I’ve mentioned routines a lot and how important they are for my success and sanity. My overarching goal for 2015 was to implement more routines in my life and for the next month, I’m going to share what those routines are.
Today, let’s talk about how routines have made my life better.
Why Routines Are Important
Reducing decision fatigue
Decisions can be tiring. Instead of using our finite amount of decision energy to decide things like, “What will I do today? When should I clean the bathrooms? What should I make for dinner tonight?” building those decisions into our routines saves our energy for more important decisions.
It also preserves our self-control for longer in the day, because a self-control is part of decision-making. Deciding whether to have a green smoothie or a chocolate croissant for breakfast requires the self-control to choose what will make us feel better in the long run. Building that into a routine eliminates the decision, of course I have the green smoothie because that’s what I do every morning.
Ideally, this helps me to be able to make good decisions at the end of the day – like not eating five mini candy bars and wasting an hour on Twitter. I’ve saved that decision and self-control all day by having pre-made decisions.
Work your priorities into routines
The power of routine is that I can put my money where my mouth is by looking at my days and my priorities and seeing if they are reflected in each other.
Let’s say for example I have priorities to be physically active, meditate, and read to my sons, but my days aren’t reflecting that.
I can weave these priorities in my routines so that they become part of the pre-made decisions I discussed earlier.
Make sure the stuff gets taken care of
Having routines for cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and so on helps me make sure that the stuff I don’t think about gets taken care of. Nothing (or far less) slips through the cracks.
Overall, routines help me to think about things instead of things. It keeps me from popcorn brain “Oh! I need to email this person!” “Oh! I forgot to sweep the kitchen floor!” by knowing everything has its time and will get done.
Family Rituals as Routines
Kids who are in families with a strong sense of family identity have higher coping and resiliency. Part of that sense of family identity are rituals and traditions.
Our family life benefits so much from having routines in our days and weeks. It helps kids to know what to expect and gives them things to look forward to. Even something small like getting a smiley face for getting dressed in the morning becomes a routine they look forward to.
The predictability of “this is how our days go” calms them (and me). Our days are so much better as a result of routines. I cannot really overstate the amount that things have improved by having a routine for the days I am home with them.
We have routines and rituals for evenings and weekends, too, as well as holidays. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I remember the familiarity and comfort of these kinds of rituals and want the same for my kids.
(Shout out to Simplicity Parenting as a book that helped me realize how important rituals and routines are in families.)
Next week, I’ll share what our daily routine with a one- and five-year-old looks like.