What mothers really need is a 27-hour day, but – since that is not going to happen – it’s important to learn to work with what we have. The simplest way to establish order in your home is to create routines, rhythms, and habits.
Consistency is somewhat of a paradox within motherhood. Every mother knows that nothing will work forever and that, quite frequently, we have to make changes to our routines and schedules. Consistent change, a willingness to do so, and a conscious plan for doing it are just as essential as being consistent.
Removing clutter from your home is an important component of order. Get rid of the physical clutter that overflows your closets and cabinets as well as the emotional clutter that makes your days too busy and your patience short. When homes are cluttered, children become scattered and experience increased stress and frustration.
Establish simple routines and life-long habits with your children. Habits that include clearing dishes when a meal is over, putting dirty clothes into a hamper, and unpacking backpacks when returning from school. These are routines that will help keep your home organized but will also serve your children throughout their lives.
Create routines that allow your days to unfold with ease. It seems easier said then done, and sometimes it takes awhile for routines to take hold. It is not realistic, for example, to make school lunches in the morning if your children need to be prodded awake and require help getting dressed. Your morning will run more smoothly if you make them the night before.
Many of us – adults and children included – benefit from charts, reminders, or lists. Figure out what works best for your family and start using it! With four children, I have trouble remembering who is supposed to be doing what so charts serve our family well.
When your children are younger, establishing morning, afternoon, and bedtime routines is sufficient. Some parents do not stray from their nap and bedtime rituals AT ALL. Others stay consistent but have children who are able to be flexible if needed. When you create those reliable spaces, it is easier to plan cooking, cleaning, and other household tasks.
When your children get older, it is helpful to have a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a dinner/bedtime routine. It can be difficult to work in a consistent homework schedule and necessary down time when you have various children involved in various activities. Planning gets a bit more creative, and children take on more responsibility for the family routines.
As we mentioned above, consistency is important but flexibility is also crucial. Be willing to change up stressful routines. If you are consistently walking out the door at the last minute to catch the school bus or if you are struggling to get your children into bed at night – then it is time to change things up. Spend some time considering why the current routine is not working and what you can do to make it better for you and your child.
One thing I noticed when examining our family’s routines is that technology is invasive. The dings on our computers and cell phones telling us about incoming messages are hard to ignore. It is easy to sit down to answer one email and get swept away for a longer period of time. Create technology time in your daily routines.
Establishing order in your home gives you control, self-sufficient children, and more time for joyful moments.