Now I know routines and schedules can be a little…. well… controversial.
A lot of people think that you are either such a schedule fanatic that you are a slave to your schedule, or you have no routine at all and you basically let your kids decide what happens at what point during the day.
But I don’t feel like either of these extremes is best for moms or for kids.
So when I was creating my routine for my girls, I strove to find a happy medium.
In this post, I’m going to go over why routines are so great for moms to have. I will show you How to create your own schedule that you can customize for your needs. And I’m going to show you my routine from when I had a newborn, my routine from when I had 6-month-old, and what our routine looked like when we had a toddler and a 4-month-old.
Let’s go ahead and get started on why it is so valuable to have some sort of routine or schedule in your daily life.
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, here’s the video:
Why Every Mom Needs a Routine
1) Routines Make You Confident
The first reason I love routines is that they make you so much more confident as a mom.
When you hear your baby crying and you have a predictable routine, all of the guesswork is taken out.
You don’t have to wonder if they are hungry, or tired, or if they need to be changed.
You know exactly why they are crying… at least most of the time… because you know where you are at in your routine.
Whereas if you don’t have any sort of schedule, every cry becomes a guessing game. And you just have to keep trying new things until you figure out what it is that they actually need.
2) Routines Help You Stand Up for Yourself
The second reason I think every mom should have a routine is that the confidence you gain from your routine, helps you stand up for your self when other people think they need to chime in and tell you what your baby needs.
When you are a new mom, almost everyone will have some sort of advice for you. And everybody seems to think that they know what it means when your baby cries.
And almost every time someone else told me what my baby needed… they thought the baby was hungry.
But when you have your routine and you know if that is a tired cry, or a hungry cry, or if they are just crying because they need a diaper change, it can give you a lot more confidence when you are dealing with other people who think they know your baby better than you do.
I had so many people tell me when my first daughter was born, “oh she’s hungry” or “that’s a hungry baby.” And I was able to confidently say, “No, she’s not, she’s actually just tired because this is her nap time.”
And I could put her down, or I could put her in her car seat if we were out and about, and she would go to sleep and take her nap.
Because of the schedule, I wasn’t constantly trying to guess and figure out what was wrong… especially when I was under pressure from other people to make my baby stop crying.
3) Routines Help Your Baby Sleep Better
Most sleep experts agree that having a predictable daily routine leads to better daytime sleep at nap time and better nighttime sleep.
Now, I wish that I could tell you that there is just one amazing sleep book out there that will solve all of your problems… but unfortunately, there isn’t. Or at least there isn’t one by itself.
When I was a nanny I read just about every sleep training book I could get my hands on because I had one little guy in particular who wasn’t a big fan of sleep.
And what I found was that I needed to combine the principles in three different books to create something that worked really well for him.
On Becoming Babywise is essentially a handbook for how to create routines that teach your children how to sleep for the first 12 weeks of their life.
I love this book because using the principles in it, both of our girls slept for 8 hours straight at night, when they were 8 weeks old.
The Dream Sleeper is another handbook for teaching your children how to sleep from ages 4 months up to 2-3 years of age.
If you follow this books advice, your kids will be sleeping for 12 hours a night (can a get a hallelujah!).
Bringing Up Bébé is a story about a woman who moved to France and realized that all the French kids were eating and sleeping really well and she set out to crack the code.
So it’s a really fun book to read that also has some gems along the way for how to teach your kids to sleep better.
4) Routines Teach Kids To Eat Better
When kids snack all throughout the day, they don’t tend to eat very well at mealtimes.
And even if you can get them to take a few bites, it generally won’t be the healthiest food that they are willing to eat… because they just aren’t that hungry.
But if you can have specific mealtimes for your kids, even at a very young age, it teaches them that it’s actually ok to be a little hungry in between meals. And it also teaches them which times are for filling up your stomach and getting full.
5) Routines Make the Busy Days Easier
And the last reason that I think everyone should have a routine is that it actually makes it easier for those days when you don’t have a routine.
This one is kind of ironic to me because we had so many people tell us before we had kids “Don’t stick to a schedule or your kids will never be able to be flexible” and “you’ll be a slave to the schedule and it will make your lives so much more difficult.”
But we’ve actually found the opposite to be true.
Our girls are very flexible on the days when we do go off of the schedule.
For example on days when we are hiking and we eat lunch much later, or if we go out to brunch and brunch ends up being 2-3 hours later than their normal breakfast time, they are able to wait because they are used to waiting for their food.
Now I will say that this does work best if you are using a Weekly Rhythm as well. That ensures that your kids have some simple days where you are sticking with the routine, in addition to having some days where you let yourself go rogue. You can read more about how to create a weekly routine here, or watch the video about it here.
How to Create Your Own Daily Routine
Now that we know why we should have one, let’s start building one.
And to show you how it’s done, I’m going to use the exact newborn routine that we used.
1) Set the “Meal Times”
The first thing that you want to do when creating a schedule for your baby, is to set the meal times (aka, the nursing or bottle feeding times.)
When my girls were 0-12 weeks old, our feeding times looked like this:
And that is because we were using the On Becoming Babywise 3 Hour feeding schedule for newborns.
Now for us these were approximate times because I knew that I would be staying home with the kids, so if they woke up anywhere between 7:00-8:30 am, it was ok with me. I just adjusted the rest of the schedule accordingly.
If you know you are going back to work though, you might want to wake your baby up at the same time every day to help them set their internal clock.
2) Write in the Nap Times
Now once you have the feeding times figured out, write in their nap times.
And if your baby is a newborn, they will be taking a nap in between each feeding.
When our girls were 0-12 weeks old, this is what their nap schedule looked like.
3) Determine Your Blocks
The next step is to notice where the start and end of each block will be.
If you are creating a newborn schedule like we are in this example, your blocks will begin at the start of each feeding and end at the end of each nap.
So if you are using the 3-hour feeding schedule like we did, it will look something like this:
4) Write in Your Laundry Routine
And once you have these blocks set, you can start building in the rest of your daily routine.
The first thing that I added to my routine, was my Laundry Routine.
Because, if you’re not careful (especially as a new mom!) laundry can really pile up on you (haha, no pun intended) and before you know it, you’ll be out of clean clothes for you and your baby to wear.
My schedule with my laundry routine looked like this:
5) Write in Your Cleaning Time
If you’ve seen my simple cleaning routine, you know that I prefer to clean a little bit every day, as opposed to doing a lot of cleaning once a week.
In order to make sure that they cleaning gets done though, I need to write it into my Daily Routine.
For this example, I’m going to put my Cleaning Time into my second block of the day.
6) Determine Meal Prep Time
It’s really hard to make food while you are carrying a baby.
But if your kids are anything like mine were, all they want in the evening is to be held.
And it was really stressful if I was trying to cook a meal at that point.
So I found it was a lot easier to make dinner during one of the girls’ nap times when they were little.
Typically I did this during the nap that happened just before dinner time.
7) Decide When You’ll Get Out of the House
So I found that it was very helpful to decide ahead of time which block I would use for setting appointments, running errands, and basically anything else that had to do with leaving the house.
It is also helpful to know which block of your day works best to skip naps and be away from home when you are setting appointments.
When my girls were little I much preferred to sacrifice the morning nap and get errands done early in the day. That way I could be sure I was getting that naptime break for myself in the afternoon when I really needed it.
Be sure to check out this post if you want more tips for how to get out of the house on time!
Decide If and When You Want to Workout
Working out and staying fit is really important to me, but I know if I don’t schedule it in, it isn’t going to happen.
So I make sure that I have one block dedicated to taking time to exercise.
So here is what my final routine looks like:
9) Morning Routine
Now you may have noticed that I don’t have anything about a morning routine on this schedule.
And that is because when my girls were newborns… I didn’t have one.
My only goals for my morning routine at that stage were to get myself into real-people clothes and brush my teeth. And as long as I did those two things, I called it a success.
Especially when your baby is still waking up during the night, you should get all the sleep you can.
The only exception to this is if you are an introvert who seriously needs that alone time. Then absolutely get up and have that time in the morning 🙂
If you want any tips for creating a morning routine, check out this post.
Our 6-12 Month Daily Routine
Now if you want another example of a routine for when your child gets a little older, this is what we used from the time our girls were about 6 months old until they were between 12-18 months (it was different for each of them :).
From 4-6 months I would say our schedule was fairly flexible and seemed like it was changing constantly because… well… babies.
Most babies go through periods when they are dropping naps, but they still need those extra naps sometimes.
But by the time were at 6 months, we were pretty solidly on a 4-hour block schedule that looked something like this:
6-Month-Old and Toddler Routine
And I thought it would be fun to add in our routine that we used when the girls were 6 months old and 3 years old:
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