Jan 042013


I’ve written before about the problem with comprehensive plans. Life happens and laundry doesn’t. Sick days come and dishes get let go. But I’ve discovered it’s not just that. When my plans are too comprehensive, I get bored. I just don’t want a schedule or a clock telling me what to do every minute of every day.

But I also don’t want to throw my hands up in the air and approach each day with no clue what’s ahead. Pausing is nice – our family greatly enjoyed the holiday break. But we’re ready to get back into the swing of things – and that’s where a flexible routine comes in.

I spent the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas reevaluating our daily routines so that come January we could make a fresh start. On Monday, I’ll share what our routine currently looks like. In the meantime, here are some tips for creating your own.

Identify Parameters

For us, sleep has always been a non-negotiable. Just like my husband, our kiddo needs lot of sleep. Missing nap time or pushing bedtime too late results in less than desirable behavior. Now that our kiddo is a little older, she’s dropped her nap and can handle an occasional later night but, in general, we’re still pretty strict about bedtime. Therefore, sleep is a parameter in our day. It’s a fixed time that rarely changes. Your parameters may involve wake times, meal and snack times, or dropping and picking up your kids from school – anything that follows the clock.

Discover Values

There are a zillion things we could do each day. There’s always another project to finish, drawer to organize or craft to complete. Just ask Pinterest. If we don’t prioritize, we’ll find ourselves at the end of a day, not to mention a year, having no clue what we did. Perhaps you highly value social interaction or reading out loud to your kids; time in nature or a non-cluttered home; exercise or a few minutes to read for yourself. Figure out what you value so you can incorporate those values into your flexible routine.

Adjust Expectations

It’s quite possible we value too much. After all, spending time in nature, making time to exercise and reading out loud to our kids are all good things. The problem is, we can’t do it all at once. So it’s time to adjust our expectations for the current season. Just because you can’t make all your meals from scratch right now, doesn’t mean you can’t move in that direction when your kids are a little older. A flexible routine should allow for your current circumstances – not for the unreachable ideal. Additionally, it should allow lots of margin for life. Because you can’t schedule messy diapers. Or illness. Or days where everyone wakes up grumpy.

Put it Together

Write down your time parameters. Fill in spots to intentionally live and impart your values. And leave lots of wiggle room. Your routine could follow a clock if that’s what’s easiest. Or you could just have a natural rhythm to your day. I’ve tried it both ways and have found I’m much less stressed if I keep the clock out of everything except the essentials (like bedtime).

Feel Empowered

Even though there are things about our lives I wish happened that don’t, I still feel empowered when following a flexible routine. The routine part allows me to know the things that are most important to me were accomplished. And the flexible part keeps me from stressing out when life doesn’t go as planned. Come back Monday for a look at what our current flexible routine looks like.

What principles do you use to create a flexible routine that works for you?

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 Posted by at 12:01 am

  4 Responses to “Creating Flexible Routines”

  1. Great thoughts, Steph. I also do a flexible routine, though over the holidays it was definitely more flexible than routine. :) We’re ready to get back into it!

    I’ve also found that having a day where we go outside for sure, but maybe don’t read our read aloud is helpful. Like you said, we can’t do it all, so on our “outside” day, I don’t worry about whether the reading gets done. In the end it feels more real life and balanced anyway.

    And I hate living by the clock…totally with you.

    • I sometimes have a really hard time getting us outside…I really like the idea of having a consistent day for it and dropping another regularly scheduled part of the routine.

  2. [...] Friday, I gave some tips for creating a flexible routine. Today, I’m giving you a glimpse into our [...]

  3. [...] out some clutter and shore up your daily routine. Nothing like a rather routine month to get things back on [...]

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