When you have kids, creating and following a routine may feel like a pipe dream.
Sure, you may have your child on a sleep schedule or they may eat every three hours, but what about your schedule? Do you follow a routine yourself? Do you have a schedule that your entire family follows?
Routines can benefit everyone in your family, not just your toddler.
Especially since quitting my job, having my kids home from daycare, and starting a blog, my schedule has been all over the place. I’m the type of person who needs eight hours of sleep to function (ten would be great), but I was staying up all hours of the night to get things done. Then, during the day, I was cranky, sluggish, and a space cadet.
When my toddler doesn’t get enough sleep or doesn’t follow her routine, it’s obvious. I’m beginning to realize that I’m the same way.
I had been craving a routine, but I was ignoring the signs and struggling to get my life in order.
How to Create a Routine
I’ve tried to use different techniques to improve my morning and my day in general. Here’s what worked and what didn’t.
Get (and Use) a Planner
One of the areas where I had been struggling the most was getting out the door in the morning. I had big plans every day, but then I was either late or couldn’t make my scheduled activity at all.
I finally broke down and gave up on using a digital planner because using my phone as a planner was just too much of a distraction. I created a standard checklist of things that I needed to accomplish every day. Still, my mornings were an epic fail.
Since I was so far behind on my mornings, my disorganized, scattered attitude spilled over into the rest of my day. I was struggling to play catch-up all day long.
I eventually created the Organized Motherhood Planner and started time blocking my schedule and listing my most important tasks, like changing the laundry and doing the dishes, to make sure I got everything done.
For example, if I needed to take my son to the doctor, I blocked out the period of time from when I needed to leave the house until I got home. Then, I didn’t end up overbooking myself.
Time blocking also helped me to have a more realistic plan for my day. I could look at my planner the night before and know exactly what I needed to do and when I should be doing it.
Make Over Your Morning Routine
My youngest was impossible to sleep train, and getting out the door in the morning was a huge production (mainly because I couldn’t get out of bed to save my life).
I used to roll out of bed when my oldest tapped me on my face at 6 a.m., pour some cereal in a bowl, and plop him in front of the T.V. Then, I’d go back to bed to get “just a little more sleep” until my daughter started crying. By that point, I would only have about an hour to shower, nurse the baby, and get everyone dressed and out the door in time for preschool.
Needless to say, our mornings were not pleasant.
I stumbled upon Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course out of desperation. It teaches you how to create a schedule that works for you, and it’s self-paced.
Crystal manages to pack so much into her days, but she still takes the time to enjoy life and focus on the things that are truly important. In her 14 day course, she shows you how to make time for the things that are important to you and still have a stress-free morning.
Best of all, you don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to have a successful morning. With a little planning, even if you have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, you can create a morning routine that’s manageable.
Although the course shows you ways to make your mornings run smoother, it does more than preach the standard “lay out your clothes the night before” spiel that everyone else says.
The course focuses on helping you set goals for what you really want to accomplish throughout the day, month, and year, not just in the morning. It shows you how to break those goals into “bite-sized pieces” so that you can actually manage your goals.
Establish a Daily Cleaning Routine
Years ago, I tried to create routines with Flylady, which is a great resource to use if you need to completely overhaul your cleaning routine. However, I felt overwhelmed with the many long emails that she sent on a daily basis. I would often delete the daily emails before I even opened them, which defeated the purpose of having a reminder email.
With the Flylady system, my inbox was getting cluttered. This goes against the principle of minimizing clutter and creating a stress-free, simple routine. Instead of making me feel better about my cleaning routines, I was getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
On a positive note, Flylady inspired me to create my own cleaning checklist. I created a binder filled with packing checklists and detailed cleaning lists that I can refer to whenever I need. Then I simplified my regular cleaning into a one-page printable cleaning checklist that I can reuse every quarter.
While I initially only used it to plan for holidays, I created a quarterly cleaning plan, laminated it, and placed it in my planner. On stressful days, it helps me focus on the tasks that I need to start (and finish).
I also started using the Motivated Mom Chore Planner. The chore planner has a guided daily cleaning checklist and is super simple to use. It kept me focused on the day’s tasks and reminded me to regularly clean my freezer and do chores that I might otherwise forget. But best of all, it didn’t overwhelm me or add to my email clutter!
Be More Intentional With How You Spend Your Time
I also went through the Becoming a Deliberate Mom workbook. It’s so easy to slip into a routine and then realize that your routine is not what you intended.
“When I went to sleep that evening I realized that I spent the day doing so much for my children but I had done nothing with my children. If I were to tally the number of days that looked like this it would be an impossibility. It was then that I began to wonder: How is this parenting?” – Jennifery Bly in Becoming a Deliberate Mom
Being a mother is hard work, and we often forget to make time for the things that matter. This workbook sets you up for success by helping you figure out the kind of person that you want to be and creating a plan to get there.
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
When you’re struggling to even keep your sanity intact, thinking about a routine might seem impossible. After all, if every day is a struggle, how could you possibly add one more thing to your plate?
I’be been in survival mode more than I care to admit. Even if you have a perfect routine, survial mode just seems to turn it upside down.
So how do you get out?
One of my biggest takeaways from the Say Goodbye to Survival Mode course was making better decisions and learning to say no. Most of my “calendar issues” were my own, because even though I time blocked my day, I still added too much.
Yes, it’s possible to have a Mommy Morning breakfast and playdate, get the kids their allergy shots in the afternoon, choke down dinner, and still make it to swim lessons at 5:00, but at what cost?
My entire day would consist of checking the time and worrying about the next activity.
To get out of survival mode and actually create a daily routine that you can live with, you need to start being more intentional with your time.
What do you need to accomplish? Have you thought about how you’ll set yourself up for success?
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