The past several months have all of us wondering how to get in a routine.
I’ve actually felt that way on many occasions; with change of every season, when I quit my job, and more recently while my parents were living with us.
The other day while I was running errands, I noticed I wasn’t as anxious as I’d been over the past several months. Life felt a little more settled. I knew it was because I was settling into a routine. Something I’ve had to learn to do many times in my life.
How to Get in a Routine
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This is a good time to reevaluate your goals. What mattered to you at the beginning of the year may not anymore. Especially since life is so different now.
Once you’ve done that, ask yourself what you’d like to get done in a day. As you come up with your list, filter it through these two questions:
- Does it align with the vision I have for my everyday life?
- Does my day include non negotiables? Non negotiables are the things that your soul needs in order to thrive. Your quality of life depends on it.
If you answered no to either of these questions, the next step is to do a little soul searching and figure out why.
Evaluate How Your Spending Your Time
Two of my non negotiables are outdoor time and movement or exercise. But, they weren’t happening.
(Unfortunately, doing yoga in my mind doesn’t count. And looking out my windshield as I run errands isn’t considered an outdoor activity.)
So I asked myself why I wasn’t getting outside or fitting in exercise.
The answer is my sleep routine. I have a bad habit of staying up til the wee hours of the morning and sleeping late. So, before I can even consider exercising or spending time outdoors I need the time and energy for it.
Once you know your reason, you can do something about it.
Track Your Habits
I picked a realistic bedtime and drew a habit tracking chart in my bullet journal. Every night before bed, I’d fill out the tracker with a check or an x.
- Monday – check
- Tuesday – check
- Wednesday – X
Now, it can be really tempting to give up when you mess up. But don’t. Use this opportunity to learn why you got off track.
In my case, I was trying to do too much. I wasn’t only tracking my bedtime, but I was trying to fit a lot into my day. (More than usual.) And I felt really constricted.
This happens a lot when we set goals at the beginning of the year, too. We hit the ground running and then lose steam by mid February.
The key to creating a daily routine you can stick to is to start slowly and build or change one habit at a time.
Tips for Planning Your Day
Research shows multitasking reduces productivity and negatively affects your brain. It’s probably why you feel so busy. Fortunately, There are two time management strategies that are a much more productive way to organize your busy mom schedule.
Time blocking is blocking off sections of your calendar to accomplish certain tasks. This method reduces decision fatigue and helps keep you focused.
It’s important to fill these blocks with your priorities. I divide my day into four blocks:
- Morning routine
- Work and movement
- Household chores and dinner
- Bedtime routine
My morning and evening routines are pretty standard. Within the work and household blocks, I refer to my daily chore routine and keep a running list of work to-dos, focusing on one main goal at a time.
Time batching is grouping like tasks together and doing them in one sitting. For example, I organize daily tasks into themes.
- Mondays are for planning. I plan my week, our menu, write my shopping and grocery lists, and schedule appointments.
- Tuesdays are for shopping, errands and appointments. That way I’m only running around town once a week instead of all week long. If you have kids, you might have to leave the house more than once a week. But, you can use that time to run errands nearby, meet with a friend, or exercise.
- On Wednesdays I write blog posts.
And so on. You might batch all your meal prep for one morning or afternoon a week. Or pick one day to clean, and another to do administrative work. Make batching work for you.
How to Organize Your Daily Routine
Now that you have determined your goals and what habits you need to build or change, you can create a daily routine. As you look at each day on the calendar, plug in appointments, meetings, after school activities, and family activities.
Then, schedule your time blocks and time batching tasks around those appointments.
How to Organize Your Day at Home
Of course, all this is much easier said than done if you’re working from home and the kids are attending school online. If that’s the case try these tips before you organize your day.
Establish a clearly defined work space for you and for kids. Defining the space signals your brain and helps you shift into work mode while the kids shift into school mode.
Set boundaries and have clear expectations. Chances are your workday lasts well past the kids’ school day. Be sure to let your children know your availability and under what circumstances they can come to you.
It’s so much easier to give up when something goes wrong. But it’s only easier in the moment. In the long run, you’ll still be dealing with the stressful circumstances you’re trying to get out of. So stick with it. Trial and error and consistency is key. Remember, it takes time to develop a solid routine.
A Sample Routine
- Morning Routine – wake, dress, breakfast. Be sure to allow time for yourself in this window. Even if it’s taking a few minutes before everyone wakes up to breath a few deep breaths.
- Work/School – If possible take your lunch break with the kids. You don’t have to eat with them if you need a little time alone, but eating at the same time can cut down on work disruptions.
- After School – Let them know how to transition from school to home. Set up the pantry so that they can easily get their own after school snack. If they’ve been sitting all day, they may need to get outside and play for a little bit. At that point, work from a place inside where you can see them or work outside for a bit. You can also set up some quiet activities they can choose from like screen time or doing a project from their cratejoy subscription box. There are over 100 types of boxes to choose from, and they are a great way to hold your kids interest.
- Dinner & Bedtime Routine – Let kids help with dinner. They can set out ingredients, unload and load the dishwasher or wash dishes and even set the table.
Ask for outside help if you need to. In my neighborhood Facebook group, several moms have offered to hire teenagers or college kids for after school help. If you have a teenager, let them drive younger kids to after school activities. (When I was a freshman in college, it became my job to drive my younger sisters and brother to school every morning.)
Whatever your routine looks like, it will go a long way in helping you feel like you’re getting your life back on track.
Remember, there’s not a right or wrong and not everyday will go according to plan. That’s okay. We’re in uncertain times and I know you’re doing the best you can. That is enough.
For more help getting into a routine, read: