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Q&A: What do I do when I get thrown off my routine?

How do I get back on track when I get off my routine?

As I am reading your book, , I am trying to do one thing at a time… I began to implement a morning routine. That worked for about 2 days. We had to put my kids (ages 1 and 5) in the same room to sleep, as we are renovating the room my youngest was in. Now, the older one falls asleep sooner, and gets up an hour earlier. When she opens the door to the room to come out, she wakes my youngest up, too.

So they are both awake an hour earlier than normal and my routine doesn’t work. Since I am not a morning person, simply pushing my wake up time back an hour is an agonizing thought, though it may be what I have to do.

My question is this: this happens to me in some form or fashion ALL THE TIME. I struggle to get a routine, then once I get one and settle in to it, a wrinkle comes and throws it off. I get out of my groove and consequently seem to never find it again.

Do you have any suggestions for getting back into the routine (for whatever area) after I get out of it? I thrive on order, but cannot seem to keep it. -Kasie

Oh, Kasie! I so know this feeling — and I think many others can relate, too! Here are some ideas I had after reading your email:

1. Make Sure You’re Not Biting Off Too Much

After years of trial and error, I realized that the reason I was failing at my goals and ambitions was because I was trying to take on more than I could handle.

So step back and evaluate your morning routine (or whatever area you’re trying to change) and make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Maybe just start with getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier and doing one thing, every single morning.

This might seem discouraging because it feels so small, but starting somewhere and doing something is better than trying to overhaul your life overnight and ending up burnt out and overwhelmed. In addition, if you make tiny little steps in the right direction, they’ll add up to big progress over time.

How do I get back on track after I've gotten off my routine?

2. Get an Accountability Partner

It’s amazing what a difference accountability can make! Think about running a race: if you have people running alongside you and cheering you on the sidelines, you’re going to have much more motivation to keep going and stick with it.

It’s the same in our lives: if we want to stay the course and follow through with our goals, we’ve got to be intentional about finding accountability partners and surrounding ourselves with cheerleaders.

Maybe ask a few friends who also want to make some small and steady progress in areas in their own lives to keep you accountable to stick with your morning routine. Text, call, or email them to check in on a daily or weekly basis. If you have a blog or Facebook account, you can also post your goals and progress there. I’ve found public accountability to be extremely helpful.

3. Ask a Trusted Friend for Ideas & Encouragement

In addition to having accountability partners and cheerleaders, I’ve found it’s imperative to have people in my life to bounce ideas off of and who can give me wise counsel. Find a few people that you can be 100% honest and vulnerable with about areas in your life you’re struggling with. These should be people who are committed to you, who will celebrate your successes, and who will love you enough to speak the truth to you when you need to hear it.

Ask these people for their advice and input when you’re having difficulty in a particular area. They will know you and your situation well and can give you counsel that’s tailored to your needs and specific situation. They’ll also be there to encourage you when you are feeling like you’ve fallen off the bandwagon and can help you get back up when you’ve fallen.

How to stay on track when you get off your routine?

A Few Practical Ideas That May or May Not Work For You:

  • Switch Most of Your Morning Routine to the Evening: Can you switch some of your morning routine to before bed to simplify your morning routine?
  • Give Your Children Something to Do in Their Rooms: Could your children have a special basket of toys they could play with in their room if they wake up early to give you an extra 20 or 30 minutes to
  • Have Your Children Join You in the Routines: Could your children join you in your morning routine if they wake up early?
  • Try Getting Up Earlier for Three Weeks: I know you said you are not a morning person, but maybe consider going to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier for three weeks to see if it works for you?

What advice or ideas do the rest of you have for Kasie?

; :

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  • says:

    I like to just think of it as, I can start fresh the next day, or just jump into my schedule etc at the time I am now. No need to wait for later. Just do what you can now. I have to let go that I lost time or a day. I can’t get it back. If I sit and stew about it I will not get anything done.

    I have an accountability partner in certain areas. It helped some. The other thing I have done is rewards for myself. If I can accomplish xyz I can have abc. That really motivated me to do whatever it was.

  • says:

    Oh Kasie, I feel the EXACT SAME WAY. I was blessed with the world’s most unpredictable (& sleepless) toddler–& being pregnant makes the post-partum goals of “routine” all-the-more intimidating. My kiddo gets up in the range of 2 hours (5-7am) & there is ZERO predictability as to why he is so varied. He isn’t old enough to do anything with me yet & can’t understand when I opt to read or have quiet time instead of play trains with him. I’ve struggled with exercise in the mornings the most–I can safely fit my quiet time in during the evening hours. It makes such a mental difference having even just a few moments to myself (for a shower…or a potty break) before the constant demands of a kid greet the day. I talk to friends or read about Mom’s who are able to get up at 5am & have quiet time + workout + cook breakfast & get so frustrated that I can’t have the same thing.

    But…this is a stage. Someday my kid(s) will sleep. Someday I’ll have a different routine. Today is not that day…& I’m finally okay with it.

  • says:

    Sometimes whenever I think I was quite tired of my daily routine, I tried to change it by swapping some of the tasks. I wake up at 4:00 or 4:30 A.M. working, doing household chores, working out and taking care of my daughter. But sometimes I do work out first instead of picking up my laptop.

  • says:

    My 4-year-old, 3-year-old, and 1-year-old share a room. We encourage the older two to go straight to the living room when they wake up (without opening the blinds or turning on the lights in their bedroom) so that the 1-year-old can sleep. It’s not perfect every day, but we gradually teach our kids routines that we can all live with. They all go to bed at 8pm every night and are up around 7am every morning. Going to bed earlier this year has been helpful to me, and I’ve been doing my “quiet time” during nap times for a couple years now. Whatever works!

  • Martina says:

    We just finally went to the simple routine of having only the same times for Wake up time, Breakfast, Lunch, Nap, Dinner and Bedtime. Everything else what needs to be done is going on a Master -to-do list, and gets crossed off as we do it. If we don’t do it today, we do it tomorrow. Even my 1st Grader gets his own list with his school assignments, once he done all his work he gets to play. This may not be the best solution, but I am amazed on how much I actually get done, without really sticking to a schedule/routine.

  • Amy says:

    We don’t allow our children to get out of bed just because they wake up. They have been taught to stay in bed until I or my husband comes to get them. Now that our oldest can tell time, we tell her she can get up at a certain time, but not before. If your children are taught to obey, they can do this!

  • Laura says:

    I used to struggle with staying motivated when life knocked me off my path, because I felt like everything I had done before was a waste and that if I couldn’t be consistent I’d never get anywhere! (Let’s be honest too… I used to have three young kids and now they are all high school or older!)

    What I find helps me is keeping a written record of meeting my goals (just check marks or numbers on my calendar – not fancy!). That way when I have a few down days because of illness or family emergency – or some many, many other issues ; ) – I can look back at my calendar and get a more realistic view of the situation. Somehow seeing three days or a week of checks convinces me that I have achieved something and that if I just get back to my routine I’ll be making progress.

    I’ve found that over several years (yeeks!) the number checks on my calendar has generally increased! Now when I mess up, I have the real sense that because I was successful before – I CAN be again. For me the power of “gold stars” really works!

    • Melanie says:

      I love this idea. I have had a similiar idea, one I called a “Little Successes” list, but I’ve never been good at implementing it. It would be a list I make at the end of each day of “little successes”, so that I would focus on the things that I did get done instead of what didn’t.

      I think shifting perspective from a more defeated perspective (“This is NEVER going to work!!!”) to an overcoming attitude (“I will see success at some point, because I am NOT giving up!”) is such a hard process. At least, it is a hard process for me.

      I think I’ve enjoyed Crystal answering questions like these almost more than her book, because she really fleshes out the concepts, but at the same time repeats what I need to hear most. Usually, it is something along the lines of “GIVE YOURSELF GRACE!!!!!”

  • Ashley P says:

    Don’t expect perfection! A routine doesn’t have to be an exact replica every day. As long as you have a general guideline, you should be fine.

    I usually wake up at 5:40 every morning (that’s when my alarm is set for) but sometimes I wake up earlier than that. I’m afraid to shift my routine up a bit. If I wake up earlier than usual, I do my Bible study at home instead of on the train. If I wake up REALLY early, I throw in a load of laundry. Then, at 5:40, I start the stuff I would normally do at that time (Make coffee, baby’s bottle, lunch for work, eat breakfast). When I’m done with breakfast, I wake up the baby to feed him. All of this depends on how long it takes for me to eat. While the baby’s drinking his bottle, I get dressed and brush my teeth. Once he’s done it’s diaper change, get him dressed, and then we play until daddy comes home (he works the overnight shift).

    When I come home from work, we have dinner together, I feed the baby and put him in his play room, and then straighten up one thing for 10 minutes. It could be the kitchen, or folding laundry, or just cleaning off the table after dinner. At 7:30, baby goes to bed, mommy and daddy snuggle, and then daddy leaves for work at 9 PM. Then I go to bed.

    It’s not an exact science with us. I just have a loose schedule that I stick to and a pattern of events I try to follow. Some days, a few things get missed, but for the most part, that is my day. Don’t expect life to always fit within your schedule, because it won’t. There will be unexpected surprises. Just go with the flow, and follow a basic order of operations, and you should be just fine.

  • says:

    Totally unrelated to the post, but the newspaper under the mug in that photo made me homesick–I miss the Twin Cities!

    (But I also LOVED the morning toy basket idea, and wish I’d had one this morning!)

  • Sarah says:

    I use checklists. I have found one for my phone that I love because it resets every morning. I check off steps in my routine as I move through the day, and if I miss a step there is a reminder later in the day to do it. (The app I use is Daily Success Checklist.)

  • Holly says:

    Invest in an “Ok to Wake” clock. We had the same problem with our girls. This clock can be a regular alarm, or you can set it to glow when they’re allowed to get up. With our girls, they have to stay quietly in their beds until the clock glows. It took about a week for them to understand the concept, but it has made everyone a little less grumpy in the mornings. 🙂

    • says:

      Where did you get that clock? That sounds like a great idea!!

      • Jen says:

        Amazon or Barnes and Noble has them.

        • Anne says:

          I was going to recommend that, too. We got the Ok To Wake clock for our 15 month old so she would understand why mommy will come at 4am for a lost lovey but not until 6am for the actual wake up when the clock lights up (she likes to go to bed by 6pm so a 6am wake up is as good as it will get for us). It was kind of pricey, at least $20. I read some where you could do a nightlight with an outlet timer like you get at the hardware store as a less expensive option.

    • Jen says:

      Yes!! Exactly what I recommend! My 3 yr old stays in his room til 7am (when the clock turns green) with books, Legos, etc. Also has a nap timer which is nice for the days when he doesn’t need a nap- he still has to stay in his room and play quietly til the clock turns.

      • Jen says:

        I also have a two year old and am 31 weeks pregnant….it helped to make peace with the fact that during this season of life with little ones, things are constantly changing! Bedtimes, wake up times, middle of the night wakings, sicknesses, naps lengthening and shortening or non existent, me needing a lot more sleep at different times, or not having the energy to get a lot done…. It is TOUGH! In a few years with older kids, implementing consistent routines will come a lot more easily (I hope!)

    • Christy says:

      An alternative to the OK to wake clock is to get a simple (cheap!) Christmas tree timer and plug a light-up toy into it. We use this for my son and it makes a HUGE difference.

      • Anne says:

        I should have read all the comments first. I recommended this cheaper option above, too, although we do like our Ok To Wake clock. I used an Amazon credit Crystal gave me when she featured a deal of mine few months ago.

  • Robyn says:

    I just want to give all of you a big hug and say that this season WILL pass! My twins were really early risers no matter what time they went to bed. Bedtime for them was 7p.m. and they were up by 5 a.m. most days.

    Those were hard days.

    But you know what? The boys are 12, 12, and 7, and I wake THEM up now. I still remember those bleary days, though.

    Take heart, weary mamas. It won’t last forever!

    (Of course, now I have to fight to stay awake at night until the older ones are home from whatever “late over” activity they’re participating in on the weekends! :-p)

    • Anne says:

      I try to remind myself of this; in several short years, I will have to drag our now 15 month out of bed. I try to enjoy cuddles first thing in the morning because I know although it is exhausting, it is fleeting.

  • Lana says:

    I think the best tip here is to go to bed earlier. We try to start heading for bed at 9 PM because we know it takes an hour most nights to get things finished up for the night and actually get to bed. We get up at 5:30 and it is very hard if we don’t stick to this.

  • says:

    One thing I’ve learned is that life with kids requires constant creativity and flexibility. I know how you feel, because right now my morning routine has been all shot to heck by my youngest. It’s frustrating, but since I have the perspective of several older children, I know that this will change. As soon as I think I have things “down”, the kids shake it all up again. And that’s ok. They will pass into a new phase before you know it.

  • says:

    I now have four children, the most recent 7 days ago. It has been very hard to give up my routines I had developed in the past two years. My children are 15,5,3, and 7 days. But I do still get my routines done, it just takes longer. My children wake up at 7 and I have them watch Tv until breakfast at 8. It works for now and I am able to make my bed and put on my makeup which helps me feel ready for my day.

  • says:

    I’ve struggled with this too!! I always create a routine, and then life happens and I feel defeated and can’t get back again. It’s an all or nothing mentality. I have an early riser too, but I’ve found if I go to bed at a decent time I can wake up easier, therefore I have some time in the am before he wakes up. If I sleep in at all, by the time I get up it wakes him up.

  • says:

    One tip for waking up early or to reset your sleep schedule – stop eating 12-16 hours before you want to wake up. If your goal is to get up at 7 am, don’t eat anything at all after 7pm. Try this for about 2 nights and it should help you wake up when you want to. Something about fasting and needing food in the morning 🙂 Good luck!

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