Routines: the basics 1


Knowing what comes next is comforting. It’s recommended to set up a routine with kids from when they are tiny, and even for adults with dementia or other neurological issues. So there is something nice about a routine.

Water bottles

Some people object to the word routine, so you can call it what you want: schedule, plan, standard operating procedure…whatever works. But setting up a general routine helps you get things accomplished and helps the household do what it needs to.

I’ve been working on our routines since our last few super busy months (we’ve been home for 7 days in May and not quite two weeks in June, but with guests. And we’re headed out more later this summer!) Since I’m guessing some of you are in the same boat, whether because of vacations or kids home for the summer, I’m going to write more about that topic next.

Let’s talk about how to set up a routine in general before we get to the specifics:

  • Start with your big rocks. What’s most important? Once you get those things in, you can fit all the other little rocks and other pieces in around them (meals, lesson time, story hour, etc), but if you don’t put them in first, you will have a hard time getting them in at all. So start with what is important to you.
  • How does your day flow? You can get a realistic idea for your day by looking at what happens now. If you are not a morning person, it could be hard to wake up two hours before every else to daven and run, no matter how hard you wish for it. But maybe after you get the kids off to school, you could do something you want to do. Or you could budget time into your nights for that, or choose another part of the day that works for you. The key here is to organize your day around what will work for you without it being too much of a hassle. Recognize that we all ebb and flow during the day. You’ll be much more likely to succeed!
  • Prepare ahead of time when you can. For example, have your kids choose their outfits, locate shoes, pack their backpacks and lunches, and whatever else they can the night before. If you’re going out with a baby (or several!), restock the diaper bag as you go so it’s ready when you need it. Plan your meal in the morning so you can defrost or put ingredients into a slow cooker. Don’t wait until the last minute! Build these things into your routine to stay on top of things.
  • Plan in some margin time. What’s margin time? It’s the extra time for when you spill on your top and need to change or someone’s shoes go missing. If you don’t count down time to the last minute, but leave a little extra, your routine will be smoother and you will be less stressed if (OK, when!) you fall behind.
  • Start changes small and add to it as you go. It’s so tempting to take on a whole bunch of things and try to completely change up life. I used to come up with really big plans that changed everything and then try to get them to work. They usually did – for a few days. But that’s hard to sustain. Adding a little at a time until it gets to where you want is the way to go.
  • Last, don’t let perfection hang you up! You won’t stick to your routine perfectly every day, or maybe even most days. That’s okay! Keep adjusting and working on it, and the bulk will get done.

An organized house is a process, not a destination. And just when everything is flowing smoothly, the baby will give up her nap, or you’ll have a new baby, or school will be out for the summer, or you’ll decide to take an afternoon job, or…something. That’s life. Time to adjust and move on!


About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.


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