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Morning High Five for the kids and myself

The daily rhythm of my home is changing soon, and it will be more important than ever to make sure our mornings run smoothly.

I remembered reading on Life As Mom about the idea of a Morning High Five for her kids. Picking the five most important chores, she made for them a colourful chart, like this:

Morning High Five chart from Life As Mom (click through for a printable and other awesomeness)

I decided to be creative and/or mysterious, so I mysteriously traced around the girls’ hands on coloured paper before school this morning, and whipped up my own version of the chart while they were away:

This is Lilly

This is a list for the girls, but there are kind of two lists in it for me.

The early morning list

So, there is literally nothing more important for me in the morning than making sure these things happen before 8:30am, for not only Lill but for Bella, Henry and myself. We all need to get through the full cycle of toilet, breakfast, dress’edness, teeth and hair, and the girls backpacks need to be packed. It’s nice if more things get done (a la breakfast dishes, made beds and so forth) but those can wait until after the school run. We must be realistic about these things. So I’ve split my school-morning routine into two. One is my own “High Five” list, and the other is all the entertaining (ha!) “extra” tasks that aren’t as mission critical as those that Get The Kids Out The Door.

The School Night Preparedness List

This is the most important, because nothing, nothing ruins the feng shui of a morning like the echoing cries of “Mum, I don’t have any clean knickers!” and frantic washing of yesterday’s lunchbox in order to fill it with today’s lunch. Horrible, stressful way to start the day, rummaging through the un-folded washing to find a uniform top and the right kind of undies and socks.

Well worth the effort, even when Bejewelled is calling to me.

What’s on your Next Day Preparedness List?

Just one thing: The power of the timer

So this morning I shared a post from I dream of Clean on the HomeRoutines Facebook page, and asked:

Do you have one little thing that would make a big difference if you got it done? We often have these little things on our “quality of life” to do list! I have a giant toddler handprint on my living room window – I think I will get to it because it is terribly distracting!

and then kept on sitting on my butt reading through my feeds and stuff.

And then I Dream of Clean popped up on my page and asked

Nice!!! Should we hold you to it? Maybe, let us know when it’s complete? 🙂

Ohhhh busted.

So I got up and took a photo of my toddler besmudge’d window:

and got out my window cleaner and cleaned that window, and the other window.

And then, since I was standing up without my laptop, I couldn’t help but notice that there were a few…other…. issues with my living room. Seriously.

This is pretty typical – laundry baskets, neary-finished folded washing, train track to nowhere, cushions off the sofa, and books every-which way.  What can I say, I have preschoolers!

But getting up and cleaning that one spot on one window totally gave me a burst of energy!

So I went with it.  I set my  timer for 11 minutes… turned on Dora The Explorer to distract wee Hank from further destruction… and by the time it went off, the living room was looking much better.  I kicked some cleaning butt!

For reals, Tim just came upstairs and said “So clean!!!

Sure, the floor could use a vacuum and I have still got a planter box of weeds outside the window.

But it’s a heck of a lot better, and that is just fine with me.

Gold Star blog posts!

Here are some relevant blog posts I’ve come across this week.  I usually post cool links straight to the HomeRoutines Facebook page when I find ’em, so Like us there to read them first!

On Routines and Schedules

  • Bookend Your Day: The Power of Morning and Evening Routines at The Art of Manliness
    • Imagine a string with a series of beads on it. The beads represent your goals, relationships, and priorities. Tip the string this way or that way, and the beads easily slide off and onto the floor. But tie a knot on each end of the string, and the beads stay put. Those knots are your morning and evening routines. They keep the priorities of your life from falling apart and thus help you progress and become a better man.
  • Reassess your Schedules and Routines at Productivity Your Way
    • … our daily routines and schedules have a huge impact on not just our productivity, but also our mood and relationships. Being over-committed, wasting time and misprioritizing all lead to stress and chaos.
  • Cleaning: Is it Better to Create a Schedule or Not? at Simplify 101
    • Scheduling tasks like cleaning can give you a tremendous sense of  freedom…and even room for spontonaeity! What works for you? Do you prefer to have a cleaning schedule…or does your life work better with out one?
  • Housekeeping Schedules and Daily Home Management at Home Sanctuary

    • Far and away, my most searched posts are the ones on setting up a housekeeping schedule. I imagine women stumbling across my easy system, and I can hear them saying, “FINALLY! A schedule that doesn’t make me feel like a failure before I even start!”

On Rocking your Timer

Kids’ Stuff

  • Homework without Tears (I mean you, Mom!) at The Happiest Mom
    • One place I’m working on this especially hard right now is establishing a new homework routine at our house.
  • Leafy Crafts at Kids Craft Weekly
    • This week, consider making the time to accompany the kids on a leisurely walk around your local area. Grab the hats, pack some drinks, choose a walking stick and get the kids to carry a basket or bag in which to keep any leaves that happen to take their fancy.

HomeRoutines 2.0.2 Release – Available now

Our latest update,  HomeRoutines 2.0.2 is available now. Thanks to everyone who has sent us feedback and reports of the app misbehaving – it helps us get to the bottom of these pesky bugs.

Added Syncing for users of old iPod Touches and iPhones running  iOS 3.1

When we released syncing in HomeRoutines 2.0, we only made that feature available to people whose devices were running iOS 4 or later. iOS 4 is a free upgrade for all devices, except for the iPod (1st Generation) and the original iPhone.

While we were testing the 2.0 update,  we felt that on these older devices, syncing was too slow. We were also concerned  that the app could not automatically sync when you exited, only when the app opened and when it was running.

However, we have received quite a few messages from people who want syncing to work on their older devices, so we have changed our mind and enabled syncing for these devices in HomeRoutines 2.02.

iPad users aren’t affected by this change, because HomeRoutines for iPad 2.0 and later requires the free the iOS 4.2 update. If you’re still running iOS 3.2 on your iPad 1, please do upgrade. iOS 4 fixes many bugs, and runs great on the iPad 1.

Fixed Bug: Saving Problems on 2nd Gen iPod Touch, and iPhone 3G

We’ve discovered a bug which specifically affects users with the iPod touch (2nd generation) and the iPhone 3G, who have registered for My.HomeRoutines. This bug can prevent recent changes being saved if you exit the app by pressing your device’s home button. We’ve fixed this bug in HomeRoutines 2.0.2.

In the meantime, press the power/lock button at the top of your iPod touch (2nd generation) or iPhone 3G when you’re done making changes in HomeRoutines, and your changes should be saved correctly.

We’d like to apologize to anyone affected by this bug.

Other Improvements

Version 2.0.2 also makes syncing faster, makes star reset when using syncing more reliable, and fixes a bunch of other bugs.

If you do have any problems with the app, please contact us at support@homeroutines.com. We’re happy to help.

Known Issue: errors caused by moving rooms between zones

Update: we’ve now resolved this problem on the server — you can move and edit your rooms without any problems now. If you’ve had some problems with this in the last couple of days, and the app doesn’t seem to be syncing now, then drop us a line at support@homeroutines.com, and we’ll get you going again.

We have become aware of a bug that occurs when you move rooms between zones in the app. Because of an error in the way that the syncing works, you can end up with unexpectedly duplicated or deleted rooms, and this can also cause HomeRoutines to crash.

We apologize for this bug, and recommend that you avoid moving rooms between zones for the time being.  We are working on the code on the syncing website to fix the bug, today, and will keep you posted.

Thanks to everyone who reports bugs to us – it helps us track them down and fix them as quickly as possible.

Squashing ALL the bugs (a small update)

We have identified some bugs in the HomeRoutines 2.0 update, and on the My.HomeRoutines website (sigh!), which we have fixed now.  We have submitted another update to Apple this morning.  In the meantime, if you haven’t updated your app yet, you might want to wait until the next update appears, or just be aware of the issues described here:

  • My.HomeRoutines website
    This morning we’ve updated the software on the My.HomeRoutines website. If you were having trouble editing data online when you first registered, try again.
  • HomeRoutines app
    If you’ve registered for My.HomeRoutines, and then add several lists in one go using the app, it can cause the app to crash. This sucks.  We have identified and fixed this bug and are submitting an update to Apple today, which will hopefully go through quickly. What’s more, a few people won’t be able to register for My.HomeRoutines at all. If you’re one of these people, hang tight, and the update should fix the problem within a few days.
  • iPad version of HomeRoutines only
    There is a bug in how HomeRoutines detects the version of iOS that your iPad is running, and this is causing the My.Homeroutines button to not appear on some devices. If you’ve updated HomeRoutines on your iPad and you can’t see the My.HomeRoutines button, please update to the latest version of iOS.  (Plug your iPad into iTunes and click Check for Updates)  Alternatively, wait until our next update is approved, as this will fix it.

As always, if you have any further questions or issues, please email us on support@homeroutines.com

Introducing HomeRoutines 2.0 – with FREE Sync and online editing

If you wondered why we’ve been a bit quiet, it’s because we’ve been working very hard to get this awesome update ready for you!

Thank you so much to our beta testers who provided some excellent feedback and asked sensible questions – we couldn’t have done it without you!

FREE Multi-Device Sync

You can now keep all the devices that are running HomeRoutines in sync with our shiny new sync service.

This shares and syncs all your lists and the completion of tasks between the devices, so whether you’ve got your iPhone or iPod touch in your pocket, or you’re working with the family on your Saturday chores on the iPad,  they will all say the same thing.

Sync ALL the things. I can't draw stars.This is a poorly photoshopped version of one by the glorious Allie of Hyperbole and a Half from her story  This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult. It’s funny because it’s true)

How to join up

To register for this free service, just scroll down the home screen and tap My.HomeRoutines.

Do this on your main device, if you have more than one; you want the syncing data to be based on your “best” version of HomeRoutines, where you’ve got it set up just so.

You will need to register, then confirm your email address.

How does the Syncing Work?

Once you’ve created an account, and confirmed your email address, you will be able to sign in to that account with any other devices you wish to sync with.

The syncing works by sending a copy of your data to our web server, where it is kept safe and private.  (You can read our privacy policy, also under My.HomeRoutines on your app)

HomeRoutines will sync only when it is the foreground app (ie, the one you are looking at right now, not when the phone is locked or sleeping, or you’re using another app. While it is the foreground app, it will sync every minute, and also when you leave the app. Syncing sends a very small amount of data, detailing any changes to your lists or your completed tasks.

Although the data is copied and synced to the web server, it is still on your device, so if you’re out and about you don’t need internet or wifi access to view your lists.  (I’ve suffered through trying to get slow internet access in a supermarket to view my online shopping list enough times that I’m not inflicting that on you!)

But Wait There’s More! My.HomeRoutines.Com

Since we were getting all the data going to the web in order to make syncing work, we thought “What the heck” and decided to make it editable online as well. This is a special FREE service that is only available to users of the HomeRoutines app.

When you register for My.HomeRoutines on your device, you can use the same user name and password at http://my.homeroutines.com.  Online, you can edit your routines, to do lists and zone tasks.

You can also back up and restore your HomeRoutines data on the site.

The web version does not yet have all of the features of the app, so you can’t yet:

  • Change routine or zone schedules.
  • Edit your daily messages (although they are displayed).
  • View your accomplishments.
  • Use the timer
  • Also, scheduled routine and zone reset only happens when you run the app.

So, yeah.   We’re really proud of this update, and hope you enjoy it!

As always, if you have any problems or questions, send us an email at support@homeroutines.com

HomeRoutines 1.8.3 Released

Last week we received a report via email of a problem where a customer had lost some changes they made in HomeRoutines. We also saw an recent app store review where someone had seen a similar issue. Here at Wunderbear we take bugs, particularly anything which can cause data loss, very, very seriously. It breaks our geeky little hearts to see someone report a problem like this! So we sat down with a vat of tea to try and sort things out.

HomeRoutines takes great care when saving data, even keeping the previous version of your data around in the case of problems.  But a couple of versions of HomeRoutines ago we tweaked the saving process, where your changes are written to the flash memory, so that we didn’t save so often. This helps with battery life, and performance (especially on older devices). But we went too far. Things still worked perfectly as long as everything went as expected, but on mobile devices strange stuff can happen. Batteries run flat unexpectedly, the OS can terminate apps in odd states, and sometimes you just hit a weird bug. When these unexpected things happened, it could cause changes not to be persisted. We think the problem is very rare, but any amount of data loss is not OK.

So we’ve just released version 1.8.3 of HomeRoutines. It improves the saving system so that changes should never be lost, even if the worst happens.

Having said all that, it’s pretty easy to lose your data for any iPhone app by accidentally unchecking the app in the iTunes, and the iTunes backup doesn’t often help, because it’s replaced at every sync. This is why we added the local backup feature back in version 1.5, then made it better in version 1.8 by letting you copy the HomeRoutines data file directly from iTunes. However, manual backup is still a hassle. Stay tuned for some much better solution coming real soon now.

Menu Planning

Do you menu plan? I do, in a sort of ad-hoc way.  I always plan a week’s worth of dinners before I go to the supermarket. Before I write my list, I have a look at what’s left in the fridge, and check out what is going to come in our weekly fruit and vege box, and check the calendar for any upcoming events where I’m supposed to “bring a plate.”   Having a list doesn’t mean that I cook the exact things I thought of when I wrote my list, but it means that I have the general ingredients in stock to make something. I don’t plan dinners for particular days of the week because I don’t like being bossed around, even by my past self. We usually just see what we feel like on the day.

I’m not very high-tech with my list – I have a stack of little index cards that I bought years ago thinking I’d rock me a Hipster PDA, and so I write a list of 7 dinners on a card and stick it on the fridge with a magnet.  Past weeks’ lists are in a stack on top of the fridge, which I review for ideas if I’m feeling uninspired, or whenever they cascade onto the surprised head of whoever’s opened the fridge door

So that isn’t a very sophisticated way of menu planning, but it works for me.

Here are some great posts on Menu Planning from some of my favourite Housework Ninjas:

A few people have mentioned that they use the daily reminders feature of HomeRoutines to put their menu plan for the week in, then they get a reminder of what’s for dinner whenever they look at the app. That is an excellent idea!