Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Mommy Mental Health: Routine Shifts

As carefree and casual as your life without kids may have been, as soon as you’re a parent, you start to highly value a routine. It might be something as simple as a rough guideline for when things take place, or a strict regiment for maintaining structure and sanity. Whatever your style, occasionally things come up that might disrupt your orderly system, and throw life temporarily in to chaos. Having recently gone back to work from maternity leave, returned from a family trip that involved 3 time zones, and moved house into a temporary space, I know all about that. Here are a few tips I am using to re-balance my plan… until the next move, baby phase, or other disruption that is!


There aren’t a lot of pros to a major routine change, but the one upside is the ability to start fresh. Things are screwed up anyways, so why not re-establish the order in a more efficient way than before? Think about the major points that need to be accomplished in a day. What worked last time, and what didn’t? Could bath time be an hour earlier? Should dinner be a little later? Should the story be read upstairs in a darker space now that it’s summer? A change of environment and scheduling might end up being a good thing!

Plot it out:

If you have multiple moving parts to consider (a spouse, kids, parents, roommates, pets, etc), it’s important that you all be on the same page. You need to create 3 types of blocked time:

Fixed – this is the core and the backbone of what will make your schedule stick. It’s the points that cannot be moved, lest the chaos begin all over again. I would suggest things like wake up, bed time, breakfast, and dinner should fall into this category.

Flex – this is stuff that needs to be accomplished in some semblance of order to cue other events, or simply ensure they get done. Ideas of flex items might include end of day tasks (bath, story, cuddle time, etc), family bonding time (park, floor play, walks), and essential home care.

Fluid – this is the slots that are completely vacant, and perfect for scheduling medical appointments, grocery shopping, house cleaning, or just a nap! Give yourself time in every week that is not dedicated to anything in particular, because things come up!

Do a trial week:

Once you have a sense of how to reorder your time, do it to the letter for a week. You might find that the ducks fall beautifully in a row, or you might realize something you hadn’t accounted for. Maybe your little one can’t wait until 7:30 for dinner and needs an extra snack at the sitters, for example. You might have to push bedtime a little later to avoid having a 4am feeding, or get baby to sleep by 8 so they’re not a bear getting ready for day care in the morning. 

There are lots of fantastic products out there to get kids involved in understanding their day, such as this adorable and interactive schedule chart. If your kids are too young, it might still help to have something of a formal command center for tasks and schedule anomalies. This might be a desk area with a full calendar, a folio for bills, and a fully organized file cabinet. Sigh… a dream of mine. OR it might be as simple as a white board on the fridge. You just need somewhere to write “don’t forget milk” or “dance on Wed @ 6pm.” While this will not be the last time your routine goes out the window, it’s worth it to try to maintain some structure to your week when you can.  Roll with the punches, but don’t let the craziness of life leave you feeling knocked out.

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