This is really it in a nutshell. When I follow my kids' ( and my own) daily rhythms and make routines that accentuate the positive and alleviate the negative, then things are much more calm and productive. Meals, housework, schoolwork, and other necessities of life like paying the bills are easier to get done. It just takes some time and attention to get into the natural flow of things.
My kids, I've noticed, have really taken to having daily routines that we follow. (I've even caught my 12yo reading my Home Binder with interest. ) I do look at the clock, though, and try to keep to a set schedule around dinner/bedtime. My 5yo needs to be in bed by 7:00 or she is a bear to wake up for school in the morning. Knowing this, I plan to start dinner by 5 and have bath-time directly after we eat since my 2yo is always covered in food from dinner. In the morning, we also have to pay attention to the clock so that the girls are on time to school. Other times are more flexible, though. And I know that it's going to be so much harder to follow a schedule with a newborn, so I'm probably going to have to allot more time to tasks that need to be done by a certain time.
so we have moved across the country since i posted this and i am still very interested in figuring out our rhythms and hearing about others.