Following on from our last article “Why Routines are Important for Your Child’s Well Being,” we are now exploring the How so you can apply it to your everyday life at home.
First things first, we do have to tell you that there is no magical solution; there is no perfect routine that we can hand every family and life will become perfect.
Like everything in life (especially when there are children involved), creating an environment that is almost perfection takes a lot of time, effort, patience, and time and error. What will work for one family won’t work for another, and no matter how much planning and preparation that you do, things will change. And they will change regularly.
You may be thinking “well, what’s the point then?” The point is all the benefits that it offers our children (see previous article) and the benefits that it offers us as parents so that we can have quality time all together and not feel like we are running this never-ending hamster wheel.
To get off the wheel and make the most of every day with your family, here are our top tips on how to create a daily routine that works for you.
Always write things down
With so much to do and remember, our heads are swimming with tasks and activities that just add to our stress and worry throughout the day. Spend the mornings, even just 5 minutes over breakfast, writing these things that need to be done down. It’ll get them out of your head and you’re much less likely to forget something which will make you feel much better!
Create a routine and keep it flexible
Think about the daily chores that need to be done and then the weekly chores and monthly chores, and put them all into a calendar-type sheet. Depending on how organised you like to be, you could even colour code this to make it easier to glance at and know what’s coming up! Make sure to always write down everyone’s individual activities and events as well so that nothing is forgotten. You could even print out your calendar and hang it so that everyone knows what is going on too, just follow your plan lightly as things are expected to change all the time.
Revisit your plan weekly
Make a point of sitting down with your partner every week and reviewing your plan. What worked well? What didn’t? How can you make the next week better? By doing this, you’re making steps towards creating your ideal routine. Plus you may become aware of something that is happening in the week that you forgot about or you need to reschedule!
Have everyone do certain activities at the same time
A daily routine can really help bring you all closer as a family so make sure to have everyone eat, sleep, and play at the same time as much as possible. By making sure that you spend time together, you won’t feel as guilty when you have your much needed alone time.
Aim to get three tasks done every day
Rather than try and do everything (which can’t be done easily), choose three things every day which are the most important to get done. Focus all of your energy on these three and anything else extra that gets done is a bonus!
Learn to be happy with partial solutions
As family to-do lists just keep growing, you’ll never be able to get everything done, so rather than stress, be happy when something gets done. Haven’t got time to clean the bathroom? Give it a quick tidy and leave it for another day.
Don’t overwhelm yourself; get your little ones to help
As much as we want to be “super-mum” or “super-dad” we literally can’t do everything, so get your little ones to help you as much as possible. By simply getting them to help you clean away the dishes after dinner and tidy up, this is less stress for you, more time with them, and it teaches them valuable life skills such as responsibility.
Accept that mess is okay sometimes
A messy house is a well lived-in house, so learn to be okay with it sometimes. Teach your children the value of work and cleaning and model this by keeping the house that way when you can, but try not to stress if there is a mess and all you want to do is play games or take the children to the park.
Teach your children the value of waiting
Today, children just don’t get bored anymore, but they should. Not only is this time essential for them to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them, but it is also necessary for their cognitive development. When you’re a bit late on dinner or you need to push back play time for another activity, don’t get tempted to give them a device to keep them occupied, make them wait.
Cut down on TV
We’ve all heard or even said the classic “I would but I just don’t have the time” but the truth is, we all have the time. Many of us spend a lot of time, especially in the evenings, watching TV so this should be an activity that you can cut to spend more time together as a family before bed.
Try and maintain the routine when away
Sometimes an emergency occurs, you’ve booked a holiday, or something has just come up that you have to adapt to. Whatever the situation that occurs, if anything disrupts your usual routine, try to still do as much of it as possible. It’s important that children maintain normalcy, especially in times of stress, so make sure to stick to the daily routine to keep them calm and comforted.
Look after yourself
This sounds impossible, right? Manage the whole family schedule AND fit enough time in for yourself to get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and exercise. It might seem that way but it’s not if you plan and stick to your daily routine. Just remember not to always prioritise everyone else. The whole family needs you to be healthy so make sure to know your energy levels and schedule in downtime for you too.