I love structure, routines, and schedules. I love doing the same type of thing every week. For some this might seem super boring, but for me, it is absolutely necessary. I struggle with decisions. I am incredibly indecisive, so the fewer decisions I need to make within the week, the better. There is something incredibly refreshing about establishing weekly rhythms in your life. I believe these small patterns in our lives have the power to impact so much more than just how we choose to spend our days. It impacts our attitudes, our characters, and ultimately our entire lives. So, if you ask me, this routine stuff is essential!
You might be reading this and thinking yes, I am all about schedules and routines too, but right now the season of life I am in makes consistent routines super difficult. I get it! This is one of the many reasons I struggled so much early on when Hudson was born. I lost all sense of routine and control and if I am honest, it really had an affect on me in an emotional, spiritual, and physical way. I believe that even in a season with a bunch of little ones running about, you can develop a sense of routine. And you should! Because it will not only help keep you more sane, it will allow for you to ultimately be more productive.
So mama, if you are in a place where you want more steadiness in your life, but you don’t even know where to start, here are 5 simple things you can start doing today to get routines into your days. Just because you are a stay-at-home mom, that does not mean you cannot build in some of the structure and schedules you used to have in the pre-kids life.
1. Wake Up Before the Kids
I have written a lot about my morning routine. You can read more about it, here. There are a few things I try to do every morning. The reality is that it is really hard to get the time to read my Bible, journal, and pray if I don’t get up at least 30 minutes before Hudson rises. I know this can be a real challenge, especially if you have really little ones that are not sleeping throughout the night. It can also be tough if your little ones are not consistently waking up at the same time. In particular seasons like that, allow for grace.
I would recommend setting a timer for you to get up at the same time every morning. Maybe for you right now, it is not realistic to wake up at 5 am. Try 6 am or 6:30 am. The reality is that you cannot control when the rest of the house is going to get up, but you can control when you get up. Consistently, waking up at the same time every morning is such an important rhythm that really sets the tone for the rest of the day.
2. Set a Cleaning Task for Each Day of Week
As a stay-at-home mom, I put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to have the house in order. I know I am not alone in this. But here is the thing, solely taking care of a baby/multiple children is a full-time job in itself. There is not always time to have the baseboards shiny and the linen closet organized. Time and energy is limited. How can we have a relatively tidy house without feeling completely overwhelmed and burnt out? Set small tasks for specific rooms of the house every week. Create a cleaning schedule that works best for you and stick to it.
Before you know it, you will be changing the bed sheets every Wednesday without even thinking about it. This is not a revolutionary concept, but having small cleaning tasks that are assigned for specific days of the week really helps me to not feel as overwhelmed. There are certain tasks like making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping and wiping down counters that happen on a daily basis, but here are the specific tasks I do for every day of the week, minus Sundays because those are for resting:
- Monday: Frontload laundry (try to do as many loads as I can) + focused floor clean (baseboards on a bi-monthly basis)
- Tuesday: Focused kitchen clean
- Wednesday: Change bed sheets + vacuum bedroom
- Thursday: Change Hudson’s crib sheets + vacuum nursery
- Friday: Focused bathroom clean
- Saturday: Mop floors, so floors feel nice and fresh going into our Sabbath (day of rest). Saturdays are often nice days for us as a couple to tackle any bigger projects, like a garage tidy or refrigerator clean.
3. Set an Activity with your Kids for Each Day of Week
Similarly, to the way I clean, I like to do similar types of activities for each day of the week. For this fall season, we are taking a couple mommy and me classes, so this built-in structure makes Monday and Tuesday activities already planned. Below is an example of a typical week activitiy schedule for us:
- Monday: Mommy & Me hour length class + Trader Joe’s run post-nap
- Tuesday: Mommy & Me 2.5 hour length class + play in backyard post-nap
- Wednesday: Trip to library + park before or after if time permits
- Thursday: Free Day! It really depends on the week, but I try to do something out of the normal routine with him on Thursdays. This might mean hosting a fun playdate at our house, having lunch with a grandparent or attending a local kid’s event.
- Friday: Park, beach, or errands/appointments with mommy. Our weekends are typically pretty full, so I try to keep Fridays more mellow.
I have found that this rhythm of having an outing at the same time every day during the week is essential. This time of the outing is going to likely change a lot as the nap schedule changes, but now that he is 16-months old, he has only one long afternoon nap. This allows for a longer chunk of morning time to have an outing.
One of the beautiful things that happen when we establish these park and library routines is that we are indirectly developing community. You will find that other moms, nannies, and children also love routines. As a new mom where every day seems to be different, I have found a tremendous amount of comfort in seeing the same familiar faces every Wednesday at the library or every Thursday morning at the park. It reminds me I am not alone. It gives me a sense of connection that my days otherwise lack when I stay at home.
If you are feeling stuck with not knowing the best activities to do with your little ones that are home, here are a few suggestions that have helped me get out of the house:
Ways to Get Out the Door with Little Ones
- Sign-up for classes! There are so many amazing baby and toddler classes offered by the city. Signing up for classes is not only a great way to help with the development of your little one, but also a great way to build structure and routine into your unpredictable days of motherhood.
- Find your favorite local parks. Not all parks are equal! Do some research (this might mean actually going to a handful of parks) and find the ones that you and your kids like the most. And go out to them on a consistent basis.
- Utilize your library! I cannot emphasize this one enough. The library is one of the most untapped resources our cities offer. Get to know the library staff. Grab their calendar of events and actually go to them. The library we attend has great resources for both babies and parents.
- Make mom friends. I am a part of a local MOMS Club and I am a big fan. Joining this club over a year ago was one of the best decisions I made in those early months as a mom. It has given me friends and has helped get me out of the door. Whether it is MOMS Club, MOPS, or any other local mom’s group, join something! Not only will this get fun events on your calendar, it will allow you to find community with other moms.
4. Exercise Consistently at Same Time
I think people assume that for people that “love” running, it comes naturally for them to go out for a run. Not true! At least not for me. Getting out the door, especially recently, has been such an internal battle. My whole mind and body often fights against it. I know I am not alone in this.
This is only further evidence of the importance of establishing exercise routines. Without a consistent routine, it will simply not happen. You need to treat your times of exercise like important work meetings, even if it just a you. Schedule the times you will run or go out to exercise and actually follow through. You won’t always feel like it, but you will eventually hit your stride.
As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I am on a bit of an off-season for running, but I am trying to still exercise 6 days a week. These days it is much less mileage and more group workout classes. This is what a typical week looks like for me currently:
- Monday: 6 mile run. This is a really important run! I am a huge believer of front-loading and starting your week with hard things. This sets the precedence for the rest of the week. Last Monday, going out for a run was literally the last thing I wanted to do. I felt pretty terrible and tired, but since this is part of my established routine, I did it. Even in those moments of not wanting to do something, I can think back to the past of how running on a Monday makes me feel, and from this, I am motivated to stick with it.
- Tuesday: 6:15 pm Yogaworks class. For over the past month, I have been going to the same yoga class with the same teacher, Petra. I used to pop from different classes with different teachers throughout the week, but for me personally, it is so important to go to the same classes every week. This routine allows for me to start building a relationship with the teacher and build community with the other ladies that I see every Tuesday and Thursday. I love how Petra knows me by name, chats with me, and compliments my yoga pants. This sense of belonging and community does not happen if you never consistently go to the same class or instructor.
- Wednesday: 6 mile run
- Thursday: 4 mile run + 6:15 pm Yogaworks class
- Friday: 4-6 mile run (usually with Lance) This is the end of the week run where I really listen to my body. Last Friday, I felt terrible so it was just 4 miles. Two Fridays ago, I felt awesome so it was closer to 6. It really depends. I am not super concerned about this particular run. I usually run this with Lance, so it is a nice run to connect with him and not need to push the jogger!
- Saturday: Long run in Palos Verdes (right now this is usually around 10 miles) OR 7 am Yogaworks class with Petra
- Sunday: OFF
5. Start Dinner at the Same Time
Set a time to start dinner and stick with this as much as you can. For me, it is 4 pm. I know this is early, but we are early dinner people. This rhythm of starting dinner at the same time is essential for us in our evening routine. This allows us to eat at about the same time every night. This rhythm allows for a chunk of evening time that is not spent worrying about dinner prep and dirty dishes.
Like most of what I have written here, it is such a small choice, but this daily pattern of 4 pm dinner making allows things to get started when I often don’t feel like it. This is usually the time where I am more tired from the day; however, this pattern I have set in our lives, allows me to grab the ingredients and turn on the oven at 4 pm without even really thinking about my feelings. Just another example of the importance of routine!