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Sometimes routines and schedules get a bad rap, and I suppose if you’re so tied to your schedule that you can’t handle when things don’t go quite right, that’s probably a valid concern. But for me, routines and schedules are the foundation of my day. We might get off track — and the baby often changes our plans — but we always come back to our basic routine.
Today, Jamie at Steady Mom (and the author of Steady Days, my new favorite parenting book) is talking about the importance of steady routines and the benefits you might not have thought of. Maybe you already agree that a routine or schedule is important but you’re just not sure how to actually put one in place. Here are some steps to help you get started:
1. Look at what you’re already doing.
We’re creatures of habit, and chances are you already have some routines in place even if you didn’t consciously develop them. Some of them are probably good routines that will continue to be the foundation for your day, and some of them might not be so great — like sitting down “for just a second” to check your email, knowing it will probably turn into an hour or more in front of the computer. Think through your day and identify any routines that happen day after day.
2. Make a list of the tasks you need/want to get done.
Next, ceate a list of the things you want to get done each day, including your chores, crafts, snuggles, etc. Then, break your list down by the time of day you’d ideally like to get each thing done.
For us, our basic list looks like this:
:: First thing (get dressed, breakfast, mak beds, etc.)
:: Morning (school, snack, play time, arts & crafts)
:: Lunch (clean up, a little bit of TV, lunch)
:: Nap (get as much done as possible while the girls are at nap)
:: Afternoon (snack, outside play, a video/computer game, household projects)
:: Dinner (dinner, clean up)
:: Evening (PJs on, clean up upstairs, bedtime snuggles, relax)
3. Schedule any important activities.
Although I live by my routines, I also have a flexible schedule in place. To make a schedule work without being stuck in a rigid plan, identify the most important points in your day.
For example, in our home, the girls get up at 7:30, snack time is at 10:30, naptime is at 1 and we start the bedtime routine at 7. The rest of our routine tends to happen at close to the same time every day, but those four things provide the backbone of our schedule. I’m not sure why that morning snack plays such an important part in our day, rather than breakfast or lunch, but it really does.
If you have children in school or extracurricular activities or you work outside the home, those things will probably play a bigger part in your day. Start by writing down the most important parts of your schedule and then craft your routines around them.
4. Prioritize your routines.
We all have days when things don’t go as planned. Little ones want to be cuddled, the plumbing backs up or sickness invades. It’s impossible to maintain your everyday schedules and routines on days like this, and it’s important to take the time to identify which parts of your routine are most important. On days when nothing goes right, just stick to the basics and let the rest slide so that you don’t become frustrated by everything that’s not getting done.
5. Write it all down.
If it isn’t yet obvious, I’m a big believer in writing things down. Not only does writing lists and notes clear your head and give you more brain power for other things, but it also gives you something concrete as a reminder of your goals and priorities. For me, writing lists, routines and goals helps me prioritize and holds me accountable for doing the things I intend to do.
6. Tweak your routines and schedules over time.
If you’re developing a routine or schedule for the first time, be prepared to adjust and tweak it over the next couple of weeks to figure out what works best for you. And keep in mind that even once you get it set, you’ll have to adjust it regularly to fit your changing needs, schedules and seasons. In general, the younger your kids are, the more often you’ll need to make adjustments to your daily routines and schedules.
The 31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010 series is sponsored by Get Organized Wizard. Restore order and harmony in your home with The Ultimate To-Do List Pack, Home & Family Edition.