The Perfect Stay At Home Mom Routine

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I know what you're thinking. "Routines are for those moms. The ones who are uptight and ridiculously put together. They aren't for me. I can barely keep my kids fed and diapers changed. Who am I to keep a schedule?"
I know, because I thought that too.
In 2016, my family lived in perpetual survival mode after my husband graduated med school. We were living with family while we waited for him to take his board exams and his job to start. We moved five times in six months, some of those were inter-state moves. Also, I had a baby during that time. It was one of the most hectic, insane years of my life.
When the dust finally settled and we stopped moving so much, I started to realize that my kids and I were unhappy. I was disappointed because I knew I wasn't being the mom I wanted to be. I was fulfilling my kids needs, but only at bare minimum. We were all in survival mode. I was reminded to be gentle with myself because of the transition, but I knew something needed to change.

Rhythms for stay at home moms calendar

Routines - the natural flow of a day

Intuitively, I knew my family needed a schedule.  My kids needed something familiar and reliable. So I started building what I have since learned is called a rhythm.  Its the reliable beat in the background that keeps things on time and soothing.
It sounds kinda boring, right? I thought it would be. But honestly, my soul craved predictability, and when my soul craves, I must obey.

Why it works

Research shows that children thrive on routine and predictability. Some parents enjoy having set times for routines for their kids, like nap time is at noon, exactly 4 hours from waking, and bedtime prep starts at 6, exactly 4 hours from waking. Personally, I don't like having a set time because I've learned that my kids don't always sleep or wake up when I want them to. Each family is able to decide what kind of routine works best for them. There is no master schedule, no perfect rhythm. Its just you, your kids, and your spouse. You decide.

rhythms and routines for children

Flexible yet predictable

I love the way I do routines because they allow for flexibility as needed, but the safety net of the natural flow is still present. The rhythm can be started earlier or later as needed, like waking up at 6 am instead of 8 am, but it more or less follows the same pattern. I like having flexibility with young children. Also, I personally just don't enjoy a rigid schedule.
I also follow the 80/20 rule, which is the line of thinking that says if I keep to my routine 80% of the time, its okay to break it with little or no consequences 20% of the time. Things like play dates, parties, vacations, and special lunches at dad's work can still happen without throwing too much of a kink in the feel of flow.

How to have days that flow well

Creating the perfect routine for your family doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming. All it requires is a little thought, some creative thinking, and flexibility. Always flexibility.
Get out a pen and some paper.

1. Think about a typical day as it exists already. What do you do when you wake? How does breakfast work? Do you have to be somewhere at a certain time, like work or school drop-off?

2. Write down the parts of your day that you feel are working well. Do you already have established meal time routines? Do you have a bedtime routine that is working? Write them down - these are the pieces we celebrate because they are already ingrained.
3. If you feel there is anything you'd like to add in your daily routine, write it down. This is the time to maybe think about goals you want to meet personally or for your kids. Want to make it to the library sometimes? Go to the gym regularly? Get out more? Start homeschooling? Whatever it is, write it down.

calendar rhythms for stay at home moms
4. Imagine a perfect day. Not the "reading on the beach, forgetting the world" kind of day (though those are good too, don't let me stop you!), but the realistic kind of day where you're meeting your responsibilities and goals. Things run smoothly. You are on time. You've checked off your to-do list. Life is beautiful. Write down what that looks like from waking up to going to bed.
5. Now is the time to merge (if you haven't already) your established routines from Step 2 into your perfect day. Think about how realistic this new day looks, and cut or add activities where you need to. Will you feel bored? Add something. Will you feel rushed and crunched for time. Cut something out. Your day should feel natural. Beautiful. Simple.
6. Your end result can be as specific or fluid as you need them to be. It may look like a list, like a calendar, or like a paragraph. Whatever works for you.
7. The most important step. Implement your rhythm. Decide when you want to start. Tomorrow? Monday? When school starts? After Christmas? As long as its in the near future, its perfect. I don't judge.

As you begin to live inside the flow you've created, I think you will find a few things. You may find time to do the things you've always wanted. Maybe some of your kid's bad habits start improving (mine did). I personally found that routines have added fun to my family's day and peace in my heart.
Have you had success with rhythms? I want to hear - what does your perfect day look like?
© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.