When I had a little baby I bought a book by an author called Gina Ford. Now, if you’re a mum you probably know which book I’m talking about and are groaning at the thought. This particular book was advocating getting your baby into a routine. And I was obsessed with it. Routines were my life.
I’m a control freak. I like to dictate pretty much everything in my life and ensure that it is efficient and productive. It’s all well and good telling me to just “let it go”, but what if I don’t want to? What if an ideal day for me includes the knowledge of what comes next? Let me have that one thing!
The Routines of a Working Parent Should Not Be Messed With
I’m a mum yadayadyada, I work yadayadayada. There we go. You can always read more detail in my first blog post. What I want to talk about is my routine. IT IS VITAL FOR MY SANITY. If I don’t know that at 8 pm I’ll be sat watching TV with a single glass of wine and the company of the beardy one, I will go crazy.
My children are lovely, I adore them, but at some point, I need to say goodnight to the details of the latest Minecraft build or Pokemon caught on a mobile phone, and enjoy an adult conversation. Which is where the routine comes in.
Every morning I get up at 5.30 am. Except at weekends. And every morning I get my kids up at 7.30 am. Except at weekends. Then I know it’s breakfast, getting into uniform, bags packed, and school run. It allows me to settle down to work without any personal business cluttering my head. Which in turn allows me to be great at my job. And in the industry I work in, you need to be great. Mediocre just doesn’t cut it, sorry.
Work is work, home is home
It sounds kind of ridiculous saying this when I work from home! But, when I tell people I work remotely they reply in a typical fashion:
Oh wow, you’re so lucky! I’d love to work from home. I can just imagine it, doing a bit of work, getting a bit of laundry done, work some more, vacuum, have coffee with freinds, work some more…
This is not my reality. Work is work, and I define it clearly. I work in two chunks. My first chunk is triggered after I wake, shower, get dressed, and have my coffee. I work for 90 minutes before getting the kids up. Then I’m back into home mode. The second chunk is triggered after we do the school run and walk Tink. We enter the home and it’s now the office. I’ll work up until it’s time to pick up the boys. Then I’m back in home mode.
When I work I don’t answer personal calls, I don’t do chores, and I won’t meet friends for coffee. I dedicate my time to my professional purpose, to get websites noticed.
My Advice For Building Your Routines
- Define your working day – especially if you work from home
- If you have kids, then get them into a routine too (including chores and homework)
- Decide when you want to wake up and stick with it
- Remove distractions from your current task
- Do not answer your phone during work hours
- Only check emails at a fixed time (unless you’re expecting something urgent)
- Make your business calls at 10 am, when people are most likely to be available
- Keep at it – the longer you stick to your routines to more natural they become
And as an added extra – here is my full day’s routine:
5.30 am – I get up, shower, and dress
5.45 am – I stick the coffee machine on and switch on the laptop
6.00 am – Work (checking emails, planning, and client work)
7.30 am – The kids get up and dressed
7.45 am – Breakfast is served
8.45 am – School run followed by dog walking
9.15 am – Work
12.30 pm – Brief lunch break
12.45 pm – Work
3.00 pm – School run
3.15 pm – Homework
4.00 pm – Cooking and cleaning
5.00 pm – Eating
7.00 pm – Bathing kids and putting them to bed
7.30 pm – Dishwasher is on and I check my work messages to ensure nothing has been missed
8.00 pm – Wine in hand, TV on, the Beardy one next to me
10.00 pm – Sleep