Creating routines for moms, especially if you’re a stay at home mom, might seem like a pointless task. If you’re in survival mode, just trying to make it to bedtime, how can you create a daily routine, let alone use one effectively???
I was so much more organized when I was a working mom than a stay-at-home mom, simply because I had to be. But after months of feeling like I would never get my act together as a SAHM, I finally stopped to think about what had changed.
What was so different about my life now?
WHY couldn’t I get my act together as a stay-at-home mom?
Bottom line, when I was working, I had routines. I had plans. I had schedules in order to stay organized.
But life as a stay-at-home mom can be organized, too.
If you’re struggling to “get it together” on a daily basis, here’s how you can create a daily routine to simplify (or at least organize) your life.
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Use a planner, even when you don’t leave your home
Writing things down in a planner helps you organize your day. It also helps you remember upcoming appointments.
Maybe you have a stockpile of planners and journals and notebooks collecting dust. Maybe you’ve given up on trying to create a routine or organize your day. Or maybe you think that you don’t need to use a planner if you’re staying home.
A planner only works if you use it.
I was religious about planning my day when I was working, but when I became a SAHM, I stopped using it. I would set reminders in my phone for upcoming appointments, but I would “just wing it” for everything else.
And then I wondered why I was disorganized.
I’ve since returned to using a paper planner, even on days when I don’t leave the house. It will help you create structure in your day, make you feel more organized, and help you get your thoughts, priorities, and focus on paper in a way that you can visualize.
Bottom line, even on cold winter days when you’re buried in Kleenex, laundry, and germs, your planner help will help you take control of your time.
Find out how you’re using your time
If you have a newborn or toddler, you’re just trying to make it through the day. After all, what’s a routine when your kids are up all hours of the night, taking short, inconsistent naps during the day, and needing a bottle and diaper change every two hours?
But that’s just it. Even when you think your kids aren’t following a routine, they are.
Kids (and moms) still need to eat on a schedule. They still sleep according to a schedule, even if it’s not the schedule that you would choose. And they still feel secure when they’re following a schedule.
Whenever my kids were sick and my mom would watch them instead of sending them to daycare, she would write down their schedule. Everything from their medicines, time slept, and often they ate or went to the bathroom was recorded. But the fascinating thing was that, even though they were sick and weren’t following their typical daycare routine, they still fell into a pattern.
For a couple days, record your time. Even if it’s not a “typical week,” list everything that you do.
Be honest with yourself, though. If you grab your phone to send a quick text to the babysitter and get sidetracked on Facebook for 15 minutes, record that.
Once you’ve recorded your time, look for patterns.
Chances are, you’ve fallen into a routine, even if it’s not one that you particularly want to follow (hello, flop on the couch time after the kids go to bed).
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Create a daily routine based on how you spend your time
To create your routine, block out the non-negotiable activities that you do every day, like eating dinner. Base your routine on your time record.
You may notice that certain days are different on your time record, and that’s ok. You’re trying to create a basic routine. If your kids take naps from 1-3 p.m. on most days, include that on your routine.
However, you may notice that certain days are consistently different. For example, if you go to storytime at the library every Wednesday and your kids don’t take a nap until 2:00, make a different routine for Wednesdays.
Think about how much time you spend doing activities that you take for granted, like making dinner, or even throwing together a simple breakfast. As you add them to your routine, be honest about how much time they take.
Also, think about how you could streamline those activities. Could you batch cook one day a week and prepare your meals for an entire week? Or, as you make dinner on a night when you aren’t in a rush, double the recipe and freeze enough for an extra meal (I love using MyFreezEasy’s simple recipes for this).
Use time blocks and time chunks to schedule your day
Using time blocks and time chunks are really effective ways to stay on track with your routine.
On days when you have appointments or scheduled activities, time block your day.
To time block your day, mark out chunks of time when you will do certain tasks.
For example, if you have to take a child to dance class, block out the time that it’ll take you to travel to class, stay for the class, and then drive home.
Time blocking your day will help make sure you don’t double book yourself, and it’ll also help you be more realistic about how you spend your day.
On days when you just need to get a few things done around the house, like folding a load of laundry and actually putting it away, use a time chunk layout.
To set up a time chunk layout, block out large sections of your day, like during your child’s morning nap, afternoon nap, and at night after the kids go to bed. List a couple tasks that you need to finish during each block, like vacuuming during morning nap, cleaning the bathrooms during the afternoon nap, etc.
Set three goals or daily tasks that must get done
Every day, set three “must do” tasks or goals for the day. These could be things like finally putting away the kids’ laundry, vacuuming the stairs, or even spending 15 minutes to paint your nails.
Be careful to only set three goals to prevent overwhelm, though.
You could create an overarching theme for the week, like declutter the basement, and then break that down into smaller tasks that you could do each day, like decluttering the Christmas decorations one day, paper products the next, etc.
The trick to setting (and actually accomplishing) your goals is to stick to simple goals. If you know you only have 15 minutes to work on something, go ahead and start decluttering the kids’ toys, but realize that you may not finish the task.
As you’re setting your goals, make sure you’re being realistic about the time that each task will take.
Especially if you’re a mom with little kids, plan on doubling the amount of time that you think something will take.
Limit your to-do list
Similar to setting realistic goals, create a realistic to-do list. While it’s important to capture everything that’s in your brain so you don’t forget important reminders, you may want to consider making separate to-do lists.
Create a master to-do list of every task you need to complete.
Do a brain dump and capture everything from the tasks that you hope to “someday maybe” complete as well as the tasks that you absolutely must complete today.
But then you need to break down that list.
As you create your weekly and daily plan, pull a couple activities off your master to-do list to accomplish. Remember not to get too ambitious, though!
Choose one day every week to plan your upcoming week. You may want to do this on Friday night, based on what you still need to complete from that week, or even Sunday night, as you plan for the upcoming week.
Your weekly planning session shouldn’t take long, especially as you do it more frequently. Spend a few minutes planning your weekly menu, looking over your monthly calendar, and checking for upcoming appointments, kids’ practices, and schedules.
Also, take a couple minutes each day, either at night before bed or first thing in the morning, to plan your upcoming day. Are there any appointments that you need to plan? Do you have any scheduling conflicts?
Use this time to review your goals, track your habits, and set yourself up for success for your day.
By following these tips to create a manageable day, you’ll be able to stay productive and focused, even on days when you stay home, covered in tissues and germs.