Our Basic Routine

Posted by  | Thursday, March 18, 2010  at 3:00 AM  
What I do at home is always evolving, depending on the age of our kids and what activities we are involved in. We have a basic routine that we are very flexible with. I figured I'd describe what our daily life is like. Won't this be fun to look back at in ten years?!

I am not a morning person at all, but I do really like to get up at get mostly ready for the day before my kids wake up. So, I take a shower around 7:30 and am usually mostly ready by the time they get up around 8 or shortly after. I get the kids dressed and we make all the beds before heading downstairs for breakfast. I like having us all totally ready for the day before eating breakfast because then the kids can start playing immediately after they eat and I don't have to interrupt them to get them to go back upstairs to get ready. We usually only have cold cereal once a week or so (usually Sundays because I need a little extra time to get everyone ready). On other days I make toast (Meredith's favorite!) or oatmeal or one of our favorite breakfast recipes. I really like the Baked French Toast and Oatmeal Cake recipes because I can prepare them the night before and just pop them in the oven before taking my shower. They are ready when I am and then the kids and I have a hot breakfast!

Baked French Toast:

10 slices of bread (wholegrain)
1 1/2 cups of milk
4 eggs (or more, I usually use 5)
1/3 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Grease 9x13 pan and put one layer of bread in the bottom. Mix liquids and spices and pour half of it over the bread. Put down one more layer of bread and finish with the wet ingredients. Refridgerate covered overnight. Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

Oatmeal Cake:

1/2 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 cups oats

Combine the above and allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.

In the morning, add:
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup dried cherries or other dried fruit

Pour into a greased 9x9 pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

The kids play while I wash dishes and finish any little chores that have cropped up in my morning. Writing all of this down sounds really simple, but in reality it takes a long time! We are rarely finished with all of this morning stuff until around 9:30 or 10 am! I'm stunned that it takes 2 hours to make beds, eat breakfast and clean up but it really does! On days where we have play groups or the kids music class (both begin at 9:30) I usually can't wash the dishes before we go (we don't have a dishwasher or hot water in our tap living overseas and washing up oatmeal bowls takes time!).

After this morning routine we do one of two things. Either we head to out for play groups/ kid activities or grocery shopping/errand running, or we stay home. If we stay home and I have cleaning to do, then the kids play while I clean up. I clean the bathrooms on mondays and they usually just play with their toys while I do this. We only have one bathroom and it doesn't take that long. If I have vacuuming, dusting, or mopping, they help me. They think it is a blast to sit on top of the kitchen table while I mop. Or, I put the chairs on the living room rug and they play "airplane" or "bus" while climbing over all the chairs.
Once the cleaning is done, we usually have an hour or so to play some more (or do a school-type activity) before lunch. If the weather is nice we take advantage of it and spend this time playing outside.

I do take the kids on errands with me almost all of the time. Meredith does very well following along behind me while I shop and helping me put things into our stroller. Again, this is different living overseas. People shop almost daily, although I don't, because there isn't room to store large quantities of food. We walk to the grocery store and I usually put the food we buy into our stroller. Ordering groceries online and having them delivered (for a very reasonable price) is also an option that I use on occasion to stock up on larger items that are hard to fit in my stroller - like big packs of paper towels or laundry detergent. I'll be having groceries delivered more often once we have a newborn again I'm sure! But, even when we lived in the states I always did my errands with the kids with me. It certainly isn't the easiest option, but I like having Ben's free time in the evenings to spend with him, not running out by myself.
Lunch is usually quick and simple. Sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, spoons of peanut butter, fruit, yogurt, nuts, etc. After lunch is naps. My oldest is phasing out of this but still has a quiet time during the day where she will lie down and read and sometimes will fall asleep. I usually nap for a little while when they do, especially since I'm heading into the third trimester of my pregnancy and feel a little worn down by the afternoon. After naps I give the kids DVD time. This usually helps them wake up well and gives me a few moments to start dinner. I used to think that I would love having my kids in the kitchen helping me cook, but honestly I hate it. I really hate the extra mess it can create in a matter of seconds, especially with four little hands reaching into bowls and stirring, etc. Still, this is an area where I'm trying to put aside the extra work that it causes me and allow them to help me more since they really do enjoy it.
We have dinner as a family and then the kids play with Ben and I for a while before I start cleaning up. After I get all the dishes done I start getting them ready for bed. Here is a confession - I only do baths about once a week! We live in Scotland and it is cold here, so my kids are never sweaty. Add to that the hot water issue I mentioned before and bathtime just isn't easy. So, we thoroughly wash hands and faces before bed every night and just do a full bath once a week. Meredith can put on her own pajamas, wash her hands and face and start brushing her teeth and I love how much it helps me! We all play some more and I start reading bedtime stories (usually a couple regular stories they pick out and several good bible stories too) around 8:15. They typically go to bed around 8:30 or 8:45, sometimes 9. I don't mind the late bedtime, because as I said I'm not a morning person and I'd rather have them sleep later.
That is about it! This is a "normal" day in our household, if there is such a thing with small children! I do love this time in life even if it is very busy. Feel free to ask any questions about our routine, or add suggestions too!


Christina said...

Ooooh, Margaret! I'm so glad you posted that oatmeal recipe. My tried and true baked oatmeal recipe has a lot of eggs in it and I've been looking for an egg free one to switch too for Will. Yay! Can't wait to try it.

Question - buttermilk...I never buy it. When I bake with it I use the powdered kind. Thoughts on this for this recipe? Should I "convert" some plain milk to buttermilk? I think you do that...anyways, tell me about buttermilk. :)

Margaret said...

Hey Christina,
Actually the recipe does have eggs in it, 2 of them. You add them in the morning along with the honey and dried fruit. They are listed with the second half of ingredients so maybe they are hard to see. Sorry it won't work for Will!

Buttermilk is great! I love the slightly tangy taste it gives the oatmeal cake. I would think you have to use real buttermilk since you are soaking the grains overnight on the counter. I wouldn't want to try it with any other kind for fear that it would spoil instead of fermenting in a good way. I used to make my own buttermilk from raw milk and raw buttermilk (you add a little buttermilk as a "starter" to regular raw milk), but I'm not sure you can do that with pasturized milk. Recipe books say you can make your own by adding lemon juice to milk, but I don't think it turns out nearly the same. But, storebought buttermilk is great. It won't spoil in your fridge so one container or carton of it will last a long time (although I use it for so much it never lasts long anyway). It is great for muffins, pancakes, and lots of other baked goods!

Tamara said...

christina--i make my own buttermilk for baking, as i just don't use it often enough to buy it at the store regularly...i never remember to put it on my list honestly! anyway--i take the amount of milk the recipe calls for, put it into a glass measuring cup and then add about a teaspoon of vinegar at a time...stir it, then leave it sit for a bit and it will start to sour/curdle...then it's buttermilk and it's ready to use! i think i usually only need about a teaspoon or so per 1/2 cup of milk. hope this helps! :)

Meg said...

You can used plain, unsweetened yogurt for buttermilk and get the same benefits for soaking the grains and breaking down the phytates. Yogurt is super easy to make and I use it every time I make anything with my whole grains. The lemon juice with milk would also work for soaking your grains because the lemon juice is acidic, but I'm not sure how it would affect the taste.

KC said...

You could try ground flax seed or bananas to replace the egg in the recipe!

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