When you think of your family routine, how would you categorize it? Hectic? Exciting? Organized? We often believe that our lives just become the way they are and we live in response to the activities that happen to us, we live reactively.
Happiness is a result of intentional, proactive living. Establishing routines or habits help us feel like we’re taking a proactive approach and controlling our circumstances. But if we’re using habits or routines that cause friction in our lives or are more work than they’re worth, it may be time to give up on what’s not working.
That might be a lack of routine too if you’re “go-with-the-flow” mantra isn’t serving you and your family well, it may be time to create some routines. The most important part of evaluating your life processes is identifying what does and does not bring happiness to your life.
How can you identify what is or isn’t working in your life? When should you keep trying and when should you let go?
3 Signs Your Family Routine Needs to Go
What you can do to identify and change the routines that aren’t working for your family. Once you know exactly what is not working, and why, you can start implementing changes. Developing a family routine is going to be a trial and error process, give yourself and your family grace when figuring out what works.
1. The routine is unclear and not easily communicated.
Families like to find their own groove. As moms, we all love to say, “do what works for you! you know your family best!” This is mostly true, but we also get caught up in tunnel vision. Our decisions can be driven by survival mode and in no way intended to help us or our children thrive. If we have no clear vision of what the routine is or should be, it causes friction. Consistency helps families stay on track.
2. You feel anxiety around the process.
Are you dreading bedtime? Or bath time? Or the morning routine? If you feel anxious every time you approach the transition, the system isn’t working. It’s time to consider a change. Where are you struggling and why does it cause you anxiety? How did you fall into this particular routine? Who is benefitting and in what ways?
3. You’re too exhausted after the day/routine to do anything for yourself.
Do you just zone out at the end of every day? You have plans to watch a movie or prep lunch for tomorrow but all you want to do when it’s quiet is to stop thinking. Having kids is exhausting. I’m not suggesting the right routine will fix all your problems, it won’t. Organization should be energizing. Having processes or routines should help you move more fluidly through life so you have time to focus on your own needs. If they don’t, they’re not working.
How to Develop a Family Routine that Works
Once you know exactly what needs to change in your life, you can start developing a new family routine that works for everyone. Don’t forget that your children are people too, humans are complex creatures. As much as we want to believe we can herd our minions around like cattle, they’re more like cats. Each personality has it’s own quirks and routines often amplify everyone’s quirks.
Take Your Time
Morning routine problems can be solved by finding out what can be altered throughout the day. Should bedtime be earlier? Do the kids need to be doing more physical activities during the day so they’re tired? Do they need to be doing more mind-challenging things during the day so they can more easily fall asleep? Does everyone need to start preparing more at night? This is where knowing your family best works. Pay attention throughout the day and see what other needs could be met and work as a precursor to the routine activities. Bedtime is another hard routine to nail down. And the most important thing to remember about bedtime routines is that these ones will probably change the most.
Know What Works Now Won’t Work Forever
Do what works until you hit all three points above, then pivot. Bedtimes are hard because sleep changes. This is true for children and for adults. Sleep patterns can be altered by new events in life, by health matters, and just because. The most important thing to remember about bedtime is that nighttime is the worst time to feel bad. Parents need sleep or they could die. Ok, I’m being a tiny bit dramatic, but it does feel like that sometimes.
Be Patient and Kind
Because we feel so desperate for sleep, we sometimes get upset with our kids and try to discipline them into better bedtime routines. The faster way to a difficult bedtime routine with children who wake 2-3 times a night and come into your bedroom is to yell at them at bedtime. But if you want kids who are well-rested, sleeping happily, and feeling secure in their rooms, sleep will take some preparation. I’m not an expert so I’ll leave you with the advice I follow. It’s hard and it takes time but when I follow this approach, everyone sleeps more peacefully. Even if it’s only for 3 hours all night.
Finding a Family Routine the Works
Finding a family routine that works takes flexibility. Things change often when you have growing children. Sometimes routines last years, sometimes they only last for a couple of weeks. The process should be focused on making life easier for at least one person in the family (hopefully mom!). Feeling friction and frustration at the start of you routine is a sure sign it’s time to find a new one.
Focus on meeting everyone’s needs as best as possible
Take a stand when you can only satisfy one party—after all, you’re doing most of the work
Be willing to make changes
Don’t fall in love with one routine, just go with what’s working
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