Refreshing your Routines for Fall -- Guest post by Connie Sokol

Last spring I met Connie in a writer's group. She's funny, smart, and full of great ideas. I liked her immediately. I got to spend more time with her at LDStorymakers, where we discovered we had similar attention spans and neither of us felt like listening to an infomercial when we were hungry. Thanks for stopping by, Connie.

It’s that magical time when children go back to school and you try to find the kitchen counter.  Now is a fabulous time to reset routines, establish cleaning patterns, and find free time for yourself so that everyone in the family will feel “fall refreshed.”

Reset basic routines. Sit in a comfy chair—preferably with a tall lemonade—and simply consider the main routines in your family’s life. What are the key times you are all at home and what are you doing? Where are the main messes and how can you contain them? For example, when children come home from school they have two things on the brain: snack and play. You have two things on the brain: what’s in their backpack and hearing about their day. Consider how to make those simple things a routine. For example, create a Kids Counter—one small counter space, baker’s rack, or side table that is strictly for children’s papers. Use office stacking trays (in great perky colors) and label one per child. When they come home, have the snack on the counter and chat; meanwhile you grab the backpack and sort what’s to do (goes in the backpack) and what’s completed (put in the labeled tray).  Easy peezy, lemon squeezy. After they’ve chilled (and preferably you too), homework time can begin with a “Bring your backpack to the kitchen table.” While you’re cooking dinner, they’re making homework magic.

Cleaning zones that work. If you have children, you have free labor—I mean, a great opportunity to teach important life skills. As a mother, you’re privileged to let children clean, cook, and do self-care to prepare for future adulthood (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  For cleaning zones that actually work, again, sit down in that comfy chair and think (see a common thread?) Consider the areas that are most vital: entry way, kitchen, living room, family room, etc. They now become “Zones”.  Assign each child a zone (if there aren’t enough children, recruit neighbor kids in exchange for ice cream) and rotate the zones every two weeks. Children’s bathrooms and bedrooms are not zones but their own responsibility to deep clean once a week (deep clean means more than a tidy, i.e. bread crusts and overdue library books out from under the bed). If you’re children aren’t as familiar with cleaning, create a Job Card—don’t wait for die cuts and matching paper. Simply type four to five steps to complete a zone, put it in a plastic sleeve, and tape it to the back of a nearby door.  It’s ideal to model first what you need done, and definitely reward great work with allowance or extra computer time. While this may sound daunting, it is—but only at first. Monday is our day for Cleaning Zones (plus rooms and bathrooms). Years ago it took three hours with six young children; now it takes 45 minutes, but still with occasional whining. To make it that much sweeter—for you—choose a Zone Supervisor, a child to check that the zone is complete. A thorough supervisor gets extra computer time (and great experience with negotiation skills and siblings).

Free time for you. With the two above routines of Kids’ Counter and Cleaning Zones, you should already be seeing your fabulous free time expand. But if you need a little more, consider a few ideas. Choose a no-chore day (try Friday) or a deadline for mama’s chores (i.e., 9 to 5). Choose one regular day for basic errands such as groceries and household items, and let the family know—“Last call for poster paper—after that, those shoes were made for walkin’.”  And choose your time of day to be off-duty (because a mother’s work is never done—it pulsates in the corner like a 50’s horror movie). My children know I love and adore them, until 9 p.m. Then out comes the Wench Mom, a strange and scary being who is better left alone.

Try one or all of these thoughts and I can honestly, truly, with a money-back guarantee, promise you a more refreshing, peaceful, and fun fall ahead.
Connie Sokol

Connie Sokol is a mother of six, national and local presenter, and author of four books including “Faithful, Fit & Fabulous” now available in bookstores. She is a former radio and TV host for KSL, and will be returning as a contributor to KSL’s “Studio 5” morning show beginning September 22nd as a Life Management Coach. For more blog posts and info visit

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Tawnie said...

The great thing about school starting back up is I seem to be ready to get back on a schedule and routine. And every year, little by little, we build on that. I feel bad for my oldest children who will never experience the mother I am working on becoming. They get the mother that has no clue what's going on. Sad.
But then the great thing about summer break is it seems just the time (or a little late) to drop all those schedules and routine and live care free!!!
And that wench mom that comes out after 9. She appears around 8 around here. Wish she'd hold off a bit but it's like clockwork.
Thanks for the great tips!

Scott / Lori said...

I loved reading these tips and can definitely use them around my chaotic house! WE are working on getting back on track and this post was a good reminder of what I need to do.
I love the job zones and the Job Card. My kids are defintely going to do a better job if they can look at a paper that tells them exactly what to do. THanks for the great tips. Here's to a happy fall for us all!!!