Daily Routines

This week we received a follow-up question to some thoughts we shared on routine housekeeping: Regarding a daily schedule, what should happen at “this” time or how should our time be broken down to be more effective?

I think we as people tend toward routine and even crave it– some more than others, of course. (I would be one of those who craves it… :) Growing up, if we did something twice (sometimes even just once!), it was Tradition! As a mom, it’s interesting to note my children establishing their own methods and routines for things: how to eat a sandwich, where to sit when a movie is watched, what order they will brush their teeth in, etc.

Here are a few blessings I think come from having a measure of routine in our days:

    1. Better Prioritizing
    Having a daily routine or schedule can be very helpful in making sure you do the things that are really important to you. When we live our lives flying by the seat of our pants, we often miss out on the things we really want to do because we’re just doing the thing that’s right in front of us. For example, I have found that although I very sincerely want to be taking time to help my children memorize Scripture, if I don’t establish Scripture memorization as a routine part of our days, I get to the end of the week only to realize that I never found time for it.
    1. Stability
    Predictability isn’t always fun, it’s true, but a certain amount of predictability lends itself to order and peace because we know what to expect. It can be something as simple as always following your morning shower with coffee that can yield peace!
    2. Productivity
    When we do things in similar fashion repeatedly, we get better and faster at those things.
    3. Spontaneity
    Yup, you heard me right! The truth is, if you stay routine in doing your laundry, when an opportunity for a spontaneous overnight trip presents itself, you’re ready to pack your bag and go. If you cook meals routinely, your husband can usually bring home a dinner guest or two without it throwing you into a tizzy.

Having considered some of the blessings of routines, we are faced with the question of how to establish daily routines. There isn’t a pat answer because what works well for me might not work well for you, and vice versa. Also true is the fact that what works well for me now very well may not work well in a few months. We are changing people living in changing environments. Certainly we can be inspired by and learn from one another, but we need the heart of God regarding how to invest our time.

I recommend that you begin by considering your goal. What does God want your days to look like? If you’re married, talk with your husband about what’s important to him in a day, such as shared meals or family devotions or playtime with the kids. Determine your own hopes and priorities. And figure out the most important things first. If Gabriel used play-doh at the same time each day but I wasn’t getting a chance to shower, I’d be frustrated, to say the least!

As for how you maintain daily routines, there is no “right” way. Personally, I like to work through my day like it’s a flow chart. The only things I really attach specific times to are waking/sleeping (including naps) and meals, and even then it’s not entirely uncommon for me to put the kids down for naps at 1:30 or even 2pm instead of 1pm like I aim for. After establishing those more time-specific things, I simply aim for doing other things in a particular order around those times.

For example, in the morning I wake up, have my quiet time, dress the kids, shower and dress myself, make breakfast. One day you might come over and find that we’ve woken up extra early and I’m showered at 7am with laundry started and muffins in the oven baking. Another day you’ll find me with my wet hair wrapped in a towel as I help Gabriel set the table at 8am. Either way, I can almost guarantee that everyone will be dressed for the day before we sit down at the table, because that’s a routine that’s important to me because it helps me feel more ambitious and motivated.

This is what works for me. As you establish your own routines, be sensitive to and prioritize the people in your life– husband and children, roommates, parents, etc.– so that your daily routine includes their needs and hopes. Understand your limitations and your unique abilities. And, above all, ask the Lord what He would have you doing with your days and how He would have you do it.

    See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16


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  1. There are SO many ideas for daily routines to be found on the internet — everything from the super-detailed to the super-creative! Sometimes I am running low on routine inspiration, but stumbling across a plan or strategy that really connects with me, my style, and my season can help recharge me in this area.

    Also, just thinking through different daily routines I’ve lived by, I think that general targets work for me in this season (like you mentioned above, Bri), but when I was school-age, I appreciated when Mom had a timed schedule. That way I was accountable to not just be working, but to be working efficiently and quickly and on schedule. Probably adding those time slots helps when you’re trying to delegate some responsibility for the day’s success to older children.

    I know that with baby #2 coming in the fall, my order and routine are about to be overhauled… but in the meantime, these posts have gotten me excited about getting back into the swing of things — setting up a cleaning schedule and a daily framework. I’m always amazed by how much time I can find in a day when I’m working within a plan!

    Posted by Danica | June 26, 2008, 6:59 pm
  2. Thanks for putting this up! I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’m not organized by nature, but in order for a peaceful home, I have really been needing to work on this in my life and family. Especially with a new baby in the house, if I can’t do it, I need to make sure someone else can fill in.

    Posted by Dee | July 18, 2008, 6:28 am