Routine Highs and Lows

graphic reading "Little Joy Map"

We tried implementing routines this week and some went better than others.

I had the idea in my head that I really wanted to do family dinner. I talked about it. I read all this fantastic research about how great it is for kids, and I was completely sold. I think the idea of the Donna Reed family all seated around the table was lurking in my subconscious somewhere.

Turns out, family dinner is not so great for my group. My husband’s work day ends at six Monday through Thursday, and since the twins dropped their second nap, they’re big huge messes by six-thirty. There’s falling down, toy flinging, and they in no mood to try new foods or really to behave in any way. We had one pretty good meal as a group and another disastrous one where August’s sensory issues reared their ugly head, Charlie screamed because he wanted background music, and Louis kept flinging his food to the dog. Donna Reed would have wept.

boy getting a haircut

Getting his mane tamed.

But I also implemented an afternoon routine that is working fabulously. After rest time (like nap time, but with no napping), I put on a twenty-minute Sesame Street video about singing and dancing with your baby. We sing, we dance, we stomp our feet. Louie learned how to dance and Augie is getting the hang of it too! Charlie sits on the couch and we include him as much as we can, and if Rex is up, he hangs out too. I love it! After that we have dinner, then visit with Daddy, and then the twins head off to bed. I’m willing to swear that the kids are in a better mood in the evenings now that we’ve started doing it.

Still need to work on stories before bed, but I’m excited! So we’re not quite ready for family dinner–we can try again when the boys are little older.

PS: I’ve been a little short on Charlie posts recently–if you like those than you should be here tomorrow–incredible stuff happening over here!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Hey! Don’t feel bad about the family dinner thing! Yes, it’s important but so is sanity! When Ben and Daniel were little, they rarely ate with us. They were hungry at like 4:30 / 5 and my hubby gets home at 5:30 or after. So…they would eat early and then get to have quality hang-out-with-daddy time once he got home…with no meals or mess to deal with. Then hubby and I would eat after the boys went down at 7.

    • That’s kind of how it seems to be working for us. Hubby, Charlie, and I eat dinner once we’ve gotten the twins down for the evening.

  2. I used to feel the need to force family dinner but my twins are a mess that time and no one was happy. I think as long as you get together time the presence of food is not necessary. I like your dance party idea and may implement a routine here too. I started with super short stories with flaps or textures and gradually they learned to sit longer at bedtime stories. I really enjoy your blog!

    • Thanks, Robin! Mine aren’t terrible about sitting for a story–I’m just worried they’re going to realize it’s bedtime and start running for the door :)

      And I’m pretty sure that you’re right about the family dinner v. family time scenario. In fact, I think one of the resources I read suggested that family breakfast might work better for some families, so there’s obviously some flexibility there.

  3. Glad to see the fun times are working well. Family dinner can be a trial when they’re all so young. May be one to keep for later when everyone can at least feed themselves 😉

    • Yeah, well, that’s why we don’t really go out to eat with the whole crew. Unless we have helping hands, family meals are mostly just Hubby and I feeding everyone else.

  4. I think everyone should have a Sesame Street time to stomp feet and dance, including adults in all ages! It would be a great way to relieve any tension from the day and unwind. :)

    • It’s pretty great. And on the weekend I even get my husband in on it. I don’t always feel like it when I start, but by the time we get going, I’m always glad we did it.

  5. I’m a morning person so I do all my routine stuff then and in the afternoon. By evening/dinner time, I’m wasted. I escape to do the dishes while my husband does the bedtime thing. There are no bedtimes routines other than teeth brushing (sometimes that’s sketchy), family prayers. I give a quick kiss, a hug, or a squeeze for the top bunker. In the morning we have breakfast, TV time while mom gets dressed, then a walk or therapy. Lunch between noon and 12:30pm, reading on Mom’s lap, and NAPS! When the older kids get home we read for 30 -40 minutes, and do homework. Then I send everyone outside to play. I open a diet Coke and relieve my stress by eating dark chocolate chips while starting dinner. Dinner is usually at 6pm but I’ve been mentally checked out since about 4:30pm. My “routine” ends there. Good luck with dinner. It’s a misery; I’m not sure why I still do it except that it’s suppose to be good for the family. Maybe someday dinner will pay off when I have four happy teenagers with whom I’m happily discussing important social topics over happily received wholesome entrees.

  6. Don’t give up totally on family dinner. Could you make it something that you do on Dad’s days off. Not necessarily routine then, but still special and important. On Dad’s working days you and the boys can have still have a mini-family dinner and maybe do something with Dad as part of a bedtime routine. Love the dancing time in the afternoon!

  7. Oh, I forgot to tell you one other thing we do that isn’t necessarily a “routine” but it is a constant in our family. One night a week (Monday) is Family Night. We don’t plan any activities or meetings on that night and use as a time to formally sit down with the family. The kids all have jobs to do like help prepare a “lesson,” usually a story about kindness, honesty, etc. We play a game of some sort, penny toss, duck duck goose, and sing a few songs. The kids’ favorite is dessert specially picked and prepared by some member of the family. We’ve been doing some version of this since my nine year old was a new baby and it is a constant in our life. My kids don’t let us forget that it’s family night. My husband has been through a PhD program, post-doctoral work and now he’s in medical school so time with family has been scarce. Having a designated night just for family has helped us survive some very busy times.

  8. That’s something we always did.

  9. Try It works for me when I keep up with it. I plan on starting again after the baby is born. I won’t be working for 5 months, so I WILL NEED routine!