6 Ways to Take Your Family Routines to the Next Level - The Bossy House

6 Ways to Take Your Family Routines to the Next Level

mom and son in kitchen


If you're juggling family chaos, next-leveling your family routines is a sure-fire way to save energy, meet your goals, and smooth over the rough spots of parenting. 

I love thinking about how systems can be used inside our families to solve problems and create a happier family. I use them all the time in my work as a school principal, and I can attest to their soothing, efficiency-inducing powers. 

At work and in our homes we use routines and systems constantly. Check out these ideas for using routines to solve everyday issues. The best thing about it? Routines make things seem simple and easy-- just what you need! 

Try one of these six ways to take your family routines to the next level!  

Family Routines Smooth Over Difficulties

family having breakfast

As a parent, there are so many ways we do this naturally to smooth over the rough edges of early childhood parenting, especially.

Childproofing the house is one system that smooths rough edges-- if you don’t move all that stuff out of her way, your 10 month old is going to make sure that every fragile thing is on the floor. Rather than be nervous about your stuff or fuss at your kid, you’ve moved things out of the way. 

We also hide our chapstick on top of unreachable book shelves, start using hand pump soap, and get shoes with velcro. All these are systems to smooth over difficulties. 

When I want to end an argument, I create a routine. When my daughter was four she loved toothpaste. Not only would she use ten times as much as she needed on the brush (and of course insisted on applying it herself) but she seemed to squeeze it onto walls, her clothes, and the sink. 

I spent WAY too much of my life reminding and cajoling and creating new rules like “mommy has to always squeeze it” and finally, I decided to end the argument. 

I got an automatic toothpaste dispenser from amazon.com that cost me $4 and enough novelty to end the manual squeezing altogether. 

Using a system is like using an inanimate object to solve a problem that doesn’t need any more input from humans. We humans have worked hard enough!

And... they Save Brain Energy

We create systems when the effort involved isn’t worth the outcome. 

If you don’t want to look everywhere for your backpack, you put up a hook and create a routine that has you hanging it up in the same place every day. 

If you are always losing one shoe, you put a basket down to catch all the shoes. 

If you know you’ll forget to feed the dog you set a daily alarm. 

A family command center in the entryway of your house batches together a bunch of things that need to happen in one space. This batching saves brain energy. The space itself reminds you to hang up your keys, store the mail, and update the calendar.  

Saving brain energy is super important, especially as a parent. Right now, think of ways to get some of your brain back for the important things like snuggling your kids and taking band-aids off the stuffed animals. 

Family Routines Help You Do More with Less

kids playing at the park

When you don’t have enough, you can create a system to do more even though your resources are low. This is especially true with people.

Here's a great example: at our school, we personally greet every student in the morning. At one of our campuses, that is 600 kids.

How many people do you think are personally handshaking 600 kids during 30 minutes of arrival?

It's 10. 

I know, that seems like a SMALL number of people. 

We can staff a huge crowd like this every morning because we implemented a system. It's the same way every day, and all 600 kids know exactly how to enter and complete the system. Because there's a repeatable way to do the system, the 10 staff members’ contributions are elevated. 

Or think about it on a smaller scale. When you go to the playground with your mom friend and your combined five kids, you don’t try to track each individual kid. You move from man-to-man defense to zone defense. You implement a system which makes your contributions spread over a larger area.

If you ever have a shortage of resources, setting up a system can help you do more with less. 

Meet your Goals

mom cooking in the kitchen

When you want to meet a goal, a great way to stay on track is to create a system or a routine that compels you to do the behavior that leads to meeting the goal. 

Maybe you want to lose weight and so you create a routine around Sunday meal prep.

Or you create a system of packing your workout back every evening before bed.

Creating a routine or a ritual helps kick off an aspiration where you’re going to ask yourself to do something new and out of the ordinary for you.

Remembering to do that might be tough, but if you set your alarm when you want to take your vitamins each day, you’re more likely to do it!

We created a ritual this year around going to the library and checking out books, and it has significantly improved our reading habits and saved us lots of money!

Hooray for systems that help us meet goals!

Save Mental Anguish

There are times when you realize that something you’re doing each day is causing mental anguish and needs some kind of system so you can have some relief. 

For me, this is getting dressed every morning. Even though it's only a short time, that 15 minutes every morning causes considerable stress. 

I know women who love to get dressed. This is not me.

The fact that some pants went with only certain shoes depending on the length of the pants or height of the heel, and the fact that some shirts hung wrong with certain pants... I just hated the whole thing. 

I used to think that if I had nicer clothes or a variety of clothes or I lost weight that I’d enjoy getting dressed more. Nope. None of those things make a difference. 

The system I created this year has taken a TON of mental stress off of me. 

It turns out I’m happiest in a suit with a sleeveless shirt, and mostly the jacket and pants match. Without buying any new clothes, I was able to create tons of different outfits from five pairs of pants, six jackets, and ten sleeveless tops. Oh, and three pairs of shoes. 

My co-workers might be tired of my clothes, but no one’s said anything yet. 🙂 

If there's something that's giving you mental stress, create a system to give yourself a break!

Routines Bring Comfort and Joy

People enjoying Christmas holiday at home

There are times we use routines and systems to celebrate an occasion or mark a milestone.

In every family, there are ways that doing the same routine for birthdays creates memories and makes birthday celebrations less of a hassle. That way, we can focus more on the celebration.

I know a family that creates a scrapbook each year for each child (along with other simple routines) and has made it a system they can keep track of easily. For us parents, making these things routine ensures we get them done!

In our family, we celebrate Christmas with our family each year. My daughter and I look forward to doing the same things during that trip: seeing the downtown lights, singing carols at church, the Christmas Eve party with our extended family. And of course there are the Christmas morning rituals: the youngest family members distributing the presents, opening one present at a time so everybody can see the reaction when someone opens their present, Santa Mouse leaving little treats in the tree for the youngest, and Christmas stockings stuffed with socks and candy.

It’s the memories of these rituals that are comforting, and the repeating of them that brings us joy.

Next Level your Family Routines 

Where can you add rituals or routines to take the stress out of daily life?

If your Sunday night is a source of stress, try out my Sunday Routine planner that'll help you systematize this stressful day. 

The key here is to deliberately think about the ways systems and routines can help your family.

You are already naturally hiding your chapstick and putting the towels where the spills happen. Now think about all the places you could use a good system to solve a family problem. Good luck!