Five easy steps to organizing a routine with young children.
Do you remember the day when you were left alone with the kids for the first time? Those few weeks after birth certainly aren’t the easiest but most moms have their husbands or moms, mother-in-laws, or sisters around to help them. If you didn’t, oh my word do I pray for you.
But eventually everyone goes home and hubby goes back to work. I may have cried that first night my husband went to work and left me home with a toddler and a newborn. If you are in those trenches, I feel for you. Those early days of motherhood are really, really hard. BUT setting up a routine for your family is one way you can help yourself out. A simple but structured day can save your sanity.
It can be very overwhelming to try to implement a new schedule or routine for your family. Or maybe you are dying for some structure to you day, but don’t know where to start. I have five tips to help you get started.
How to Organize a Routine with Young Children
1. Start with meal times and nap time and fill in the rest.
Meal times and nap times are the starting point for your routine. The reason you start with meal and nap time is because nothing makes for grumpy children more than hunger and/or sleepiness. Value those times as you schedule your outings. Use that down time for self-care and as meal prep time.
For me, having my kids fed and well rested was a win for me. If you aren’t sure what you NEED to get done in a day, here is an idea. Start with a brain dump. List all the things you need to do in a day. Number them all. Everything gets a number and there can be no ties. Prioritize and delegate when able. Do you really need to dust? Can the dishes and laundry be delegated? The ages of your kids will determine how many things you can get done in a day. As a starting point, try to fit in the top 4 things to your schedule.
2. Aim for one outing a week, even if it’s just to the grocery store.
Library story time, the park, the pool are excellent opportunities for getting out of the house. Don’t feel you have to fill each day with something special. How many outings you have in a week depends on your family and personality type. An extrovert may need outings every other day, while introverts may settle for once a week. Whatever you do, go outside once a day, even if it’s just a short walk around the block or a trip to the swing set.
3. Screen time
Every family has their own values and policies when it comes to screen time so it’s very important you have a plan in place. You may be adamant about 0 screen time, or you may feel putting on a movie while you prepare dinner is the best way to keep the whole family happy.
4. Day should have a beginning and an end point.
My oldest was able to get on a routine simply because I got her up at the same time every day and put her to bed at the same time every night. It really was that simple. So when I had my youngest, I implemented the same thing. My kids were the judge of when they got up. They always got up around 7, so their bedtime was based on their age and how much sleep they needed. I found a chart ,much like this one, for how much sleep kids needed and adjusted accordingly
5. Don’t get discouraged
If your family has never implemented a routine, don’t get discouraged. It may take up to a week for everyone to adjust. After a week you can adjust what is working and make the necessary changes.
You may be wondering what a family routine looks like and how much time to implement for each part of your day. I came up with a rough outline for what you can implement in your home. My method was to create a solid block of time with a flexible idea of what needs to be done in that period. That way you can adjust outings and activities as needed.
Sample Family Routine
6 – Mom up, breakfast, dressed, self-care
7 – Kids up, breakfast and morning routine
8 – Free play or outing
10 – Snack
10:30 – Free play and lunch prep if needed
11:30 – Lunch
12 – Nap
2 – Free play, screen time, meal prep
5 – Dinner
6 – Baths and bedtime routine
Once babies have a predictable napping and eating pattern, around six months old, you can start setting up a schedule like this. Having a baby and toddler is all about survival and having a predictable routine with help you (and your kids) enjoy your time at home more!! You won’t be wandering around aimlessly from task-to-task, but moving with intention through each part of your day. It may seem scary, but YOU CAN DO THIS! Having a routine for your family will change your life!