Inside: If you’re still searching for the best daily routine for you and your kids, I have great news. One simple mindset shift will bring more peace to your days and order to your life.
The idea of a routine is great, but…
You have great intentions and try to create a plan for your day. But life’s crazy right now. You’re sleep training the youngest and potty training the oldest which makes for some sleepless nights.
Those unpredictable nights have a way of spilling over into the rest of your day.
And I know what you’re thinking.
“How can I get into a routine when we can’t even master a normal sleep schedule?”
A set plan for your day feels like a luxury when you’re simply just surviving. (Thanks, caffeine!)
The struggle is real.
You’re torn because know you and your kids would do better with a routine. But it can feel tough to get a grip when you’re managing the needs of multiple people in your home.
Besides, you’ve tried to schedule out your days. Everything goes great for a week or two.
One day, you’re feeling accomplished…and know you’ve totally got this!
Then something happens to send your whole schedule off the rails for good.
I know because I’ve been there too.
In the early days at home with kids, I struggled to find the balance we needed in our day-to-day. I just knew that I could be more organized if I could find more time in the day somehow.
And, just as I started to feel like we were getting it, something would change. Sleep regressions, vacations or an ear infection had the power to completely derail our schedule. It left me feeling frustrated and defeated. I truly thought I just wasn’t capable of sticking to a schedule now that I had small kids.
Even still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that some structure was a good thing. Days without a plan left me feeling anxious and out of control. The lack of structure left the kids extra fussy and uncooperative. I craved order and a flow to our day.
As I read up on the psychological benefits of routine and observed the behavior patterns in our own home, a lightbulb went off.
So it wasn’t all in my head!
We truly do thrive off of knowing what to expect of our day. It’s a proven fact that a set plan has the power to give us a sense of calm. It also helps to stave off depression, anxiety, and general overwhelm.
The reason behind this is that when we organize ourselves and know what to expect, it’s easier to actively work towards counteracting the thoughts and symptoms of any of the aforementioned mental health conditions.Mariana Plata from the gen y sci
It’s not just adults that experience this. Lack of routine also affects children negatively.
In a study conducted by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology on the relationship between routines (or lack thereof) and child impulsivity, they found that households lacking in routine and structure had children that ranked higher on the scale of hyperactivity & Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). On the other hand, children that came from households operating under a moderate routine scored lower on scales of hyperactivity and ODD (i.e. acting out).
I knew it! It was true that when we adopted a loose schedule, my kids woke up excited for the day. They were less fussy and more cooperative with the normal daily tasks.
According to a great article on the Aha Parenting website, there are a host of other benefits to kids in maintaining a daily routine too.
- They learn to take charge of their own activities. Once they know what’s expected of them, they’ll feel empowered to eventually try on their own. “Every morning when I wake up, mommy takes me to the bathroom to go potty. Today I’ll do it by myself.“
- They learn to look forward to things they enjoy. Bedtime is my favorite time to share a fun thing we have planned for the following day. When they know what to expect, they tend to wake up mentally prepared for their morning tasks. And ready to take on the day.
- Routines help you to build in opportunities to connect. A plan for your day allows you to take charge of your time instead of falling victim to it. By identifying the best pockets of time for activities, you can plan meaningful activities & interactions.
Related post: 50 Awesome Ways to Bond with Your Kids
So, what you’re truly needing for your days is a loose plan guided by grace and intentionality. The best daily routine will have plenty of room for real-life but still offer the structure your kids need to feel secure.
So that begs the question…
How do you create the best daily routine when the only thing constant in your life is change?
First, quit the “all-or-nothing” mentality. What you need right now is a game plan, not a rigid and unrealistic schedule.
Next, give yourself and your children grace. What’s happening in your kids’ life right now, and what support can you offer them? What are their energy patterns throughout the day? They have awesome internal clocks but don’t always articulate what they need through words.
Grab a piece of paper or download the free SAHM Planner. Then jot down the behavioral patterns as you notice them each day for about a week.
- What time do they tend to wake up?
- When do they show signs of being restless or grumpy? This could be signs of hunger, boredom, mental overstimulation, or needing to rest. Based on what you’re doing around this time, can you assess what they need?
- Are you scheduling in mandatory clean-up time after play-time? Kids start this process at 2+ in preschool, so it’s a great time to start it at home too. By teaching them to pick up after themselves early on, you’ll avoid having to correct bad habits in the future.
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Start with this SAHM planner guide to help you create your ideal daily routine.
The next step is to visualize the day ahead.
Take five minutes in the morning before your kids wake up to visualize the day ahead. (Or, if you’re more of a night person, do it before you go to bed.)
For example, our “typical” daily schedule looks like this:
6:00 Kids Wake Up
1:00 Nap/Quiet time
7:00 Baths & Bedtime Prep
8:00 Lights out
Ask yourself the following questions:
- “If everything went according to plan, how would that look?”
Visualize your day from the moment your kids wake up all the way to “lights out” at the end of the night. (It doesn’t take that long, trust me). Jot this down in the mood flow section of your free SAHM Planner.
- “What went well yesterday?”
Example: Prepping snacks & meals ahead of time allows me to stay in the present moment more.
- “What could we adjust for today to run smoother?”
Example: They could use more outdoor playtime but it’s too hot in the afternoon. I’ll move playtime to the morning before the sun is too intense.
- “Am I leaving time to honor my needs?”
As the leader of the house, it’s so important that you don’t neglect your own needs. It’s not selfish, it’s smart. As they say, “If mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
Kids are smart and they pick-up on our non-verbal communication. They thrive knowing that mom’s happy too.
Take a minute to reflect on how you’re feeling. Identify one small thing you can do to nourish your mind/body/spirit. Is it 5 minutes to meditate? 10 minutes for a power nap while your child naps? Or maybe taking a 10-minute mental escape with an audiobook as you fold laundry.
Surprising things I’ve learned:
In our house, by 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. my kids are at their peak point of energy. And, it’s important for us to be out the door doing something (anything) at this point. Otherwise, the kids get restless and their energy is expended in negative ways (bickering and acting out).
I also learned that my patience hits a low point around 10:00 a.m. To get ahead of a potentially negative experience, I take our lunch to go–and we’re out the door! Sometimes we head to the YMCA or to the park. Other times we run errands. On especially fun days we head to the zoo or children’s museum.
Related post: How to Create Healthy Meals for On-the-Go
Once I’ve plotted the “non-negotiables”, I’ll add in housework & a simple way to “fill my cup”.
Related Article: How to Create Healthy Snacks Kids Will Love
Does every day happen just as I’ve visualized and planned for it? (C’mon, mama! You know it doesn’t.)
Sure, there are some days I impress myself by following our schedule almost entirely to plan (a rare victory!). Most of the time we find a need to zig where the schedule planned for us to zag. Days where someone wakes up extra early or resists a nap or we have a last-minute emergency pop-up. But even on those days, I’m naturally more peaceful and able to handle it. Thanks to the general plan we have in place. Kind of a “choose your own adventure” solution to the typical routine.
If you haven’t yet, grab a piece of paper or download the free SAHM Planner and give it a try!
And, if I could find a way to create the best daily routine for our family, you can do it too!
With a little practice and patience, you’ll feel the rhythm of your household and be able to roll with the punches. And be well on your way to a more structured life and happier you.
So go ahead, plan that routine. Because this time… you’ve totally got this!