Organizing the Busy Mom’s Day with Routines Rather Than Schedules

Organizing the busy mom's day with routines rather than schedules

Written by Kristen, Contributing Writer

I like my days to be organized. I like to see a list, check things off, and know that I’ve accomplished the important tasks that need done for my day. If I can get ahead on something, well by golly, I’ll take those bonus points, too! It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that keeping my days organized can be quite challenging when I’m working with a crew of little people. Rather than beat myself up over not sticking with a schedule that is ruled by the clock, I’ve found basic daily routines to be a much better fit for me and my young family.

Why Schedules Don’t Work For Me

I’d honestly really like to get up at the same time every morning, go to bed at the same time every night, finish our homeschooling at the same time every afternoon, and have dinner ready at the same time every evening. But in real life, this just doesn’t happen for me. Why?

Babies keep me up at night, and try as I might, I don’t have the super-power of going on limited sleep for an unlimited time.

Toddlers are really good at throwing multiple curveballs, and sometimes do so with cannon balls. They are cute for a reason, and their uncanny ability to throw a day’s time table off just might be one of them!

Young children still have many needs, and I’m generally the one to meet those needs.

I’ve had to realize that my time is not my own at this stage of my life. I’m constantly setting aside the things I want to do or think I should do to take care of what my children really need for me to do, or maybe just really want me to do. I can either resent that, or work with it. I’ve decided to work with it, and organizing my day with routines instead of schedules helps me with that goal.

Routines and Schedules: What’s the Difference?

organize your busy life with a routine instead of a strict schedule

The whole concept of working with daily routines instead of schedules was first introduced to me by a mom of eight at a homeschool convention. Hearing her wisdom and experience for daily living made so much sense to me! Focusing on routine rather than schedule was one thing she really emphasized.

Schedules are run by the clock. We organize our daily activities by the time and work to meet certain deadlines throughout the day. If something isn’t finished during it’s allotted time, we can either panic, put it off for the next day, or make it up during free time.

Routines, on the other hand, allow us the flexibility to follow a typical pattern for each day and to know what is expected without keeping our eye on the clock the whole time. There is still daily accountability, but it’s combined with more freedom and less pressure. As a mom of young children, I’m continually reminded how important flexibility is!

How I Use Routine in My Home

Putting a daily routine into practice for our home has been a great help to our homeschooling days, and just life in general. My children have a good idea of what happens when and I still enjoy a level of freedom to shuffle things around, finish schoolwork whenever we are done, or serve lunch at 2pm instead of noon.

For example, I try to get up around the same time every morning. I’ve found that a key element to fitting everything into my very full homeschooling days. But I’m expecting our fifth child, and sometimes I need extra rest and simply can’t get up when I’d like to. Working with a routine allows me to sleep a little later if I really need it. That does mean our day gets off to a later start, but that’s okay.

This is another common one: the toddler morphs into Baby Destructo. Maybe it’s scrambled eggs and smoothie spilled all over the carpet again. Or maybe she dumped out multiple puzzles while I was busy somewhere else. Or perhaps she snuck into the lazy Susan in the kitchen and poured oats out all over the floor. (They’re cute for a reason, remember?) Working with a routine keeps me from fretting any more than I already am because I’m not staring at the clock and thinking about how far behind I’m getting with my day.

Truthfully, I do still watch the clock with our daily routines. I still like finishing school around the same time and having our family dinner at a consistent time. But I also try to give myself, and my children, grace to not be a slave to the ticking face on the wall. 

Do you find it hard to run your day according to a strict schedule? Or are you opposite, finding schedules to work best for your family?

About Kristen

Kristen is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, and mother to a growing brood of sweet little people. She spends her days keeping the home, homeschooling, making real food, gardening, blogging, and working from home as a Lilla Rose Consultant. You can find her at Smithspirations and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  1. Jackie L. says:

    Did you make your own “Routine Form” or is there a blank form that can be downloaded somewhere (and adapted 🙂 )? I love how it pulls everything together–homeschooling, various activities, as well as menu plans and food prep!

    • Hi Jackie!
      I did make my own routine form that I fill out for the week. I just made it on Word, I think! I redo it every year as our homeschool needs change. It usually takes me a couple of hours to set up, but then I generally use that for the whole year. I’m glad to email you mine, but I don’t know how it would work for you homeschool-wise. Let me know! 🙂

  2. We use a routine method, too. We do try to start school at the same time every day and I’ve instituted a rule that anything not done by 3 pm is “homework”. They might finish by noon, or sometime in late afternoon. We try to make sure we are flexible when it comes to homework if there is a good reason we didn’t get something finished then we might have that assignment to do the next day instead. My goal is to have all mom teaching done by 3 pm, so I can have a short break before my littles are up from their naptime and I have to start dinner.

    • Sounds like we share some similar goals, Susanna!
      I also save Friday afternoon for a catch-up day. Any projects that didn’t get finished or subjects that skipped over during the rest of the week can be caught up there. If we got everything done, then we’re done with school early and can do some other fun projects!

  3. This has been part of our home and homeschooling for many years and it works! My youngest is going to be seventeen and has one more year after this year, but I must say that this way of life is as much a part of my life as it was when all of them where sitting around the table! I really has helped me not to be that “freaked out” mom, if you know what I mean! Ready in season and out, being flexible to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Great job sharing with everyone. Sometimes we just need permission to just “be”. Thanks!

  4. rachel fights says:

    i would love to have a copy of your form for this routine 😀

  5. I LOVE,ADORE, ADMIRE this idea!!! I cannot live by a clock. I do not homeschool, but I am home with a toddler for the next 2 years at most, and our days are always different. I do like to have lunch and dinner around the same time, but the rest of the day I just do a checklist. Clean kitchen. Check. Organize kitchen. Check. Wash clothes.. Check. Seeing all the checks on my list makes me feel accomplished and that I it proves to my hubby that I do not sit at home all day and watch Grey’s Anatomy! lol Thanks for the post!


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