Our New Winter Rhythm & Routine
The seasons are changing which means it is time to revisit our rhythms and routines. Today I’m sharing the ins and outs of our new winter rhythm and routine with you. I hope it inspires you and encourages you on your journey to more intentional living!
It’s officially winter – the time I’ve historically loathed and dreaded with every fiber of my being.
I’m an outdoor girl. I like going on hikes through a forest and flinging my windows open to let the breeze waft in. I like vegetable gardens and bike rides. I like being warm. I like sunshine and tank tops.
I think you get the point.
However, with time (and hopefully just a smidge of maturity) I’m learning to embrace the season I’m in, no matter the season it is (even if it is winter).
One of the things that has helped me to do that is by revisiting my family’s rhythm and routine with the changing of the seasons.
I’ve shared our family rhythm and routines a lot in the past. However, because I always find it helpful to read how others do things, I’m sharing again what routines look like in this season of life my life.
But first some information about my current season of life:
I am a homeschooling mom of four children (5th grade, 3rd grade, Kindergarten, and a toddler). We loosely follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy, and I dabble in various curriculums throughout the year depending on our needs at the time. But mostly we read a lot of books and call it school.
My husband works from home, so he’s here working nearly all the time. There are occasional times when he has meetings outside the home, but mostly we’ve learned to work with meetings in the background, podcasts being recorded, and video meetings on mute while we make breakfast in the mornings.
With him working from home, this means I have help. I have help when I hit the end of myself and just need a break. I have help when a kid gives me attitude on a math lesson. I have help when I need to get a shower and keep everyone alive. I have help when the printer gets stuck and won’t print correctly. I have help throughout the day in ways I didn’t when he worked outside the home. Of course, we work hard to respect boundaries for him to be able to work well, but when push comes to shove, he’s here and he’s helpful.
Additionally, I am working to incorporate work back into my weekly rhythm. This is important to me as a person, but it’s also important to my family because my writing business brings in an income that contributes to our financial goals. I’ve allotted 9-10 hours a week to working on my writing, and during this time someone else is watching the children so I can work uninterrupted.
Finally, we homeschool four days a week and participate in a homeschool co-op that I co-run with another gal once a week. Sometimes we will have co-op and a field trip in the same week, and on those weeks, we usually only homeschool three days a week.
Thinking through our winter rhythm and routine:
Winter is a time of slowing down, tucking in, and cuddling up with one more book.
It’s also a time of cabin fever, too much togetherness inside, and really long nights.
And it’s the latter that causes me to really think through our daily routine with fresh eyes and hopefully a tinge of creativity to help get us through those many days spent inside.
Having an outlined rhythm and routine for our day helps us to be faithful and move peacefully throughout our days. Everyone knows what to expect, and I know that the most important things have a place in our day.
As I was preparing our winter rhythm and routine, I had to take note of a few sticking points I was seeing in our previous routine.
- The baby’s nap schedule is ever-changing, so I can’t get too comfortable with whatever I decide.
- Fitting in lessons with all the kids during the ever-changing nap schedule has been a challenge, so I needed to have a different plan that wasn’t relying on the baby napping.
- One of my children really needed to be more consistent with his/her independent school work because his/her lack of diligence was derailing the entire morning for everyone.
- I needed to create space for thinking and resting each day, even it’s just 15 minutes.
- The boys needed more active breaks in the morning, and we needed to spend more time doing school together a group.
These were all the random little things running through my mind as I sat down to make a new rhythm and routine.
Making note of what’s not working is something I have created the habit of each season because I don’t believe in staying stuck. There are ALWAYS solutions to be found if you just sit with your thoughts a little longer (or ask for help – hubby’s are good for these sort of things, helping us see what we can’t see because we’re too close to the problem).
Our Winter Rhythm & Routine
Wake-Up Time is 7:30 am
We’ve found that waking our kids by 7:30 each morning means they keep a consistent night time routine. Plus it gives us plenty of time do go through our morning routine in order to start school by 9am.
Upon waking, they get dressed and make their beds.
- My eleven year old takes care of the dog (walking, feeding, etc.) and cleans up the garage.
- My eight year old usually makes his baby brother’s breakfast and starts feeding him.
- My five year old unloads the dishwasher and sets the table for breakfast.
My husband takes care of making our breakfast most mornings. This is something he took over after having our fourth baby, which is a huge sanity saver for me.
I usually spend the early morning hours in my little sunroom office reading and slowly preparing for the day.
Breakfast – 8 am
We aim to have breakfast on the table by 8 am, so we have plenty of time to eat and do family devotions together.
Right now, we’re working through Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson.
After Breakfast is Home Care
Once we wrap up breakfast, it’s time to clean up and finish our morning checklists.
Everyone helps clear the dishes, wipe the table, sweep the floor, and reset the kitchen before moving on to their individual checklist items.
Each child has his or her own checklist to guide them through the rest of the morning, and to be honest, mine is nearly the same. Only difference is I have to think about dinner.
For the most part, our morning checklists have been the same for several years. However, I did make some tweaks this past fall to help us overcome some sticking points, and it has worked really well.
If you’re curious, I added the reminder for my little girl to brush her hair, and I added vitamins and water bottles to everyone’s checklist in order to help me to remember as well!
For their chores, they refer to the Winter Chore Chart that I also updated when I created this new rhythm and routine.
I rotate their chores seasonally. This way the same person isn’t always having to vacuum the stairs, or take out the trash, or clean the toilets. This is something they appreciate, and honestly, I do, too, because it gives everyone a chance to learn how to take care of the various areas of the home and no one gets tired of the same ol’, same ol’.
Also, I think it’s worth noting, my kids do their own laundry. This is something I made the switch to in the last year, and it’s been one of the best decisions. I have saved so much time and sanity by teaching them each to do their own laundry from start to finish. Plus, now that they are doing their own laundry, the older ones have realized the value in rewearing something instead of just throwing it in the dirty clothes!
Learning Time – 9 am
We aim to “start school” by 9 am.
This means all the kids’ morning checklists need to be completed by this point, so the older boys can get started on their independent school work.
During this time, my kindergartener is free to play, as long as she doesn’t distract her big brothers from their work. She’s pretty good about this, and I rarely have any trouble out of her.
Meanwhile, I’m usually finishing up my chores, and just trying to keep the baby happy as I go along. He’s a bit of a pill in the mornings when it gets close to nap, so it’s usually a bit of a “pray you make it to his nap time” sort of mentality.
Around 9:30-10:00am, the baby goes down for his nap. When he does, the big boys are usually done with their independent work and are ready for an active break. They usually head outside to play while I work with my kindergartener.
Once her core subjects are done, we come together and work through our remaining subjects together, or the boys start their independent reading times.
We finish up with one-on-one with each boy to wrap up their core subjects they need me to teach them.
Lunch Time – 12:30 pm
If we finish early, the kids get free time until lunch. Some days this could be an hour, other days it’s only about 15 minutes.
But by this point the baby is usually awake, so it’s all hands on deck for me with him.
I’ve found that fixing my lunch first, and knocking the edge off makes for a much smoother lunch for everyone. At 12:30 pm, the kids come into the kitchen to make their own lunches.
R & R Time
After lunch is read and rest time.
Regardless of when it starts, it lasts for one hour and everyone must stay in their designated spots reading/playing quietly. Most of the time though, R&R is over around 3pm.
R&R stands for rest and read time. The older two read their assigned books for an hour, and my kindergartener just plays quietly during this time.
Free Time – 3 pm
Usually by 3-3:30 pm R & R is over and the baby is waking from his afternoon nap.
Ninety percent of the time the kids play outside during any free time they have. Yes, even in the winter. They play until we call them in to take their showers before dinner, which is usually around 4:30pm in the winter.
If it is too cold, or wet, then they spend this time keeping busy inside. Right now they are enjoying watercolors, puzzles, and board games.
Dinner – 6:00 pm
We aim to have dinner around 6pm, and after that we spend time as a family.
It’s also the grouchy baby time, so we’re bathing him and getting him ready for bed right after dinner. We try to put him down around 7-7:30 pm.
Afterward, we hang out with the big kids before they go to bed at 8 pm. We spend the last half hour or so before their bedtime reading aloud, which is honestly the one thing about winter I love the most. More time inside at night reading together.
Lights Out – 8:30 pm on school nights & 9 pm on weekends
The big kids go to bed at 8 pm. They can read until lights out.
For the most part this is how our days flow when we have full days at home.
If we’re out of the house for any reason, we just pick up the routine wherever we are when we return.
- We have homeschool co-op one day a week. When we return home, we go right into R&R time for everyone. Afterward, the kids are free to play however they want, but first they read and rest.
- Right now we have one child doing basketball a couple of evenings a week. This interrupts our rhythm in the evenings, but again, we just pick up the rhythm wherever that may be when they return home for the night.
Overall, having a rhythm and routine to our days sets clear expectations for everyone involved. No one is constantly guessing, or wondering what’s coming next. I don’t get asked a million times for something they know isn’t part of our priorities right now (aka, tech time), and I don’t have to direct the children all day long in what’s next.
Having some key items added to their morning checklists, means we’re not searching for water bottles in the middle of read-aloud time when thirst inevitably sets in, and by the time the afternoon arrives everyone knows that rest is non-negotiable.
Also, I hang the new rhythm and routine on the fridge where everyone can see it, and I also keep a copy in my bullet journal planner so I can reference it when I’m planning. Having the routine visible is so helpful for keeping everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction.
And because I know I will be asked – I don’t have a printable for you to download. Rhythms and routines are unique to each family, so creating your own is simple enough to do. I use Canva for free, and it’s a simple way to make your routine “pretty” for display.
What about you? Do you change up your rhythm and routine with the seasons? What have you found most helpful in developing a routine your family will love?
Other posts you might like:
- My Planning Tools & Systems for Better Time Management
- A Simple To-Do List and Calendar System
- How to Do Yearly Planning to Be More Intentional
Need some help planning and keeping track of rhythms and routines year round?
If you want to make it even easier on yourself, then checkout the Made to Give Life Planner. Everything you need to think through and plan is built right into the planner’s pages.
You never have to remember to set your intentions for the season because you’ll be prompted at just the right time as you turn the pages of your planner.
I absolutely love this and am preparing a post on my own routine. All my kids are grown now though so, if it is OK, I plan to share a shout-out to this post and your resources as I think it would greatly help parents (especially the homeschooling type like we use to be 😉 Blessings to you and your family and your winter routine!