Hello, Readers! Now, I’m sure we are all feeling the pressure of back-to-school right now. In our county of Northern Nevada, school started last Monday, and my sister’s school in another county started the week before that. It’s tough for us moms—SAHMs, WAHMs, Working, or otherwise—to feel ready and organized when our schedules have been tossed by the wayside by a new school year starting. Even I, with a baby at home, feel the pressure of back to school, mainly because of my own family’s return to the classroom—if any got a break after teaching summer school, too!
But this is the perfect time to think about your routine and get it down now before bad habits become commonplace. Setting up a routine that works for your family and getting into a new rhythm now will help you and your family stay ahead of the game and organized all year, and you may even catch a break by doing so.
So, what do I mean by this? Well, a couple of weeks ago I discussed your routine in my post Understanding Your Routine. I asked you to list everything that’s going on every week and understand what you have going on each day of the week in order to stay on top of the extracurricular activities, the clubs meetings, weekly practices, recitals, and more. Now is the time to take that information and gear up for a family routine. Mind you, this will probably take a family meeting to prepare your routine. But this meeting will be explained as we go.
Here’s what to do. First, list out all of your time constraints during the week. This can be listed in a calendar form, in a graph, in a table, or in a schedule. Personally, I find the schedule the easiest. Here is an example of what one may look like that includes everyone’s weekly events, including family events:
|1:00||Family Visits(Grand-parents, etc)||Dad’s Choice|
|6:00||Girls’ Night Out||Date Night/
So, in this schedule, you can see a mix of different events occurring for this mock family. Each event, however, is color-coded for the family member, along with times for the events that are time sensitive. Also, there are slots for family events—such as church services, visiting family members, family nights, and whatnot. Writing these events down—even on a calendar—not only keeps track of what’s going on, but it also helps this family prepare and set their weekly schedules in order to stay organized and prepared for the week. This can be especially important for events that overlap or are close together on busy days.
For example, this family has a lot going on for their Thursday schedule. But, by careful planning, this family can plan for Mom to drop Bobby at football practice and drop Sally off early for dance practice before picking up Bobby a little late. Then, Dad can pick up Sally from dance practice on his way home from work so that Mom can get ready for her Girls’ Night Out with friends. This family also has Friday nights and Saturday mornings somewhat open to prepare for future events. Every other Saturday morning may be a football game, so they are prepared for that. And they may have one or two dance recitals on a Friday night, so that is also penciled in for a later date.
Preparing a routine like this and involving everyone in your family in the process will help plan for any overlaps and will help your family plan for family events like Family Night or visits. It can also help you plan out your meals for the entire year by planning what types of dishes you will primarily serve each day of the week. As can be seen by this mock schedule, each day of the week has a type of meal planned for the family. This helps because when things get really hectic in the middle of the school year, your routine may be so established that you may have this down to a science and your everyday life may run so smoothly that little hiccups won’t completely derail your family.
Now, it is important to keep in mind that things may change during the year. Football practice doesn’t last all year, and you may have to revisit your routine every month or so, depending on your family’s needs. You may also find that “Meatless Mondays” isn’t a real hit among your family, or you run out of ideas to serve. You may even find you and our family grows tired of the same recipes every week. It’s okay to revisit it and switch things up. It’s actually better to switch it up—say, “Meatless Mondays” for “Latino”—than to completely throw out your routine. And it’s okay if you stumble in the first few weeks. You may not stick to your menu scheme at first. You may even cancel an event or two in the week depending on your moods. This happens.
The important thing is to stick to it and try every week to improve your accuracy and to stick to your plan. Studies have shown that it can take up to three weeks to stick to a new habit. So, if you stick to it, eventually it will get easier and your routine will become habit for the entire family. And it will help make your life as a parent a lot easier in the long run.
So, tell me, Readers, what helps you keep a routine together all year? If you have found yourself not sticking to a routine, what hiccups have kept you from sticking to it? What tips can you offer the rest of us?
Until next time,