Routines

An example of the kind of mess that happens in my day when my routine is too loose! 

What is a routine?

A schedule or flow chart of activities for the day. A flexible plan for how you will allot your time and energies that will allow you to be organised, achieve what you want and need to achieve and ensure that your family’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual needs are met.

Why have a routine?

Having a flexible routine helps us as busy Mothers to achieve what we need to do within the time that we have available. It means that all those things that we want to do or mean to do but just never seem to get around to, will actually happen. It helps us to apportion our time where it should be, not where it just happens to be used. Routines stop the “tyranny of the urgent” continuously pushing aside other important things that should be happening but just aren’t. They help us to arrive at the end of our day without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

The house will be tidier, with the trail of destruction left behind by the children virtually eliminated and the necessity to say “no” continuously throughout the day very much reduced. You will be able to set aside time to spend with God, time for yourself, time to cook and clean without continuous interruptions and time for a myriad of other activities.

The afternoon crazy hour will be smoother and you can plan to proactively train your children in the character and behaviour that you want them to have. Having a flexible routine will enable you to cultivate a calm and orderly household (most of the time!) with a flow of activity that meets everyone’s needs, keeps up with the chores and trains children to willingly complete their own responsibilities with a good attitude.

Routines provide stability and security to our children and help them to relax, knowing what will happen throughout the day. Behavioural problems are reduced as they know what is expected, choices are appropriately managed and there will be less whining for Mum’s attention because they know that there are planned times in the day for this to happen.

Planning the day means that siblings spend less time bickering, arguing and annoying each other and spend planned quality time together instead. The looser your child’s daily schedule is, the more opportunities there are for problem times. Obviously you do need to be flexible and activities will change from day-to-day, but if you have several planned independent times when children spend time by themselves, you can fit in what you need to do as well. It will also be invaluable when a sibling comes along and the toddler is no longer the only child and focus of attention.

What do I include?

Every family is unique with a variety of needs and will assign their time according to these needs. Spend a day or two writing down exactly how you spend your time now and approximately how much time each activity takes. Seeing how we currently spend our time in black and white can be a very eye-opening experience. It allows us to see where we waste our time and when we use it on the less important things to the detriment of the important.

A routine for a child should include time with you, time near you, family time and independent play times when they are alone in a safe place.

Specific activities to include:

(I’ll be adding more links from this list as I post about these individual components of a flexible routine)

C in big bed

 

Moving to a big bed – managing your morning routine

 

 

c on mat in necklace with magnets

 

 

Mat time (What is it and how to get started)

 

c holding j?

 

 

Preparing for a new baby (Tips and ideas for preparing your family for the birth of a new sibling)

 

dustbusting

 

Chores and responsibilities (What children can do at which ages)

 

 

Great resources:

Managers of Their Homes by Teri Maxwell is a very thorough, well thought out scheduling manual that goes through every part of scheduling,  from what to include to how to actually plan a routine that will suit you and your family. It is written from the point of view of a homeschooling Mother of many, however regardless of whether you only have one baby or toddler at home or many, or whether your children attend school or are homeschooled, this resource will help you to put a plan into place.

Terrific Toddlers by Mel Hayde is another brilliant resource for all things toddler related and flexible routine planning and implementation is well covered. My must have resources for every Mother of 1 to 4 year olds.

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11 Responses

  1. Hello. I just found your site, thanks so much for all the stuff you have written. I am forever feeling guilty about our loose routine. It was much tighter when my kids were toddlers, but life is much more complicated (well, it seems that way to me) now. Some days 2 kids go to school, sometimes full or half days ( we live in Thailand), other days my oldest goes in the afternoon after I homeschool in the mornings. There is something different on nearly everyday, and I can never seem to get my head around our family’s routine. So I have got my kids annoying each other, wasting time, always asking for the computer…. Am not sure where to begin it all!!! I even have both of Mel Haydes books, highlighted throughout!! And I am still clueless. But, thanks for all your ideas and reminders. Sorry, this reply got very long.

    • Hi Lisa
      I’m glad that you’ve found it helpful. If there’s anything specific you would like more info on please let me know. Another resource for routines I found extremely helpful was Managers of Their Homes by Terri Maxwell at http://www.titus2.com At one stage I had a giant multi-coloured routine written out on post-it notes up on the wall so I could keep track of what I was supposed to be doing and the older children could read what they were supposed to be doing. I had a “home day” and an “out day” version but it sounds like you might need a Monday to Friday version! Start small and build up and you’ll get there.
      Angela

  2. Hi there, it’s Lisa again! I was wondering if you would mind sharing a few of your routines you have written for your family in the past, or now? There just seems so much to fit in!
    Do you include all the things on yourr list above everyday?
    I had a look at MOTH at titus2, and it seems a little pricey. Is it really worth buying? Perhaps, since I am having difficulty in this area! Have you also bought MAnageres of their Chores??

    • Hi Lisa

      If you let me know the ages of your children, I’ll email you a couple of my routines from similar ages. I don’t include everything every day, however there is a skeletal structure that is always in place and other things we rotate through. At different ages and in different “seasons” of life, the content changes according to what I can manage. New babies mean less of some things, no very little ones means I can include more.

      I have really appreciated the advice from the Titus 2 resources. The postage here kills us but I guess if it helps me get organised, find a system that works for us, brings order, peace and productivity to our lives then it’s worth it to me! The further along I am in different areas, the less I get from a new resource. But if I read a new book and apply even just a couple of tips that make a difference to our home lives I look at it as a worthwhile investment. If I was in the workforce then I would think nothing of investing in training courses to develop my professional skills. As a stay at home Mother, this is my workforce and I should be continually improving and expending time, effort and even money to become better at what I do.

      • Hi, of course you need their ages!! Thank you for replying so quickly too!! I have 2 boys, 9 and 7 in a few months, a girl 5 in a few more months, and a 3.5 month old baby. Right now the kids are in school and preschool. Do you have routines for school and non-school days? Or holidays and school term times? You are right in your decision about investing in training for your mother role. I had not thought of it to that extent , thanks!

        Sent from my phone

      • Hi Lisa

        Will get those to you sometime soon. Ang

  3. hi
    I have just discovered your blog and I am so thankful for it.
    I don’t have a routine at all and it is driving me crazy, anD having read through some of your posts like highchair time and mat time and table time it feels to me like I might have to take my boys back a bit to establish some skills that they really lack and that I am not paying attention to.
    would you recommend I do that maybe?

    Could you please mail me an example of some of your routines, just so I can see an example to build on as we get our own routine going.

    My boys are 2 years old and 3.5 years old.

    Like I have mentioned it is like having a blank canvas for routines in this house, and I am truly so grateful.

    • Hi Minette, nice to have you reading along! I’d be happy to send you some routines but keep in mind, what you can do with 2 children, you can’t do with 7 and vice versa. I am homeschooling which lends itself to a different daily flow again. Different families, different kids, different situations. A great start is the book “Terrific Toddlers” by Mel Hayde as she goes through most of the different time blocks you can add to a routine and explains how to do it. Her routines are a lot tighter than mine though I might add. It will be hard to start with and often the first week it gets worse not better as the children adjust (read buck, fight and complain!) to the new “normal” but if you persevere and get over that initial hump it will be worth it. I’ll send you a bunch of stuff, let me know if you would like anything else.

  4. Dear Ang, I just want to thank you for the time you put into the posts here. There are many things that have helped me, especially the first time obedience posts. I just wanted to ask, do you manage one on one time with your children as part of your routine? Perhaps this is covered by your homeschooling lesson times? I struggle to fit this in with four children so wondered if you have any tips. Thanks!

  5. Hi Rachel, thank you for your positive feedback. One-on-one time has changed a lot along the way. When I have only a couple of children I had it planned as a set timeslot every day with each child. It’s especially important for the toddler of the family that they have some attention early in the day before popping them into playpen time or other independent play. I have also done it that each child has an “hour of power” one afternoon a week where they chose what they wanted to do with me. 4 children = 4 afternoon timeslots of an hour. Now it looks different again. The toddler comes into our room when she first wakes for a cuddle, wrestle and play so she gets hers early in the day. It looks different for the other children. I think I’ll have to write up a post for you or this reply is going to turn into one, so keep an eye out for that in the next little while 🙂

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