Returning to a Routine

 My boys are back in school after a break for teacher conferences and President’s day that lasted 5 days.  School breaks, holidays, illness, and snow days (um, guess what will probably be happening in these parts tomorrow if the weather people are correct?) can throw us off our routines.  Here’s how I (attempt) to deal with the changes and manage our return to that routine.

First, I should admit that I am not a huge regimented routine type of person.  That worked well when I was single but you throw other people with their own ideas into the mix and that doesn’t work so well anymore.   I admire those people who eat dinner promptly at 6p.m every night, make their kids do homework from 6:30-7:00p.m., read from 7:00-7:30p.m., and go to bed by 8:00p.m.  I am not one of those people.  If that works for your family, great!  However, I have found it works better to follow a somewhat looser routine around here.   I don’t worry too much about when the boys wake up in the morning as long as they are ready for the bus on time.   I try to make sure they get breakfast around 7a.m. and 8a.m. respectively.  It was a lot easier last year when they went to school at the same time!  I let them have “nothing time” after school until dinner is ready.  I aim for dinner to be ready around 5:30p.m. but I’ve been known to serve dinner anywhere from 5p.m. to 7p.m. depending on what’s cooking and how it’s turning out.  After dinner, they do their homework and then enjoy a bit of free time until about 9p.m. when it is time to wind down for the night by reading.  If this doesn’t happen until closer to 9:30p.m., I try not to get overly excited about it.

Here are a few things that help me to get us back on track after our routines have been de-railed for whatever reason:

  • Prevention!  I try to not let us get too far off our routines in the first place.   Breakfast may get pushed back but I try to keep lunch and dinner around the same times.  I generally don’t let them stay up more than an hour past their regular bedtime unless there is special reason like an overnight or a holiday happening.   We also will often go ahead and feed our kids a light lunch  prior to holiday family gatherings that have meals at odd times especially if the meal time is say 2p.m. and we normally eat lunch around noon.  Hungry, hyper kids do not make for enjoyable gatherings.  


  • Acceptance!  It is not likely that after staying up until 11p.m. all summer, anyone is going to be able to go to bed promptly at 9p.m. and promptly fall asleep to wake up at the crack of dawn with ease.  It takes time to ease back into those routines.   I accept that it will take a couple of weeks for us to get back on track and there may be some bumps along the way.


  • Re-Evaluation!  It is the perfect time to re-evaluate routines and determine whether the current routines require adjustments.  I realized the boys were spending a bit more time on the x-box than I liked so as I move to try to reclaim our routines after the current break, I am trying to add a few new rules about that. 

Those are my three main tips and tricks for returning to our routine after breaks.  Do you have any secrets for a smooth return to routines after planned or unplanned breaks from them?


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8 thoughts on “Returning to a Routine

  1. Elizabeth

    During the school week we have a pretty set schedule. Since the girls share a room I get them both up by 6 o’clock because my youngest has to be out the door by 6:40, my oldest 7:20 so I let her play with her hair or whatever it is pre-teen girls do. My oldest is home by 4 so she goes straight to homework (that other than dinner and shower break generally lasts until 9pm…. LOTS of homework every night and every weekend), my youngest is picked up at after school either by myself or my husband however it works out that day. Dinner is between 5 and 6 (I try to get it on the table by 5 but doesn’t always work out), showers start at 7, bed time is 8 (unless there is additional homework to do that didn’t get done between time home & bed). Past that is just mommy & daddy time and chores for mommy (me… aren’t I so lucky ;p).
    For 4 day breaks I don’t change much, 1 wk then the day prior to going back I get them up for normal schedule so they can walk around like zombies for a day and not have that day be at school. For long breaks like Summer vacation. I’ll start 2 to 3 days early getting them up and going so they are used to it.
    I’m not a strict counter down of minutes for the schedule but when things go unscheduled I tend to stress out and get very irritable. Then again I hate surprises and people have learned to never stop by my house without calling first otherwise they will receive an ear full. 🙂
    Sounds like y’all had a nice long break though! My kiddos were ready to go back to school after the 4 day weekend. I was the one dragging today. How sad is that? LOL!
    And yeah stay warm! I think they are predicting just rain in KY but my area is still salting the roads. (My van is going to need a good wash after this winter!)
    Elizabeth recently posted..Why Being a Stay-At-Home Mom was a Bad Fit – Back History on MeMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      Seems like you have pretty set routines. If only those people would stop by without calling AFTER we’ve cleaned instead of right before, it would all be okay! Some of the schools around here have already canceled because of the coming storm. We’re supposed to get a little bit of all of it here, rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow! Lucky us. The kids are excited about it though.

      1. Elizabeth

        I hope y’all weathered through the storm okay! We got rain…. then more rain… bit of freezing rain… and then rain. It was very uneventful but I’m kind of happy about the freezing rain as odd as that sounds because my youngest was asking for details about it yesterday morning and it gave a good example.
        And yeah people like to do that! Thus why if you don’t call ahead you don’t get past my door for 15 min no matter what the weather so I can blitz and make ‘sort later’ boxes (Oh sort later boxes … the bane of my existence LOL)

        1. Jean Post author

          We managed. About 12 inches of snow came our way (16 inches in some parts of the city) and the boys are on their second snow day with more rain/snow forecasted for Monday (yikes but we shall see). Freezing rain is no fun but glad you were able to share an example of it! I have my fair share of sort later boxes around here as well.

  2. Shannon

    I’m not a very structured person. The only thing I really stay on track with is homeschooling my kids. We have that down to a science- pun intended 🙂 But your advice is VERY good. When we take a little vacation from school it’s always hard to get back on track. It was especially hard after our Christmas break.

    I think the “Acceptance” part is my favorite part of your advice. I can be really hard on myself sometimes (in all aspects of my life) and there are times I really need to cut myself some slack. I definitely think there are times we need to ease ourselves back into things.

    I think one of my “secrets” is to plan ahead for those little set backs. When we return from a break from school it always takes me a few days to figure out how to teach the kids, make all the meals, clean the house, run the kids all over town, spend time with the husband, and still have time to get something done on my own to-do list. Sometimes I’ll make a few meals ahead of time or just plan on having pizza and easy things for dinner and lunch to make those first few days a little easier on myself. I also try not to schedule anything the first week back to school.
    Shannon recently posted..Great And Cheap Way To Store Your MagazinesMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      I struggle with the acceptance part myself. I have found it helpful though to step back and think what I would say to a friend if they were talking to me regarding whatever I have going on around here because I am always willing to give my friends more slack than I give myself. That’s a great idea to have easy things for lunch and dinner the first few days back.


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