Six Things That Help Me Find Daily Balance and Routine as a Wife and Mother

When I quit my full time job to stay at home full time with my kids earlier this year, I knew that I was going to have to make a lot of adjustments to my daily routine. At the time, I was working in the office three days a week (MWF) and worked from home during the kids' nap time. I felt stuck in limbo between working mom and stay at home mom. I didn't have a real solid routine that was working for me and I knew that I needed to do something different.

I've been working since March to find what works well for our family and I think that I finally have a good thing going. Every day isn't perfect and there are still a lot of days when I feel like life defeats me. But the days when I do these seven things, I notice that I'm happier and so is my family.

stay at home mom daily routine

Six Things I Do Each Day to Feel More Productive and Present

I Start Each Day with Self Care

Over the last couple of years, I've fallen into the habit of putting everyone else's needs first, leaving no time for me to take care of myself. I wasn't getting any exercise and I ate terribly. At the end of every day I was drained and ready for everyone to go to bed so that I could have some time to myself. I know that a lot of moms who work from home start their day before the kids get up and try to get some work done in that time. I've found that for me, it works best to get my self care in so that I can spend the rest of my day focusing on my responsibilities as a wife, mother and employee.

finding time for self care as a stay at home mom

I wake up around 6 or 6:30 every morning, and start my day with a walk before Joe goes to work. Howie comes with me and we walk around the nature trail just down the street from our house. It's a 2.25 mile route and I listen to podcasts or one of my playlists while I walk. It's also a good opportunity for me to enjoy the morning air and the sunrise. It's the perfect way to start my day! When it gets colder outside, I'll head to the basement to use my elliptical (I have this one that's perfect for limited space {partner link}) and watch Netflix instead of heading outdoors.

Related: Finding Balance in My Life - Making Time for Me

Finding an exercise routine with a busy schedule

When I get home from my walk I get ready for the day. The degree to which I get ready depends on what our day's activities look like. Doing my hair and makeup first thing has been a big game changer for me! I feel more prepared to tackle my to do list or go on an adventure with my kids. It also means that there are fewer days when my husband comes home to find me in my comfiest clothes with air dried hair and zero makeup on (although I still go that route at least once a week, just to give my hair and skin a break). 

The last thing I do each morning has made a big difference in my mood throughout the day. I make our bed! It's been years since we've made our bed every morning, but it's something that I really enjoy doing now. It takes less than five minutes and every time I walk past it throughout the day, I feel more calm and accomplished, no matter how my day is going.

the benefit of making your bed daily

I Make a Prioritized To Do List

I've always been a paper planner person and I like to use my planner as a to do list for the day. If you were to look back at my planners from years past, you'd see lots of to do lists, but not a lot of check marks. You'd also notice that the same task appears on my planner for weeks or months at a time until it finally gets completed. This year, I changed the way that I use my planner and it has changed my life. I started using the ME planner - weekly spread from Plum Paper and I have each row/section labeled to correspond with a role that I fill in life. The rows descend down the column in order of what is the highest priority to me.

The first section on the page is Home Life, which refers to my most important role as a wife and mom. The second section is for Self Care tasks. I considered switching the order of those first two because this year I've put a major focus on taking care of myself first so that I'm at my best and able to care for and spend time with my family in the best way. The next section is for House Tasks, things like cleaning and yard work and maintenance. You'll find a blank row in the middle of my planner which I use for family, friends, church and misc. roles that don't necessarily have something I need to think about each day. The final three sections are for my job and each of my websites.

Related: Keeping Myself Healthy for Them

the best paper planner options

At the beginning of each week, I make sure that everything I want to accomplish is on those lists. Each night I sit down with my planner and rearrange my tasks in each section for the next day so that those go from highest to lowest priority as well. Each section can hold up to five tasks, which keeps me from getting too overwhelmed or letting one role take over my day. Each morning I put my planner on the kitchen counter so I can refer to it often. I work my way down each list throughout the day, doing things as I need or have time to do them.

If I come across a task that I want to do, but that isn't on my list for the day, I go back to my planner and add it to my day if there's room or write it down on another day's list. That way I can focus on what needs to be done right then and not get distracted by something that I am afraid I will forget about later. When the day is over, anything that didn't get accomplished from that day's list gets moved to another day according to importance.

plum paper planner

I use the monthly calendar to note my meal plan, appointments and other things that I've committed to. I refer to it weekly when making my to do list for the week and glance at it daily to make sure I don't forget about anything.

This is the system that I've found works really well for me! Ever since I've been using it, I've felt like I'm more in control of my life instead of life controlling me.. Some days I end up doing nothing on my list because something comes up, but instead of feeling like that day is wasted, I move those tasks and then write down all of the things I did accomplish that day, no matter how small, and cross them off because those check marks are satisfying. You know what I mean?

using your planner to be more productive

I Set Alarms on My Phone

I tend to lose track of time and what I need to be doing when I'm home all day. I have alarms set to ring throughout the day that remind me to move onto my next task and help keep my day on track. These are alarms that I set based on what I was struggling with on my stay at home days while I was still working full time and the things that I just couldn't seem to get on top of after I quit to stay home. I have alarms for waking up, starting our lunch/naptime routine, waking the kids up from naps, starting dinner, starting the kids' bedtime routine and to remind me to go to bed myself. It sounds really silly but those alarms help me out a lot and help us stick with a routine that helps the entire family thrive and stay happy. 

Related: Musings of a Weary Wife and Mom

family time

I Make Time for Fun Throughout the Day

I'm generally a person who likes to cross everything off of my to do list before I have any fun. If I don't, my to do list looms over my head and I almost feel guilty for having a fun time instead of being productive. I've found that planning that time for spontaneity and fun each day gives me power over that voice in my head and crosses something off of my to do list at the same time. I make a point to do something fun with my kids as soon as we've cleaned up breakfast, right after naps and between dinner and bedtime. Sometimes we go on an outing but most of the time we stay home and have a dance party, read stories, play outside, run around the house or do a fun toddler activity I found online. It might sound crazy to put the fun stuff on my to do list but it's really helped me to find balance and be more fun for my family.

Related: Four Tips or Simple Yet Meaningful Mother/Child Bonding

toddler bedtime routine

We Stick to a Bedtime Routine

Bensen is routine driven, even more than I am. I've found that maintaining a consistent routine each day, but especially at bedtime, makes a huge difference in his attitude throughout the day and how well he stays in bed once he's there. It's a simple thing, but it helps our lives run more smoothly all around. Bedtime takes up to an hour at our house and involves bath time, pajamas, tickle time, stories, singing songs, hugs and kisses all around, and a few other silly rituals that our kids love. It used to be my favorite time of the day, but having two busy toddlers has made it a crazy, "let's get everyone in bed so mom and dad can relax" time instead. I've been working hard to make it a time that I look forward to again, and not just because it means that the house will soon be quiet.

Related: How Having a Set Bedtime Benefits Your Marriage

reading time before bed
bedtime with toddlers

I End the Day with a Clean Kitchen

This is another one of those things that seems silly, but I know that there are other people out there who feel the same way. Making sure that the dishes are washed or in the dishwasher, the counters are wiped off, the table is clean and all of the clutter is cleaned up is a must at the end of the day for me. I usually try to get it done with dinner clean up, but sometimes there's more to tackle than I am willing to spend time on right then because post-dinner is play time with my family.

No matter what, before I go to bed, the kitchen gets cleaned up and then I start my favorite appliance, this robot vacuum {partner link}. There is no better feeling than looking over a clean kitchen as I turn off the lights to go to bed, except maybe walking into a clean kitchen minus any crumbs on the floor the next morning. When my kitchen is under control, I feel like I'm on top of other things, even if the rest of my house is a mess.

Related: Three Different Ways to Divide Household Tasks in Your Marriage

The best robot vacuum for your house

I Make Time for My Marriage

It's the most important relationship in my life and you all know that I do everything I can to put effort into it on a daily basis. Some days we work on a project together, other days we talk while we water the lawn and watch the sun set. I make a point to text Joe throughout the day, greet him when he comes home and give him my undivided attention for a decent amount of time each day. I often surprise him at work with his drink of choice from Swig or a smoothie from around the corner. No matter what, I make sure to take time to connect with Joe each day. When we connect I try not to focus completely on the "business" side of our marriage, but to make time for fun conversation and laughter. At the end of the day, time with my husband is the thing that I look forward to the most.

Related: You'll Never be Able to Find Time for Your Marriage, You'll Have to Make Time Instead

Make time for your marriage every day

I have found that if I tackle the highest priority things into my day first, there is still be room for everything else to fall into place. If I start with the things that are least important, I get to the end of my day and realize that I didn't even start some of the tasks that really needed to get done. These things have really helped me to be more present with my kids and my husband and still feel accomplished at the end of the day.

Photography by Sadie Banks Photography

Including these things into my daily routine help me to feel more balanced, productive and present daily in my roles as wife, mom and employee
These six things help me find balance and happiness each day