Are you ready to nerd out on routines today? I’m going to be talking about what is a routine and how to identify when a routine you’ve established needs to be changed or adapted. We’re also going to talk about three different types of routine transitions that you can make when it comes to making your routine what it is now to what you think it needs to be. This is all to keep up with your growing kids!
I’ve got vocabulary, examples, and incredible information to share with you about this! This was a beautiful recommendation by a mom in our community, and I am so excited to bring this information to you. Let’s dive in!
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
What is a Routine?
This blog is going to take you to another level of thinking about routines. If you’ve been around me for a while, you know I talk a lot about routine stacks. I put routine stacks inside of time blocks, and that’s how I have consistency and predictability. It’s how my kids have consistency and predictability. That is how they’re able to thrive and function with great behavior. That is at the core and root of our systems- the routines inside of them. Systems are the macro part, but inside the systems like time blocking are routines.
Being Intentional About Routines
A routine is something you do over and over again. For me, it’s a series of things that I do over and over again. For example, you may brush your teeth every morning, but that’s part of a specific routine of things. When I talk about routines I’m talking about several things that happen. It starts with a domino that then leads to a few other things.
Unfortunately, if you’re not intentional about this stuff, you will routinely be doing things that you don’t want to be doing. Your routines will not be productive. They will be producing negative results, and they won’t produce the outcome you were hoping for which is actually getting things done.
You want to be setting up intentional routines, and crafting these things. You may not have put any intention behind your routines, but now is a really great time to start!
How do You Know a Routine Needs to Be Changed?
As I go into how to identify when a routine needs to be changed or adapted, I want you to make a mental note about what routines in your life currently need to be changed or adapted. How do you identify those things? First and foremost, there will be a bottleneck. You will feel it. If it’s the bedtime routine, maybe everyone is staying up too late, and that’s leading to everyone sleeping in and not being able to get to school on time.
I will be very honest, a routine that needs to be changed or adapted in my house right now is my morning routine block. That includes my getting ready routine. That needs to be changed because I’m not completing it when I’m supposed to, and then I’m not available to help my kids through their morning routine! We are getting to school on time by the skin of our teeth, and I hate it. So we’ve identified that it’s time to make small changes, and then that routine will be fixed and produce what we want it to produce.
When Routines Are Causing Issues
It’s really black and white when you step back and look at “how do I identify when it needs to be changed and what needs to be changed?” Basically, it needs to be changed when it’s not working anymore. When things are hard and sticky, or it’s causing arguments and frustration, or big messes are left everywhere, those are all signs there is a problem your routine needs to change.
How do you identify what needs to be changed? I could do a whole series on this, but it starts with the first domino, and follow each one after that. Wherever the domino stops tipping, that’s what you need to look at. So for us, we realize sometimes we’re getting to school fifteen minutes early. On other days we’re getting there fifty seconds before the bell rings. So what’s the difference? On the first day, mom did what she was supposed to. On the other day, mom did not.
Taking a Closer Look at Your Routines
It’s that simple, and it becomes very clear. You have to sit down and look at things unemotionally and look at what’s happening in your day. Start in the messiest place physically in your home. Or it might be relationally where there are arguments, frustration, and friction.
I just coached a mom in our weekly group coaching in the Systemize Your Life Academy where this was the thing she brought forward. She had a lot of frustration trying to move through her day with ease and show up for her business because of the toddler meltdowns she was dealing with. We worked through what some of her options were to shift her routine getting out the door. The key was figuring out what was the thing keeping that domino or series of dominos from rolling. There is often something so evident and the answer will become really clear to do when you look at the routines you already have.
If you’re not intentional with your routines, you will routinely be doing things that you don’t want to be doing. Your routines will not be productive. They won’t produce the outcome you were hoping for- which is actually getting things done.
Three Types of Routine Transitions to Use
The things I’m about to mention are so specific, and if you Google these terms, you will probably only come across my blog posts! That’s because I nerd out about this stuff. I think about these things all the time. So here are the three types of routine transitions to use.
Gradual Release of Responsibility
This one is so huge! This is when you’re looking to transition routines to keep up with your growing kids, and they’ve outgrown specific routines you’ve had. Really this happens at just a super slow pace every day, but we’re living at such a fast pace, our frequency doesn’t pick up on it. With a gradual release of responsibility, you allow this routine that you have to stay the same, but the person in charge of specific tasks within that routine is going to change.
As your kids grow, they become extremely capable of taking on more. But if you aren’t transitioning gradually with them, you’re going to look up one day, not having taken into account their growth. If you start to ask them to do things that have not been gradual, it’s going to be a hard shift. I want you to have easy shifts in your routines.
Examples From My Life
Here’s an example of what this looks like. I’ve noticed our after-school routine needs some transitioning mainly because of Frankie’s ability to be independent. I have more work to do with Bailey and her homework as well as cleaning out the backpacks and lunchboxes. I am feeling friction because I can’t be in the kitchen cleaning out lunch boxes at the same time I’m helping Bailey with her homework. So what do I do? Stay frustrated? No. I look at how I can gradually release responsibility.
Frankie is great at doing dishes and Bailey actually could too, but she’s not quite there yet with other parts of her routine. Frankie is gradually transitioning to washing her lunchbox. I will ask a few times over the span of two months or a month depending on how she takes to it. Then eventually it will become more frequent. It’s super gradual, most kids don’t even know what’s happening. Frankie did notice though. She said the rule was just getting your lunchbox home because that used to be an issue.
Another example with Bailey is a morning routine where she gets dressed by herself in the morning. We lay her outfit out the night before, and she is able to put it on in the morning. That’s a gradual release of responsibility and transitioning the routine to what we need it to be.
Layering Transitions in Routines
A definition of this is one piece of a routine is changing until that one part is solid. So whatever it is you change, just change one piece of your routine. Once that is solid then the next part of your routine can change. This could be adding a layer or taking away a layer. An example of adding to a routine is Bailey’s bedtime. We sleep-trained her, and she has gone to sleep at 6:30 p.m. every day of her life.
To be honest, it started at 6 p.m. She sleeps from 6:30 p.m.-6:30 a.m. Now she can kind of stay up until 7 p.m. although she does start falling asleep while brushing her teeth if she’s up that late! We have noticed that if we put her to bed at 6:30 p.m., she’ll go to bed, but she’s not melting down and is unable to function at that point like she used to.
This means now she can stay up with the family a little bit longer. That now gives us an extra thirty minutes with her that we did not have. But that time needs to be filled with something productive or else the routine is gone, and then she’ll be up even later than we want. So that is a good indicator that we need to add something to the bedtime routine to not get off track. We now have an extra thirty minutes to fill. We need to add something in. You don’t need to change the entire routine, you just need to try layering in one thing.
Removing a Layer of Your Routine
An example of taking away a layer is a routine where you realize something you’ve always been doing at that specific time doesn’t need to be there anymore. One routine that I had for the longest time was reloading the diaper bag for the next day. That no longer lives in our routine, so I can just take that piece out. That leads me to the next and last part of transitioning routines which is the replacement.
Sometimes when you take something out you can just be done with it altogether. Maybe you put after-school sports in and you lost time somewhere else. Maybe your schedule changed, and the kids need to get to school earlier. This could mean the kids now have breakfast in the car instead of breakfast at the kitchen table. Things are going to ebb and flow and change. Maybe sometimes you need to take things out to make your routines smoother.
Examples of Replacement in My Own Routines
When it comes to replacement, sometimes when you take things out, you’re actually putting something right back in. So for my example about reloading the diaper big, since I’m no longer doing that, I’m reloading the go bags. Now I don’t do this every night, but we know when the go bag needs to be updated. We do have to go through them. Updating the go bags, and now for me, making sure my bag is ready when I go to the co-working space the next day, has replaced the diaper bag.
I feel like we are constantly doing this to see what’s most effective for our family. Here is another example for those of you who have nursed your babies to give you the right idea of what replacement looks like in a routine. You literally replace nursing with something else. We have replaced it with rocking and reading books at bedtime. In the beginning, we did them together, and then we slowly transitioned them out. You are replacing something in a routine with something else that’s better suited for where your kids are. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but I want to give you one other example because it’s something that has brought us so much joy.
Replacing Our Family Time with Something New
Something that we recently replaced in our routines was our family time on Mondays. Yes, this is a fundamental need for us to have family fun once a week. We used to do Mondays after school. This was our very intentional carved-out time for us. We’re really just focused on the family during this time. Recently we replaced it with going out on a Friday night. It’s the first time we’ve done this since we had Bailey. We had not been out of the house on a Friday night unless it was with a sitter. But it’s been so much fun!
We have just entered into a whole new phase of parenting. They had fun. I had fun. It was just wild and crazy being out in the world, walking on the sidewalks in our town with our older kids. Bailey is not having a meltdown at 5:30 p.m. It was a breath of fresh air, and that is what a swap and replacement in your routine are supposed to feel like. That’s how you know, this is the sweet spot and exactly what your family needed.
Take these tips and run with them. Figure out what feels good to you by testing it! Don’t get stuck in the details or perfectionism that you can’t even try something new. Be OK with seeing if something works and if it doesn’t that’s OK. That’s how you learn. You can try these things and be a little sneaky about them, and then smile when it works!
I can’t wait for you to try these things and then tell me about them in our Free Facebook Group! I am going to be cheering you on!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I learn more about Routine Stacks and Time Blocking?
Making your routines happen consistently happens when you use routine stacks and time blocking. To learn more about how to implement those in your own home check out the Systemize Your Life Academy. I created the Systemize Your Life Academy so you can access the exact systems I use to juggle kids, a marriage, a house, and my business. When you learn the Systemize Your Life Method you become efficient and productive which allows you to have the balance you need to grow in your business without drowning in your home.