When the kids are running around screaming… but not in a good way.
They fight naps and only lie down if you do, but then wake up after 30 minutes.
They don’t know how to play on their own and want you to referee constantly.
There’s a reason.
It seems like a big thing to declare, but I’ll risk it. Lack of routine brings down the mood of the home.
Not because routine in itself has some moral virtue. Or because we want to let a clock or schedule rule us. But because everything about the day runs more smoothly when there’s routine. If you struggle with feelings out of control, overwhelmed, and run down by your days home with kids, here’s how a routine may help.
Routines include self-care
Part of the reason we moms can feel so discouraged and drained in the stay at home mom life is because we spend all day focusing on the kids, and forget about ourselves. It’s normal to be power nap when we have little ones, but one way we can help ourselves feel more refreshed is to prioritize self-care. Not at the expense of our family, but to help us love our family better. Whether it’s alone time, a space in our day power nap, or even time for a long bath at the end of an evening.
If you want to make it happen: make it part of your routine.
Routine helps children feel secure
The research regarding routines and children is overwhelmingly in favor of routine. Whether it’s a routine that goes by the clock or one that is basically “first this, then that” your children will be far more relaxed and secure with a set routine in place. They fight transitions between activities less, they are more cooperative, and will ultimately be better rested as you enter in times of nap and rest in the routine as well.
If you want your home to feel more peaceful during the day: find a routine that works well for your family.
Routine saves your brain space
Such a thing exists called “decision fatigue.” Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making (source). Basically, the more decisions you have to make throughout the day, the worse those decisions are. Why? Because your brain gets tired! If you fly by the seat of your pants every day with the kids, it’ll just be exhausting.
Help set your days on autopilot: work together with your kids to find a good rhythm.
Routine keeps you well rested
Staying up late often seems like the only way to have some time alone. That works for a while, but eventually you become exhausted and find it hard to be energized for your day with kids. It sounds impossible, but you can go to bed at a good time, wake up at a good time, and still have alone time. You just have to prioritize it in your routine. I wake up earlier than the kids each morning to set the day, and then I even take a power nap when my kids go down for a nap. And this with 4 kids 4 years and under!
Determine how much sleep you need and then: lock it into your routine.
Routine gives you confidence
When a good routine is in place, abnormal behavior stands out. Things like growth spurts, difficulty sleeping and excessive tantrums become red flags. With a good routine you’ll start seeing behavior, attitudes, and habits normalized. Then, when something is off, you’ll notice immediately. I can spot teething, infections, and growth spurts a mile away. Why? Because my children start behaving in a way that signals an issue, and I usually catch it early on.
Routines are easy for some personalities and harder for others. That’s okay! You don’t need to schedule out every minute of your day at home with kids to benefit from routine. Maybe what you need is a rhythm. A rhythm that is predictable and includes things that bring happiness to the whole family. Not just the kids.
I’m a big fan of routines and I fully believe that having a good rhythm to my day is why I’m overall a happy, well-rested mother. There are times in my day that are routine, and times that are more spontaneous. Finding a good mix has been an important lifesaver for my family.
If you are looking to start a new rhythm for your family, or want to restructure the one you already have going, then check out the book Rythms, Routines & Schedules: How To Simplify Life With Kids. It will walk you through, step-by-step, how to set up a good routine for you and your family.
Rachel blogs at A Mother Far from Home with practical parenting, motherhood, and household tips for down to earth moms. Get her latest book Rhythms, Routines & Schedules here.
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