It’s much easier to enjoy our kids and to be a happy family if we have certain habits in place.
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.
Make 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.
A Big Myth About Routines:
Myth: You Need a Great Routine for Your Whole Day.
That routine you see in the picture above? It’s been made of over time out of lots of little routines, and we’re still working on getting it right. 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 really 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.
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 Routines:
- Think about the worst 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.
- What NEEDS TO HAPPEN? Cut it down to the bare minimum. I would love for my kid to make their bed in the morning, but we’re not there right now, so I stick with get dressed, eat breakfast do a chore (and “do a chore” is still a euphemism for what the five year old does by staying in the same room with me while I fold laundry…). Think: What needs to happen? and what would make the biggest difference timing-wise? (i.e. our kids are basically 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.
- Don’t get too detailed. Some of us can be more detailed than others, but for the most part, try for getting the basic shape of your routine in place first, then add. Some days (most days? Or is that just me?) 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 with making routines that work?
- 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!