Establish Family Routines To Reduce Stress And Relax More

Having set routines that you follow everyday is more important than you may think.

Routines make life easier, help free our minds and help us relax. Having a daily schedule can lower anxiety, leaving you with greater capacity to cope with unanticipated stress. Routines can help you sleep better, vitally important for being able to handle day-to-day life (just ask any sleepy baby!).

The biggest problem – starting new ones! My family struggles with this mightily so I went looking for tips.

I am trying to get my daughter and I onto a pretty structured daily schedule, doing mostly the same things at the same time every day. I have not been great at getting this done. Changing the whole day at one time doesn’t work so I’ve decided to work on one thing at a time. Between my job and weekly travel, we have a really hard time just waking up at the same time each day so I have decided to start with that. At this point, I’m trying to make sure that we can wake up at the same time every day for the next week before I try to start making adjustments. So to the tips!

First, decide what it is that you want.

Don’t just say something like “I want to wake up (or go to sleep) earlier.” That’s too vague and will give your mind too much room for procrastinating. You need to be clear on what you really want so that you can generate enough motivation to make the necessary changes in yourself.

For this example, pick a time. In our case, I want to get up at 5 AM and have my daughter get up at 7 AM. Right now, we’re at about 6 and 8.

Second, divide your goal into baby steps.

How far away from your desired change are you now? Using the above example, what time are you waking up (or going to bed) now? If you want to wake up one hour earlier every day, what else has to change in your schedule to do that? Can you start going to bed earlier first? If not, maybe you can adjust your waking time in small increments. NASA used 15 minute a day adjustments for their astronauts to adjust their waking time. If I find that 15 minutes is too large of a jump because we’re having trouble getting to bed earlier, then I will chunk it down into 5 minute intervals. However small I have to make it to be able to take a step in the right direction, I’ll do it.

Third, reward yourself for making progress.

Baby steps are way better than no steps and are way, WAY better than beating yourself over the head about how lazy, stupid, horrible, etc. your inner critic says you are for not getting around to making any changes.

Again using the above example, you might decide that waking up 15 minutes earlier every day for a week warrants lunch out with a friend or a special coffee (if you’re into that). Rewarding yourself every day would be even better. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and maybe have a cup of tea while looking out the window at the trees, enjoying the quiet in the house before the morning chaos begins (my preferred reward right now).

I’ve also been trying to add in 10 minutes of yoga in the morning. Do something, anything, that will get your brain the dopamine reward that gives you the motivation to keep striving toward your goal.

Try not to kick yourself for backsliding. It takes time to make changes. Talk back to the inner critic.

To paraphrase something that I read a while back, hire a mental defense attorney to defend you against your inner prosecutor. Chunk it down into the smallest steps that you can stand. You do NOT have to be on your new routine overnight. Then just start again. As an example, I had a day this week (OK, a couple) where I woke up about an hour late. I started in on “you can’t do it, why try, waaah, waaah” and was getting very angry with myself. I had had a few nights of not sleeping very well and I was turning that crankiness on myself.

After I realized this I was able to stop, step back and re-frame the situation in my mind. As of this morning I’ve made up .5 hour of that time. Tomorrow I will try to make up another 15 minutes. I’ll reward myself if I make ANY progress on the wake-up time. I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to get that positive push. It really keeps your motivation up to keep trying.

Do you have any special tricks for starting a new routine at your house? Share them here!

About Sarah

I'm a single mom, homeschooling my daughter on our new homestead. We're busy with farm work, house work, school work, work work (!) and trying to fit in some fun on the side.


  1. Good ideas. For before and after school routines, we’ve pretty much got it down pat. I could be more organized (like putting outfits together the night before), but we’re able to be a few minutes early to the bus stop as is. For after school, we’re fine. I get home late enough that we don’t really have time to get off track. If I run errands the girls will go to bed late, but I know that before I get home, so the evening is already planned.

  2. I still like the lists. Everyone has specific chores to do for the month and they are broken out for the week on a daily basis. The rule is, it has to be finished before bed. The boy’s seem to function better and there is a lot less stress from constantly reminding them of what has to be done.

  3. Great ideas for moving in that forward direction! I used to think adhering to schedules made everything more difficult, but you’re right, it actually streamlines things & makes the curveballs that come at us all day every day easier to handle. Thank you for sharing your strategies!

  4. totally agree with you that being more specific is key. I used to be too general and then I wouldn’t accomplish a thing. Now I have specific goals each day and it really helps get me moving.

  5. I really like the idea of breaking the new routine into manageable components, and then rewarding yourself for meeting interim goals. Routines make things so much more efficient, but they do take time to adjust to. I really appreciate you breaking this down into a repeatable process!

  6. Great advice on being specific on what you want to accomplish. Even a somewhat flexible routine is so helpful. Kids know what to expect and when, true no matter what age they are. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Awesome advice Sarah. I love any information that helps me get into a routine. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This is so timely for me right now. I really need to schedule things in my life on a routine basis just to keep myself accountable. Great advice!

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