I basically could not function as a mom without routines. In fact, I barely function anyway. You know as well as me that having little kids creates enormous amounts of day to day craziness.
I am a firm believer that life is better when it’s simple. Although simple and toddler aren’t usually used in the same sentence. Routines can create the simplicity you are seeking as a busy mom.
These are simple routines for moms that will help you manage your home with peace and even save you time and energy for the things you really want to do.
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1. Laundry routine
Laundry is not simple. It needs to be done all the time, but if you can set up a system for yourself it can be manageable. Here’s the routine that works well for our family. When I wake up I put a load of clothes in the wash. Before I leave the house to take the kids to school I throw it in the dryer. After I pick them up from school we fold it and put it away together. Everyone helps and it gets done in about 15 minutes. I choose to do the load in the morning because then I get all the stray clothes that end up in the basket before bedtime. If there is a day where we don’t have a load, I do sheets and towels. With 5 people in our family we seem to have about one load per day. You can modify this system to work for you. The point is to be consistent so you don’t end up with piles to wash, fold, and put away.
2. Too small clothes
This is a never ending problem in a house with growing kids. It seems like I have to go through my kids clothes on a monthly basis because they are growing so fast. In order to keep this from becoming an overwhelming task, place a laundry basket in each kids room or somewhere near all the bedrooms. Anytime your child wears something that is getting too small, place it in the basket and when you have enough clothes in the basket, take it to another family who could use them. I also use this basket for clothes that I notice aren’t getting worn much. We keep our wardrobes to a minimum and if the clothes aren’t serving a purpose and just taking up space, they get placed in the basket so someone else can use them.
3. Making meals
I have a couple things to say about this one. First, this section is not going to help you if you like to make gourmet, magazine, worthy meals. This doesn’t mean you can’t love to cook and try new meals, but this section is more about making your day to day meal planning easier and saving your experimentations for nights when you have more time.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I want to give you a new way of thinking about food. I take a minimalistic approach to meals. Meaning, I make simple meals, that nourish our bodies, and take little thought. I don’t buy a lot of different kinds of foods and I don’t purchase anything to use one time in a recipe. Rather than searching the internet for a meal to cook, going to the store to get what you need, and spending the evening in the kitchen, plan for the whole month. Choose several meals your family loves and rotate them throughout the month, placing meals with similar ingredients near each other. You can read my whole process in this post, The Secrets to Meal Planning in 30 Minutes or Less per Month. If it works for you (and I hope it does!), use it exactly the way it is. If you need to tweak your process a little, do what works best for your family. The point is to lessen your load when it comes to meals. You have to feed your family, but the time you all spend together is more important than having fancy meals on the table every night.
4. Packing lunches
If you have school aged kids you know that getting lunches together can be a challenge. And like everything else in motherhood, it just keeps happening day after day! (I wish someone would have compared motherhood to Groundhog’s Day before I became a mother.)
To keep it manageable, think of your kids lunches in categories. Veggie, fruit, protein, and fat. Have a small list of each of these categories your kids like and then pack one of each in a bento box. For example easy veggies are grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, avocado (or guacamole) which also doubles as a fat, etc. Protein could be peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, turkey, pepperoni, etc. If you haven’t gotten a decent fat in, add some nuts, like almonds. I don’t do anything fancy like make clever shapes out of the food. I just pack a few healthy items in each section of the bento box and send my kid on their way. I generally do this for all of my kids, even the two that aren’t in school, because it makes lunch time that much easier. This is such a simple routine that my son can often pack his own lunch.
Mornings can get a bit crazy in a house with kids, but it’s important to start your day off well and help your kids to do the same. I have two morning routines. One for me and one for getting my kids up and ready for the day. I will give you a look at both so you can decide on the routines that work best for you.
- Wake up before everyone else, poor myself an ice tea, write down my yearly goals (I do this every morning), work for an hour and a half (this is generally my writing time), 30 minute workout, get ready for the day, 30 minute bible time.
- Then when the kids get up, they come join me on our big chair as I’m finishing my bible time and I read some to them and we say a morning prayer. They do a small chore list (get dressed, brush teeth, make bed) while I get breakfast ready and pack lunches. We sit and eat breakfast together, talk about the day ahead, and then head off to school (or lounge around if it’s a weekend).
You’ll notice my routine is quite lengthy and it’s because I try to get work done before anyone gets up so I have focused time. You may not want to get up that early and that’s completely fine. Find a routine that works for you and stay consistent. If you do the same thing every morning it becomes habit for you and your kids and everything will flow easily. Hal Elrod’s book, “The Miracle Morning”, will help you create the perfect morning for you and has the potential to completely change your life.
6. After school
You may or may not have kids in school, but this routine will work perfectly for your kids when they wake up from their afternoon nap as well. Usually kids are starving at this time of day so have some cut up veggies and fruit on the counter. You could include hummus, peanut butter, or ranch as well. During this time, talk to them about their day. Then give them time to play, do something creative, or if it’s nice, go outside. Kids need time to unwind after their day, just like adults do after work. I don’t plan any elaborate activities. I might get some art supplies out, play dough, or a bunch of recycled materials, but really they’re on their own. While they have this independent time, it’s okay for you to do a few chores or sit and read for yourself. Once they’ve had time to unwind, it’s a great time to do a quick 15 minute clean up around the house and read or do homework.
7. Sunday basket
This is an idea I learned from someone else and I wish I could give them credit because it has changed my life. The idea of the Sunday basket is that you have a place to put any to-do’s that you can’t do right away. This can be mail, bills, papers that come home from school, a broken necklace, you name it. All those things that usually end up on the counter get put into this basket. Then you spend one day per week, going through the bucket and completing the to-do’s. This generally doesn’t take very long and keeps it all manageable and stress free.
First you need to know that my house is not sparkly clean. I strive to keep it presentable most of the time, but I don’t stress over making it perfect. This system has helped me manage the mess that grows quickly without having to spend all my time cleaning.
Choose two times per day when you can spend 15 minutes picking up and doing a little quick cleaning. Morning and afternoon work well in our house. During these times, everyone participates, including the kids. Do the basics, put dishes away, wipe down counters, vacuum, and anything else that needs done. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 15 minutes if that’s your only focus and everyone works together. Between these quick cleanups and cleaning the ‘occasional’ accident or spill, your house will stay pretty clean.
I know some of these routines for managing a home with kids may not be a good fit for your family or lifestyle. I hope you can use a few of them to simplify some of the day to day tasks you face. Most importantly I want you to remember, it’s not about perfection. Your job description as a mother does not include doing all the tasks above. Your job description as a mom is to keep your kids safe, love them, and raise kind, capable kids. The rest is just life stuff that can be let go of when needed and it doesn’t need to be all your responsibility. And it does not equate to how good of a mom you are!