Kids thrive in structured, predictable households.  This does not mean that you can't make exceptions ~ departing from routine makes unexpected events or treats that much more exciting.  If you don't already have routines that the KIDS respond to however, take a month or so to establish a pattern before you start making exceptions.

Warning: As much as YOU may want to 'get everything together' all at once, your family will not respond well to big overhauls.  This process will take a good year.  ALSO, do not make these complicated, you WILL burn out and fail if you allow your unrealistic dreams of 'the-perfect-family-life' to surface.

Below  you will find a list of SUGGESTED routines.  I don't mean to presume to know your family's needs; I am simply sharing what I've learned in the Brief 12 years that I've been a Mom.  If your household is unstructured and you are seeking drastic change, consider implementing these routines in the order presented.

~ Bedtime ~ Daily Chores ~ Outside Commitments ~


Children need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep each day.  We tend to think they can get by on the same amount we get, but it ain't so.  In response to our increasingly scarce hometime, we have begun to short- change the children. They are not small adults.  Adequate sleep will show  itself in increased cooperation, inquisitiveness, confidence and general brightness.  Here are some suggestions for encouraging an undisturbed, full night's sleep.


  • Don't put a TV in his room
  • Make sure her reading light is close enough to reach from the bed and at the correct level of brightness to provide good light without tormenting her if she falls asleep with it on.
  • Lead up to a closed door.  this is better in case of  fire and for his eventual privacy needs.  Don't provide an interior lock, respect his privacy instead.
  • Allow  beverages (water or milk) only.
  • Straighten the room, especially the bed, before sleep.  Teach them young ;)
  • provide a gazing attraction:  fish tank, lava lamp, Black Light posters, or the like.  (Best for you to turn these off at your bedtime.)
  • Make sure she has a flashlight that works, (even the young ones).  Yes, she will read with it under the covers . . . So?
  • Don't let him sleep in his clothes.  Changing provides a transition.  I also learned, while camping, that the day's clothes hold a kind of 'clamminess' that is uncomfortable.
  • Set up for bedtime with a reliable routine.

Actions to incorporate into your personal Routine:

  • Read stories together
  • Wash up or Bathe
  • Turn the TV off 30 minutes before bedtime
  • share tea, hers can be mostly warm milk
  • "Tuck in" the animals (stuffed or live)
  • Cuddle on the couch
  • Say prayers
  • Have a light snack:  toast, applesauce-- nothing crunchy
  • Go out to see the Stars and Moon
  • Pick a flower from the garden and let him take it to his room.  (Lilacs are wonderful for this when in season)  In winter, put a green plant in his room and have him water it.
  • put out a treat for the fae or the squirrels
  • have a slow stretch together
  • Play a quiet Game
  • Keep the routine to 20 minutes or less.  You can always add elements when you have extra time.
  • Create an abbreviated routine that will suffice when you've been away from the house and get in late.  No more than 10 minutes.

Chores teach a child that he or she is an integral part of the family.  Do not expect perfection.  Above all, do not succumb to the knowledge that you can do it better and faster.  Assign one chore at a time--Don't present your ten year old with six tasks to do on a regular basis if they are not consistently performing one.  A chore is a responsibility that frees you.  A child can help you with your chores as time permits.  this is a fine way to determine what chores can become your child's.
My rule of thumb regarding chores goes something like this:
A child should have at least as many Responsibilities / chores as he is years old.  He should have no more than twice his age.  Thus, a 'three and a half' could have between 3 and six chores, depending on the difficulty level of each chore.  As the child grows older, think in terms of weekly chores.  Obviously, a 10 yr old doesn't have time for 20 daily chores.  Be flexible.  During the summer, 20 chores of varying difficulties, spread throughout the week might be great.  Understand that school age children are being assigned 'chores' at school as well as at home.

To view a list of age appropriate chores,


When Rendin Wolf (now 12) was born, I was 19 and single.  I was also determined that she would have a 'normal childhood'.  She went to the park almost daily and to church nursery, then Sunday School, every week.  She Began dance at three, sang in the church's children's choir from age four, had her first slumber party while still in preschool joined Girl Scouts in kindergarten,  joined a softball team in second grade and took voice and piano lessons in third grade.   Through it all, I dutifully networked with the other parents and arranged regular playdates.

We did some amazing things.  We slept by the glow of the dolphin tank at the Minnesota Zoo after touring all the underground access tunnels and helping to prepare the snow monkeys' breakfast.  We had amazing, carnival - like parties on her birthday and again at Halloween.  We stood in the Mpls. Convention Center, singing the National Anthem, surrounded by the voices of a thousand women and girls.  At the same event, thanks to the voice lessons I suppose, I watched my little girl sing with a group of only five other girls for that same audience.  their little group received a standing ovation.

We also struggled every night to get the poor kid into bed before 10 pm.  Because I was usually coordinating the activities of a dozen additional children, I was exhausted.  there were too many rushed mornings, too many sharp, abrupt words, too many tears of frustration.

I relate these experiences for this reason:  PLEASE, Think before you join.  I have no awareness of you family's particular schedule.
I can't advise you on the 'proper' number of outside activities.  I can say only that I believe getting involved with some number of outside activities is fantastic.  Don't 'sign up' for anything that you think your child 'should' do.  Be prepared to commit a lot of time and effort to the activities you decide to participate in.  Think your decisions through and don't be afraid to say no.