Photo by David Clow
By Emily McClements, Contributing Writer
If you’re anything like me, you may have read in books, watched on a Nanny show, or read posts on blogs about creating a routine for your children. It all sounds so wonderful to have perfectly planned out days where you are super productive, spend lots of quality time with your children and spouse, and even end up being able to pursue hobbies or interests for yourself.
And then, if you’re anything like me, you tried to create a perfect plan and then got super discouraged and frustrated when your first few days on the new plan didn’t create the results you were expecting. So, you may have given up on having any kind of a routine at all. This is basically how I operated up until a few months ago.
I have 2 young kiddos and from the beginning I wanted desperately to get them on a “schedule”. After each of my babies was born, I would write down when they slept and when they ate to try to figure out what their “natural” schedule was. Neither of my kids fell into a routine on their own. In fact, I tried and tried for several months and had such a hard time getting my youngest onto a schedule, and then when I finally implemented a routine for his older sister, his routine fell right into place. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
If you’re a new mama, or new to having a routine for your days, you may feel a little bit overwhelmed with how to get started with a schedule or routine – I know I did. And this can be especially true when you have young children and no two days are ever the same.
Photo by juhansonin
Here are a few ideas that I used in creating a routine for my days:
1. List Ideas. Write down some ideas for what you want to do with your kids on a regular basis. When I was first trying to come up with a plan, I had a hard time deciding what it was I actually wanted to do. Over the course of about a week, if we would do something fun or productive, I would write it down. I kept of list of things I wanted to try to incorporate into our days.
Some of my ideas included things like doing “yoga” with my daughter in the morning, time for me to clean up after meals, doing a kitchen task with my daughter, cleaning up toys and then reading books before naps, and time outside when it’s nice out.
2. Take Notes. When you have a day that goes really well and things run smoothly (not like those happen all that often!) write it down. Take note of the schedule or routine that you followed for that day, and why you think it worked well for you and your kiddos.
3. Start with Less. When you are finally ready to make your first schedule or routine, less is more. Try not to fill every minute or even every 15 minutes of time. Use 1 or even 2 hour chunks of time for what you want to do, that way you won’t feel pressured or stressed when your routine is off a little – which it definitely will be, but that okay! If you need an example, here’s our routine that we try to follow most days.
4. Tweak It. I’m still tweaking my routine on a regular basis. There are some things that after trying them for a while, I decided weren’t really a necessary part of our routine. And I have added things along the way too. The key to adding things to your routine is to do it slowly and only add one new thing at a time.
5. Give Yourself Grace. You will have days that look nothing like the routine that you have down on paper. You will have days were it takes you all day to accomplish what you usually have done by lunchtime. It’s okay. Be flexible. What’s important to remember is that routines give you a guideline for your days and help your little ones to know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean if you get off that the routine isn’t working for you. As you work at implementing your routine, eventually most of your days will look a lot like your plan on paper, and most is better than none at all.
Routines are a great way for us as mamas to give consistency to our days and to our families. They are great for helping us to be productive and get the things done that we need to around our homes. If you don’t have a routine in place, I would encourage you to try it out and see what works best for you. Having a good routine can help us be the wives and mothers that God has called us to be.