The power of routine

by Grace aka costofcollege

The Morning Routines of 12 Women Leaders

What’s your routine?

How 12 Highly Productive People Used The Power Of Routine To Achieve Greatness

Keeping to a routine can help save your energy for other more important stuff.

Avoiding Decision Fatigue: Why I eat eggs for breakfast everyday

Mark Zuckerberg:

He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn’t want to waste any time on that.

Do you use the power of routine to achieve greatness, or at least to enhance your happiness and productivity?  How important are routines to you?  Perhaps you’re more of a free spirit who believes routines are boring and confining.


106 thoughts on “The power of routine

  1. I will have to go back and read all of the articles, but I wanted to say that routines are very important to me – sometimes too much so! I can get set in my ways, and am trying to be more spontaneous.

    I am also working on moving several things from “almost habits” to habits. I’ve read that making something like exercise or flossing your teeth so ingrained in your life that you can’t imagine going to bed without doing it is a good way to achieve your goals. You also don’t have to use up your brain’s creative energy to get them done. For me it is doing a short yoga practice every day. It is only about 10-15 minutes, but so many days I find that it is the last thing on my to-do list. Flossing is 95% a habit, but I still blow it off some nights!

  2. For those of you who have a fixed pattern of dinner menus (pasta on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, etc.), does your family get bored? Or do you change it up enough that it doesn’t get boring? I really like the idea of a small set of go-to menus, but I’ve never gotten myself organized to create it. Sometimes it seems as if half my afternoon brain time is spent thinking about what to make for dinner.

  3. I love routines and love reading about other people’s mornings. The idea of a “uniform” also appeals to me but I haven’t put that into action yet. I meal plan but often deviate when I have more leftovers than I anticipate (like last week after roasted chicken night I ended up doing enchiladas the next night because we had so much chicken). I don’t do pasta Monday or taco Tuesday, I just rotate fish/beef/chicken/pork/vegetarian and look at what we have already and develop my menus that way. Where I’m falling behind is the morning exercise. I do walk my daughter to school (about 25 minutes round trip) a couple of mornings a week (switching off with DH so we both get some exercise) but I’d really like to be less lazy and incorporate something else a few more mornings a week. I am so not a morning person but love that little lift I get throughout the day when I do manage some activity in the a.m.

  4. We only have routines to the extent that work and school commitments require them. Otherwise, we do a little of this and that. We’ve “purposed” :) to keep our weekends generally clear of kid obligations, so we can wake when we please, and on a typical Saturday morning, while DW catches up on one of her teen/vampire/zombie/dystopia shows on Netflix, I can take the kids on a leisurely trip for donuts. That’s more the lifestyle that suits us.

    Then again, we’re not particularly successful or notable, so take this advice for what it’s worth.

  5. Most high achievers jump out of bed early, and use their first few hours as a springboard for success.

    Not Churchill. He didn’t physically get out of bed until about 11 AM. He would use his early hours effectively though. He’d wake up at 7am, catch up on local news and speak with secretaries. He’d then bathe, walk outside, then start work with whiskey and soda.

    Sounds ideal!

  6. I just read a book, The Rosie Project, where the main character fell in love with a woman precisely because she shook up his routines. Highly recommend it. I actually admired his system – at least for meal planning. He taught himself to cook seven meals really, really well and then had them each week. Tuesdays it was a lobster dish. His system cut down on shopping and meal planning time, did not waste any food and was nutritionally well balanced.

    I order from Blue Apron to avoid meal planning issues at least for some meals and cut down on shopping time. The kids throw us off a bit but it works out well overall.

  7. Everyday he’d [Jobs] ask himself “If today was the last day of my life would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” When the answer was “no” for too many days in a row he knew he had to change something.

    Oh, shut up. If today were the last day of my life, I wouldn’t do the laundry, or stay on my diet, or save for the future. I wouldn’t get the car washed or attend committee meetings. But all that crap has to get done. That advice always ticks me off.

  8. When I worked in an office (vs. remotely), I had 6 pairs of medium weight dress pants (black, grey, brown or variants) I could wear year round and 2-3 tops that went with each one to cover the various seasons. My routine, was on Sunday, I would do laundry, look at the calendar and weather forecast and put the full week’s worth on hangers. No weekday clothing decisions unless there was a major schedule or unexpected weather change.

    My current morning routine (used loosely) M-TH – up at 5:15 am, make cocoa for DD#1, drink water and take vitamins, dress and drive child to sports practice. Home at 6:20 am, breakfast. M&W shower and dress for the day, start work 8-12. T&T leave for gym at 7 am, walk/run for 30 min before Tai Chi class. Then home, shower and dress for the day work from 10-2:30 (with a break for lunch). F – up at 6 am – shower and dress for the day – take DD#1 to the bus, then home by 7:30 usually do my laundry and a few household chores and work 9-1.

    I hate to say that rarely a week goes by that the routine goes as planned – children and/or elderly parent issues or need to modify my work schedule all roll into making routine hard.

  9. This is why I’m my trying to develop as much of a routine as possible for the housework.

    Unfortunately I wind up skipping a lot of it, due to kid demands. (They don’t like the meal, I need to sweep the kitchen but the baby has a bloody nose, and on and on.)

  10. I agree with the habits-can-take-stress-away theory.
    At certain restaurant chains I always order the same thing (cheesecake factory is spicy cashew chicken); in spain I get fish soup to start at every sit down lunch and dinner.
    Now that I still drive one kid to school the m-f mornings are very routinized: up (make sure he’s up…80% yes) bathroom routine, dress, downstairs 25 min before leaving, put away now-dry dishes, eat some fresh fruit, throw together some lunch, glance at the paper, out the door 55min after getting up.
    Btw a monday pasta , tues mexican etc routine for our house would be great…vary the sauces, sometime enchiladas sometime tacos etc.

  11. I totally get the article about decision fatigue — that is me, absolutely. At the same time, I am not a planner and so get bored doing the same thing over and over. So I’d say our routines are more along the weekly level — i.e., I do meal planning/checking calendar, grocery shopping, and cooking most Sundays, so that I know before diving into the workweek what we have going on that week, when my mom is doing pickup, and how I am going to get food on the table in a timely way each night (and, just as important, which nights that is not going to happen and so we should plan on takeout or something).

    The routine was also critical for running — the only way I could do it consistently was just getting out of bed and going to it. Since my back started giving me troubles, I’ve lost that and rediscovered the joy of sloth, so it’s 10x as hard to kick myself into it now. Ugh.

    OTOH, the Steve Jobs quote is one of those things that drives me nuts. “If today was the last day of my life would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” — really? Because if today were really the last day of my life, my answer would ALWAYS be no. Sorry, but I’d want to spend my last day in some gorgeous spot, surrounded by all of my friends and family, with good wine and good food and lots of laughing and music — NOT at my office trying to do Great Things. But the reality is that over the course of my entire life, I do want to accomplish some things other than hanging out with my family. And someone has to pay for that gorgeous spot to hang out in. Which means that many days are spent doing something other than my most-desired-dream-day.

    I get the concept, really, I do. But the question itself is like “find your passion” — an ideal founded on a combination of unexamined privilege and total impracticality that makes my teeth hurt.

  12. “If today was the last day of my life would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

    That advice works best if you’re a workaholic perfectionist.

  13. I definitely have a daily morning routine – from 5:30 – 9:30 it’s pretty much the exact same M-F, and I get a lot done in those hours. The rest of the day totally depends on what the workday brings and what the family is up to. But I find comfort and productivity in the first part of the day never varying.

  14. I have a morning routine but it has changed over time and for now it is dictated by the kid’s school/bus time. What I am glad I was able to do is cut out commute time in the morning and evening. I also have an evening routine – made possible because I am able to leave earlier and be home at a predictable time. This has improved my quality of life and I feel happier even with juggling more – less wasted time.

  15. Oh about meals. At one point, I was working crazy amount of hours and odd schedules, so we developed a monthly (4 week menu) with very little repetition. We did this for about a year. Like:
    Roast chicken with potatoes on Sunday
    Beef tips with noodles on Monday
    Chicken casserole with rice (from Sunday’s chicken) on Tuesday
    Pork chops with mashed potatoes (extra cooked on Sunday) on Wednesday
    Tacos on Thursday
    Pizza/other take out/leftovers on Friday
    Saturday – no pre-planned meal – usually revolved around an activity and the main meal of the day we ate out in conjunction for that activity.

    My family would eat casseroles, so I would make something on Sunday that we could make extra of that would work into busy days later in the week. As we got tired of something or it was more of an every other month dish, I’d work it into that same slot. For example, meatloaf traded off stuffed peppers. Also spaghetti night repeated in week 1 and 3, but it was really a pasta/sauce and salad night. The sauce was whatever sounded good when the weekly shopping was being done.

    I knew three months ahead my schedule was going to do that, so I had some time to plan and work out a few kinks in the rotation. I had to get the school lunch schedule down so I wasn’t serving the same thing for dinner that they had just had for lunch. Usually school was pretty stable – chick nuggets every Thursday for example.

  16. When my kids were in daycare the morning routine was just about survival – getting everyone out of the house in some state of dress and remembering to bring the remaining clothes, shoes, etc. to daycare. By the time I got to work I would be sweating. I’d read the Totebag and occasionally someone would comment about their morning routine would include reading the paper and emptying the dishwasher. I always thought that seemed crazy. Who are these people that have that time? But now I have one in grade school and the routine is so wonderful. Most days I get up at 5:30 to walk/run, then I have 45 minutes to get myself ready and have breakfast before the sleeping beauties wake up. And once the kids are up and eating breaking I’m emptying the dishwasher and having a cup of coffee, maybe throwing some clothes in the washer.

  17. I like routine but over the last three weeks the routine has been shot to hell as I’ve been traveling for work, working on a special project, attending parents weekend at DD’s school and attending a weekend out of state athletic meet with DS. I was ready to crash and burn last Sunday.

    My usual routine is up at 5, head to gym (most days), come home around 6:30, make lunch, shower, eat oatmeal, leave at 7:40 with DS, drop DS off at school, head to work, at desk at 8:20. In the evening I may have book club, bunco, hair appointment, school open house (fortunately just 2 – at one point I had 3 kids in 3 different schools), church meeting, etc. I try to limit the Mon-Thurs evening activities to two per week max. Usually I plan out a week’s worth of meals but that has fallen by the wayside in September. I’m easing back into the routine this week and getting things under control again. It’s kind of stressful doing everything on the fly for weeks on end – I’m much more of a routine-based person.

    When the kids were younger, it was all about routine and setting expectations, especially with regard to the morning M-F wake-up-get-out-of-the-house routine, meals and bedtimes. I found that they were much more cooperative when they knew what to expect because they knew the routine.

  18. Right now my morning routine is get up and out the door by 7am. DH and I both get up around 6:30a. DH handles Baby Rhode when he decides to wake up. DH is usually leaving for work by 8am.

    At work, between 7:30-8:30 I finish planning my day, catch up on email, and get the last bits of things done. Then I hit the ground running based on my pre-planned schedule (which can get thrown out the window by noon).

    My evenings are routine heavy – leave work between 4-4:30p, hit gym (1-2 nights a week), make dinner (planned out the week before), feed all the heartbeats, depending on Baby Rhode’s mood – play or get ready for bed, Baby Rhode in bed by 8pm, adults watch TV/read/whatever, I’m in bed by 10-10:30p. DH is usually in bed by 11-11:30p. He needs less sleep than I do. If we are lucky, Baby Rhode doesn’t need us until ~7am the next morning.

  19. I had posted ages ago about how breakfast at our house on a weekday morning was stress inducing for me because the kids ate so slowly and loved to chat so there was this rush to actually get out of the house. Now, with one kid having to catch the bus and be out of the house earlier than the other, it has made the mornings fly by but go so smoothly. Definitely a big change from early elementary days.

  20. From the Department of the Crotchety, I also don’t get much out of the “routines of great men through history” kinds of articles. #1, because most of these guys were self-employed — composers, authors, scientists, etc. They didn’t have externally-imposed daily/weekly requirements, so to get their work done, they had to create their own routines. That’s very different from most worker bees today, who have our daily/weekly schedules and deadlines dictated to us by our employers and/or clients, and who therefore have to squeeze in hobbies and creativity and family and all that other stuff around the edges. (I get insanely annoyed reading how many hours these guys were able to devote to leisurely strolls through the countryside — yes, it’s great if you can do it, but don’t hold that up as some ideal I could achieve if only I were more efficient).

    Which leads to #2 — these guys were able to work 4 hrs/day and get all that lovely exercise not because they were, wow, super-efficient, but because they had someone ELSE handling all of the basic logistics of life — food, clean clothes, housekeeping, childcare where applicable, etc. There’s just no comparison between the lives of Darwin and Beethoven and those of the women CEOs and such in the other article, who are squeezing in exercise and childcare and family time BEFORE going off to their long office days.

  21. Routine! I didn’t realize how my life was based on routine until I became a parent and things descended into a but if chaos. My dad’s mom died when he was in kindergarten and his father was an alcoholic who practiced benign neglect, so to keep his sanity and cope with life, my dad lived by routines. For years after I quit living there, I could tell you where my dad was sitting on a random Tuesday night at 9pm. So I didn’t realize that the calm and order in my upbringing was because of the routines until I was running a home with multiple people. Now I preach the value of routine to my kids like only a convert to a new religion can. It’s innate for one but work for the other. But now things go in the same spot Every Single Time and no one is late because they can’t find their stuff. They know when to have things in a certain spot if they want parents to address it, etc. I have a protein shake each morning, pack a spinach salad for lunch every day but I do not have a dinner rotation because I’m dieting and the 17 yr old needs more food. That is currently one of the main annoyances in my workday, so I guess I should start one. I really agree with the logic that not having to waste effort thinking about routine things saves a lot of energy. The main drawback is when I am driving without thinking about where I’m going, and end up heading to the wrong place. The second day of school I was almost at my office before I realized I hadn’t taken my son to school. And he was sitting next to me in a Miata – it’s not like he was hidden.

  22. “The second day of school I was almost at my office before I realized I hadn’t taken my son to school. And he was sitting next to me in a Miata – it’s not like he was hidden.”

    LOL! I laugh because it’s true… and me.

  23. I like routine and schedules. When I worked, too many things fell through the cracks if I didn’t stick to the routine/schedule. Now that I don’t work, a schedule helps me be more productive and not waste so much time. Now that my youngest has a more reliable sleep schedule, I have started getting up about an hour before the kids wake up. I like having a bit of time before the non-stop talking begins :)

  24. Like Laura, I get too bored with repetitive stuff and the same meals over and over again. We also tend to meal plan a week at a time so that we can try new things but we aren’t scrambling in the afternoon to figure out dinner.

    We also have kids who dawdle at the breakfast table. They eat seconds or thirds, they chitchat and giggle. They’re up more than early enough to get to school, but I end up herding people out the door anyway. I figure this’ll get better as they get bigger.

    I have found that breaking up my day with short walks makes me WAY more productive. It’s not exactly rewarded when you bill by the hour, but I’m a LOT more efficient working 3 hours, taking a 30 min walk, and fitting in another 1.5 hours than I am if I try to work 5 hours solid. This is especially true on any sort of writing task.

  25. Better safe than sorry. As of September 30th , 2015 at 01:16 a.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give The Totebag or any entities associated with The Totebag permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past & future. By this statement, I give notice to The Totebag it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private & confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 & the Rome Statute). NOTE: The Totebag is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy & paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tacitly allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy & paste.”

  26. Milo,

    I love the inclusion of the Rome Statute:

    The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Those crimes “shall not be subject to any statute of limitations”.[7] Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the four core international crimes in situations where states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so themselves.

  27. Am I the only one who was not at all surprised by the individuals who actually copied and pasted that one? I have friends who are angry, but I couldn’t muster beyond an eyeroll.

  28. Milo, that post is all over my facebook feed, interspersed with all the people who “stand behind Planned Parenthood” because they got free birth control there once in 1998.

    I’m thinking of quitting facebook.

    It’s a time sink and all I get out of it is pictures of what DH’s cousin had for snack yesterday.

    Has anyone quit? Did anyone’s friends/family object?

  29. Only the mom of one my HS friends posted that. She’s always been a perfectly normal person otherwise, so I can’t hold it against her. I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised if my own Mom had done the same thing–there have been a few cases where my brother or I had to send her a Snopes link.

  30. My kooky homesteading cousins used to post a ton on FB, but then, after much prayer, they realized they were doing it for all the wrong reasons. (I don’t know what right reasons are.) They went cold turkey for a while, but now we occasionally get little glimpses of the farm’s goings-on. They had gotten a couple pigs, but I think they were dead within a week.

    I thought of sheep farmer rolling her eyes.

  31. I scroll through FB probably once a day to check on whether anyone has had babies or other life updates. I use the “hide” function A LOT so I don’t have to see the people who post about Farm Heroes or other crap like that. I only post when I have kid pics to share.

    Routines: we are still figuring out the back-to-school routine. With the kindergartners, they change the schedule next week AGAIN so it is 2 days long, 3 days short. Very annoying, but at least packing lunches will be easier bc I can pack 3 lunches instead of 2 lunches and a snack or 1 lunch and 1 snack. I share LfB’s disdain for meal planning, plus I now have a dietary restriction (until surgery next month) so I can’t eat most of the things I like to make. Grrr.

    Oldest child is now complaining about having 2 activities on one day. This is the same day as the short day at school, so they have school, short break, activity, activity. All the rest of the days of the week have nothing, except one dance class on the weekends. I don’t know whether it is being lazy or actually being overwhelmed. DH tended to be lazy as a kid (his words) so he thinks it is the former. Any tips? Should I wait until the routine is more firmly established? End of Oct? Nov?

  32. Sky and Wine – I love Wine and Whines. I used to host them regularly in grad school.

    I like reading FB because it’s where people go to be stupid. It’s people watching at its finest.

  33. L, my oldest didn’t settle into the kindergarten schedule until November, but we now have 5 full days for kindy. I’d give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.

  34. L, 2 activities in one day is a lot. It’s not just the time commitment of the activity itself, but the transitions to and from each one. I think any kindergartner would find that fatiguing.

  35. Thanks. This is the 2nd grader we are talking about (the complaining one). I am the one complaining about the K schedule! :)

  36. “I don’t know whether it is being lazy or actually being overwhelmed.”

    Does it really matter?

    I think I’m with Lark. My kids get very protective of their downtime, and I did the same thing sometimes as a kid. So when they have indicated that they were doing too much, we couldn’t see much justification for continuing to push it.

  37. We are back to our routine this week because there is finally a full week of school! Many holidays since Sept 1, and we have 2 bathrooms back. We are just waiting for the master, and since DH has to leave so early for work, it doesn’t impact the sharing of the other bathrooms.

    Our weekend routines started again with the return of soccer and hebrew school. I just need the weather to cooperate (no tropical storms!!) for the weekend, and then we will have one totally normal week. It would be the first normal week since June.

    I don’t have a set schedule for meals, but we have a few week night meals that we use every week, but the day might change depending on whether it is my turn to drive a certain carpool.

  38. L – I agree with Lark. I recall my kid #1 fast asleep on the sofa at four o’clock. He was still in the afternoon nap mode well into kindergarten.

  39. ” pack a spinach salad for lunch every day ”

    You must be really strong (Popeye!). My FIL used to pack a PB&J sandwich, actually 2, for lunch every day. I like this idea, and I think it’s conducive to weight management. Maybe I’ll try to do more of this. I do seem to be transitioning to a uniform-type wardrobe, but not quite. Black and white with scarves for added interest. I think we discussed this woman who wore the same outfit to work every day for years.

  40. Lauren — I sent you an email. Please email me when you have a chance, about the Subaru thing.

  41. L – On activities – Are these things your 2nd Grader really wants to do? How is the time spent if not in the activity? Maybe it is more about what is being missed than being in the activity?

    I ask because my friend’s DD wanted to be in band – so badly! – but when she found out it was meeting before school, she no longer wanted to do it because she lost the time to talk with her friends.

    Depending on the kid it may be truly tired. My DD#2 is 13 and sleeping 9-10 hours a night and going to bed before being asked. She is also eating more that usual. I’m holding off buying winter pants, because all signs are pointing to a growth spurt. Heard the shower last night at 7 pm, but didn’t think about it as she had gym last period of the day. Went upstairs to ask a question at 7:45 pm, she was already sound asleep.

  42. @L — ditto Lark — it may not be the actual time/effort involved but your kid’s personality. My DD would happily flit from activity to activity and gets grumpy when there isn’t enough to do; my DS, OTOH, always struggled with transitions and is more introverted and just needs more quiet time to himself to recover from all the noise and chaos and people and general “stuff” in the outside world. So give it a little more time; it might go away as you settle into a new routine, or it might just be part of this kid’s personality (and not necessarily something that either needs to or can be “fixed”).*

    *Bias alert: the word “lazy” is a red flag to me. I was an introvert who got tagged with that a LOT, because I could only handle so much planned/organized/people stuff before I needed downtime to get my energy back. It’s hard to grow up feeling that your personality means there’s something wrong with you — I really did see myself as lazy for probably 40 years, until someone pointed out that I couldn’t really be *that* lazy if I was a wife and mom and partner in a law firm and all that. :-)

  43. Interesting, Rhett. I think it depends on your definition of “enemy.”

    And there are plenty of incidents where the USCG will come across cocaine smugglers who refuse to stop and be searched, so they’ll attempt to disable their engines with .50 caliber machine guns. This sometimes ends in a sinking. Those aren’t Navy ships, of course.

  44. 2d grade was a time for more grumbling when doing things that were scheduled for each of our 3 kids. This was true whether the picked the activity or not. I am saying there may just be more ambient grumpiness at having to do things, even things they would want. This changed in 3d grade. By then, the were more able to manager their activities. We also stress the power of trying new things, and being responsible for whatever it is that you are actually in.

  45. Thanks, all. The activity that causes the complaints (math) is one that my DH *really* doesn’t want the kids to drop. I will give it a few more weeks. I do understand introversion and being too busy – I am super introverted myself! – but I’m not sure whether that’s it or not given the scheduling back and forth.

  46. Fred — I also always get the spicy cashew chicken at Cheesecake Factory! Funny that we both came up with the same default dish, given that we have about 20 pages of menu to choose from.

    I totally have a clothing uniform. My fall, winter, and spring uniform: For work, a nice-quality scoop neck t-shirt with a cardigan over it on top, and a pencil skirt on the bottom (add tights to the skirt in cold weather). After work, keep the t-shirt and cardigan on, but substitute jeans for the skirt. Summertime uniform: washable dresses (like what Athleta and Title Nine sell) for both work and home. My body is hard to fit, and through a lot of trial and error, I’ve found that these are the items that look best on me. I try to throw on some accessories to keep the look from getting too boring,

    Also, I’ve mentioned before that when I was in high school, a stylish aunt of mine gave me the book “Color Me Beautiful,” which helped me identify “my” colors. Everything I wear is in the same general color family, so I can pretty much grab any combination of pieces in my wardrobe, and they will all match each other. It’s nice to not have to think about what will go with what.

    I swear by weekly meal planning — I plan the week’s menu on Saturday, and do the shopping on Sunday. It’s kind of a PITA, but it makes the work week go so much more smoothly.

    I have eaten the same breakfast most days for about the past 40 years: A glass of orange juice, a bowl of cereal with milk, and a hot drink (the drink was Ovaltine when I was a kid, but now it’s tea).

  47. I have been struggling to reset my morning routine since I started this job last December. After years of flexible work schedules, I am now supposed to be in the office at 8:00. I rarely make it on time, but I take comfort in the fact that most of my office colleagues don’t either. I did clear it with my boss to come in 15-20 min. late when I have DD. It’s either put her on the bus at 8:05 or drive her to school at 8:30 – or drive her to morning daycare at 7:45 and pay them to keep her for 20-30 min before driving her to school, but then I would still probably always be late. In theory, then, I have an extra ~15 min. on my custody weeks, but that time, of course, is spent on kid stuff – nagging, breakfast, etc. I am so accustomed to having time after the school bus to do household thing like start the dishwasher or a load of laundry, but now I’m always rushing. I have tried and tried to get up earlier, but I can’t seem to get to bed earlier than 10 pm or up earlier than 6 am with any regularity. I do need to stop hitting the snooze button – that 9 minutes could go a long way.

  48. L — Obviously I don’t know where you live, but my guess is that it’s a suburb with a highly ranked school system. So I’m wondering: Why the extra math classes? Are the schools not living up to their reputation? Or is everyone else in your area doing extra math, so you’re worried about your kids falling behind their peers? Don’t mean to pry — I’m just curious. In my little corner of Massachusetts, no one seems to do math classes outside of school (for better or worse).

  49. My Facebook mommy group had a big hugathon yesterday to support a member who wanted to confront the administrative people at her child’s doctors office. Apparently, they were verbally rolling eyes at parents who referred to their children’s daycare as “school” as well as complaining about another employee. (no blatant privacy violations). There was a loud chorus of support for bringing up this important issue with the doctor. It was an interesting, different (and entitled) slice of the universe than the anonymous pastor here who was concerned about wearing the appropriate clothes for a specialist appointment. I like Facebook for that.

  50. My second grader consistently grumbles about karate. Doesn’t want to go, blah, blah. She gets there and has an enormous smile on her face and is having the best time. So mostly I just shrug aside the grumbles as transition grumps, which I understand. I think most kids would object to leaving school to go study math, regardless of personality type.

  51. NoB, we’re in a Totebagland with highly-ranked schools and the storefronts are now dotted with math cram schools – I can think of 5 in our downtown and I’m sure there are more.

    They have sprung up in the past 3-4 years and stayed open in fairly high rent locations, and yet I have met only one parent who admits to sending a kid there….

  52. And I’m trying to get my daughter to agree to doing the Continental Math League tests for fun, and maybe get a group of kids together at school to do them.

    Her math homework from school is about as exciting as watching the grass grow, and I don’t want her to end up hating it.

  53. I had several friends growing up who went to Kumon regularly for math practice. Given the schools’ current focus on understanding how to do the math (without actually being able to solve some of the problems) I’ve said I’d consider it if we had a kid falling behind. Thankfully we aren’t there. I think interesting math (our 4th and 5th graders do Math Olympiad) would be great. But regularly weekly drills? Like flossing, they might be good for you, but I can’t see anyone ranking them as fun.

  54. NoB – you can probably guess which math school it is. ;) Yes, highly ranked school district, and yes, all the kids seem to be going to it (or at least the ones in our kid’s peer group). DH likes it a lot because it is more advanced than the math we see coming home from school.

  55. When I was in the family trenches, we had one very small bathroom (the tub was extra small because the room wasn’t wide enough for a full sized tub) for six people. The four kids went to 3 or 4 different schools, depending on year. We had a shower and toilet schedule morning and night, nobody missed breakfast, and everybody made the bus, the walk or the occasional car ride (there was early morning crew practice for a few years, too). That was enough routine for a lifetime. I also used to put out my clothes including hose shoes and jewelry the night before when I was working. So I understand how routine and structure are necessary, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

    When I see how I live now, I am more sympathetic to the super early retiree types, although since so many of them seem to want to live the sort of self sufficient non urban life that requires early rising and repeated necessary activity, they are not seeking to shed routine and hard work, just the boss man and the rat race. I have routines, but they are not rigid. I get up on the average at 8am, feed the cats, make a double shot latte, decide what’s for dinner and take out the meat to defrost if necessary, and then have several different variants of the rest of the day routine, depending on the scheduled activities , variations in the weather. For example, it was so hot and humid this September that it was actually a bit difficult to string together enough good days to paint the new front door and varnish the oak threshold, and clear the calendar to stay home enough consecutive hours to leave the door ajar so that the paint/varnish could dry. So I had a list of activities to juggle around the weather. I put in a lot of effort with the monthly calendar – I try to space out the activities if possible to allow for sufficient down time and to keep available to watch the grandkids on short notice. (I did decline to drive out at 3pm in the driving rain today on a half hour’s notice after being at the doctor all day with DH. I have my limits, and it wasn’t an emergency.)

    My husband had an echocardiogram today and his condition is unchanged (LVEF 25%, for the docs among you), which is better than getting worse, but he has been for several months on increased doses of pills that befit a 250 lb man, and he weights less than 160. They are going to do an MRI sometime soon to try to figure out why his heart deteriorated, but I am not sure what use that information is for treatment purposes. So we are on hold. We are going to be in NY in ten days, and if the Mets hold on to get home field over the Dodgers, I am going to drop some dough on StubHub for good seats.

  56. @Sky – I was surprised when my friend said that she was sending her daughter there but then I shouldn’t have been because outside Math classes with lots of practice and math drills are common in the home country and a lot of Asian parents have gone to these types of centers themselves as kids. In fact the more Totebaggy the parents the more the more likelihood of kids taking outside Math classes.

  57. We are still figuring out a routine but our family could not operate without one. DS1’s chosen activity, Scouts, overlaps with the twins’ soccer practice, coached by Mr WCE. Fortunately, I have a flexible manager and can adjust my planned schedule slightly to take DS1 to scouts (where I nurse Baby WCE in the car and stop at the grocery store, since I drive 20 min to a 60 min meeting and then 20 min home) Mr WCE has two short and one long hunting trips planned in the next 6 weeks and I want to maintain Baby WCE’s short days at childcare as much as possible. (HM, if you’re reading, you’re right that full-time childcare when you shouldn’t need it saves the juggle.) We average one random day off school each month.

    I sometimes allow my sons bonus screentime to play Khan Academy if their rooms are clean. I agree that common core math in elementary school is terrible, but I’d rather spend activity time/money on piano, scouts and soccer.

    Regarding meal planning, when no one is home, I prep a casserole ahead of time and put it on timed bake in the oven. You can put it in frozen in the morning and it’s thawed by baking time. Those of you with ovens that aren’t 20+ years old may not even have to allow for 10 min of preheat.

  58. Ada, I’m following a similar discussion on FB. A mother is very upset because her 7th grader had a test, and the teacher forgot to include one part of the essay section, so he verbally told the class what they needed to do. Her son didn’t do it and lost all 10 points for that piece, so got a 90 instead of a 100, and a 90 is considered a B in their school. She feels this is very unfair because at the least, the teacher should have written it on the board or told the kids to write it down so they wouldn’t forget to do it.

    I replied that while the teacher could have handled it a little better, seventh graders should be able to deal with it. I really wanted to post “It’s one freaking B on a seventh grade test – if you are this worked up about it, how are you going to handle something that actually matters?”

  59. I sometimes allow my sons bonus screentime to play Khan Academy if their rooms are clean.

    Whoa, don’t go too crazy there. The next thing you know, they might start doing flash cards under the bedcovers with flashlights.

  60. I am a passive user of FB – I get to see what my kids are doing, and keep up with kitten cams – right now the attraction is Cassidy the Miracle Kitten with no hind paws and a tiny wheelchair).

  61. I love Facebook. It’s where I find the best non-super-technical math/science articles that my friends post. It’s also useful for knowing local stuff, like the road closure schedule during construction this summer and what’s going on at school.

  62. DD – I get wound up on that stuff with my 8th Grader. Not because it is one B, but because she receives some accommodations and that scenario would not meet her plan. For my DD#2, it would need to be on the board or an errata sheet handed out to the test.

    I agree otherwise with your comments. My DD#1 has 8 classes and a lot of juggling to figure out what is assigned and when it is due. Most use google classroom, but they also have teacher websites, verbal in class assignments, the program that is used to track grades may also have assignments, and any written handouts from class.

    Starting to teach that juggle is important. DD#2 is learning that this year as well.

  63. Routine is key for sanity for me. Work is unpredictable, kids are unpredictable, but I can plan out what we are going to eat, what I am going to wear, and when I am going to do laundry/go shopping,etc. I also don’t really mind doing some of the same things everyday at the same time. It is somewhat comforting in a way. DS likes routine too, although he is not as married to it as he was when he was younger.

    I meal plan & plan my outfits in weekly installments like LFB.

  64. @DD, yeah, if I were on Facebook, I’d probably use it to vent on stories like that, too — stuff that you know isn’t bad enough to justify actually doing anything about, because it’s one freaking B, but it’s still frustrating. We never asked for accommodations like 3:33, but DD just cannot follow oral instructions, because her aural processing abilities are basically off the bottom of the scale. So when something gets screwed up at school because the teacher couldn’t bother to write it down, then, yeah, I complain about that here, or to family and friends — not because I think it’s a big deal, but because I know it’s NOT (if it were, I’d do something about it). But it still feels rotten, and it’s nice to hear people say, yeah, I get it, that must be really frustrating.

  65. AFAIK, her son doesn’t have any special needs, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t. It’s just the way she’s complaining about it that’s annoying me – she’s not looking for commiseration, she’s asking for advice on whether she should talk to the teacher and what she should say.

    3:33, if your son requires accomodations and has a plan that isn’t being followed, then that’s a totally different issue.

  66. This is an interesting post and there are some great ideas here. I’ve got a pretty good morning routine going right now. My 3 year old comes in to cuddle with us at 5:45 and I get up with him at 6 to make breakfast and lunches while DH gets dressed. I have breakfast with the kids, then DH helps get the kids ready while I get dressed in workout clothes and put together my outfit for the day. At 6:45 I get the kids in the car and take them to daycare and before school care at 7:00. Then I go to the gym for a 30 minute workout, which alternates between swimming or weight training these days. I shower and get dressed at the gym and am at the office by 8:15. This works because my kids’ school and pre-school are on the same campus and the distances from/to home-school-gym-office are short.

    My uniform of sorts for work consists of several sheath dresses that I rotate through with various blazers, cardigans and shoes. I live in a temperate climate and find dresses comfortable year round, flattering and easy to figure out in the morning.

    I am now working on my end of day routine. I am trying to stop what I am doing at 5pm to spend the last hour or so of my work day reviewing my schedule and laying out whatever I need for my next days’ meetings, catching up on emails, and making my to-do list for the next day. I am also trying to start a brief yoga practice at the end of the day to unwind and get some extra stretching in.

  67. Now she’s complaining that the teacher didn’t let the kids bring the tests home so she never got to see it. Her son said he collected them after the kids reviewed them. I had teachers do that all the time so it seems pretty normal to me, but she seems to feel she should be able to review it.

  68. I am told that 63% of the kids in my son’s school receive special accommodations. My son does not even though his psycho-edu evaluations for all these years say they are necessary. The reason? I didn’t insist.

    If I felt like a terrible parent before, I feel even worse now.

  69. PTM – I was thinking of you when I posted about my father’s mother passing at a young age for him, and what life was like as a result.(Although at the time, fathers didn’t raise kids alone – they put them in the orphanage, so props to my Grandpop for not doing that). I think you’re amazing.

    On the accommodations, my son didn’t have them for years because I didn’t understand that I should be more forceful. But I can tell you that for him, the difference has been huge. I don’t know how much weight each factor carries, but between the neurofeedback, getting accommodations, and just growing up, he’s come light-years in the last 18 months. You mentioned once in the past that your son has difficulty putting his thoughts down on paper. Getting the accommodation of “note-taking assistance”, which means that teachers give him printouts of their power point presentations for him to take notes on so he doesn’t have to write everything himself, has been life-changing for him as far as keeping up and not spending every minute of the school day stressed out. That is the only accommodation he uses, but it makes all the difference.

  70. Only one of my friends has posted her kid’s grades on FB. They are impressive. Both my friend and her husband are smart and her one kid, her daughter is one of those self motivated kids who just does and is good at school work. The rest of my freinds post happy pictures of kids growing up, some have posted kid’s graduation and prom pictures which are nice to see but no one else has posted grades. There are a few relatives who tend to post “So proud of my daughter/son for getting X place in whatever competition they enter.

  71. On the topic of parents squawking about the maltreatment their children receive, whether at school or elsewhere, whether on FB or elsewhere: In hindsight, there are so many pitfalls and mistakes for parents in this area. Sometimes a kid needs a parent to step in and demand fair treatment, and sometimes this does more harm than good. I’ve made mistakes, but I know that both “never” advocating and “always” advocating for your child are not the way to go. Undoubtedly, many of us will have regrets on how we sometimes handled this.

    But one thing that gets me riled up is that schools ROUTINELY ignore mandated accommodations for students. So that sets up a parent vs. the school relationship, and promotes excessive parental involvement. (I know I keep harping on how schools train parents to become helicopters, but here’a another example IME.)

    I cringe when I see parents posting grades and SAT scores and similar on FB. I know it’s a fine line between posting about your kid making NMSF and posting his actual score, but I do think the latter is over the top.

    On the topic of routines, I usually start my day with a cup of coffee and a timed (30 minutes) session on the Internet to catch up on news, FB, Twitter, favorite blogs, etc. However, since I no longer have kids or a job to provide structure, it’s become very easy to extend that time beyond 30 minutes. Like this morning, I’m currently on my third 30 minute session. :D

  72. Oh, I just remembered that we have a parenting gone wrong post coming up shortly, so we should wait to discuss that topic!!!

  73. “I know it’s a fine line between posting about your kid making NMSF and posting his actual score, but I do think the latter is over the top.”

    I would think that both are over the top.

  74. “That is the only accommodation he uses, but it makes all the difference.”

    Yeah, that’s where my head is, but it’s also why the process is so frustrating. Our recent testing showed one very clear gap that explains a ton of our recurring past problems. But we’ve had two doctors tell us not even to bother to try to get accommodations for that one thing, because the schools will say, hey, she’s getting As and Bs in top-level courses, there’s no problem. They just don’t see the frantic thrashing of the synchronized swimming legs below the surface to make that happen. And there’s no “just this one thing” — you need the whole shooting match of a Big Giant Tested Confirmed Dr-Approved Problem first, just to get the teacher to give her a printout or write stuff on the board.

    And by “frantic thrashing,” btw, I mean her, not us — she really is remarkably independent for 14. But last night’s homework was 4 hours, because she just wasn’t clear on a few things the teacher had told her to do, so there was a lot of sitting and spinning and arguing and getting frustrated about the expectations. It should have taken half that (well, for me, an hour tops, but it was the first science lab report, so build in extra time for figuring out how to do graphs on the computer, etc.; plus reading three versions of a parable and doing four one-para essays along the lines of compare/contrast and identify/explain the characteristics of this archetype, and abstract/theoretical isn’t her forte).

    So I go back and forth about whether I should intervene more or let her manage, and I usually default to doing nothing, on the theory that the real world isn’t going to come with accommodations so she needs to learn to deal and as long as she’s still keeping her head above water it’s better for her to learn how to manage herself. But it is still hard to see her working so hard on things that shouldn’t be that difficult, when one or two pretty simple things at the school could fix 75% of the problems.

    “Undoubtedly, many of us will have regrets on how we sometimes handled this.” Truer words were never spoken.

  75. I just don’t understand this. I was teaching university students and I would never, ever expect them to complete an assignment that wasn’t written out. You can’t just speak an assignment. You have to write it on the board and also give them a handout.

    In other news, I always followed up conversations with my staff with an email outlining what I had just told them to do.

  76. the real world isn’t going to come with accommodations

    I don’t know that’s true. With an auditory process disorder, maybe being a ER doctor, dealing with large amounts of verbal information in a chaotic environment, wouldn’t be a good fit. On the other hand, I’ve worked at places where almost nothing is done verbally everything is done via IM or e-mail. That would be a great fit.

  77. To continue, I think that as an adult you have a great deal of flexibility in finding a role that plays to your strengths. As a student, there is basically one role.

  78. Undoubtedly, many of us will have regrets on how we sometimes handled this.

    I think all we can do is do the best we can with the resources/knowledge we have or can afford. If we fall short, we fall short. There are no perfect parents, just good enough.

  79. Rhett — +1,000

    I think one of the great secrets of success in adulthood is to actively seek out situations/work environments/relationships that minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. If you can put yourself in that kind of environment, success is so much easier. But it takes both self-awareness and self-acceptance, which can be tricky. So many people think they should just will-power their weaknesses away, and that’s not always possible. Gets back to the decision fatigue issue.

  80. Yeah, Rhett, I actually agree with that, too — it’s what I did. I guess I was thinking more of college and the entry-level jobs that are likely to make up the next 10-15 years of her life, where you don’t have that kind of control and mommy isn’t going to be there to fix everything for you. But, like I said, I waffle all the time on too much vs. not enough.

    On a totally unrelated and irrelevant note: several times I have tossed out the idea to DH of renting a camper and spending a month or so in the summer driving through the Rockies and other points west. He has had a gazillion responses why that is a horrible idea and will never happen. And then last night at bedtime, he says: “you know, I was thinking, after we retire, it would be really fun to get a camper in Europe — not a full bus, but one big enough to tow a small car behind — and just use that to travel everywhere for a couple of years.” Snort. Yes dear, what a great idea — how clever of you to come up with it. [Meanwhile, I’m thinking if he’s talking a year vs. a month, it had better be a big-ass camper, with laundry and a real kitchen and a real king-sized bed!]

  81. Oh man, so sorry I missed this. I’m all about habits and routines. Shall read everyone’s posts (late) with great interest.

    BTW, I recently read an e-book called Level Up Your Day and it was all about this topic. I really liked the book.

  82. LfB, the same scene plays out at our house repeatedly, although much shorter now than in younger years. I do not intervene now that the accommodation is in place, but I did spend 8 1/2 years of semiannual meetings trying to convince the different schools he was in of the need for accommodations. They gave me the same “not failing” line, but treated the resultant frustration on his part as a discipline issue, taking away recess constantly, sending him to the office, etc. And they are truly amazed that all the frustration in class went away. Many of them still don’t see the connection.

    If he doesn’t understand now, I make him email the teacher, and if he’s not getting the notes I am trying to have ask about it himself. So far he’s just sucking it up, but he has to be able to talk to a teacher about what he needs before he goes to college, so I’m not stepping in.

  83. This discussion makes me wonder how many people are unnecessarily excluded from careers they would like or be good at. An acquaintance recently left/was asked to leave a secretarial job and one of their recommendations was that she get hearing aids. I’ve noticed she’s quiet in group situations and her employer, who tried to help her fit the job, helped her become more aware of the degree of her hearing loss. She simply can’t process what’s occurring in a group of people talking which makes, say, taking minutes, virtually impossible.

    It’s hard to say if the job would have worked out if she could hear better. I want to believe it could have.

  84. That story breaks my heart WCE. Assuming her employer had disability benefits and she was eligible, she could have got accommodations, such as auditory aids, without any cost to her or the company.

  85. Gah, MBT, that sounds SO familiar (my favorite “discipline” issue forevermore will be the knee-jerk taking away recess whenever DD was wiggly and distracting in class). How can people who are supposedly specifically educated in child development just not see those connections? I am doing the same thing about trying to teach her to advocate for herself, a/k/a “talk to the teacher” — mixed results so far, as that is the worst thing she can imagine, but it’s something she has to learn to do.

  86. Lemon, thanks for your comment. I’ll keep it in mind for future reference. It was a part-time (30 hr/week) job and I doubt if it included disability benefits. I know my job has no disability benefits.

    The local job market (we’re by the state land grant university so there are tons of overqualified spouses) is such that employers don’t have to accommodate people’s challenges, I think.

  87. LfB – Don’t worry, if his requirement is that the camper tow a car, it will probably be fairly large, by design.

    “Get a little camper” is something that a lot of people say. A few years ago, we stopped by my old boss’s house, now retired, and at one point we were talking about camping. He said that he and his wife were thinking about “getting a little camper. Nothing big, just something so they can travel around a little bit, not have to stay in hotels, see the grandkids…”

    This is very similar to what they recently bought (including the requirement of the dual rear axles):

  88. LfB – “talk to the teacher” was too intimidating in some classes (friends around, teacher in a rush, etc), so that is why I’m going for email. If that is successful and builds confidence, then talking may be easier. Plus, I have a paper trail for the non compliant.

  89. @Milo — *Exactly*. THAT is the camper I could live in for a year or two. :-) (DH said “not a full bus”; I said, “oh, no, if it’s a year, I want full bus”).

    OTOH, I think I’d prefer something like the old VW camper vans to toodle around between cities — something you could stay in for a few days or a week while you’re on the road and exploring, but then park for a month while you rent a lovely apartment in the middle of a city somewhere.

  90. WCE Modern effective hearing aids for most types of hearing loss cost about 2000 a piece. No insurance, including medicare, covers them. Old style massive hearing aids which are chraper a. Don’t work all that well and b. Would make it the job candidate unattractive. Think gray hair on a woman times ten, since in both cases it is a “voluntary” choice not to meet appearance expectations.

  91. I don’t think the appearance expectation is a hurdle, since she’s a part-time church secretary. If she could do the job, none of the pastors would care how she looked. Thanks for the clarification about costs. I remember Mr WCE’s dad’s hearing aids (post cancer treatment) were in that cost range.

  92. “how many people are unnecessarily excluded from careers they would like or be good at.”

    A lot fewer than in the past, especially females.

    OTOH, a lot of females who would’ve liked teaching and/or been good teachers are now doctors.

  93. “my favorite “discipline” issue forevermore will be the knee-jerk taking away recess whenever DD was wiggly and distracting in class”

    Perhaps compounded also by punishment for kid-initiated action to address the wiggliness, e.g., reading a book under the desk.

    I was very fortunate that many of my teachers looked the other way when I did this; I have a vague recollection of being told to be discreet.

  94. I’m late catching up on this but did want to mention one math supplementation option: get a bunch of the Mathmania books from Highlights (puzzles calling for use of arithmetic as well as some creative thinking) and have a Mommy-Daughter Math Tea Party during which you work through some of them.

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