I think most of us know that routines help make our lives run smoother – that is, until they don’t. It’s perfectly normal to have to change things up as the kids grow; having to change your routine and cast off what isn’t working any more isn’t some failure on your part, just growing pains!
When I find myself in the Dark Pit of Parenting, I know that one thing it means is that we are in desperate need of some better routines for our family. Unfortunately this means we have to deal with the discomfort and discombobulation that comes with starting those new routines.
We, being creatures of habit, sometimes let unhelpful habits or routines sneak up on us, and then chaos descends. Somewhere in between scrambling to make lunches and digging through that basket of laundry for the fourth time we realize we’ve got to revamp our routines and come up with something better.
5 Tips for Starting A New Routine:
1. Get inspired – when we most need a new routine is when it feels most difficult to come up with one.
Find books, or talk to a friend with good ideas to psych yourself up for a change.
- Helpful books that I know of for getting your routine back on track. Happily, these are Amazon links and help support CWK, but cost you nothing extra at purchase:
Written by a mom of three, talks about how to make a flexible daily routine.
Making “Baby Steps” to a peaceful home. Also see FlyLady.net for the website.
It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys – Helps you understand what YOU personally need to get organized.
2. Be ready for some rough patches – new routines feel funky at first – they aren’t familiar or, well, routine yet. Know that this is the case. When it all feel weird just remind yourself that it’s just a beginning and it will get better.
- Write it down. That way when you don’t know what to do next, you can look at your “cheat sheet.”
3. Plan around meals – We’ve all got to eat. And it happens over and over and over. (I know, this is a tough truth…) If you write down your meal times you can begin to plug in basic activities around those. This gives you something to “pin” an activity to (ie. We have a quick clean up before dinner.) You’ve got to get something pinned down to gain momentum.
Regular meal times should also help every body have more even energy through the day making most things run smoother.
- You can find many different menu planning services online if this is a task that’s tripping you up. I have had success using emeals when I want help with menu planning. You can read my review and more about how I use this service here.
4. Be steadfast – Children often fight a routine for some time, testing out the boundaries of a new plan. If they are grousing about it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong.
Consider whether there is a good reason to switch your routine, but know that some children need to push boundaries to find out where the edge is and whether you will hold them back from it, so to speak. My boundary pusher does best with a strong routine AND fights it like crazy (a mighty perplexing and frustrating trait!)
5. Jump right in! You’ve got to plan a little and try a lot. Don’t get so wrapped up in planning that you never start. It will never be totally perfect and there will never be the perfect time to try your new routine.
This is not an institution, it’s home and a family – bumps, false starts, and grace for mistakes are all included. Our children need to see us make mistakes, forgive ourselves and move on. Your new routine may take while to feel comfortable, but gradually you’ll see what’s working for whatever new phase you’ve entered.
If you’ve been stuck, I hope this helps you get moving! Starting a new routine can feel daunting, but the moment you put just a couple things in place, it all starts to feel a little easier. Now, to put this into action for myself too…
Have any great books or other resources you use for making your family’s routine?