Does morning chaos set your whole day on edge? Or maybe nighttime chaos makes you want to run for the hills. Learn how setting family routines can help bring calm to your chaos.
Face it, parenting is difficult. But we all want to do right by our kids. We all want to improve our parenting so our kids will turn into the best versions of themselves (and continue growing for the rest of their lives). This month I’ll show how taking care of ourselves helps us take better care of our kids. When we know our strengths and weaknesses, we can improve our interactions with others. I’d call that a win for everyone!
Family Routines can Bring Calm to Your Chaos
“Moooooom!” Laura wailed over the phone. “You forgot to sign my field trip permission, and it’s due today!”
“Oh, my. I’m so sorry,” I told her. “I can run over to your school at lunch time and sign it, ok? No need to worry!”
It seemed as if Cousin Chaos had joined the Sock Monster in causing confusion in our household. I couldn’t remember a field trip, much less needing to sign a permission form. A full-time job and a night class kept me busy, and sometimes things slipped through the cracks. Pedro took care of the girls during the day while slogging through homework for his master’s degree in education.
I hated the frantic feeling of forgetfulness that followed me like a sad puppy. Driving from my school to the girls’ school would eat into my lunch period and my prep period—and I had things I needed to accomplish at my school, too.
Something had to change. I’d never applied for the job of Super Mom, I just wanted to support my family, improve our lot in life, and love my kids. Not necessarily in that order. Before we had kids, Pedro and I discussed splitting the household duties as well as the child-rearing duties. For the 90s, we had a pretty equal system that worked well for us. But as the girls got more involved in school and extra-curricular activities, our carefully laid-out plan seemed to fall apart.
Bedtime Routines…for Grown Ups
The time had come to set new routines. Sure, we had a routine for the girls’ bedtime, but I didn’t have a routine for MY bedtime. Which often devolved into mindless television watching, escaping into the pages of a book, or surfing the web. In the days before fast internet and social media, the web could suck up just as much time as those things do today.
These hacks helped me calm the chaos by revisiting family routines (including mine). The whole point of having a routine is simple—it allows for automaticity so you don’t waste brainpower wondering what to do next.
1. Start with the End in Mind
I wanted to get all the things done so I could have a calm morning. Rushing around before work always makes the rest of my day feel angst-filled and tumultuous. If I wanted to start the morning in a calm manner, I needed to plan routines for the night before so I could enjoy my mornings.
Ask yourself how you want to feel as you leave for work each morning. Once you discover your why, you’ll have better motivation to develop and form new routines and habits. Write your motivation down: I want to feel ____________________________ when I leave for work in the morning because _______________________________________________.
2. Make a List and Check it Twice
Make a list of daily tasks that need working on. You can separate them by day. For example, I needed to make sure the girls’ school uniforms got laundered before Monday morning, so that became a family routine for Sunday afternoons. Washing dishes, preparing meals, and brushing teeth happened on a daily basis. Looking at notes from school and supervising homework only happened Monday-Friday. You get the picture.
Make sure you include not only the things you must do, but the things you would like to do as well. We wanted to have family worship each night, and a family fun night once a week. It’s your list for building family routines, so put everything you can think of on the list. Better yet, ask your family for input.
3. Divide and Conquer
Once you have a master list of all that needs to happen between work and bedtime so you can go to bed in peace, divvy up the list. That’s right. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Our girls started making their own beds as soon as they could pull a blanket into place. They started doing their laundry when they started school. By the time Pedro got cancer, both girls knew how to make and pack nutritious lunches.
Decide who will do what and when they will complete their routines by. At this point, it helps to create a spreadsheet of some sort with time slots of 15-minute increments. You can see the start of a sample routine schedule by clicking here.
4. Take a good Look at Your Mornings
Once you have your bedtime routines figured out, you’ll want to look at your mornings. As an introvert, I need an hour or two by myself in order to feel ready for the day. During this time, I make my decaf latte and have my devotions. I also look at my daily planner and review my schedule for the day and go over my daily big three.
I’d rather get up early than spend my day feeling overstimulated because I didn’t have my quiet time. Everyone operates differently, though, so you’ll need to figure out what works best for you. I have a very productive friend with five children who stays up really late and gets up when her kids do. Like me, she needs time to recharge her introverted self. Unlike me, she does it late at night.
Don’t let anyone convince you to follow their exact routine in order to find success. DO figure out what routine works best for you. You may need to experiment.
5. That Feeling of Calm
Remember, routines allow us to do things without thinking—which in turn frees up brain space for more important things. I hate emptying the dishwasher, but I’d much rather get it over with than have it hanging over head. So, I created a habit of emptying it as soon as I wake up in the morning. It only takes two minutes to empty it, and I can finish before the milk for my latte finishes steaming.
Just one little trigger (steaming latte) and one little habit bring about a sense of calm and accomplishment to my morning. I find it so easy to put off the little, repetitive, annoying tasks. But when I put them off, tension builds within me. My little molehills turn into mountains which block my ability to get other tasks done. In short, I easily feel swamped. I let the little things pile up and prevent me from focusing on what I really want to do.
But not everyone operates this way. Some people revel in chaos. Deciding how to balance the environment for all of your family members will take time. I used to think cleanliness was next to godliness, but science doesn’t prove this point. A tidy environment makes us more generous, but it might not make us more creative.
Family Routines Might Look Different for Every Family…and That’s Ok
You (and your family) will need to decide what works best for you (and your family). I don’t operate well under chaos—maybe my introverted personality rebels at chaos. Some people need calm in the morning, and others need it in the evening. Take time to get to know yourself and your family. Figure out what works best for all of you. You may need to institute chaos zones and calm zones in your house.
The most important thing I’ve learned about relationships might surprise you—we don’t have to think or act alike. We DO need to work at living together in harmony. If creating family routines helps us live together in peace, than they will be worth the investment of effort and training.Good relationships don't demand that we think and act alike. Good relationships bend and accommodate because we love each other. #chaos #relationships #parentalgoals Click To Tweet