We may not all be super-planners, extreme organizers, or uber-schedulers, but I would say most homeschooling moms do believe in the power of routine.
At my house, perfect plans and tidy little schedules seem to unravel quickly, leaving me frustrated and discouraged and totally stressed out. Personally, I prefer a regular routine rather than a strict schedule in my home and homeschool. A good routine gives me enough structure to keep me on track and prevent chaos, all while allowing some wiggle-room for the surprises life and family are sure to throw my way!
I’ve read a lot about the importance of a good morning routines, and, of course, I’ve seen lots of advice for good daytime routines. But I don’t know that I’ve often, (if ever,) seen anyone stress the importance of a nighttime routine as it relates to homeschooling.
And yet developing a nighttime routine is one of the best things I’ve done for my homeschool lately.
So what is my routine and how is it helpful?
To answer the second question first, the way you leave things the night before sets the stage for how the next day will begin. You can have an amazing morning routine, but you can close out your day in such a way that the ‘amazing’ routine is much, much harder. With a nighttime routine you can get some things both off the mind and off the to-do list for the next day, which can help relax your mind for sleep, as well as make your mornings go smoother.
Let me quickly explain here where I keep my nighttime notes and lists: For me, fluorescent-colored index cards are perfect! Their bright color helps me keep track of them and find them easily in the morning. You may prefer a magnetic notepad or dry erase board on the refrigerator, a notebook, or the note-keeping app on your phone.
Here’s what I like to do, though it’s okay if your routine looks nothing like mine. All of our families, homes, and life schedules are different, so obviously our routines won’t look the same:
- I make sure I know what we’re having for breakfast, lunch, and supper the next day. I even jot down notes for myself sometimes to help me remember that the meat for supper needs to be in the slow cooker by noon, that there are leftovers for lunch that need to be eaten that day, or that this is the morning I want to try the new muffin recipe. A little prep work can be helpful, too: Getting the roast out of the freezer or just setting a few ingredients out on the counter can really save some time if something in my morning routine has gotten off course.
- I prep a load of laundry so I can put it in the washer first thing in the morning. I like to know what I’ll be washing, whether it’s towels or sheets, whites or colors. Plus, I start laundry early and I don’t like having to dig around in my kids’ rooms for dirty clothes while they’re still sleeping, so I make sure it’s accessible the night before.
- I load my dishwasher and set it to run during the night. I like waking up to a dishwasher full of clean dishes that can immediately be put away or set on the table for breakfast.
- I clear my kitchen table of any clutter so it’s ready for school first thing in the morning. This is a toughie for me because our kitchen table tends to be a catchall, but it helps so much if I get it done before bed!
- I write down any special household tasks I need to accomplish the next day. This includes calls I need to make, bills I need to pay, or errands I need to run.
- I make notes of anything I need to remember for homeschool the next day. If I need to print something out for an assignment, find a book on the shelf to help with research, or look up that science video I wanted to show the kids, I write it here. Any quick prep work I can do for a project or experiment is helpful, too.
And that’s it! Nothing earth-shattering here, right? These are just some very simple steps I take each night that are making a huge difference in my morning and my entire homeschool day. Start to finish, running through this little routine takes 10-20 minutes at the most. And yet that 10 to 20 minutes seems to help me relax knowing the next day is at least somewhat planned out and prepped for, and the little things I accomplish at night then make the entire next day go smoother and easier.
So if your morning routine alone doesn’t seem to be offering the kind of start to your homeschool day you would like to see, try implementing a nighttime routine as well. That 10 to 20 minutes could make a remarkable difference in your homeschool!
Do you thrive on routine? What things do you find important to add to your daily, or nightly routine?