Making Routines Work For You
As someone who grew up with a healthy dose of chaos switching back and forth between my parents’ homes (aw yeah, joint custody!), I love routines. Love, love, love them. It’s calming to have some structure and a few predictable touch points throughout the day. When my mind races with all my various to-dos and projects, routines make it easier to counteract the anxiety and help me remember what it is I need to do. (It’s also fun to shake up routines and play around with something new, but that’s another post for another day.)
Routines provide the kind of structure that let you stay organized once things are given homes and put away. Let’s take a look at a few helpful changes to try, with whatever tweaks you need to make so that it fits you and your life.
I have the morning dumb. I am not on top of things in the morning at all, but mornings are still a reality of life, so I have to deal with them.
When I wake up, I need something to slowly and gently get me active and present, so I start with some basic stretches. I usually go for some sun salutations or a basic cat/cow stretch while still in bed. If you need something more active, go for it and do whatever’s right for your body and goals. I always admire those early birds who get up and work out first thing. Way to go!
It’s really hard, and it won’t be perfect, but try to keep the screen out of your morning routine. If your phone serves as your alarm clock, it’s super easy to keep holding that phone and check on email or social media. RESIST! Don’t do it! Instead, imagine your cat smacking the phone away and give yourself a couple simple tasks that don’t involve a lot of thought so you can cross those off your to-do list first thing. That puts you in an accomplished mindset so you’re ready to tackle the day and, yes, check emails.
Maybe it’s making the bed, brewing your favorite caffeinated beverage, and eating breakfast to start your day. It’s important to fuel your body and your brain! Maybe you warm up your mind with a short meditation, or maybe you go for a walk. Your routine can be anything, but keeping it consistent from one day to the next is what makes it comfy and a known part of your day that you can count on.
The bedtime routine is basically the bookend to your morning routine. It helps shift your body and brain from getting-stuff-done mode to rest-and-recharge mode. For families, a 10-minute tidy timer is a great approach where everyone puts things away and sets themselves up for the morning by setting out clothes and gathering up things they’ll need the next day.
To help downshift, you can also do some simple stretches or a calming meditation. Just as it’s important to avoid screens first thing in the morning, it’s helpful to avoid them for a while before bed, as the blue light can mess with your sleep.
Oh, chores… everyone’s favorite topic, right? While most people don’t consider chores to be a fun thing, creating a routine around them can make them feel more manageable and maybe even a little bit more fun.
There are lots of ways to approach this. Maybe it’s a daily/weekly/monthly list of chores that you check off with specific assignments for different family members. For families with kids, there are some great age-appropriate chore lists available online so you can delegate.
If you want a routine that’s less structured, maybe it’s simply a 30-minute timer every day in which everyone in your house tidies and cleans as fast as they can in that amount of time. However you structure it, creating a routine for chores can help them seem less daunting over time.
One final note about routines though: allow for some wiggle room! Routines are great, but don’t fall into the perfectionist trap. Routines are there to help you get through the day, not to create an impossible standard. Tweak the routines as needed and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it done 100% of the time. Even professional organizers go to bed with things still undone.
If you have a chaotic schedule and need an objective eye to create a family routine, drop me a line and I’ll help you create the right system for you.