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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 bought a paper planner because using my phone just wasn’t getting the job done. 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.

When you're trying to get organized, doing a brain dump and writing down your tasks is a great way to be more productive (and free up space in your head).

I finally started time blocking my schedule and blocking out increments of time to get 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.

Establish a Daily 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 checklists. I created a binder filled with packing checklists and detailed cleaning lists that I can refer to whenever I need. (Both my travel planner and cleaning checklist are available in the Tickling the Wheat Resource Library.)Sign up to access free printables, including a meal planner, cleaning schedule, and gift tracker.

While I initially only used it to plan for holidays, I created a new 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!

Make Over Your Mornings

I stumbled upon Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course. 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.

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.

Start Your Day Earlier

I also started the Abundant Mama’s Rise and Shine 10 Day Challenge. I feel relaxed just reading her emails. 😉

Being a mother is hard work, and we often forget to take time for ourselves. This challenge sets you up for success by giving you time for yourself. It’s about loving yourself enough to take even 10 minutes for yourself before anyone else wakes up.

One day of this challenge focuses on preparing for your day the night before. The rest of the challenge has great tips, like creating a nightly relaxation routine. Who hasn’t crawled into bed dog-tired, only to have their mind start racing with to-do lists and worries for the next day?

The main goal of the challenge is to get enough sleep and wake feeling great and ready to greet the morning.

Just Do Something

The Just Clean Something challenge from Simply Rebekah began Septemeber 1. Rebekah has a self-proclaimed hatred for cleaning, so she created this free challenge to provide motivation to go above and beyond your usual cleaning routine (or lack of routine if that’s the case).

While I enjoy cleaning on a regular basis (I love things like seeing the lines in freshly vacuumed carpet), there are some things, like taking Murphy’s Oil Soap to the kitchen cupboards, that I’ve been meaning to do for the past month. I tend to deep clean or go above and beyond my usual cleaning only when I have a reason, such as guests coming or an upcoming party or holiday. Other than that, unless the kids color on the windows, I usually stick to my standard cleaning, and forget about the rest of the house.

With this challenge, I found myself looking forward to spending a few minutes each day tackling things that I had been meaning to get to. I had both big and small tasks on my list, such as vacuuming the chairs, cleaning the blinds, and overhauling our closets.

What do you need to accomplish? Have you thought about how you’ll set yourself up for success?

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? Check out these different methods that help you create a routine that works.