Friday, August 21, 2015

The Power of Routine

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It all started with Money Saving Mom's Makeover Your Mornings course.

In the first portion of the course, Crystal talks about the importance of routines- first developing an evening routine, then a morning routine. While I have a general plan of action for how my mornings run, my nights were seriously deficient in the order department.


Once I put the kids to bed I would often just collapse on the sofa. "I'll just put my feet up and check my phone for a few minutes..." I would think. "Then on to something productive." Or at least a more conscientious and wholesome method of relaxation. I think we all know how that goes. Or doesn't. Most nights I would stay up too late, feel more drained, and wonder what on earth I did with my time.

Crystal has you think about your mornings when planning your evening routine. What things make your morning the most stressful or unpleasant? How could you proactively combat those factors the night before? Looking at it from this new {to me} perspective, I was able to come up with a plan that has seriously improved my life.

Now every night, as soon as my kids are in bed, I automatically grab headphones, put on a podcast, and clean my kitchen. The podcast is my little treat to trick myself into still working- it's something that I enjoy, feels like "me" time, and isn't something I ordinarily do with kids around.

If I end up sitting on the couch and checking my phone or watching Netflix with my husband after the kitchen is clean, I still feel good about what I already accomplished. There is a sense of productivity that eliminates guilt. But often cleaning the kitchen gives me a second wind that I'm able to use on other projects or to dos.

My mornings are so much nicer. I love waking up to a clean kitchen! Now I put away the dishes in the drying rack each morning while I make breakfast as a part of my official morning routine. I find that not playing catch up from the day before means I have so much more time and accomplish so much more with my days. My house stays much cleaner over all, I have more freedom to play and interact with my kids in a meaningful way, and my To Do list gets more items ticked off of it.

Developing a structure and order to your day in the form of small, sustainable routines is powerful.

Are you lacking structure? Interested in trying to implement a routine or routines of some kind?

Here's what I think makes my new evening routine successful.


1. Treating myself. Yes, as soon as my kids are down for the night, I long for that highly-craved, largely anticipated grown-up time. I'm tired, and feel like a good day's work deserves a little break. Making dishes time my podcast or audiobook time has made it a much easier pill to swallow. It's a slight luxury in my life, and I can choose to focus on the enjoyment of that aspect, rather than my achy feet and total disinterest in housework.

2. Tying it into a permanent, immovable life structure. When it comes to developing a habit, experts say that piggy backing your new habit onto something you already do as a trigger is a highly effective way to keep it. Every single night my children go to bed {hallelujah!}. So every single night I can set myself on autopilot and walk straight into the kitchen to grab a dish towel as soon as I finish the last tuck in. I don't have to think about cleaning the kitchen anymore, or debate if I will or won't do it. I just walk right over and get started.


3. It's easier to play keep up than catch up. If I do my dishes {important note: I do not have a dishwasher}each night, I start with a clean slate the next morning. After breakfast I've implemented another mini kitchen clean-up session into my mighty and much loved routine. Usually before cooking dinner I do another quick clean-up. Which means that when I go to clean my kitchen at night, it might potentially take me only 15 minutes. This becomes a very sustainable habit- because I'm keeping up, there isn't that much to do, and the task doesn't seem as overwhelming when I'm feeling exhausted.

So when attempting to adopt a new routine, ask yourself: what wholesome "treat" can I tie in with the activity? Is there a natural part of my already existing routine that I can attach it to? And then enjoy the benefits that come once you get the ball rolling.

What super nifty routines have made a difference in your life?

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