Tag Archives: routine

Come And Get It

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As I sit here thinking about what to write about dinner at our house I realize that it probably does look crazy and chaotic from an outsider’s perspective. Gary and I fixing plates [side note: that’s what we say in the south. The plates aren’t actually broken just so you know], the kids coming in and out of the kitchen, the fridge opening and closing. I see it all in my mind, sped up just enough to make it comical and the Benny Hill song playing in the back ground.

Our dinner routine has evolved over time to suit our needs. When we were first dating there were only 4 chairs at the table so we had to use a bar stool as well. Which caused arguments over who was going to sit on the stool….and our first schedule was born! Everyone had ‘assigned seats’ at the table [alright, alright…I might be a bit OCD] so the stool just made its way around the table giving each person a turn to sit on the beloved stool. Which I don’t know what the big deal was. It was too high for the table and you had to lean over to take a bite of food. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, dinner routine. The table was only large enough for four, five with the stool, so Gary and I would feed the kids first and play waiter while they ate. Once the kids were done we could enjoy a peaceful dinner, and I use the term peaceful very loosely. This routine continued on for quite a while. We still use it when we have our friends over so the adults can sit together and converse over the meal and the kids can run off and play. However, we now eat together as a family every night!

Our first meal as a family was on Memorial Day. Gary had made the best looking ribs, I made potato salad and baked beans…the whole nine yards. The food looked fabulous!! Gary looked at the ribs and then looked at me and said “We’re all eating together today. There is no way I’m going to sit and watch them eat these ribs and have to wait on mine.” So we had our first meal together as a family, all at the same time! All joking aside, Gary and I truly value our faith and family and we decided that we needed to start eating our meals together as a family to reflect that.

Our dinner routine runs rather smoothly I think. When dinner is almost ready we call one of the kids to set the table. Depending on the type of dinner we have we either go ahead and fix [prepare for you northerners] the kids plates and put them on the table. Usually the child that sets the table helps with this part too. Sometimes we put all the food on the table “family style” and serve them there. If we have tacos or something like that we either call each child to ask for their preferences or send a child to take orders just like a waiter. Don’t laugh, it works. I even write their names on the edge of the paper plates with my sharpie sometimes to keep track. Those of you who know me are laughing now because they know all about me and sharpies. You are aren’t you? Once all the plates are ready and everyone is seated we say the blessing and enjoy our time together. Sometimes the discussions are silly, sometimes intriguing. Some nights we have wonderful discussions about right and wrong, our faith and how great life is. And we almost always learn something new about each other. One by one the kids finish and ask to be excused. We have to be a little strict here because we have a few who like to inhale their food so they can return to their xBox game or television show or drawing or whatever. They know up front that if you finish first you will have to sit and visit for a little while before being excused. So you may as well slow down and actually taste your food. Everyone clears their own spot putting their cup in its spot on the counter (yes, I even have a certain place for their cups to stay), trash in its place and the dishes in the sink. Then a child wipes down all the place mats and puts them away, wipes the table and pushes in all the chairs. Gary and I are left to clean the rest of the kitchen but together we knock it out in no time. Plus, it gives us time to chat and I really cherish that time. On the weekends, school holidays and summers we do the same for breakfast and lunch except I’m doing it alone sometimes. Those meals are a little more laid back but still pretty much all the same rules apply.

Our friends are amazed at our dinner routine. They watch in awe as we float around the kitchen, and each other, as we spoon food onto plates, pour drinks and herd five kids to the table. The real challenge is finding something everyone likes to eat. Especially when you’ve got two picky eaters in the family. One day I’ll share with you the many ways to serve pasta with butter and plain hotdogs. I’m sure you can’t wait to share those recipes with your friends and family.

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Go To Bed. Please.

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Bed time around our house is a bit like the Waltons. The only difference is there’s a lot more giggling, squeals and running around here than there was on the show. It didn’t take us long to realize we needed to come up with a plan to settle things down.

Before we put our routine into place bedtime was a little on the “Oh my goodness what the heck is happening?” side. Looking back now, I bet it was hilarious watching us put the kids to bed. It looked kind of like this~We’d tuck the girls in and then head to Chalon’s room and when we came out of his room one of the girls would be up. We’d put her back to bed then go tell the two little guys good night. When we came out of there the other girl and Chalon would be up chatting. We would shoosh them back to bed and then Matt or Cullen would be up. It was kind of like, oh I don’t know, trying to herd kittens. It was taking forever to get everyone to bed and we were seriously wearing down the carpet up and down the hallway. Our routine now is much more stream lined and, although we may have a rough night here and there, doesn’t take any time at all.

We have two different bed time routines. One for school nights and another one for non-school nights. Yes the kids have bedtimes on the weekends and when there’s no school. And you know what? They don’t have a problem with that. You see, the kids like having a routine. They aren’t going to tell you that, but they do. It shows. If you have a routine all through the week but not one on the weekends it makes it very difficult to get everyone back into the swing of things come Sunday night. It also makes for a much easier transition when school starts back in the [what is supposed to be] fall [but is actually still summer]. What I’m trying to say is the key to routine is consistency. That’s what makes it work. You can’t do it here and here but not there. Once the kids figure it out…you’re up the creek. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever stray from your routine under special circumstances. But you DO have to explain the special circumstances, how the routine is going to be different and when the routine will be resumed again. Kids like to know what’s going on. Kids need structure and routine. And you have to give it to them. Otherwise the kids will be in control all the time which means bad things will happen. Just trust me.

So on a school night the kids’ bed time is 9:30. By 8:30, no later than 9:00, we start asking the kids if they have their clothes picked out for school the next day and remind them to brush their teeth. At 9:25 they actually do it. Just kidding. Well sort of. We have to start asking these questions early because most of the time by 9:15 only a few of them have actually done it. Most nights they all have it done by then, but not always.

Now here’s a run down of how we actually put the kids to bed:
~Go into Matt and Cullen’s room and prepare the beds. [They each have a favorite blanket (Matt has two) and they each want their covers and pillows a certain way. They can do much of this on their own but still need a little help. Plus, it moves along a lot faster if we help. When they stop moving at the speed of a sleepy snail we’ll stop doing it for them. For now, I’m all about getting it done.]
~Say prayers with Matt and Cullen.
~Go to Chalon’s room shutting the hallway bathroom door on the way. Hug, kiss and tell Chalon good night.
~Go back to Matt and Cullen’s room and hug, kiss, scratch backs, answer 8-10 random questions about random topics, straighten out covers, say good night, turn light off and walk out door.
~Have my name called and walk back into Matt and Cullen’s room to answer 3 more random questions.
~Go to Emma and Paige’s bedroom. Hug, kiss, answer Paige’s 3-4 random questions, say good night, turn off light.
~Leave room praying that Matt doesn’t call my name again before I can make it into my bedroom.

Now there is a reason why we go to Matt and Cullen’s room first, then to Chalon’s and then back to Matt and Cullen’s to say good night. You see, Chalon’s room is on the end of the hall, then Matt and Cullen’s, and then the girls on our end of the hallway. If we say good night to Matt and Cullen and then Chalon we have to walk back past the boys’ bedroom. And we can notwalk by without one of them calling our name. Not even when we go all ninja and sneak by. So, we adjusted it so we tell Chalon good night first and then work our way back down the hall towards our bedroom. Which brings me to another good point. If something isn’t working…change it. You’re not going to come up with the perfect plan the first time. Wait, you probably will never come up with the perfect plan ever. But you will find what works and what doesn’t work for you and you can adjust accordingly. Monitor and adjust. A good teacher’s motto that seems to have stuck with me.

Just because the kids still have a bed time on no-school nights doesn’t mean it’s no fun around here on the weekends or school breaks. They have “sleep over movie nights”! They get to make pallets on the floor and sleep in each others rooms and watch movies. If they want to watch a movie then bed time is still 9:30. Of course the movie isn’t over until about 11:30 or so depending on the movie so it’s not like they have to go to sleep that early. If they don’t watch a movie then bedtime is 10:00. The reason for this is, well consistency. Plus, Gary and I need our quiet time together. And this is the only time we get it. I stand very firm on the notion that married couples with children need to must make time for themselves. It’s not an option.

After almost two years we finally have our bedtime routine down to a science. Or is it an art? Seriously, which is it? Anyway….we didn’t always have such a smooth transition to slumberland. It used to be the equivalent of pouring alcohol on a paper cut. You’ll hear more about that lovliness in my next post. Until then…sleep tight!