Whether you prefer a strict time dependent schedule or a looser routine, building predicatbility into our families’ lives helps with discipline, eases anxiety, and allows us to get more done. For those of us with children with high anxiety levels, autism, or ADHD–this is not optional!
Every summer before school starts again, I mull over our past failures and successes and make a new schedule. I think hard about what I want to happen and hwo to pack it all in the day. For the last 5 years my scheuldes look pretty much the same even though at the time I thought I was coming up with a grand new plan. And every year my new schedule falls by the wayside after a few days.
Finally, I had an AHA moment. I was trying to pack too much into a day and running ourselves to burn out in a short period. Instead of building my dream day–I thought about what we already do routinely, and built my day around that. For me, I had to let go of specific times we do things at the home, except for appointments. Instead, we do things in a certain order at the pace that works best for the needs of the family at the time. This allows me to take care of a newborn and toddler around working from home and schooling older children.
For example, I’d love to get up at 5 am each morning. But parenting a newborn makes that wake up time torture. I can get up at 7 without trouble and after a good night, I’ll wake up naturally at 6:30. If it’s imperative that I get up earlier, I can slowly eek the time up 5-10 minutes for several days at a time until my body ajusts to the new schedule.
To get a routine that works with my family, I had to let go of what I thought others expected of me. I don’t normally discuss in circles that I wake up at 7. It feels late, and I’m embarrassed by it, but it’s what I need to do right now.
Also, we do not sit down and have breakfast as a family. My husband leaves for work at 7:30, and I wake up the children at 8. I’ve eaten long before both of those times. Instead, I trained the children to get their own breakfast while I’m doing my exercises. I try not to stress about family breakfast and focus on that family dinner instead. I’ve learned I have to choose between family breakfast and exercising and picked what works best for my family.
Also, I learned that if we don’t get our music practice out of the way before lunch, the day snowballs and before we know it, it’s meltdown time and no practice gets done for the day.
In short, I’ve learned that my routine needs to be relaxed (not too full), predictable, and organized so that what we need to do gets done when it is easiest for us (physically and emotionally) to do it.