How To Maintain Routine When Life Is Disrupted

It’s challenging to get into a routine, but it’s pretty easy to fall out of one. And it can be a real struggle to get back into your routine.

A few weeks ago, I was going along with my day and received a call from the school nurse. My son was in her office complaining of a sore throat and exhaustion. She was wondering if I could pick him up.

I felt bad that my son wasn’t feeling well so I drove to the school and picked him up so that he could rest at home.

However, this disrupted my plans for the afternoon.

It would have been really easy to throw my hands up in the air and surrender the rest of the day because it didn’t go as planned. But I didn’t. I readjusted my day and did the best I could.

I’m sure you have experienced this before. Your child gets sick and is home for a day, or maybe multiple days, and you’re thrown off your routine. Depending on how much time goes by, it can be hard to get back into the good routine you set for yourself.

Related: The Beginners Guide to Family Routines

If you struggle to get back into routine after a minor or major disruption in life, I’m sharing with you five tips to get back into routine. These tips will help you shift perspective on your routine so that you have flexibility and don’t feel frustrated when unexpected things come up in your day.

How To Maintain Routine When Life is Disrupted

Five Tips To Help You Get Back Into Your Routine

Here are five things you can do, when life is disrupted, to maintain some sort of routine and not have to start over again…

#1 – Go Easy On Yourself

Instead of getting frustrated with yourself for falling off course, give yourself grace.

After having Covid, I expected to get right back into my routine. My body thought different. I was exhausted and had little ambition to do more than take care of the kids.

I spent a lot of time on the couch feeling really annoyed at myself for not following through on my daily intentions. This lasted for weeks. It felt like the procrastination was getting worse and worse.

I ended getting some coaching around the procrastination and what I learned was that mentally chastising myself and pushing back on the procrastination was actually draining me of energy. Instead, I allowed myself the time and space to feel tired, and believed that everything would get done as it should.

Once I stopped being so hard on myself, I started having more energy because I wasn’t wasting so much mental and physical energy trying to push myself.

Giving myself grace helped me to slowly get back into my routines.

#2 – Eliminate All or Nothing Thinking

This tip can apply to so many areas of life! When I stopped applying all or nothing thinking to my exercise routine, I exercised consistently. Eliminating all or nothing thinking helped me lose weight because I stopped quitting when the scale didn’t do what I wanted.

The same theory applies to disruptions in your routine.

For example, if I wake up late and miss my workout, I don’t throw my whole morning routine out the window. Instead, I readjust for the time and complete what I can in that timeframe.

Same thing with my bedtime routine. If I have a night when I’m up later than I intended, I don’t make a big deal out of it and no longer abide by my bedtime. I deal with the disruption and put my routine into place the next day.

The biggest gains out of life come from small actions taken consistently. But it’s easy for our brain to tell us if we can’t give 100%, then it isn’t worth trying.

Either way, stop telling yourself you either have to give it 100% or nothing at all. This is the biggest way to sabotage your routine.

A woman rubbing her sick daughters head while holding a thermometer.

#3 – Set Out To Accomplish Three Things

If you have a sick child at home, or visitors from out of town, ease up on how much you expect to accomplish.

Instead, set out to get three things done. When those items are done, give yourself credit and relax.

For example, earlier in the week, we had dentist appointments. It took up two hours of the afternoon. When we returned home, I remembered that I didn’t start a load of laundry (as part of my laundry routine). I honestly had no interest in starting laundry at this point of the day.

My mind starting sharing all the things I hadn’t accomplished that day. I could feel myself starting to stress. Then I reminded myself that I worked, picked my son up from school and attended an appointment, and ran an errand I had been putting off.

I did enough. The laundry could wait for the next day.

Grab the popular FREE Quick Guide to Lessen Overwhelm + Enjoy Motherhood More. You’ll find routine inspiration, helpful checklists, and a time blocking workbook! Get it here!

#4 – Let Go Of Control

If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re a structured person who thrives on routine…because it offers some sort of control.

I know that one of my faults is struggling to let go of structure and routine. Letting go feels chaotic and out of control.

I’ve become better at letting disruptions not derail me by a change in perspective. Instead of feeling stressed and anxious, I ask myself, “Is this worth the disruption to my routine?” When I ask myself this, I can recognize that whatever is happening to throw my day off will be worth it in the long run.

If family is visiting, the quality time spent with them means more to me then checking off everything on my morning routine checklist. If my child is having a hard time sleeping, laying in bed and comforting him is worth more to me than sticking to my bedtime routine .

Maybe your partner plans an impromptu family outing that throws off your plans for the day. Instead of feeling frustrated that your plans for the day are derailed, focus on the memories you will make.

Routine is great for calming anxiety, productivity, and habit building. However, you’re not going to look back on life and wish you stayed home to do the laundry instead of heading to the movies (last minute) with your family.

A person planning out their schedule.

#5 – Have an “A” Schedule and a “B” Schedule

If your routine is often disrupted, you can create an “A” schedule and a “B” schedule. That way, you still keep some sense of routine when the unexpected happens.

For example, you have a day when your child is home sick. Your “A” schedule would be your normal daily routines. Your “B” schedule is something you create that entails the routines and tasks you want to get done knowing you will have a child at home.

Your “B” schedule can be a more relaxed version of your “A” schedule, but still offers you the opportunity to feel like you are participating in your routines and not falling off track.

If you think back to high school, you might’ve had a split schedule like this. Your “A” day classes were different than your “B” day classes. No matter the schedule, you were still in school and learning.

Related: How To Plan Your Week For Productivity

5 Tips To Get Back Into Routine When Life is Disrupted

Use These Five Tips To Get Back Into Routine

When life throws you the unexpected, use these five tips to get back into routine:

  1. Go Easy On Yourself
  2. Eliminate All or Nothing Thinking
  3. Set Out To Accomplish Three Things
  4. Let Go Of Control
  5. Have an “A” Schedule and a “B” Schedule

Remember, don’t let one bad day ruin all the work you did to put good routines in place.

These tips will help shift your perspective so that you don’t feel frustrated or overwhelmed when unexpected things come up in your day. Using these tips will help you maintain your routine over the long run, no matter what gets in your way.

You may also find these other posts helpful:

Don’t forget to grab your free Quick Guide to Lessen Overwhelm + Enjoy Motherhood More! Click here to get it today!

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