As a general rule, we women are extreme jugglers.
We juggle kids, diapers, lessons, laundry, grocery lists, marriage, prayer time, bills, friendships…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like too much to keep up in the air. But if you’ve ever watched a juggler, you’ll notice their trick: they know how to develop and keep a rhythm.
Our whole life (including homeschool) should be organized according to priorities, in order to work well. Without priorities, we drop some, or all of the balls, and there is no peace or harmony.
To achieve any measure of success and sanity, I need my priorities lined up correctly. My priorities dictate what I’m going to focus on and where the bulk of my energy is going to be spent. And if you are like me, taking an in-depth look at your priorities is invaluable.
When I sat down and wrote out my priorities, this is how they lined up:
God > Husband> Children> Work/ministry
With this outline in mind, I asked God to help order my activities for the day, thus creating a routine. Routine is my #1 necessary success and sanity-guarding life resource.
A routine is a life rhythm, which allows flexibility and eases stress. A routine is different from a schedule in this way: Schedules can make you feel behind in your “normal life stuff” when something happens and you have to focus on an emergency. Routines allow you to hop back into the rhythm when you can catch your breath.
Because routines have to fit the uniqueness of each life, don’t try to copy someone else’s rhythm. Unless their lives are absolutely identical to yours (which is NOT going to happen), it is pointless to try to mimic someone else’s life. Be okay with finding your own routine/rhythm.
The only way to find a routine that flexes with your life, is to:
- pray about your priorities and responsibilities first
- choose what needs to be done each day to maintain the balance you need
- learn to say “no”
- Remember to make rest a regular part of your routine, too.
Following are a few key elements that are bedrock to my own routine. These are based on the major responsibilities God had given me when my kids were younger, yet no matter what era of life I am in, my foundational priorities of relationships never change..
1. Personal time with Jesus. No matter what, this has to be first.
2. Quiet time in the middle of the day. This is usually about 30 minutes for a nap or reading a book just for fun.
3. Time with my hubby. We sync our calendars at the beginning of each month and add our date nights at that point. We are both extremely busy, so we make a point to have devotions and pray together every day, and we also make sure at least a couple of our evenings aren’t spent running. We also go places with each other. If one of us needs to go somewhere and the other doesn’t, most of the time, we go together in order to have that time together. We make a point to be on the same page on all important matters (budget, kids, big decisions, etc.).
4. Time in my day to maintain my wife/mom routine. For example: tidy up trouble spots, answer emails, run a load of laundry, start supper, pay bills, check kids’ schoolwork, take a walk etc…
5. Time with my kids to just be mom. Sometimes this is working together in the kitchen, watching a movie, playing a game, just spending time.
6. Time for work and ministry. I try to set aside 4 – 6 hours of uninterrupted time to focus on whatever I’m writing at the time.
So, those six areas are my routine categories – the beats to my life rhythm.
I am including an example of my routine during the school year from back in the days when I had multiple children still in my nest. Please keep in mind that this is meant as an example – remember, your life is not going to be the same.
Notice how flexible I keep my day. I call this margin. It leaves room for exploration, conversation, and relationships. My routines are constantly flexing with my life. I’m just like everyone else; I have an unpredictable life.
5:45/6:00 – 6:30 Get up with my hubby. Make sure he has his lunch, eat breakfast with him, devotions/pray together (this is literally 5-10min, but makes all the difference in the world!), kiss him and send him out the door to work.
6:30 – 7:30 Personal Bible study time, drink a big glass of water, drink a big cup of coffee
7:30 – 8:00ish Tidy my bedroom, get dressed, take meat out for dinner (or plan alternative), check FB, answer quick messages, and make note of messages that need to be answered later.
8:00/8:30 – 9:30ish Kids get up, eat breakfast, do a few chores, get a load of laundry going (not necessarily me), get ready for the day.
9:30/10:00 – 12:00 Get going on school. Bible time together. I do the together subjects with my youngest (going into 8th grade), talk about anything that needs to be talked about, discuss independent work with youngest.
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch, get supper into crockpot or oven-ready, cycle laundry if needed, run local errands, answer messages/emails, etc…
12:30 – 1:00/1:15ish Down time, nap, read, take a walk
1:00/1:30 – 5:00/6:00 My work hours. Kids finish independent work usually by 3:00ish. (They finish any chores and have free time for an hour or so.)
Evenings are spent in various ways, dependent on the month, activities being attended, etc…
Be okay with finding your own rhythm.
Having a routine does not guarantee that I’m going to get a billion things (or even 5!) done in a day, but it does help keep a semblance of order. We get up, go to bed, and eat our meals within an hour of the same time basically every day. This creates “tracks for our train.” I’m not into rigidity or legalism. I’m into being orderly with a lot of room for the Spirit to show up.
What are your priorities? If you want to create a workable, flexible routine, I encourage you to:
Start with 4 – 6 areas that are the most important responsibilities in your life.
Make sure they are your God-given responsibilities, not just busy work that you have been guilted into doing. (I can always tell if something is coming from left field – it interferes with the responsibilities I KNOW God has given me and it stresses me out. Just be warned, some people don’t understand when we have to say “no!” Here’s a litmus test: is something causing stress with little to no return? is something taking so much of your time/energy that you don’t have enough for your family or God? is something taking you away from your home to the point that you are unable to make a peaceful place for your family? These “things” can come in many shapes and sizes, including, but not limited to: outside activities, curriculum that is full of busywork, relationships with bad/no boundaries, etc…)
Check to see where there may be time being wasted. This is a big one for me. Sometimes I think I’ll check something on Pinterest for 5 minutes, and 25 minutes (or more!) later, I’m still staring at it. Social Media can be wonderful, but it needs to be tightly controlled. Set a timer if you need to! I do!
Think and pray about what is necessary on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to maintain order/progress in each category. Leave room to breathe. Take time to think and pray, and then write it down!
Do you have any insights about routines? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments.
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