A Flintstone Vitamin sitting next to my bowl of cereal each morning. Eating Hamburger Helper with my family on Thursday nights. Going to the library with my mom every week. Watching Family Matters together on Fridays. Sitting on my dad’s lap telling him about my day while my mom made dinner.
When I think back on my childhood, these are the memories that stand out as the happiest. It was nothing fancy or elaborate. Just simple togetherness and a routine that made me feel safe.
In his book Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne says it best, “In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trips to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”
Now that I’m the mother, I want to offer the same comfort to my own children. Thinking about setting up schedules and creating routines can seem very boring and sterile. But I would argue that structure is the scaffolding on which spontaneity and fun are built.
It’s hard to plan a surprise trip to the pool in the morning when you don’t know what time your kids are going to wake up because they all went to bed late and at different times. Harder still if you have to tear the house apart to find bathing suits and you’re out of sunblock.
What should have been a quick, fun trip turns into a carload of grumpy, sleepy kids, a frustrated set of parents, and a detour to the store to purchase sunblock.
Instead, imagine that your children all went to bed at a similar hour and you already know what time they typically wake up. It only takes you 10 minutes to pack for the pool because you know where everything is. And, because you started packing the night before, you were able to make that trip to the store while the kids were in bed.
I don’t know about you, but the second scenario sounds a lot more fun and relaxing to me.
But how do you set up schedules and routines if life is currently chaos?
The first thing that I would recommend is to think about your typical day. I’m willing to bet there is some routine to it already, whether intentional or not.
For instance, you may come home from work and enter the house with three kids whining about being hungry. You scramble around the kitchen to see what you can make with children underfoot the whole time. You throw something together for the kids to eat as quickly as possible just to put an end to the complaining. What an irritating 15 minutes!
If this is what all of your weekdays feel like, then you’ve identified one of your routines. Now we take a look at what’s not working and decide what we could do better. Maybe you could make a crock-pot meal the night before and set it to cook in the morning before you leave. If that’s more work than you want to put in, try having a handful of super fast go-to meals that you rotate throughout the week. Or you could give yourself a night off by ordering take-out every Tuesday.
It doesn’t really matter what the routine is, it only matters that you are consistent with it and it works for your family. Try to identify the sore spots in your day and think about what you could do differently to make it easier.
Our family takes routines to an extreme. Each week is almost identical. We go to McAlister’s on Tuesdays for dinner and Chick-Fil-A on Saturdays for lunch. On Sundays, we go to the grocery store as a family. Each meal we eat at home is eaten on the same plate with the same cup. We get up at the same time each morning (no matter the day of the week). And always read each child a story and sing each one a song before they go to sleep at night.
Our home thrives on a consistent schedule. The children argue less because they know what is expected. With routines in place, my husband and I can relax a bit because the planning has already been done. This gives me the peace to be a happy, fun-loving mom when I’m with my children.
Hopefully, you can recognize a few areas where routines might benefit your family to help create a little extra comfort and stability in your household. Then, someday, maybe they’ll remember the little things fondly, too.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like these as well:
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Introduction: The first installment in the Living Peacefully Blog Series.
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Cultivating a Peaceful Environment: Using techniques learned in the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne to create a calm home environment.
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Post-KonMari Home Tour: A tour of our home from top to bottom.
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Montessori at Home: How we’ve incorporated Montessori principles into our daily routine.
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Practicing Intentionality in Parenting: How to make decisions with purpose that work for your family.
Hello there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
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