Whether you’re a stay at home mom, or a mom who works from home with her kiddos in tow, you know that being at home with your child all day can be both a blessing and a curse.
Pretty much every day, you have the whole day laid out in front of you as a blank slate that’s your to fill in as you choose. And while this may seem like the ideal situation, if you’ve been a SAHM or WAHM for very long, you know how easy it is for time to get away from you, and how often you might look back at the end of the day and wonder, What did I do today? At least I know I do.
One thing I’ve learned about myself since I became a mom four and a half years ago, is that really I’m not very good at staying at home. The lack of structure, and my easily distractable and procrastinating personality, often make it hard for me to do the things that I should do, or even the things that I want to do and have good intentions of getting done.
I have found, that without some form of structure and being intentional with my day, time seems to slip easily through my fingers and I can often come to the end of the day and ask myself that question, what did I do today?
Because as stay at home and work at home moms, we do have the luxury of flexibility and spending our time the way that we want to, I think that it’s really important to establish routines that can help us to get the most out of our time that we can.
Routines add a flow to our days that is not only good for us, but also good for our little ones, who usually thrive on structure and having a basic idea of how things will happen each day.
Here are the routines that I have found to be really helpful in ordering and structuring my days as a work at home mom. I’ll tell you about how they work for me and my family, and hopefully that will give you some encouragement and inspiration for setting up helpful routines in your home for yourself and your kids.
Morning Routine 1 of 8If there is one routine I have found helps my days run more smoothly than anything else, it is waking up before my kids, and having my own time in the morning. Of course, it can be hard to get out of bed in the morning, but I find when I do this on a consistent basis that I am much more productive for the rest of the day. If I wake up at the same time time as my kids, I always feel like I'm scrambling to catch-up. I use my mornings for personal quiet time and prayer, writing/work, and planning my to-do list for the rest of the day. Depending on your schedule and your needs, you may want to use a morning routine for exercise, showering and getting dressed, starting on chores for the day, etc. Choose things to do in the morning that will help the rest of your day run smoothly when you get them done first thing.
Daily Chores 2 of 8I have a list of eight chores that I try to do on a daily basis to help maintain my home. These are the things I have found to be the most beneficial for me in keeping my house from getting too messy and overwhelming. There are days where I don't get all of them done, and days where my house definitely feels out of control, but overall, when I do them on a regular basis, they making maintaining a clean home more manageable.
Clean-Up Time 3 of 8This is a routine both for me, and my kids. Every day after lunch and play time, the kids and I clean up around the main area of the house. Even when the house looks like the picture above, it really only takes us about 15 minutes or so. I want my kids to get into the habit of learning to clean up after themselves, and it makes the afternoons much easier and less stressful for me when the house is generally picked up at least once during the day.
Reading Time 4 of 8After we clean up, I read a couple books out loud to my kids. We've been reading through chapter books lately, so we usually read one chapter in our book, and then they each get to pick one other book to read. I think reading to kids is so important, my kids love it, and it helps to calm them down before quiet time.
Quiet Time/Nap Time 5 of 8Recently, we switched from afternoon nap time to quiet time, and it continues to work really well for our family. Both my kids and I look forward to this break in the afternoon. My kids are learning to play quietly alone, and often fall asleep by themselves, and I get some quality time to myself, which I usually use for writing and working.
Afternoon Routine 6 of 8After the kids get up from quiet time, I usually encourage some kind of play activity, and play with them for a few minutes to get them started, and then they'll play together nicely for a while so I can work on some chores and get dinner ready. This can be a tough time of day for both kiddos and mamas, and I've found that one of the best ways to deal with it is to have something specific planned for them to do or play with. When it's nice outside, I also encourage them to play together outside, or we might go out for a walk or bike ride.
Evening Routine 7 of 8The after dinner hours are the ones that we struggle with the most at our house. From eating dinner at different times because of when my husband gets home from work, to just being tired and worn out at the end of the long day, I usually have high expectations for this time that are often unrealistic and don't end up happening, leaving me frustrated. Ideally, I would like to have clean-up time after dinner, for dinner dishes, the kitchen, and a general clean-up around the house, that we do together as a family. And then have family time to do fun things together, like flying kites, going for a bike ride, or playing a game together. Developing a better evening routine is on my list of things I need to work on with my family.
Bed Time Routine 8 of 8Bed time can be a stressful time for many families, especially if your kids resist bed time and having trouble falling asleep at night. Our family has definitely been there, but we've always tried to maintain a pretty consistent bed time routine of getting ready for bed, time to read a few books, and then snuggling and rocking before they fall asleep. It doesn't always go the way we want it to, but we still think it's important to have that routine in place for our kids, and stick with it, even when it's hard.
Remember that routines are supposed to help you move more smoothly through your days, getting the things done that you need to and want to, every day. They aren’t supposed to be constricting, or stressful, if you don’t do the exact right thing at the exact right time. Routines should be flexible, and are not the same thing as having a schedule.
Most of my routines don’t have a specific time attached to them. I know what time the kids need to be up and getting ready in the morning, I like to eat meals around the same time every day, and my kids function best when quiet time occurs at the same time every afternoon, but with young kids, things often get side-tracked or delayed and don’t happen exactly the way you plan, and that’s okay.
What routines have you found help to make your days at home with your kids run more smoothly?