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How to Create a Family Schedule or Routine that Works

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Being a working mom is hard. Being a mom is hard.

My daughter is three and a half years old and her little brother was just born this past fall. In the spring of 2020 when the world shut down, my husband and I became fairly regular stay-at-home parents. He was still in his undergrad, but classes moved to Zoom. Then in the fall of 2020, we both went back to school for grad school, all online. During that time I started working part-time, but I was still mostly at home. All this is to say, that for the first three years of her life, my daughter only knew a world where mom and dad were both home most of the time. Whereas, her brother will only know a world where dad is gone for 13 hours a day four days a week.

With my husband’s new job, I’ve had to rediscover what it is like to be a stay-at-home mom with a working spouse. I did it before when our daughter was born until she was about seven months old, but now I have to figure it out again with a toddler added into the mix. Let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart. He started work a few months ago and sometimes it feels like we're still over here in survival mode, aka we’re watching a lot of movies and shows.

One thing that has helped has been to try to develop a schedule for ourselves or various routines that need to happen throughout the day. An important thing to me has been to try to get out of the house. It Takes a Village has been great with that because we have meet-ups all the time to help moms in the area interact with each other and make friends. Having other adults to talk to has been a lifesaver during this transition time. But seriously, get out of the house. Take your kids to the library or a museum or, when it’s warmer outside, the park. Even just a couple hours out of the house helps break up the day a little bit and make it more bearable.

It’s also been helpful to me to create a schedule that isn’t too rigid. For example, when I tried to make a schedule where everything was laid out by the hour, that didn’t work. I failed, gave up, and turned to screen time. However, when I decided to make it a looser schedule by saying, “In the mornings we…” I found success. Think of a couple of things to do in the morning and a couple of things to do in the afternoon and that helps out with scheduling and routine because the kid(s) will know what to expect.

Let me be honest for a second. I’m a grown woman and yes, I need a naptime every day. Not so conveniently, just after my husband started work my daughter decided that she didn’t need her afternoon nap anymore. That didn’t vibe too well with me. I need my nap. With toddlers and preschool-age children who refuse to nap, have you tried quiet time? It’s a lifesaver! Every day after lunch, she knows that it is quiet time. We have Amazon Echos all over our house, so step one to quiet time is turning on a playlist of Disney stories for her on Spotify. She’s obsessed and I love it. Step two for quiet time was establishing certain toys that only come out during quiet time. Now not only does she accept that quiet time happens, but she asks for it because she wants to play with those special toys. The final step was making sure she didn’t feel abandoned. Her room is right down the hall from my room, so I put her in her room with the door open, and then I go lay on my bed with my door open and she knows that mom is just a few feet away if she needs me. Quiet time is one of the saviors of our daily routine.

Other important routines are the morning routine and bedtime routine, but those are going to look different for every family. Even in our family, they look a little different every day. But the same tasks get accomplished, even if they’re in different orders.

What is a routine or scheduling tip that works in your family? Let us know!

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