Sunday, September 5, 2010

Family Routine... From Chaos to Order

The topic that is on my mind today is not one of fun and games; and I hope it isn't boring. But it is without a doubt, a big part of this journey we call life, and I am going through it right now so I'm going to write about it. :) I hope this writing makes it's way to those who will find it of interest and benefit.

(This photo doesn't really show the type of chaos I had in mind to show... but hey - it's a photo! :D... Photo taken from

Being at the crossroads for my children is one of the things that are on my mind today. Life gets SO busy. And I'll admit... now that the youngest, age 12, and is not only able to care for him self, but has recently been hired quite a bit for childcare, it is SO easy for me to get busy with my own projects and not spend enough quality time with the family. I have had experiences recently (click here if you wish to read about one of them) which have taught me that as a mom who no longer has young children... I still need to be home at the cross roads for my youth/teenagers; young kids aren't the only ones who need their moms home.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was very surprised to discover the huge negative repercussions that accompany not being home with the kids enough. My mom was always home when I was growing up, so I didn't have any idea what it was like to not have a mom home to talk to about anything at any time or to notice when I needed guidance even when I didn't. This I had to learn from witnessing the occasional negative repercussions my kids have suffered. I am learning that the best way for me to avoid these negative repercussions for my kids, is by being home when they come and go, and simply sticking with a basic routine in which we do meaningful things together regularly and consistently.

As far as the routine goes, I'm talking about living gospel principles like daily family scripture study and praying together as a family both morning and night as well as other gospel teachings; weekly Family Home Evening gospel study lessons and fun activities; working together; and eating dinner together as a family as frequently as possible.

Eating dinner together as a family:
I know it may sound strange, but the one we have struggled with most is actually sitting down at the table and eating dinner together. This is something that our family severely struggled to establish due to bad habits created while my husband and I were both attending college while raising our young children. We had different schedules - night classes included - to avoid needing daycare for our children. This meant that one of us were usually either in a class during dinner, or studying. This happened again a couple of years after school got out, when we decided to build a business. This bad habit was unfortunately... thoroughly established.

During all these many years of college and building a business, I was so exhausted so much of the time that it was easy for me to frequently fall into letting the kids eat when ever they were hungry... which meant we didn't regularly eat "dinner" "together" "as a family." We have eaten together "off and on" depending upon what has gone on in our lives, and how busy I am.

So sad... I know. And I'm here to tell you that was one of the WORST mistakes we ever made. If I could do the early years over that is one thing I would change. I would have been home and made and served dinner every night, even if it meant eating pancakes or cold cereal on the toughest of days - the priority being - being together.

So, as embarrassing as it is to admit this, dinner together as a family is a habit that our family is just again re-establishing (this time with commitment to continue for life!). The kids became totally accustom to grabbing their food and running back to a game etc., so this is an area which takes a bit of training. This is one of those situations in which a couple of the kids sometimes think we are trying to "ruin their lives" or "waste their time." But we are holding to our guns and requesting that the kids stay at the table for dinner and stick around for family scripture study. We are even doing this at the table to make the "staying" easier. :O - Hey, what ever it takes, right? The cool thing is that even with some resistance and complaining here and there, we are making this transition, and I can tell the kids are beginning to get settled into this routine and are actually (much to their surprise, I'm sure) beginning to enjoy this time together around the table. :D

Give permission to make mistakes and be OK with your best:
I can not go back in time; and so I choose to not beat myself up, but to instead remember that this entire life is a time of learning and growing... and it isn't over. I choose to learn from my mistakes and make changes in my life now. (By the way, great thanks goes out from me to all my dear friends who have been so kind as to constantly remind me not to be so hard on myself - both in the living world as well as in the blogging world! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I really am learning to take this good advice. :)

What does it take to go from chaos to order?
So, what does all this mean for me? Family-time is finding it's way back at the top of the list of priorities, where it should be. And that means diligent service and sacrifice on my part. It means I have to be consistent and on top of things at home... It means balancing taking care of kids and still taking care of myself. Being there to teach responsibility, and still managing to give them room to progressively learn to motivate themselves to initiate responsible behavior for themselves. As the kids gain independence, it gets easier for me to just spontaneously forget about everything and just do whatever I feel like doing. But as I already stated once, I am learning that family, at all ages, still need mom to be the glue that holds it all together... and motherhood comes with no vacation time.

Establishing order and routine:
Which leads me to discuss another change I am making... reestablishing routine and order (something that has been completely lacking here all summer). This means having time set aside to work as a family to regularly maintain our home and keep it clean. It also means the kids are expected to do their individual daily chores before they get on their gaming systems or get together with friends etc. The beginning of this establishment was met with some resistance with one of my kids (which I haven't had trouble with for years; possibly because we were so consistent with chores before this summer came). Thankfully, I am also seeing that a firm yet loving insistence, coupled with refusal to argue... smooths out the bumps and does the trick.  I also LOVE knowing that I can simply make reasonable rules, and consequences for breaking the rules... very clear, and then let the consequences do the teaching! :D (I used to be a terrible nagger; and boy did I pay for it!... so I'm loving my new parenting style!) It's also nice to know that no matter how the youth respond initially, firm and kind consistency soon win over their cooperation - every time!

Celebrate family:
So, with all the changes being made around here, as part of my own celebration of family this month (see sidebar link), I am planning on making a greater effort to again, firmly and consistently engaging my family in activities that help us to be closer to our Father in Heaven, and closer to each other. Namely... daily family scripture study, daily prayers morning and night, weekly Family Home Evening, and spending one-on-one time with each person in the family as well as spending fun recreational time together as a family. I am also planning on writing pages to honor and tell a little about each family member this month. Wish me luck! :D

And speaking of wishing luck...

...Here's to wishing you all a family filled month - without too much chaos!  ;)

Corine :D


  1. I love it and have found those things you stated to be so true in my own life. My husband and I work opposite shifts so that one of us is usually home with the kids. It doesn't matter what age they are, they still need a parent around to help guide and teach them. You just keep on going. I am still trying to get organized. Sometimes I feel like such a failure because that lesson seems so far above me.

  2. My oldest the other night was going to be out late. I made the complaint that I wanted him home earlier because I was sooo tired and couldn't stay up late waiting for him. He told me to just go to bed! He'd let himself in and go to bed after he got home. :D

    I let him know that that would never happen as long as there was life in my body. Meeting him and the other Native's at the crossroads as they come and go is a must. As is having family dinner together.

    Good post!! Good stuff!! You're not alone in your thinking.

  3. Great tips! I think I need to take your advice to heart. My kids are much younger than yours and I just opened up a new business, so I know that I will be spending a lot of time building it just like you did yours. Family time and eating meals together is so important. Also, I understand how important it is to read the Bible and pray together as a family. I want to incorporate that more into my family life but haven't figured out how I am going to do this. Your article reminded me of how important it is to make time for Family and the Lord.

  4. Great points .... I'm struggling right now trying to figure out how to teach my children order (especially because it is such a weakness of my own).... but I didn't think about the notion that general routines/habits/traditions provide order as well.


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