The real 3 Rs – routine, routine, routine
Whether you are returning to work or study, family routines can be your best friend. Routines for you, routines for the kids and even routines for your partner. Depending on how much lead time you have, you may even have time to set up new routines before you embark on your new adventure. Routines work as they give you a solid foundation to build family activities upon. Family life is full of moments of chaos (and of course joy!) and our ability to cope with it is much greater if we have the basics sorted out.
Here are three routines to consider implementing or tweaking to help make family life easier when your daily life changes.
Night time preparation routine
A good morning starts the night before and everyone can help chip in throughout the evening to share the workload. Make sure the kids have their bags packed for school, uniforms or clothes out and any items ready that they may need for after school activities. Even our kinder child does this and it makes things run much smoother in the morning, particularly if you have a kid who fusses about what they want to wear.
For the adults, in our house these are some of the activities we do each evening:
- Set table for breakfast
- Prepare lunch boxes
- Complete school / kinder notices
- Ensure clean and available uniforms/clothes
- Unstack dishwasher
- General tidy
- Empty the bin/s
- Check the calendar
On days when I have meetings that require me to leave the house, I also:
- Have my clothes organised for the next day
- Have my work bag packed, with all necessary technology and accessories
- Lunch or snacks for me if they will be needed
Undertaking these tasks in the evening gives us a clean slate for the morning. Even if we had a disastrous end to the day, with over-tired kids and cranky parents, starting the next day organised gives us all a fresh start.
As I work from home and start only once I have dropped the kids off at school or kinder, the morning routine for the adults in our house is pretty simple. I leave the house for exercise between 5.15am and 6.45am. My husband helps the children who wake up throughout this time with breakfast and I do the rest when I get home.
If you are leaving the house each day, or have little ones who need more help, you can save plenty of time and stress by working out with your partner who does what in the morning. When I worked outside the home between babies one and two, I’d have our son’s bag packed the night before and food ready in the fridge. As I left the house first, my husband would dress our son, collect his things and take him to child care and I would do the after-work pick up. Because we shared the workload around childcare and agreed on who did what, everything was made so much easier.
Menu planning routines
There aren’t many worse things than reaching the end of a work day and thinking “What can I make for dinner?” Planning out meals and shopping accordingly, means you have everything you need to serve up timely, healthy meals for your family. The workload for this task can also be shared amongst the family.
My husband and kids all help to organise family meals contributing to the monthly menu plan we create together. A month may seem like a long time to plan for, but with work, study, school, social activities, etc, I find a week zooms by and I need to plan more meals again. Each month, I allocate a small amount of time to plan our meals, involving the family, which saves me significant time in the long run.
Experiment and find the right level of menu planning for you – weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Then work out a way to fit shopping for those meals into a routine. We buy online for groceries on a monthly basis, buy meat at the butchers each month, then my husband heads to a local market each weekend for fresh fruit and veg. We still have milk and bread purchases to make through out the week and sometimes a fruit stock up to do, but by having these routines to sort out the meals, we save so much time and energy not having to run to the shops so frequently.
These simple routines will make a big difference to your base level of organisation and also help spread some of the workload to other members of the family as you are returning to work or study. It can take some time to set them up and then have everyone take on their responsibility, but it is an investment of time that will indeed reap rewards for you in the long term.
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- 52 weeks of health and happiness
- 10 simple ways for mums to save time
- Debt-proof your relationship
- Stay-cation: how to holiday at home
This article was written by Nicole Avery for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz