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How to Create a Routine: What Programs Work and What Don’t

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When you have kids, creating routines for moms (and following them) may feel like trying to climb Mount Everest with your kids hanging around your legs.

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 daily routine yourself? Do you have a schedule that your entire family follows?

Routines can benefit everyone in your family, not just your toddler. Here’s how to create a routine and which programs are most helpful.

how to create a routine: which programs are the most helpful

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.

The next day, I was cranky, sluggish, and a space cadet.

When my toddler didn’t get enough sleep or wouldn’t follow her routine, it was obvious. I’m beginning to realize that I’m the same way.

I had been craving a new routine, but I was ignoring the signs and struggling to get my life in order.

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

How do you keep track of your appointments, to-do list, and all.the.things?!?

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 eventually created the Organized Motherhood Planner. It has a place to time block your schedule and list your most important tasks, in addition to reminders for changing the laundry and doing the dishes.

Create a Command Center

A command center is the perfect place to keep the whole family on task.

While a planner is the perfect place for moms to stay focused, a command center can be a place in your home where anyone can look and find chore charts, meal plans, and a family calendar.

I’ve been craving a large command center for years, but I kept procrastinating because I had visions of a Pottery Barn, Pinterest-perfect wall in my kitchen that I just didn’t feel confident creating.

command center

While you can create a beautiful Pinterest-perfect command center with these Erin Condren accessories, feel free to create a less permanent option with removable wall stickers from Amazon.

I ended up using these Wall Pops Organizers in my house, and the whole family loves it!

Below the stickers, I hung these really pretty hooks for backpacks and then we have a bench with baskets for shoes and drawers for hats and mittens. It’s perfect for keeping things organized but still pretty (when the kids aren’t misspelling the University of Michigan fight song)!

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’m not a morning person on the best of days and 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 good things that are important to you while having stress-free morning rituals.

Best of all, you don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to have the perfect morning routine. With a little planning, even if you have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, you can create a successful 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 every single day.

Make Over Your Evening Routine

Are you a night owl, too? 

Have you taken your chronotype quiz? It’s a fun way to determine your energy levels, and it explains how to be the best version of yourself by getting the sleep you need regularly. 

I’m a dolphin, which explains SO MUCH.

Regardless of your sleep habits, the most important thing is to create a night routine that works for you.

Crystal Paine also has a course to create an evening routine that helps you break bad habits and create healthy habits to give you more energy, stick to your sleep schedules, and have less stress at the end of the day.

Get Make Over Your Evenings here to create a positive daily routine that will help you finish the most important things before bed.

Establish a Daily Cleaning Routine

Years ago, I tried to create new habits 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 that I can manageably complete on a regular schedule (without following an overwhelming sequence of actions).

I created my own Organized Motherhood Home Binder filled with packing checklists, essential tasks, 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 (I actually printed it and hung a laminated copy on my refrigerator).

Trying to create a cleaning routine? Try this daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning planner.

But if you’re looking for a complete cleaning planner to stay on track with your regular cleaning as well as room-by-room checklists, get the Organized Motherhood Cleaning Planner HERE.

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?” – Jennifer 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 the good habits to get there.

The Ultimate Guide to Doing a Brain Dump

The easiest way to stop overthinking and make sense of your daily to-do list is to create a brain dump. I typically create a brain dump during my Sunday planning on a weekly basis, but I often do one at the start of the day to make sure I’m not stressed or wasting mental energy trying to remember all.the.things I need to do each day.

In the past, I used to do a brain dump every evening before leaving work so that I knew exactly which challenging tasks I needed to start the following morning (this also relieved stress so I wasn’t up all night worrying about the different tasks I would need to finish the next day).

Successful people make lists and set themselves up for success the next morning.

By doing a brain dump on a regular basis, you’ll stop the overwhelm and have better mental health, in addition to giving yourself the gift of laser-like focus on your next step tasks.

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’ve been in survival mode more than I care to admit. Even if you have a perfect routine, survival mode just seems to turn it upside down.

So how do you get out?

Making better decisions and learning to say no has been a game-changer for me. 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 Group 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 daily schedule.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode book

Another great resource for taking charge of your time is the book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine.

Bonus: get the audiobook for free with a free 30-day Audible trial!

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

Related reading on Organized Motherhood:

How to Create Your Ideal Morning Routine

11 Ways to Simplify Your Morning Routine

15 Ways a Routine Can Simplify Your Life

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Tuesday 16th of May 2023

I need a routine and a planner and without that, I am lost. Thank you from your Vroom Vroom Team for sharing your links with us at SSPS. Please check back on Monday to see if your content has been featured.


Tuesday 31st of May 2022

I am nothing without my planner! It helps me stay organized and keeps my head from getting too overwhelmed with everything I need to do... Plus, I love checking things off once they are done! Jenna ♥ Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

Niki - Life as a LEO Wife

Friday 11th of March 2022

I'm definitely in need of a routine. Since starting my blog, I've been busy all day every dy. Over the last year I've spent 10 to 12 hours a day trying to make my blog successful. That's my routine lol. My wonderful hubby comes home and gets dinner done while I help my son with his homework. I really need a better routine! I'd love for you to come link up on my newest link party, Crafty Creators. It's open from 6am CST Thursdays thru Mondays at 11:59pm. You can also share on Happiness is Homemade (our veteran party) while you're there if you haven't already. It's open Sundays thru Thursdays. I hope to see you there! Pinning! XOXO, NIki


Sunday 24th of October 2021

Omg, how do I get THIS organized?! You're amazing but using it all need quite a discipline. I feel motivated now though! We're right after sleep training with Susan Urban's new book on toddlers ( and we changed our routine and timing a bit so it may be good time for implementing ideas like yours! Thank you.


Tuesday 30th of November 2021

@Diane, I've been using this new book too lately! I love Susan's books and her approach. I cannot be that hard! We can do it 💪🏻


Thursday 6th of July 2017

Technology is great....but it's funny how the simple things are what works. You can try all of the organization hacks in the world, but simply writing things down and waking up a little earlier always seem to work the best. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Alison Lange

Saturday 15th of July 2017

Yes, I would be lost without my list. It's funny how much of a difference writing things down can make.