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You might be curious about how to start routines because you live in a constant reactive mode. Or maybe you want to figure out how to start good routines that will actually stick. Either way, routines are a great way to maximize your time and get you out of survival mode.
Studies show, 80% of Americans do some form of routine every day. This is great news because you are already doing routines. Being late everywhere you go is a routine. Hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock 5 times before you wake up is a routine. Eating dinner around 6:00 pm every night is a routine.
You are already doing routines; you just need to optimize them and allow them to make your life easier.
You can start and implement routines in your life to get ahead of the curve and get out of reactive mode.
Before I started having good routines, I lived in reactive mode 24/7. I was dropping the ball left and right. I was stressed and snappy at work, I wasn’t creating a budget, I was late everywhere I went, I was spending too much money eating out every month. I was a mess.
I technically had a routine. I would wake up every single morning after hitting the snooze button no less than 5 times. I would drag around and finally leave the house about 10 minutes before I was supposed to be at work (if I was lucky). I lived about 30 minutes away at the time.
I dragged through the workday putting out fires. I ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the same day more times than I care to admit.
I came home from work, didn’t feel like cooking, and talked my husband into getting takeout on the way home. I moped around everywhere. I felt like I couldn’t get out ahead. I didn’t have any control over anything. Before this, I was even obsessed with order and routine.
It didn’t make any sense to me why I was in this situation. I just knew I had to figure out how to dig myself out of this hole.
Through these steps, I learned how to dig myself out of the hole and develop routines that would actually help me. I learned how to create routines that would actually work for me. I slowly started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I started to cook dinner at home, create a budget, and create an evening routine.
The steps below are the basic premise of creating any type of routine. Routines give you so much freedom. You can start implementing routines and get your life back.
Some benefits to routines:
- Lowers stress
- Better night’s sleep
- More proactive
- Have more time for what you love
- Reduces the need to plan
- Helps form good habits
- Helps break old habits
How to start routines:
1. Pick a routine to start with.
What area could give you the most bang for your buck? What area gives you the most trouble?
Do you want to start cooking more meals at home? Start a meal plan.
Do you want to learn how to wake up more peaceful and productive with less chaos? Start an evening routine.
Ideas for routines to get you started:
2. Prep work Part 1: Map out your vision
The first step to creating a routine is to figure out where you want to be. Where do you envision yourself in the future with regard to the routine? If you want to start an evening routine to decrease the chaos level in the morning, write out your ideal evening. Notice I use the word ideal and not perfect. Nothing is perfect. If you were at about 90-95% satisfied, what would your evening look like? Just write it out without thinking. Don’t worry about editing what you write.
Prep work Part 2: Analyze your current situation
What are you doing now? Are you doing any elements from your ideal routine? Put an asterisk by what you’re currently doing. What do you want to start that’s new? Just look at your ideal routine and compare it to what you’re doing now.
3. Outline a Plan
Now that you have your vision, create a workable ideal plan for your routine. Map out the order you would do things and make sure it’s realistic. Now you will have to change some things and might have to reorder the tasks, but this is just a rough draft.
For example, say you wanted to do 5 things every evening, but you might only realistically have time to do 4. Which 4 do you want to do? Make sure your plan is realistic time-wise. If you don’t have time, you will have to work faster, decide if you want to the fifth thing, or cut out the fifth thing for now. If you have to cut something, it isn’t permanent. It’s just for now.
Keep in mind about when the best time and order to do the tasks are when creating your outline. If part of your evening routine is homework, with the kids, make sure you schedule it when the kids are more likely to complete it. If they come home from school wired up with tons of energy, maybe they need 20-30 minutes of free time to burn off some energy before diving headfirst into homework.
Start implementing your new plan. If you are adding a lot of new stuff, just add them in one or two at a time. Only add in two if they are small. If you are adding in praying with your kids before bed, you can probably do that with another new thing. But if you are adding in something that will take a lot of willpower and getting used to like moving dinner time up an hour, you need to add in one at a time.
It is better to go slow and add in little by little than to think you’re going to wake up one morning a different person and do 15 new things every single day without fail.
It won’t happen.
It is better to go slow and consistent. You want to keep doing the stuff and then adding on stuff on top of that after you have learned the new habit.
This is the most important step and most people don’t do it. You have to evaluate and figure out what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, don’t make it a big deal. Just figure out why it’s not working and fix it.
For example, say you want to eat at home more. You decide you need to start a meal plan. You create the meal plan, you go to the grocery store, and you get all of the stuff to make the meals. But you don’t cook the meals.
Instead of beating yourself up for not cooking at home, figure out why you aren’t cooking. Are you trying to cook 10 new dishes a week? Are you cooking elaborate recipes? Is your kitchen dirty when you come home from work and it makes you not want to cook? Why are you not cooking?
Don’t beat yourself up, just figure out why you’re not doing it. If it is because your kitchen is a mess, you have to figure out how to clean the kitchen. You don’t technically have a cooking problem; you have a kitchen cleaning problem.
This sounds so simple when you look at it like this.
Most moms just rush to judge themselves and tell themselves they’re stupid and can’t get it together when they just need to solve the problem. You’re not stupid, you just need to clean your kitchen, so you don’t walk into a mess every day. This will help you want to cook more at home not beating yourself up.
Starting anything new can be a challenge, but routines are worth it. When you have structure and routines in your life, you aren’t running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done. You know what needs to be done and you do it. You don’t have to figure out what to cook every day during witching hour when the kids are screaming because you’ve created a meal plan in advance and know what you’re cooking.
You can learn to create your routines, automate things, and run your household with less effort so you can focus on the things you love and really want to do in your spare time.
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