On a Tuesday morning a couple of months ago, I had a little Mommy crisis. It was only 9:00 in the morning, and I was already exhausted, cranky, and I could feel my patience flying out the window. We had already read stories, had breakfast, played with cars, gotten dressed, and made a mess with playdough. How in the world are we going to survive until bedtime? I wondered.
After muddling through several days of this, and a lot of brainstorming about how to get out of my mommy funk, I realized I needed to reinstate a daily schedule. Techincally, we had a loose schedule, but ever since Baby Boy dropped his morning nap, I’d felt like our routine just wasn’t working.
So I rethought, reworked, and recommitted to a new and improved routine that now looks like this:
Since making these changes a couple of months ago, my days have gone SO much better.
Here are FIVE reasons why having a daily schedule literally saves my sanity.
- It gives me a little order amidst a chaotic life. See, I like order, and predictability, and control. Which is really unfortunate, because in motherhood those things often go out the window. There’s a lot I can’t plan for..like when the baby won’t sleep. Or when Little Man gets the stomach flu on my anniversary (not that any child would actually dare to do such a thing…oh, wait). Or when the adorable children gang up and decide to boycott family pictures. You know, the norm. But having a schedule gives me something to cling to and reminds me we’re not a complete three-ring circus.
- My boys know what to expect. We’re all creatures of habit, and I think it helps both my boys and me to know what is coming next each day. It’s the same reason people have bed time routines. Through repeated behavior, we train our bodies and minds what to do. With a routine, my boys transition better between activities, and they don’t fight me as much on things that are a part of the schedule. Want a snack? I understand. Snack time comes after mommy school everyday. We’ll wait until then. Argument over (hopefully).
- I don’t have to think as hard. Considering that a toddler’s attention span is somewhere between 2-5 minutes, it requires A LOT of activities to keep them occupied all day long. If we just stay at home and have nothing specific planned, I am totally brain drained by the end of day from trying to think of something new to do every few minutes, or I’m frustrated by the often destructive activities that my kids think up during free time. It’s the same reason I plan meals a week at a time. If I wait until dinnertime, I end up stressed and we get mac ‘n cheese. By planning ahead, whether it be menus or our daily schedule, it makes it a lot easier to enjoy motherhood when I’m too tired to think.
- It makes it easier to recover after the crazy days. Not every day follows our routine. There are days we have special events scheduled, or someone gets sick, or we go on vacation. But that’s why I like having a routine: it keeps us going on all the normal days, the days where there isn’t anything exceptional to keep us busy. And, when I totally throw off the routine, they settle back into it quickly once we are home again.
- It helps me balance quality time with my kiddos and productive time for myself. Before I revamped my routine, I was really struggling with wanting to be an involved mom, but getting frustrated by how little I felt like I was able to accomplish each day that didn’t involve cars, crayons, or play dough. Part of my goal in setting a routine was to carve out specific time to give my kids my full attention as well as allow for time when they would self-entertain and I would (hopefully) be able to do some of the other necessary tasks involved in running a home (and some things I just wanted to do, darn it!). Having these times schedules helps me to set aside guilt and be present in whatever task I’m doing at the moment.
Our schedule isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t solve all our problems, but it helps immensely. If you’re going insane with the day to day demands of motherhood, give a schedule a try!