SummaryDesigning a routine can be fun; carrying it out is the difficult part. Breana English shares six easy tips she’s found for creating a routine that’s doable.
For me, routines used to be a lot like New Year’s Resolutions.
I loved creating them. At the beginning of each school year, I sat down and meticulously planned daily and weekly schedules.
Nibbling on the end of my pen, I’d figure out how to squeeze learn how to play the piano in the ten minutes between my second class of the day and lunch.
But inevitably, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be back to living in my pajamas and serving Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner. In the past two years, I’ve found a few simple things that have made my routines more doable.
By keeping them in mind, I’ve been able to build schedules I can sustain and easily jump back into when I do start sliding.
Do you wake up feeling overwhelmed and behind before you even start the day?
Have you tried to implement daily routines, but struggled to keep them up?
How do you create a routine that works for you?
1. Keep it simpler than you think you need to.
The key to maintaining a routine is to keep it as easy as possible. The shorter the routine or the to-do list, the more doable it is and the more likely it is to get done.
When planning your school-year routine, decide first: what are your priorities?
Once you know your priorities, what commitments can you eliminate from your schedule? Be ruthless, and then cull your list again! Even if it’s an amazing opportunity, if it’s not one of my priorities, I’ll rarely commit to it.
2. Start your day the night before.
Waking up to a messy apartment, a sink full of dirty dishes and no plan for the day is stressful and makes me feel behind before I even begin.
If, however, the house is reasonably tidy, the dishes are done, and I have a written plan for the day, my mornings tend to be much more peaceful and productive.
An evening routine sets you up for a good day. As you plan one, here are a few things to consider.
How tidy does your house need to be for you to feel ready to start the next day? For example, each evening I wash all dishes and wipe down the sink and counter.
Even if the rest of the apartment isn’t as tidy as I would like, just having those two things done makes the whole place feel clean.
Planning your to-do list the night before allows you to jump right into the next day. It can also be helpful to plan breakfast, pick out the clothes you will wear, etc.
Is the evening a good part of the day to spend time with your husband or children? Can you work in something that refreshes you, like a chapter or two of a good book or an episode of a favorite TV show?
Bedtimes are not just for kids! Would setting a bedtime 7-8 hours before you need to get up help you get more sleep and eliminate time-wasters in the evening?
3. Create a before-school routine for your mornings.
A simple before-school routine is also important for setting the day up for success.
First, decide what time you want to get up.
Then, choose just 3-5 things you can do between the time that you wake up and when you start school. For example, my morning routine usually looks like this:
- Exercise for 20-30 minutes
- Shower and dress
- Morning prayer
- Eat a healthy breakfast (and drink coffee!)
It usually takes a little over an hour, but it makes a huge difference in my day. In particular, getting dressed in something clean and cute, even if I won’t be leaving the house, makes me feel happier and more productive all day. Eating a healthy breakfast means that I’m not frantically snatching snacks in between students all morning.
And of course, prayer is crucial to having a good day!
4. Plan ahead for your routine to be derailed.
Of course, no matter how diligent you are, unexpected things happen. Often.
There are several things that I’ve found help keep me from ditching my routine altogether when unexpected things happen during the day.
- First, leave an hour or two of wiggle room in your schedule. That way, when unexpected things come up, you have the time to deal with them and still finish your to-do list.
- Second, adjust your list at least once during the day. I usually look at mine during lunch and figure out if I need to switch anything around or delete it.
- Third, have a backup routine planned. Pick 1-2 things you absolutely need to do in the evening/morning/afternoon. For example, if the baby is up all night and you get up later than you planned, your backup routine might be to get dressed and fix a simple breakfast.
When life gets crazy, completing my backup routine helps me feel that I’m still accomplishing something, making it easier to get back to my full routine the next day.
Finally, give yourself grace! Some days you won’t get anything done, but that’s okay.
5. Take time to recharge your own batteries.
Busy moms put everyone else’s needs before their own, but it’s important to take care of yourself too! You can’t give from an empty tank.
What small things bring you joy? What do you love doing? Can you work it into your daily routine? For example, I love my morning coffee routine.
It takes only about ten minutes, but it helps me start my day with a joyful attitude.
6. Don’t wait until the first day of school to begin!
Commit to adding just 1-2 things per week as school approaches. This makes it less overwhelming and more manageable.
Also, when you start school in the fall, some of your routine will already be habitual.