I love finding a problem in our life, brainstorming solutions, and putting a plan in place to fix it. Usually, this means a new routine or habit.
And I love a good family routine.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the routines in my life and I’ve found a benefit that I hadn’t considered before.
Having routines, habits, schedules, systems (whatever you want to call it) means that life is moving along automatically. And that means one less thing for me to think about.
As Moms, we make decisions all day. Every day. By having routines in place we can cut the number of decisions we are actually making.
Every time I can remove something from my brain… parenting gets a little easier.
With habits, we don’t make decisions, we don’t use self-control, we just do the thing we want ourselves to do.”Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (Affiliate Link)
What if forming routines and habits isn’t as fun for you as it is for me?
Here I’ve listed some examples of family routines and tips for creating your own. Hopefully, this process will make it easy enough to do even if you aren’t as excited about it as I am.
Once you’ve felt the benefits, my guess is you’ll gladly look for places to add in more family routines.
List of Family Routines that Will Reduce Mom Overwhelm
This is a short list of routines and habits that impact almost all of us. There are far more places in your day that could be tied to a new routine.
- Morning Routine
- Bedtime Routine
- Meal Planning
- Playtime/ Rest Time
Examples of these Routines and Habits
Here are some examples of family routines. They may help give you some ideas of what could work for your family.
- Morning. I have my own morning routine before anyone else wakes up and a morning routine with the kids. For me, that first cup of coffee and quiet space is just what I need to fill myself up before greeting the day. Our habit of getting dressed, eating breakfast and packing lunch, helps take the pressure off me and gives them a structure to follow.
- Bedtime. Bedtime, bedtime, bedtime. Our bedtime routine was born out of necessity. I am pretty worthless after 7 pm. Having a solid routine of reading together, rest time and then to bed, means I can let my brain go to autopilot.
- Transitions. I once had a friend describe leaving the house as a chaotic event. While she prepared to leave, her kids made a mess. Of course they did, they were waiting so they started to play. The waiting play turned into a mess. I suggested that she keep a box of waiting toys by the door, keeping the mess contained and small.
- Meal planning and shopping. This is a big one in our house. Once a week I write out a meal plan for the week. I look over my calendar. That way I know which days need a low prep meal. At the same time, I make the grocery list. Because of this habit, I don’t have to think about dinner until 5 pm. I walk into the kitchen and I know everything I need is there… including the plan for what to make.
- Chores. This is a work in progress for us. I really started implementing chores much later than I could have. I started with the tasks that were causing me stress. Doing dishes after cooking made being in the kitchen unbearable. We added a family routine of dish night. This has taken an enormous load off my shoulders and the kids don’t even mind (the clue that I could have started earlier).
- Family Playtime. It sounds a little crazy that fun would need to be a routine. With the endless list of things that could be done, how often do skip doing something fun to focus on something that needs attention? Once we started the routine of dinner dishes as a chore (see above) I realized there was an open space in my schedule. Instead of allowing myself to fill it with a different chore, I made a habit of sitting down with my book. I’m open for whichever kid isn’t doing the dishes or to chat with the one who is. If no one is looking for attention, I read. It’s not always easy (I could fold a load of laundry), but this routine always makes sure I head into the bedtime routine relaxed and happy.
Creating Your Own Family Routines
This section is intended to guide you through creating your own family routines. Start with one problem area and work on that routine until it feels established. Adding too many new things at once will make it much harder to tweak and adjust as you need to.
Click Here to print a Creating Family Routines Worksheet.
- Brainstorm. First, spend some time thinking through your normal day. Does anything stand out for you? Do you feel dread or anxiety just thinking about any part of your day? Maybe it’s the 30 minutes before dinner.
- Clarify the Problem. Next, nail down the actual problem. Ask yourself what it is about this time of day that makes you cringe? Why does it unfold in the way it does? Has it always been this way? If not, what has changed?
- Name the Problem. Now you can write the problem out in one clean sentence. It could be… 30 minutes before dinner the kids are done occupying themselves, there isn’t time to get involved in something else and everyone is hungry. I’m still making dinner and need a little peace.
- Find a Solution. At this point, you will probably start to see solutions unfold. Think about each one carefully and decide if it will work or not.
- Form a Routine. What will the routine look like? How can you set this routine up for success? What needs to happen in order for the routine to work? What preparation needs to be done ahead of time?
- Take Action. This final step is the most important. All of the planning only works if you take action. Start it now. Or write a start date in your calendar.
Family routines might take a bit of energy to set up, but when you feel the release of some of that mom overwhelm… you’ll know it was well worth it.