The benefit of routine and structure in your days is that it will give you control of your life. This is regardless of whether you are parenting a newborn, coping with several small children, or managing work outside the home and the kids as well.
Implementing structure into your day doesn’t mean that you have a minute-by-minute routine. It simply means that you have a plan about what your day will consist of. You will benefit from structure and your children will too.
Take an inventory
What times of day are busiest for you? Typically this will be first thing in the morning and at dinner-time. It’s important to look at exactly why these times are so busy and then putting some practical strategies in place to combat this.
In the morning, it may be a combination of getting everyone fed and dressed for the day ahead or filling in paperwork that you had forgotten about. Take some time and think about what you can do to make morning time calmer. This might mean having a designated spot to store your keys, or laying out your clothes to wear the night before so that you don’t need to make that decision in the morning. You can use our practical tips here to help structure your mornings so they run more smoothly.
If your children are of school-age and find it difficult to get organised in the morning then you need to create structure for them as well. This might mean things like packing their lunchbox and storing it in the fridge the night before or allocating them a special space to store all their school things.
Create a routine
Babies are too small in the initial months to have their own routine. However you can create one for you and, once they are older, you can begin to develop a routine for them as well. You may like to leave a routine in the form of a tick chart on the fridge and tick it off as you go. The routine doesn’t have to include things like feeding your baby or changing them (though you may prefer to include this in there) but the structure you are creating is primarily to support your sense of well-being. It can act as a practical reminder and give you a sense of achievement as well.
It might be as simple as:
Ensure your routine incorporates meal planning so that you can make sure the fridge is stocked with the right ingredients. You also need to make sure that you plan for once-off events that might break your regular routine, such as appointments or meetings. That way you’ll be able to manage those events accordingly
If you have older children, need to get out of the house to work in the morning, or if you work from home, a structure is vital. Set up a routine chart for smaller children with visual cues about the tasks they need to do and a written version for older children.
The same applies to evening time as well. Create a structure for this so that you know what you need to do and you’ll have a sense of achievement for doing so as well. It might be a tick chart on the fridge or a series of reminders on your phone so that you complete tasks promptly and move onto the next thing.
Set some guidelines for yourself about how you will be using your time throughout the day. If you work from home you need to be fairly disciplined about how you allocate your time. It’s important to focus on the work you need to do whether it is sterilising bottles or returning phone calls. Allocate time for these tasks in order of their importance and tackle them accordingly. By creating a structured response plan you will find it much easier to cope.