Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thoughts on Routines (and how changing them can make a world of difference)

I recently made a small but magnanimous change in the way we get out the door in the mornings. I don't know what took me so long.

You see, for so long (nearly a year, in fact) we'd been doing almost exactly the same things every morning... and it wasn't working very well. Day after day we'd be rushing out the door, late of course, most likely missing something important, feeling frazzled and usually yelling at someone about something. For some reason, we kept this up, just kind of going about it as though it was the only way. Which is silly, really, since we'd completely changed how we did things once I started working outside the home again.

I want to add that while having to leave the house to work every day presents all sorts of wild and wonderful challenges, I relish it. But that's just me (and it's not what this post is about).

Our Old Routine

  • 6:45 am - I wake up, go downstairs for coffee and cereal, watch the news
  • 7:15 - finally drag myself upstairs (it's way too easy to sit and sip coffee while watching the morning news, before anyone else is awake!) to get in the shower, kids starting to get up, The Hubs is on kid duty
  • 7:30 - 8:15 - I shower, get dressed, makeup, hair etc etc. Hubs feeds & waters the animals children, gets them dressed etc.
  • 8:20 - I rush downstairs, pull a brush through The Girl's hair (in a rush, so she freaks out), yell about boots/coats, etc
  • 8:35 ish - out the door

Several problems here. Can you spot them?

  1. The Hubs was left to do everything related to the kids on his own in the mornings. Not fun for anyone.
  2. This left no time for The Hubs to shower in the mornings, so he was having to do it at night, meaning less time together just he and I. 
  3. We were late every day.
  4. Most importantly: the only time I saw the kids before 6 pm was to yell at them to get their boots on or kiss their heads as I rushed out.
Funny thing was I didn't even realize how much it wasn't working, until I wrote it down as part of building my Control Journal, thanks to the FlyLady. (I could go on for days about FlyLady but for now I'll let you go check it out for yourself. Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Anyway, the new routine is much better. Sure, we are still running habitually late, in large part to the fact that we've all been getting to bed too late at night (I'm working on that now). But, overall things are running much smoother, and we're all a little happier as a result.

The Shiny New Routine 

  • 6:30 am - my alarm goes off *(in theory this is when I get up, but lately it's when I hit snooze)
  • 6:45 - I'm up and in the shower
  • 7 am - The Hubs gets up with the kids, gets them dressed (clothes laid out the night before, down to socks), and downstairs for breakfast. Straw-sippies of juice (prepped the night before) are waiting in the fridge. Coffee is brewing.
  • 7:30 - I'm downstairs, dressed. The Hubs goes to shower etc. Kids eat while I get coffee, sit and eat with them, then I brush The Girl's hair (and I can actually take my time and be gentle... less protesting!), empty the dishwasher (!!), and reload it. 
  • 8:00 - kids finished, we clean up and get coats on, get in the van.
  • 8:15 - The Hubs arrives, clean and refreshed, and takes the kids to daycare. I head to work.

Ideally we'll be able to tweak this so we're actually rolling by 8 am, but all in all I'd say these were such small changes that have made a huge impact. There's something to be said for starting your day right, and I can't believe it took me so long to recognize that it just wasn't right!

Also there's the bonus effect of having a tidy kitchen in the morning, so it's more manageable after supper (rather than having to empty & reload the dishwasher, and deal with the pile of backlog dishes, we just need to load from supper and run it). There's something kind of magical about opening the dishwasher to find it ready for dishes to be put in, rather than full of clean ones!

My evening routine has also changed... but I'll save that for another post... The Control Journal comes into play there too. I'll just say I'm surprised how positive these changes have been!