Since the writing of this post, my daughter’s schedule has changed, so my routine has changed as well! This is a great model for young babies, but can be adjusted with the age of your children. To read how I manage my work from home schedule with a toddler, read this post.
I’ve often thought the negative stereotype of moms as stressed out, overwhelmed, and run ragged with responsibility was a little unfair. It’s true that motherhood is exhausting at times, and the more kids you have the harder it is (as the oldest of six, I know what it looks like). But I don’t believe stress is God’s intention for our lives. I believe that even in motherhood, we can manage our time in a way that allows us to enjoy our children, enjoy our hobbies, and fully live the lives God has given us.
So with thought, prayer, trial and error, I developed my daily routine.
Today I’m going to walk you through how I develop my daily routine: one that gives space in your schedule for the things that refresh your soul.
Step One: Write down everything you need to accomplish in a given day.
Get out a sheet of paper and write down everything you need to do. Include making meals for yourself, getting dressed, the laundry, and dishes. Anything you spend time on should be on the list.
Next, write down everything you want to do but can’t: things like reading, playing the piano, sewing – whatever gets pushed to the wayside.
Go back to your list of tasks and circle each task you can do with your baby, whether by putting her in a swing, wearing her, or setting her on a mat to play. For me, those tasks include:
- Devotions (I hold her on my lap while I read and take notes)
- Laundry (I can throw in a load while wearing her, and I can fold while she lays next to me on the floor)
- Cooking meals (I can babywear while doing this)
- Shower and do makeup (she sits in her bouncy)
- Workout (she can sit in her swing and watch – she thinks it’s funny!)
- Answer emails and read (I can do these while nursing – for emails, I dictate into an iPad)
Step Two: Identify the Stressors and Suckers
For this step, write down everything that stresses you out during the day. What makes you “unhappy mama” when your husband gets home? My stressors are:
- A messy house
- Undone dishes
- Trying to make myself meals while the baby fusses
- Staying up too late (babies wait for no man in the morning!)
Stress makes things feel like they’re out of control, but look at my list – all of those things are under my control! I want my daily routine to reduce stress, not increase it. But before we deal with solutions to those problems, we will make a separate list of “time suckers”.
Write down the things in your day that take extra time; things you do, even habits you didn’t know you had, that wittle away five minutes here and there. My list included:
- Picking out an outfit for myself
- Scrolling through social media
- Looking at emails as soon as they pop up on my phone
- Doing ALL the dishes at the end of the day when I want to go to bed
- Jumping from one chore to another as I notice it
Each of these things uses up precious time in tiny increments. They seem harmless in the moment, but when you look back on the day wondering why you didn’t have time to play the piano or read to the baby – chance are, these are the culprit!
Step Three: Make a Weekly Plan for the Problem Areas
Now that you have your list of stressors and suckers, ask yourself: “What can I do to solve these problems?” As I asked this question, it led me to my weekly plans. I have a weekly plan for laundry, cleaning, fitness, and meals (breakfast, lunch, AND dinner).
I’m steering away from the word “schedule” here. It is very important that you NOT hold yourself to an hourly schedule. If you make a daily routine based on rising at 6:30 AM, when your baby wakes up rarin’ to go at 6:00 your whole routine will be messed up. Instead, abide by a rhythmic routine, following the same order, not the same hours.
Planning takes work on the front end, but brings peace in the long run. I was stressing myself out by doing everything at once, or impulsively doing chores as I saw them. By assigning tasks to each day ahead of time, I don’t even have to think about what I need to do: I just look at my plan.
As you saw in my stressor and sucker lists, I was struggling to find time to clean, do dishes, and make meals. Yet somehow I found time to wander around my closet and check my friends’ Facebook feeds. To stop these problems, I divided up these tasks over the course of the week:
- Monday – Cloth diapers and sheets
- Tuesday – Towels and wash cloths
- Wednesday – Cloth diapers
- Thursday – Baby’s Laundry
- Friday – My Clothes
- Saturday – Josh’s clothes/uniforms and cloth diapers
- Monday – Living Room
- Tuesday – Kitchen
- Wednesday – Bathroom
- Thursday – Wipe down cupboard fronts/washer & dryer
- Friday – Bedroom & Nursery
- I plan all dinners two weeks at a time and buy groceries accordingly. Since we eat on the Trim Healthy Mama plan (lots of meat and veggies, largely gluten free, and no processed foods or sugar) I make sure to take this planning time each Sunday (which is also when I tweak my routine according to the week’s events – more on that later).
- To decrease my stress at mealtime, I pre-prepare my breakfast and make a lunch for BOTH Josh and myself the night before. He takes his to work, and mine stays in the fridge. Some of my favorite breakfasts:
- Overnight oats – put in a container and leave till morning!
- Overnight chia pudding
- Eggs and sourdough toast
- Eggs and half an avocado
- I discipline myself to do the dishes (by hand – we have no dishwasher) after each meal. This way all I have in the evening are dinner dishes, which Josh helps with.
- This wasn’t listed as a stressor, and that’s because I already had a plan in place. I follow Kayla Itsine’s BBG plan, doing three strength workouts a week along with three walks/runs. I schedule these on each day of the week.
Step Four: Outline your baby’s feeding/nap schedule and pull it all together.
Write out your baby’s schedule. Go back and look at the tasks you circled in Step One; these are the tasks you will do while she is awake. The others will be accomplished while she naps.
I waited until Adeline was a month old to really implement and tweak my routine. That was also the point I started sleep training her and working with a regular feeding schedule. (The book Babywise was very helpful for this.)
At the writing of this post, Adeline is on a 3-hour schedule. She eats at (roughly) 7 AM, 10 AM, 1 PM, and so on. After eating and a little play time, she goes back down for a nap. After each nursing session I schedule the things I can do with her while she’s awake. After each nap, I schedule the things I do best when she’s sleeping. See below:
In my daily routine above, you see I actually write out things like “play with the baby”, “play piano” or “read while nursing”. By putting these things in my daily routine, I am much more likely to do them – and not feel guilty about it.
Step Five: Write each day’s tasks in your planner.
As part of my evening routine, I lay several things on the kitchen table for the next morning: my Bible, journal, and my planner – open to the next day. On each day of my planner I have written:
- my workout (legs, arms/abs/full body, or run)
- the cleaning assignment (living room, kitchen, etc.)
- my allotted Bible reading (I’m reading chronologically through the Word)
- breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- the laundry assignment
Then I plug these tasks into my daily routine (previously pictured).
So if it’s Monday, “start laundry” means I’d be washing diapers and sheets. I’d also be doing a leg workout, reading Genesis 48-50, and cleaning the living room. By doing only doing a portion of the laundry a day, only cleaning one room in the house, and pre-planning/preparing meals, I am completely present with my baby, my husband, or even myself – all thanks to routine!
Step Six: Pick a Time for a Weekly Planning Session
Each Sunday night I look at the week and adjust the daily routine according to the week’s events. On Tuesdays I have Bible study, so Tuesday is my lightest cleaning and laundry day; it’s also the day I make the most crockpot dinners.
- Remember it’s a rhythm, not an hourly schedule. Go with the flow of your baby and your day.
- Leave holes in your routine – as you can see in mine, I have several times throughout the day when I can do laundry, in case something happens and I can’t do it at the usual moment.
- Don’t ever be afraid to schedule in a nap when needed!
- Underwhelm yourself. Don’t ask too much, and set reasonable expectations in this season.
- Some people think planning stresses them out MORE. Planning is only stressful if you are adding work to your life; this planning is intended to lighten your workload, making it more efficient so you have time for the things you love.
- Remember the GOAL: to be less stressed, more happy, and more fulfilled in the life God has given!
I’m a firm believer that the most fulfilled wives and moms are those who have a little time for the things that make them happy. However, if I sacrifice my family on the altar of my own happiness, I’ve got my priorities screwed up. To have time for my work and hobbies, but also take good care of my marriage, home, and baby, I have to be intentional. I see this as a way of expressing love: intentionally making room in my schedule for the things that last.
Have routines of your own? Share in the comments!