How to Make a Family Routine That Works
Rhythm and routine are what makes it possible to work at home when I have three young kids, they are what reduce temper tantrums and increases the fun activities we do together. Learn how to make a family routine that you can actually stick to.
It’s much easier to enjoy our kids and to be a happy family if we have certain habits in place.
A Big Myth About Routines
Myth: You Need a Great Routine for Your Whole Day.
A routine can be made of lots of little routines that work over time. The truth is it will likely evolve. You can lay out a general framework for your day, but don’t get so wrapped up in the details that it makes it impossible to be flexible.
I used to get WAY too detailed about what I wanted to get done and WHEN. It never worked. When we strayed from the routine, I got overwhelmed and just threw it all out. I thought routines were for moms more organized than me, but without them I couldn’t get anything done. I was floundering with a horribly messy house, grumpy kids and grumpy me. I felt guilty because I knew my kids needed some structure, but holding that structure seemed out of my grasp.
Something had to change and I knew it came back to routines.
After a year of homeschooling and being forced to figure it out or give it up, I finally found ways to make routines that really work for our family. I had to start small and build. Once I got one thing pegged down, it became easier to figure out the rest of the day.
I started seeing routines as a way to keep my sanity on long days. I also started seeing routines as a way to be sure I and connect with my kids every day. I began putting routines into place that supported what was most important to me.
Best of all, when I started small with my routines, right away I was able to start doing some of the things I always wanted to do with my kids, but never found the time for before.
How to Make Family Routines that Work
When you’re home all day with kids a good routine makes the difference between happiness and tears. When your kids are at school all day and you pick them up when you get off work, a good routine makes the difference between screaming and connection.
Routines give you a framework, a shape for your day. The kids get used to them so you have less fighting, and routines give you something to fall back on when you’re totally exhausted. With a routine that really works, you can make sure the things that need to be done, and the things that are most important to you, are happening.
I thought routines were for moms more organized than me, but without them I couldn’t get anything done.
The Big Routines are Built Out of Little Routines
It’s much easier to make a daily routine if you’ve got a few smooth spots in your day. Make a few smaller routines and build around them. Instead of looking at your whole day lets look at some little pieces and smooth them out.
Start Making Your Daily Routines:
- Think about the hardest part of your day – that’s where you need a routine first. Don’t worry about the rest, just make a little routine for that part of your day.
- Start with only the essentials – What are the MUST DO tasks? Cut it down to the bare minimum for building your routine. One you get the essentials down you’ll be able to add on more if you like.
- Consider if there is a more helpful order to do things in. (Don’t worry if you don’t know, we’re just experimenting here). For instance: my kids are ready to go if they get dressed before breakfast, but it seems to drag on forever if we wait until after they eat.
- Write down a routine. This is key because when things start to go haywire and you’re really tired, you’ll want that cheat sheet to tell you what to do next.
- Give it a try. Expect the first few days to go badly. Keep looking at your routine and trying to get back on track. Think of it as making gestures rather than a perfectly executed plan. After a week or so you’ll know where you need to adjust or change things. If things are going well you can add onto your routine.
- Protect against perfectionism! Set a reminder for yourself to reassess the routine in a week or two. This is to remind you you can make changes or refine your systems, you’re not failing if the first try doesn’t work, you’re figuring out what might work better.
The keys in making a routine are to start small, repeat long enough to start seeing patterns, and readjust as needed. Try for getting the basic shape of your routine in place first, then add more if you like. Some days (most days?) it won’t happen just like you planned. No worries – you can try again. I do best when I think of a routine as a sketch of how things will go and then I fill out the details depending on the events of the day.
Want more help on how to make family routines that work? Here some routine examples that we implemented.
- Make a kid-friendly cleaning routine
- Find a great alarm clock for your kids so they can start the day with independence
- Join the Parenting Secret Mission Society and get help from fellow “agents” on this mission!
How are your routines going? Do you have a rough spot in your day that you think would benefit from a good routine? Let us know in the comments and maybe we can help out!
64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
Subscribe to the Bounceback Field Notes to Download your FREE printable of 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids