I am a “go with the flow” type of person, so imagine my chagrin when I was told that most moms should stick to a regular routine for their children. Then I realized that everyone has a different way of going about a scheduled routine. One might have their whole week planned out with an activity to fill every 3 hours of the day. Some might gravitate towards a school setting. A few might like to follow the plans of a seasoned professional in the field. Others don’t care and do whatever seems fit. The last one mixed with the first really resonates with me the most!
So, what if you’re a parent working from home? Do you need a lot of structure in order to get by? There are so many options and so many ways to go about a morning routine, right? Like yoga (and I’d like to think most things) there is not a “one size fits all” category. What works for me, might not work for you.
Allow me to guide you through a method that I use. See if you can tweak it to fit your own life.
Create systems that work for you
Begin by making lists. I cannot stress this enough. When you’re trying to juggle a million different things at once, it’s nice to see something written or typed down to give you an idea of what goals to work towards. With my work schedule, balancing project deadlines and meetings, I’ve reached a point where I utilize an electronic calendar plus a physical planner (because I don’t trust technology.) I know many people who use a dry erase board or an app on their phone. Every iPhone comes with a Reminders & Note taking app. Find something that is easy and reliable. It’s a tool to simplify your life, not complicate it!
I’ve had to learn this the hard way because I’m the type of person that used to cram as many things as humanly possible in a week, heck, even in a day! Once my stress levels rose I burned myself out and decided to make changes. Do not let this happen to you. Learn from my mistakes.
I try to pre-plan as many things as possible. I probably learned this from my dad, but I make a mental note of all the things I need to accomplish. What is important is that I don’t beat myself up if things don’t go according to plan.
We’re only human, so set yourself up for success and build a “to do” list with fewer things to start. Once you can get a handle on what you’re capable of accomplishing in a day, add to it. Baby steps. Less it truly more. Quality over quantity. Trying to use every minimalist quote I know here to prove my point!
What an average morning looks like for me
- I change diapers first thing. Who wants to have to deal with leaks?!
- Next, I get the kiddos all dressed and ready for the day.
- I allow them to either have a little TV time or independent play while I get myself ready.
- Sometimes we leave the house immediately after.
- If the kiddos are content, I check emails and work for a few hours
- Other times, we do an outdoor activity together at home. It all depends on how breakfast goes!
The main objective of the day is keeping the peace. I learned that from my husband. He would scold me for trying to interrupt the kids when they were being calm and engaged in some activity. Then here comes mom… Barreling in with food or asking if they’re hungry!
How do I maintain consistency?
In yoga, there is a notion (Niyama) called Tapas in Sanskirt. It’s literal translation means “heat” but yogis normally refer to it as self-discipline or effort.
Tapas has the sense of “cooking” ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves into something else. (1)
For instance while pregnant with Declan, I spent the majority of my mornings at the gym. It was a great way to start the day and so I carried that out through my next 2 pregnancies. Unknowingly, it became my routine!
It is our determined effort to become someone of character and strength. Tapas is the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind, choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for future rewards. (1)
As the kids got older, their needs changed and our daily life was more or less predictable. Someone was always crying, fighting or unwilling to go to the gym’s daycare. So, I changed things up and adjusted with the times; however, it made me see how much I needed time to myself away from the children. It also made me see that they were perfectly capable of spending time at home and entertaining themselves.
I shifted my perspective because the amount of effort it took to take all three kids out became stressful, not fun.
I fumbled through so many different scenarios- playing with them for a few hours and going back to my projects. I took them out to lunch or spent some days out and about while working in the evenings, sometimes early mornings. I’ve even gone as far as to hire a babysitter and ask for help when I really needed to be away from the kids all together. What I’m trying to get at here is if you want something so badly (like to have a work life balance), that inner fire (tapas) needs to shine through and guide you to alter your situation.
With practice, one will progress
3.5 The light of wisdom comes from mastery of perfect discipline.
3.6 The practice of perfect discipline is achieved in stages.
The two lines above come from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and are translations from Barbara Stoler Miller. (2) I wanted to point them out here because it takes work and effort on your part to cultivate a regular schedule. You must learn to make adjustments to fit your needs. From experience and observation, one of the reasons why people fail or quit something is because they become bored or outgrow their daily regimine. When you realize this, make adjustments. Know yourself well enough to progress in the right direction for you alone.
- The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele
- Yoga Discipline of Freedom – The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali by Barbara Stoler Miller