If you read many organizational or home management blogs, chances are you’ve seen this topic covered before. The reason it’s covered so often, of course, is that it works!
Having a routine in place, which is different than a rigid schedule, gives everyone in your home an idea of what to expect and when to expect it. Although we often think about routines in regards to small children, they are useful no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Establishing routines is an important time management tip for several reasons:
1. With a routine in place, you don’t waste time trying to figure out what needs to be done next.
2. As you practice your routine, you can tweak and streamline the process so that it takes less time the more you do it.
3. If your spouse/children/roommate know what comes next as part of your routine and when you’ll be done, they’re less likely to interrupt it.
Rather than trying to map out a routine for your entire day, start by choosing three or four routines to put in place at key transition points during your day. For example, you might choose from the following:
In my house, the morning routine is the most important of the day. Getting three little ones dressed and ready, serving and cleaning up breakfast, starting laundry, putting away dishes, making a list for the day…these are the activities that can set the tone for the whole day. On days that we stick to our routine, we go quickly through the process, laughing and having fun while we do it. On the days we stray from it, the girls often end up grumpy and out of sorts, and I often feel the same way!
We clean up before lunch every day to keep the toy mess to a minimum, and our lunchtime routine includes cleaning up, making lunch and finishing any morning chores that didn’t get finished earlier. I’ll admit, however, that I haven’t been very good at incorporating lunch cleanup as part of our routine, and I’d like to do better about getting those dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher and the floor under the table dust busted as well.
After School Routine
For those of you with children in school, having an after-school routine can help everyone get settled back at home after a busy day. Your routine might include snack time, looking through the homework that needs to be completed and and getting backpacks ready for the next day.
In our home, our dinner routine is similar to our lunch routine, although we add in a few more chores so that our house is cleaned up and ready to go for the next day. This is one of my favorite routines of the day because it often involves the girls playing with their daddy while I do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. Because of the layout of our house, I get to watch them play while I take care of those chores, which makes them go much faster.
Every kid loves a bedtime routine, and you may have a routine for yourself as well. For the kids, it might include bath time, reading, singing or cuddling, depending on your family’s preferences. Your personal bedtime routine might include washing your face, taking out your contacts, getting your clothes, purse or briefcase ready for the next day and so on.
Activity Night Routine
Another routine that I could see being an important one is a routine for nights when different family members have activities and you won’t be home. Maybe it includes a specific routine for before you go or for when you get home, but either way, having a routine in place can lessen the chaos.
What routines do you have in place? Which is your favorite? What transition time during your day would benefit from a new routine?