When we moved to Waco, Ian got a job where he could work normal business hours and I was given an opportunity to be at home full time.
Being service industry workers for most of our adult lives, this was a very big deal. A major change that gave us an opportunity for expectations and steady schedules. One with regular sleep cycles and moments of quality time.
See, when you work in the service industry, you don’t operate in the same time frame as others. You have weird, irregular hours. Often early mornings and late nights. Somedays you get home late and somedays you have to wake up early. While on Monday you may be able to have breakfast together, you definitely won’t be home in time for dinner. Then on Tuesday, it could be the exact opposite.
So you get it. we haven’t had consistent schedules for a while.
I’m a person who likes consistency. I like to know what to expect. I’m a planner who can only operate properly if things stay mostly the same. So when Ian got his new job, I was finally able to wake up at the same time, go to sleep at the same time, make dinners, make breakfast. All these normal things that normal people have gotten to do since the beginning of time.
Only now, I’m having to learn what a routine really is and how to make a realistic one that will improve my day rather than add to the difficulties of it. I’ve had to learn how to balance our routines and that you can’t force it. It has to come naturally.
So this week I’m working on setting some routines for myself and my family. I’m balancing what I’d like to do vs. what I need to do and figuring out how to make it all fit together. Basically, I’m having to learn what it takes to set routines that I can really stick to day to day.
CREATING ROUTINES THAT ACTUALLY STICK
Now that I’m figuring out how to make it happen, I want to share a few tips that I’ve picked up to create a routine that’s not only productive, but one that you can actually stick to without the overwhelm of too many obligations.
GET TO KNOW WHAT YOU NEED
I didn’t get this new lifestyle and then immediately set routines for it. It’s taken a few weeks to really understand what an average day looks like.
How much sleep to we need? When does Ian’s day start? When does Ollie’s day start? How much stuff can we really get done in the morning? How much stuff will I actually do right before bed?
All of this stuff is important to know before deciding what your day will look like. I mean, what if you’re not a morning person? Then it’d be extremely unhelpful to yourself (and the tasks you need to complete) to load up your mornings.
The thing is, you have time to create a definitive routine. It doesn’t have to happen right away AND it can change if it needs to. It’s extremely beneficial to take your time and really observe your day critically and with an open mind. That is the best way to tell what needs to happen and when it needs to happen.
CATEGORIZE YOUR LIFE
Okay, that may seem a little daunting or dramatic or restricting, but hear me out.
Throughout the day, you have pretty obvious areas that need attention: family, yourself, work, house, food, projects, etc. Each of these things needs attention, but if any one of these gets more attention than the others, everything falls apart.
When thinking about your day and creating your routines, pick one thing from each of your predetermined categories to work on. Make time for your family, for yourself, pick one work or project task to focus on, do one thing for the house, make sure everyone’s fed, you get it.
Doing a little bit at a time will help everything to move forward without anything falling behind. That, and it’ll help you to not overload yourself with trying to be the best at everything all the time.
So if you know of tasks or things you need to do, make a list for each category. Think about everything that needs to be cleaned in a week, the meals you’re going to make, things you can do with your family, things you can do for yourself, things that need to happen to complete a project or to move forward at work. Think through everything and then each day, pick on thing each. Or one thing a week. Or one thing every few days. However you want to do it.
Whatever you do, just make sure you’re creating balance with everything.
WRITE THINGS DOWN
Write down the due dates for bills, doctors appointments, get togethers, things you have to do, things you want to do. Write down every little thing. Even if it seems silly, just right it down.
I actually have “watch the Bachelor” in my calendar because it’s important, I like it, and I’m going to do it.
When you write stuff down it helps you remember what you have going on, prioritize tasks, and it makes room in your mind for other things. You can see ahead and know what you can add to a day and what you can’t. It helps take the pressure off remembering everything and gives you the chance to just take each day as it comes without worrying you’re going to forget something.
Seriously guys, I have “plan tomorrow” written everyday in my planner.
It may be a habit you have to form, but writing things down to keep track is the best way to keep yourself sane and ensure you never miss anything you want/have to do again.
Maybe this is something that should be part of your routine, but it’s helpful when making routines too.
Obviously, everyday is not going to be exactly the same. One day may be full while another is relaxed. Prepping for your days ahead of time is a helpful way to know what to expect. To know what needs to happen and when it needs to happen each day.
At the end of each day, I like to sit with my planner and fill it with a reflection on how the current day went and what I would like to accomplish the next day. Sometimes I just want to take it easy, other times I’m ready to get stuff done. I’ll look at the obligations I have and the things I’d like to do. I make sure I don’t have too much going on, I’ll move stuff around if I need to. No matter what, I know that when I wake up the next morning, I have a clear idea of what needs to happen.
DON’T OVErLOAD YOURSELF
There was once a time where I felt like my house had to be perfectly clean all day or that every meal had to be gourmet and homemade. I felt like I had to sit and entertain my kid 24/7 and have 5 different projects all at the same time. It’s just not realistic and honestly, it’s just not that important.
Too often I hear people talk about how tired they are or how they need a break that they’ll never get. They talk about their 1 day off this month and they try to do it all all the time. But having it all is not as great as it sounds and you don’t have to have it all all at once.
You have a whole 7 days in a week, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill them with as much as possible. Really, it means you have time. You have time to do everything you want in life, but you can’t make the most of it if you’re doing it all at the same time.
So give yourself a slow morning every morning. Place “me time” in every section of every day. Just let go of the idea that every moment has to be perfect. It’ll make your routines so much easier to follow if they aren’t loaded with a superhuman amount of tasks.
NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO HAPPEN AT A “NORMAL” TIME
This is a very new realization for me. For so long I’ve avoided planners because I just couldn’t get to it first thing in the morning. Same with journalling and yoga. I put them off because I don’t like doing so much stuff first thing in the morning or right before bed. For some reason, I felt like if I couldn’t do morning or night time yoga, I couldn’t do yoga at all.
It’s very stifling putting these kind of rules on things. Who said morning yoga can’t be at 10:30 after the baby goes down for a nap? Why can’t I journal with a good cup of coffee in the very middle of the day? Even when I had a job, I still had ways I could work around my schedule to fit in these things that were important. I just didn’t because they didn’t fit at the normal times.
So when you’re looking at your day and thinking of what to do and when, don’t feel like you have to fit it into a specific time slot. Your day is yours and you have all of it to fill how you’d like. If something is really important, just fit it in where ever you can.
IT’S OKAY IF YOU STRAY EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
Everyone needs a day off. A day full of nothing but lazy tasks and dirty floors and a pile of dishes in the sink. A day where everyone eats Chick-Fil-A for dinner cause Mom didn’t feel like cooking, even if the meal was already planned and ready to go. A day where the bed isn’t made and leggings are your attire.
Not everyday has to be perfect. Not everyday needs to be filled with creative tasks and productive kids that never watch TV. Some days are for binge watching cartoons while Mom takes a nap and reads a book (or binge watches something in another room).
We’re not made to work everyday. Whether you’re working, a parent, a working parent, a student, or whatever. Whatever you’re doing in your life, you need a day off. A day where the routines are forgotten and standards are dropped. You don’t have to be perfect all the time, your routines don’t have to be filled to the brim with productive activities.
You’re a human who needs a break and to slow down and enjoy themselves sometimes (or a lot of the time). So don’t treat your routines as laws that must be followed always. Just treat them as guidelines for helping you to stay on track.. most of the time.
IDEAS FOR YOUR ROUTINE
Reflect on the day
Start the morning slow
Have an unproductive “winding down” period at the end of the night
Give yourself a midday reset
Have themed nights for meals each day of the weeks
Always start laundry at the beginning of the day
Always run the dishwasher at night
Add some light exercise to your day
Make sure to give yourself time for getting dressed and indulging in a little self care every morning
Do one thing for yourself everyday
Make time for the things you love
Only do one big cleaning task a day
Always add time for clearing the clutter
Don’t plan work or productive tasks for first thing in the morning or last thing at night
Drink more water
Make time to stretch
Make time for keeping track of finances
Have a few social media bans throughout the day
Let the kids have more alone time
What are something you’ve added to your routines? Are you a busy body or do you indulge in slow living?