, tidy room, personal grooming
  • Before breakfast chores

2. Breakfast

3. Lunch

4. Dinner

  • One hour BEFORE dinner time – regular chores During this time the whole house is cleaned and tidied, the table is set and dinner is prepared and put on the table. (I think it’s time to update our chores lists as I think the most recent list on here is from 2-3 years ago.
  • Eat
  • Table chores
  • Ready for bed
  • Family worship
  • Little ones to bed
  • School work and discussion with Dad

There are many routines within this big routine. For example, during regular chores each child has a mini-routine to follow (they pick up after them self first, next they complete their assigned task, then they tidy in their bedroom). As you work within a routine you can build in more or less detail as it suits your family.

Having this type of routine allows for plenty of flexibility. We’re easily able to do “regular chores” (normally an activity that takes place right before dinner) right after breakfast if we’re going to be out all day.

As our children have gotten older, we’ve found that we give them areas of responsibility and they create their own routines to accomplish their tasks. (i.e. Kitchen duty – the person with this responsibility plans the dinner menu, creates the grocery list and prepares the evening meals. It’s the most coveted responsibility.)

As our family changes and our needs change the specifics of what we do changes, but this same outline remains.

You may also be interested in:

The other Moms of Many have this to say about their schedules:

The Headmistress at The Common Room
Connie at Smockity Frocks
KimC at Life in a Shoe

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15 Responses to Routines, Schedules and Hooks: Getting it All Done
  1. Anna
    January 31, 2013 | 8:52 am

    I’m so glad the 4Moms topic this week is on schedules cause I don’t really have much of one but have been trying to work at one.

    I like the idea of “hooks.” That sounds like a place that could be good to start for me although right now the only thing that seems to consistently happen every day is that I fall asleep with my kids during nap time :P(I’m 8 months pregnant with an almost 2 1/2 year old and almost 14 month old).

    I also really appreciate seeing how you fit your chores in cause keeping the house clean is something I really struggle with (I’ve never been a neat person but am working at it).

    Thanks so much for the post! It gives me some motivation today to keep pressing on and working at a schedule that will work for us. πŸ™‚


  2. Leslie B
    January 31, 2013 | 10:40 am

    Thanks again for sharing the nitty gritty πŸ™‚ It’s easy to have the sleep/eat schedule when you have all littles, and enjoy spontaneity, but you’re right, if you wish to accomplish more (regularly) a schedule is very helpful. I’m growing into more routines here and there and hope to be where you all are in the future. Thank you also, again, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this blog. It is so helpful to us young mommas, you are doing Titus 2 for so many more women than you could even do within your own church! Also, one question about your post… Is your husband home for most of the breakfast activities? Are you at the breakfast table fro 2 hours? πŸ˜‰


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Mark is home for breakfast sporadically. When he’s home, he usually only sits down to lead worship (he generally is finishing up exercising while we eat and then takes a shower while we finish the meal.

    We sit at the breakfast table for a LONG time. Yes, sometimes it is 2 hours! It’s our favorite part of the day. We often just sit and enjoy talking with each other. However, when I write our schedule down on paper, there is only one hour allotted to sitting around the table and we take every single bit of that time. πŸ˜‰


    joyfulmamma Reply:

    How do you get little ones to sit there that long, 5,3,2, newborn? Also, do you leave the breakfast food/mess out on the table in the midst of using your educational books?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I was re-reading your comment and your words “growing into more routines” struck me. That’s exactly what it is.

    When your children are little it’s just the basics. As they begin to talk we added memorization. As they begin to be able to take care of themselves and others we added more and now it’s a big, complicated machine, but it’s one we’ve simply “grown into”, so it seems natural to us.


  3. Katie
    January 31, 2013 | 12:41 pm

    Thank you. I don’t always get time to read your posts. But today, I made time, and it was a real encouragement to me. We are expecting baby 13, and lately i feel like my schedule an routine are not working. Your post has giving me some ideas of how to tweek it. Thanks for sharing so openly.


  4. Monique
    January 31, 2013 | 12:50 pm

    What a coincidence, I’m working on my schedule AGAIN today!!! Must say, I am looking just a smidge forward to my schedule being wake up, drink coffee and read the news, then wallow in my grandkids all afternoon ;). Only a smidge though…


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Just a word of advice (since I know you and feel like I can nag a little). I would SERIOUSLY, seriously consider leaving nap/rest time open to give yourself some down-time.

    I know that you have tons to do and I know that when the 3 little ones are down it’s much easier to accomplish something (anything), but I also think that sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves, our husband and even our children is to have a half hour to an hour of quiet in the afternoon.

    Just take the first half hour (to an hour) of rest time to nap, read a book, drink a cup of coffee and stare into the distance, whatever. Then tackle some one on one time with your oldest.

    Even now I find that when rest time gets too loose and too many people are asking me questions or talking or just being active that it’s more difficult for me to be ‘happy, patient mommy’ for the rest of the day and I tend to turn into ‘crabby, why-can’t-you-leave-me-alone mommy’.

    I think a key to this is to really HEAR the quiet, not to fill it with something else.

    Just a thought and you certainly don’t have to listen to me. πŸ™‚


  5. Michele
    January 31, 2013 | 5:29 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this as it helps me to see where we need to be tweaking things.

    We call our hooks “anchors”, and when things get a little crazy (like when we will bring home #7 this May), we let some things slide, but the anchors, never. They hold down our day and give us our peace of mind…

    I appreciate that you are so open about how you and your husband work towards the glory of God in raising your children. It is a wonderful encouragement to the rest of us.


  6. Tracy
    February 1, 2013 | 12:26 am

    I was wondering if you could share what your hymn, music and picture studies look like? It’s very interesting that you posted this today as I was just praying about creating a schedule this afternoon. I found your post to be very helpful since writing it all down on paper is so overwhelming to me and the idea of using “hooks” just clicked so well. Thank you for sharing once again πŸ™‚


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Tracy.

    I hope that you see this despite my delay in responding.

    Our hymn, music and picture studies are inspired by Charlotte Mason style homeschooling, but we are very laid back about them.

    We only do ONE of these each morning, although we may sing the hymn on a morning we are doing a picture study as we like to memorize them.

    For our picture study, I print out a series of works by a single artist (usually 4-6 pieces). One day during breakfast the children spend 5 to 10 minutes really studying one of the pieces and then we spend a couple of minutes talking about what they observed. The next week we switch to a new piece. By the 2nd or 3rd work from a particular artist, we are talking about similarities (and differences) between his pieces and the children are familiar with his style. When we finish all the pieces by that artist, I pick another artist and print out some of his/her works.

    For our hymn studies we are using one of the Mr. Pipes books by Douglas Bond. We read part of one chapter and sing the hymn we’re reading about (we can usually find a rendition of it on YouTube if it’s not already familiar to us). Since we prefer to memorize the hymn before moving on, we move through the book VERY slowly. We try to sing the hymn every morning, whether we read any in the book or not.

    Our music study is similar to our picture study. We choose a certain composer and listen to his work for several weeks in a row. At the breakfast table we focus just on listening with all of our attention, then during the day we put the same music on as we go about our other activities. Sometime during this time we listen to a biography about that composer, but we usually choose not to do that at the breakfast table.

    Does that all make sense? This portion of our breakfast time takes around 10-20 minutes each day, sometimes less.


  7. Abby
    February 6, 2013 | 9:35 pm

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post the things you’ve learned. We are expecting baby #8 and honestly, the hardest part of the schedule for me is the getting up early. Do you have any advice in that department? Obviously, we could accomplish more if we had more time in our day… Also, a look at your chore lists has inspired me to aim a little higher getting routine work done during the day as part of chores. Our chores have always been bare bones “getting ready for the day” things and one or two “serving others” tasks, but I really don’t feel like we’re accomplishing as much as I’d like. We usually end up spending a lot of Saturday doing routine cleaning.
    I love everything about your blog, and I’m finding great encouragement in your kind and loving management of your home. Thanks!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Abby.

    I am naturally a morning person. I just function better in the morning and am ready for bed early in the evening (10pm is late for me). For us this works, but perhaps for your family a later start time and more productive evening would be beneficial. I have friends who function much better that way.

    However, if you really think an early start would be better for you, here are some ideas:

    Go to bed earlier.
    Keep a consistent schedule. (Go to bed and rise at the same time each day, this gets your body accustomed to an early rise time.)
    Put the kids to bed earlier so that you can have some time to relax and enjoy time alone with your husband.


  8. Andrea
    July 3, 2013 | 11:21 am

    I am so thankful for your post. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of bringing our two children home for their education needs. My husband has two very big concerns: Financial and Time Management. I run my own in-home childcare on top of family responsibilities so he has asked me to come up with a clear time management plan on how I will keep the house, school and childcare in order. To me it seems a big overwhelming but I know once I get started and set in my schedule it will make things MUCH easier.

    Thanks for the time you took to write up your routine. I’m sure I will take parts of your schedule and make it my own. Thank you very much.


  9. Michele
    April 25, 2014 | 1:31 am

    Thank you for sharing how you do things so others can learn from your experience. πŸ™‚ I try to stick to a schedule with my five kids 7 years and under. But I don’t have time for me to rest and not be busy. When do you have time to blog? I don’t see it on the schedule. I feel like I either can feed the kids, do school, and clean the house or feed the kids, take a moment to myself during nap time and semi clean the house. How do I do it all without being utterly exhausted? Ideally I would like nap time for each person to be a quiet time but I find this is the best time to teach reading, writing, or something else. So I’m not sure how to get a break into our routine for me. Any ideas? πŸ™‚


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