Family shoes lined up neatly as part of a routine

The Beginners Guide to Family Routines

I’ve always been a person who strives on structure, routine and predictability. In my 20’s if I didn’t have my weekend plans firmed up by Wednesday, I was in a panic. I have more energy and I feel more calm when I know what the next step is.

Now that I have two young boys, our family routines are vitally important to running a somewhat sane household. Time and time again, when things seem a little out of control, I turn to routines to get us back on track. Routine is the reason my kids leave the house dressed on time and go to bed without a fight. Routine gives me the space to exercise, read and do things that I enjoy which helps me be a better mom.

The Beginner's Guide to Family Routines

What is Routine?

So what exactly is routine? This Routine Life will be looking at routine as a noun – a sequence of actions regularly followed.

To some people, routine seems extremely boring and mundane. But the reality is that routine can allow for more freedom, more productivity, and better time management. And when you are dealing with kids and a family, routine can be life-changing. We will talk more about this throughout this post.

How to get started with Routine?

Determine When Your Day is the Most Hectic

Think about your day. What part of the day do you dread? When do you find yourself nagging and yelling at your kids? When do you need to get the most done but have little time?

Decide What Needs to Be Accomplished

Let’s say in the morning before work/school is the most stressful part of your day. Take out a pen and paper. Then, list everything that has to happen from when you wake-up to when you/your child leaves the house.

Here is an example:

  • wake-up
  • shower
  • dress
  • breakfast
  • pack lunches
  • pack backpack
  • brush teeth
  • wash face/hands
  • put on shoes, coat
  • leave house

Designate a Time Frame

For each item on your list, write down how long it will take. This way you have an idea of how much time your routine uses. Now, for my son’s morning routine, I give him extra time. I don’t want him to have to wake up and rush to get out the door.

His routine looks like this:

  • 6:30 am – alarm goes off
  • 6:35 am – dress and go downstairs
  • 6:40 am – 6:45 am – a little bit of morning cuddling
  • 6:45 am – 7:15 am – eat breakfast
  • 7:15 am – 7:30 am – brush teeth, wash-up, pick-up room
  • 7:30 am – 7:35 am – pack-up back-pack
  • 7:35 am – 7:50 am – play (no screen-time before school)
  • 7:50 am – put coat and shoes on
  • 7:55 am – outside for bus
  • 8:00 am – get on bus

Put It To The Test

Honestly, when I’m trying to stick to a new routine, I have to have it written down so I can refer to it. I recommend using your notes app on your phone, or a sticky note and write it down. This makes it much easier to go through the routine because you don’t have to think about it. Then use a timer to help move through your tasks. 

After you have spent a week or two going  through your routine, you may find that somethings need adjusting, or maybe you decide to move a habit or task to another part of your day.  Don’t be hard on yourself. You will start feeling resistant toward your routine if it’s causing more chaos and frustration than peace. 

Tips for Success in Getting Your Kids to Follow Routine

You are probably thinking this all sounds great, but when it comes to having  my kids follow a routine, it becomes exhausting.

And yes, at first, you will have to do  a lot of reminding – if they are old enough to comprehend what you are saying. 

Here are some ways to get kids on board:

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If You Have a Baby

It’s basically up to you to guide your baby through your routine. When my kids were babies, I followed the routine mentioned in The Baby Whisperer Book – but I also googled routines of other moms who were in similar situations as I was.  Doing a little research helped me to create a routine that worked for us. Plus, I get really excited researching routines, and starting new routines so this was fun for me.

For example, a breast-feeding baby’s routine was a bit different than a bottle fed baby’s routine. Take the steps I outlined previously to instill the routine, but within a few days or weeks, it could all change…

If You Have a Toddler

This is when you can really start allowing your child to practice independence and routine. 

For example, at night, after bath, help them put their PJ’s on, then tell them to brush their teeth (probably going to need your help), then you read books and it’s bedtime. 

But obviously, you will be helping them to move through the routine. 

If you have a child that is a little bit more “spirited”, it may take a while to create a smooth transition through the routine.

Believe me, I know how it is to have a child cry and yell for a half hour because they don’t want to brush their teeth or go to bed. 

I also know how it is to have a power struggle with your toddler because they don’t want a diaper or pull-up on. 

As exhausting as it is to ride out the storm, I find it’s the only thing that works. The more I hold my ground time and time again, the easier the night time routine becomes because my son knows I’m not giving in. It ain’t easy though!

If You Have a School Age Child

As of right now, my oldest son is six, so I can speak a little bit about what works to get him into a routine. 

At first, I have to prompt him a lot (ie-nag) in regards to what to do next. 

It may go a little like this: while he’s putting his PJ’s on, I tell him to brush his teeth and wash his hands next. It may take a little while to get the routine down, so like anything with kids, patience helps (and most night’s I have none ;-)). 

One of my favorite things to use is a checklist – specifically the one below, to help the kids move through their routine. It helps build good habits and independence.

(Have a child starting school? Check out 6 Easy Back-to-School Tips for Busy Moms)

Once the routine is down, I then use a 10 minute timer to help my son stay focused. If he chooses to play or fool around with his brother, instead of getting ready for bed, and the timer goes off, he loses books and has to go straight to bed. 

I love how the timer does the work of the “bad guy” for me. 

The Beginner's Guide to Family Routines

Common Questions About Routines

What are some common family routines?

Some of the more common routines are morning routines (for mom and kids), getting ready for school routine, getting home from school/homework routine, dinnertime routine, bedtime routine, cleaning routine, or workout routine. Some different types of routines you may not use every day, but may still be helpful are one-on-one time with child, family time, vacation time, or spending time with extended family or friends.

For example, if we are going on vacation and staying in a hotel, we have a “check-in routine” (not really sure this is what it would be called…but best I could do). After we check into the hotel, we all work together to bring the luggage to the room, then we change into our swim suits and check out the pool. After our swim, we pick up food and bring it back to the hotel for dinner. My boys love this routine and sometimes this is all they talk about days before we go – never mind the big destination of the trip!

Why is Routine Good for a Child?

Routine provides structure and security for children. Without a routine, children could feel insecure and uncertain of what is going to happen next. Children can relax more if they know their needs will be met, which happens when you have routines in place.

A routine also helps children create habits. For example, if brushing their teeth is part of the nighttime routine, it’s easier for children to keep it up night after night.

How Will Routine Help Me as an Adult?

As an adult, routines have many benefits. Routines provide you with direction, so you know what your next step is going to be instead of standing in paralyzes or overwhelm. Along these lines, routines can help eliminate stress and anxiety. Creating and sticking to routines also helps with time management. Overall, routines help can help you to be more productive and make life less chaotic.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Family Routine

If you are feeling overwhelmed and want to feel more productive and calm as a mother, then I hope you will create a routine that provides that using this Beginners Guide to Family Routine.

Do you find this blog post helpful? I would love if you can share with a friend. If routine has helped you, I would love to know how in the comments below.

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The Beginners Guide to Family Routines

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8 thoughts on “The Beginners Guide to Family Routines”

  1. i swear, all of your posts are SO helpful and so easy to follow!! routines are so important and they seem to change every so often, so it’s important to have a good foundation, and this post provides a lot of great tips for making that happen 🙂 thank you for sharing!

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