This is the first of what will be a regular Friday post that covers more personal, behind the scenes stuff. This is a blog after all. Anyone that knows me will know that I can articulate what is going on in my life far better in the written form, than in any other way.
I did debate for a moment starting another blog and calling it something like The Struggles of a Single Mum. But, just because my children are currently behaving like feral monsters and I feel like the loneliest women on the planet (thanks for that, Christmas TV), it doesn’t mean that life will always be this way. Right?
After struggling through another horrendous bedtime yesterday and having my kids scream at me all morning, I realised that what is missing, and what is often missing in our home, is a good old-fashioned routine.
Routines Do The Work For You
Now, I know that even the word sounds utterly boring, but I have had a bit of an eiphany over the last 24 hours. You see, routine is actually a secret weapon that can be used for pretty much all the things we want to achieve in life. From keeping our houses clutter free and living a more minimalist lifestyle, to eating better, being a more consistent parent, and finally getting a flat stomach after having three kids, routine is actually the answer.
In fact, I am so convinced by this fact that I have changed my Word Of The Year for 2019 to ROUTINE. Despite making me sound like a middle-aged transport enthusiast, I know that routine is an even better word than my original choice, SELF CARE. You see, self care is all about doing things to look after ourselves better. That’s great, but how do we fit these things in? We need a routine. We need a routine both for ourselves and for our kids.
And for single mums like me, a routine is even more important. Whether it’s a morning routine, bedtime routine, after school routine, or a lazy Sunday routine, bring on the routines! A routine does the following:
- It takes the thinking out of parenting. Since my brain is half-dead most of the time from lack of sleep and being shouted at by the people I love most in the world, anything that means I have to think less is great.
- It cuts down on whining. After a few repetitions, kids tend to accept routine and are less likely to fight every single instruction you give them, all day long.
- It turns into a habit. Do a routine long enough and it become second nature. It switches to autopilot. And the idea of putting my kids to bed on autopilot just about makes me want to run around waving my knickers in the air because bedtime in our house at the moment is tantamount to me chasing three kids around for three hours until they finally collapse from exhaustion.
A New Routine For The New Year
So I’ve created a new routine for bedtime, and a new routine for the morning. I’ve written them down on a piece of paper and everything. These are the two parts of the day that go horribly wrong. Even before the school holidays I was basically beginning and ending my day with a ton of stress that I just don’t need.
I don’t want things to be set in stone. But I’m flighty and restless and exactly the kind of person who needs more routine in their life. So I want a guide. Something pre-planned to tell me what the hell I should be doing at 7:30pm with my three kids, instead of sitting on the sofa exhausted and wishing that someone else would magically appear and read them all a story while they run around naked not listening to it.
Last night’s bedtime was so much better simply because I wrote out all the steps. I thought about how best to tackle each child and then did what I said I was going to do. Having a bedtime framework (hey, I like that description!), takes some of the difficulty out of all the things that need doing. Both for me and them.
A Routine Helps Me Too
The other reason a routine is really good, is that it temporarily helps me to put the mobile phone down and just concentrate on the job at hand. With the increase in blogging I’ve been doing, I find myself glued to my mobile phone all day long. I know this is not healthy, or productive, but I tend to want to check in on my Facebook group and make sure that I’m replying to Instagram and blog comments.
So I’ve inadvertently turned into a smart-phone addict and I don’t really like that much. Not to mention that if I suddenly go and check Facebook while I’m waiting for one or more children to brush their teeth, you can bet that by the time I look up from my phone they are either arguing over the toothpaste, or they’ve given up entirely and gone to dress up as Iron Man.
Routines Require Effort – At First
The only downsides to routines are:
a) You have to actually think them up in the first place.
b) Doing them the first sixty times or so takes more effort than not doing them.
So I’ll see how the new bedtime routine goes, and I will get the hang of the morning routine at some point before the kids go back to school. This morning I just lay in bed after my alarm went off, but I’ll keep trying. I know that routine is partly the answer. The other part is the discipline to actually carry it out 🙂