How to Have A Daily Routine (With Kids)
and Free Time Blocking Printable
Having a daily routine as a stay at home mom (or working mom!) is hard
As much as I love me a schedule, it is often more like a very rough guideline.
Flexibility is the name of the game. It can be so.very.hard to stay motivated and on task when curve balls seem to get thrown at you from left and right. All. Day. Long.
For example, I went to bed last night with high hopes of getting back into routine after a week of vacation. I love Monday fresh starts. I really do. It’s a breath of air into my schedule, and I try to start a new routine or habit on Mondays because it works for me.
But then I woke up this morning.
I woke up to my oldest son throwing up and my husband running late for work because he forgot to reset his alarm.
It was a giant wrench in my plans!
My plans for going shopping and being super productive completely changed. My plans for getting the kids back into their routine changed, too (I’m not going to make my barfy 5 year old go outside or to the store).
Plans change. But my day was not completely thwarted because of it. Here are some tips that I’ve found help me with my routine and staying productive. Because a change in plans is NORMAL mom-life, amIright?!
1. Have a plan for your daily routine
Preferably a detailed plan.
This is huge. I know many people who don’t schedule their day because they KNOW it will change. I don’t find that to be a helpful strategy. You might be a rare unicorn where that REALLY does work for you, but the majority of the time these people feel overwhelmed, behind, and run over.
Having a plan gives you freedom to evaluate it and change it as needed
Instead of it being binding and restrictive, it actually provides some leeway in your day. It gives you an outline to follow.
I use time blocking to schedule my day, but I know that it will change slightly (and sometimes dramatically). When it does, I can quickly get back on track by evaluating what I can miss or where I should pick things back up.
I evaluate the mood of my kids and can adjust things because I have something to adjust. When you don’t have a plan, there’s a sense of not knowing what’s going on or where you want to be.
AND kids actually feel more secure and happy in a structured environment.
I know it sounds crazy, but from my education as an elementary school teacher, this was drilled into me:
Healthy, happy classrooms have structure. They have schedules. They have routine. Kids feel safe and loved and heard in environments like this.
I want that in my home, too.
So here’s what my time blocked schedule looks like
(Updated now for the School Year!)
It’s not my detailed list, my calendar, or to-do. It’s just my basic outline that I work within.
Notice that food times are highlighted. Those are important to my kids (haha). I also added a couple things for ME (represented by the M). Most days look the same, so I just write it in the middle of the week when it applies to every day.
This doesn’t incorporate all of the details…like the times my kids clean with me, go to appointments, cook, do a special activity, etc. Again, rough outline.
If you want to use this same form, you can grab it here:
Let me know if you’d like a more detailed breakdown of what these times look like for our family
2. Hold said plan loosely
This is really important. We are not failures if our schedule does not go as…well…planned. We’re not. You’re not. I’m not. As people, we are impacted by other people. That’s how it goes. That’s good.
If you don’t have people messing with your plans, you need to be around more people. Or any people. You need friends. Because when you live life with people, life happens. Their lives happen. It all impacts each other.
When you’re a mama, those people (aka kids) live in close quarters, are often out of their minds, are unpredictable, and can be quite selfish. Their day impacts your schedule. Fo’ Sho’.
Someone has a meltdown that takes up an hour of the day (I’ve seen it happen)
Clean-up time turns into another play session
Someone pees in the bathtub just as bathtime starts, so you have to empty it and refill it again, because garsh darn it, those kids need a bath
A 16 month old sabotages your attempts to fold the laundry by unfolding all your laundry and throwing it all over the house (what’s even clean?! I can’t remember)
Maybe someone can’t find their shoes
Perhaps someone gets sick…and throws up on your Monday morning when you planned to be so productive
BUT not all the “disruptions” in our schedules are bad.
Sometimes someone wants to be held for a long time (and they don’t normally like to cuddle)
Reading time goes twenty minutes over because everyone is getting into the story and is seriously, beautifully listening
A play activity lasts longer because it grabs the imagination of a kiddo and they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves
Conversation at breakfast goes extra long
A dance party breaks out to Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting (and soon everyone is in ninja gear…or is this just my family?)
The point is, hold your plan loosely. Engage in the needs of the day, of the people you live life with, and be flexible. Keep as much structure as you can, but be sensitive to the times you need to bend.
3. Seriously limit social media and TV
Seriously. This. Is. A time sucker.
Nothing will kill our productivity like getting lost on social media, Pinterest, or Netflix. Now, before you think I hate binge-watching shows, hear this: I have zero issue with binge-watching shows, but only when it’s planned.
Do I sound like a total kill joy, now? Ugh, I totally do! But listen.
When watching a show or scrolling social media impedes you from your job as a mama, it’s gone too far
I’ve totally found myself watching Netflix during my kids’ naptime. Every day of the week. For weeks. Dinner wasn’t ready on time. I was in a groggy state. Usually unkempt. Things needed to get done during this time, but they didn’t happen because I put myself (and *cough* laziness) above what I needed to do.
This would get you fired at any other job.
Now, before you think I’m against relaxation, fo’getaboutit
If you NEED to veg out during nap time and just watch TV or scroll Pinterest the whole time, DO IT. Just make sure you’ve planned your day around that so it can happen. Prep dinner in the morning. Get a head start on laundry. Get your workout done before.
But don’t just let it happen to you. That’s when it sucks the life out of you and your home.
And I say this with much, much grace. We all have those days, you know what I mean? I’m not talking about the occasional time of ditching plans so you can relax because you just NEED to. I’m talking about reeling it in when you notice a regular, consistent habit of losing yourself in social media and or TV, while things in the home are getting away from you.
Pay attention to how frequent you are on these types of outlets. Be mindful of it. But then extend grace to yourself when you need to treat yourself on those days.
To help with my addiction to my screens, I have planned times of the day where I connect on social media and when I allow myself to watch Netflix or Youtube. I can get lost so easily. You too? I have seriously sat down to “check my facebook” and looked up at the clock to see an hour of my day is gone. Gone. And usually for nothing.
But something pays that price. Dinner prep, my stress level (we all have a level, where’s yours at?), the kids’ need for my attention, friendships, laundry or dishes that will wait for me…If I spend hours on social media instead of tending to my real needs and the needs of the people in my life, I’m not being very productive.
So, exercising self control is key. Some things I’ve found to help are…
- Keeping your phone up on a shelf or out of sight
- Scheduling times of the day where you check social media or watch TV
- Setting a timer so things don’t get out of control
And can I tell you something? I’m not as addicted as I once was. I can go for a long time without binge-watching a show. I can go days without checking my Facebook page. And nobody is suffering for this change. Nobody has mentioned how they miss me on social media (probably because we’re hanging out in real life more).
And Netflix doesn’t send me any “I miss you” notes, either. I probably even lost weight because I’m not binge eating while I binge watch (it’s almost impossible to NOT eat cake while you watch Cake Boss).
4. Have three priority tasks
Let’s be honest. We have waaaaaay more than three things that we have to do each day. The list could really go on and on. But prioritizing three has been a big help for me. It gives me a focus, especially when I start to lose motivation and want to sink into the couch for a nap.
Before I take a break, I just ask myself, are my top three priorities done? If so, maybe I can sink into that couch for a quick nap while the house is quiet and the littles are sleeping. If not, can I get one top priority done fast and still squeeze in a nap? Is a nap needing to happen so that I CAN get those three priority items done?
It really helps me feel in control of my time.
Then I don’t feel overwhelmed if the other, less important things don’t get done. Those can happen another time, or potentially another day.
What does this look like?
The first thing I do after my quiet time in the Bible is go over my day planner and decide the top three priority jobs that I HAVE to get done that day. I put them in my to-do list and glance at it throughout the day.
To help decide what makes the cut I ask simple questions like…
What is the most important thing I need to focus on today?
What can’t wait until tomorrow?
Does anything have a deadline?
Often times my priority is dinner or food. Usually I need to make SOMETHING that impacts our meals for that day or the week. We like eating. A lot. A priority is also often a shopping trip, because, again, we like eating.
I’m still looking around for the perfect to-do/planner for me. I bounce between printables I have found and my Wunderlist app where I’ve added a to-do list. Writing things down is very helpful for me, so I tend to come back to that method. But experiment with different methods that work for you! And bounce back and forth if you need to. The important thing is that you’re listing out those top three priorities.
Interested in having more routine? Is bedtime a source of stress for you? Check out this post on how to create a bedtime routine for your family so that you can have peaceful and sleepfilled nights!
Now it’s your turn! What have you found to be helpful in maintaining a routine in your home? Have you fund the perfect day planner? Please share!