20+ Ways to Make the Most of Your Daily Parenting Routine


Day-to-day parenting can at times feel like a scene out of the movie Groundhog Day. While there might be slight differences each day during the school year grind, the days can start to blur into one continuous loop with little time for fun. Lunch packing, pickups, and drop-offs. Appointments, activities, and cooking. Cleaning, grocery shopping, and homework. The drudgery can be enough to put even the most energetic and positive of parents in a rut.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that life truly is what you make of it. Each day we can choose to be happy no matter what our mood or circumstance. When it comes finding happiness in our lives as parents, usually it is the small moments that matter most. Like one of those paintings that looks like a jumble of dots up close but then form a clearer picture the further away you stand, these little moments add up to form the shape of your life together with your family. A hug, a song sung together, a game made out of a chore, even the smallest parts of your day can be used as opportunities for connection and fun. Here are 22 favorite ways to make the most of the parenting moments in your daily routine:


  1. Put on music and have a dance party.
  2. Drop onto the floor and pretend to be asleep.
  3. Throw the clothes you are folding around and yell, “Ah! Mama is going crazy! Want to go crazy with me?”
  4. Play ‘I Spy With My Little Eye.’
  5. Read a story to your children during mealtimes to encourage them to eat.
  6. Take a nighttime walk before bed to get the wiggles out.
  7. When you are frustrated or excited, sad or happy, or any other emotion in front of your children, talk about what you are feeling and what you are going to do with it (take a deep breath, do a crazy dance, be quiet for a while, etc.). Labeling your big feelings and sharing how you handle them will give your children a positive model on how to manage their own big feelings.
  8. Make grocery shopping a scavenger hunt. Have your children hold the list and pen, help you hunt for what you need, and cross the items off as you find them.
  9. Stop everything you are doing and get on the floor and play with your child, even if it is just for five minutes.
  10. Let your children choose your outfit. Who cares if you look funky? Strangers at the grocery store will forget how weird you looked but your children will never forget that you trusted their opinion enough to let them do this.
  11. If your grown-up worries (or anything else for that matter) make you snap at your children, own your mistake and apologize.
  12. Get crafty and make fairy wings, animal masks, superhero capes, or whatever else seems exciting. Keep these in reserve and bust them out on days when everyone needs a pick-me-up. Bonus points for making them with your children. Double bonus points for wearing one yourself.
  13. Share stories: build moments into your day to allow time and space for your children to talk about what they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
  14. Sing. Even if you think you can’t. Songs can turn tense moments and long car rides into fun, especially if everyone sings together.
  15. Put food on your child’s plate in the shape of a funny face, or a wheel, or whatever else inspires you. Eating an “eyebrow” is soooo much more fun than eating a plain old carrot stick!
  16. When your children have a big feeling don’t try to talk them out of it. Listen and offer empathy, letting your child take the lead.
  17. Break up your routine! Frozen yogurt on a school night, an extra twenty minutes to stay up and have special one-on-one time with a parent, a dinner or play date with friends during the week. Heck even driving home a different way every once in a while can be fun. 
  18. Talk in a monster voice, or a goat voice, or a happy or sad voice, or whatever else feels right.
  19. Encourage your children to take deep breaths in and out by having them “smell the flowers” to inhale then “blow bubbles” to exhale.
  20. Hunt for letters and colors when in the car or out on a walk.
  21. Hug your kids. Hug them a lot.
  22. Remember that the best way to have kind, happy, and healthy children who feel good in who they are is to be that person yourself. Take time to take care of you and you will be the best parent you can be!

How do you break up the daily parenting routine?

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Sara is a self-dubbed “child of the Northwest” having grown up in various parts of Oregon and Washington. Aside from brief stints living in Bordeaux, France and upstate New York, Portland has been her home since college, and she feels at home in its unique combo of wackiness and environmental activism. Sara has been passionate about green living since she was a teenager sneaking recycle bins into the classrooms of teachers reluctant to follow the three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle. Now as a mom of two energetic girl sprites disguised as children (aged 2 and 4) Sara spends her days balancing green living priorities with the realities of being a busy mom (kale in the mac n’ cheese!). You can read about her adventures in green living on her blog, greenmindedmama.com.