Establishing Healthy Routines in 2020

establishing healthy routines

With each new year, resolutions and goals take center stage as people work towards improving their personal and professional lives. And with each new year, establishing healthy routines and habits that are required to reach those goals is a challenge that many don’t overcome. 

Working parents have the specific challenge of meeting goals while also balancing work and family life. It’s not an easy task, and can often feel like a struggle to just get through the day-to-day, let alone meet goals and establish routines that are not required for just making it through the day. 

To have the best balance between work and family,  it’s important to move beyond just going through the basic needs and pursue the best for us and our families. If you are setting New Year’s resolutions or going through a season of family transition, the right mindset and approach will make establishing healthy routines easier than it may seem. 

Questions To Ask Yourself When Establishing Healthy Routines

Instead of setting goals and pursuing them blindly, ask yourself these questions to set both you and your family up for success for establishing healthy routines.

  1. What has repeatedly been my family’s biggest challenge? If you are running into the same exact battle every single morning, something needs to be adjusted. For example, bedtime routines have become a challenge in my home because my child moves at a snail’s pace when it’s time to get ready. After a long day, the last thing I want to be doing is a bedtime battle. Rather than spend thirty minutes nagging him about brushing his teeth, we moved the time we have him start getting ready for bed up by 15 minutes. He can move at his own pace and has more time to get ready. We aren’t stressed and arguing with him every night. Determine what the challenge is in your family and then talk through creative solutions for overcoming it.
  2. What are my peak productivity periods? I’m personally a morning person. I can roll out of bed at 6am and be incredibly productive three minutes later. For you, maybe you notice that you get more done after lunch or right before bed. Start to pay attention to your mental capacity throughout the day, then schedule the toughest tasks, or those that need the most attention or focus, during your peak productivity times.
  3. What’s the ideal morning routine and how can we make it happen? How you start your morning determines how the rest of your day will play out. Determine what needs to be eliminated to make your morning run smoothly, or what needs to be added to make it start out on the right foot. For example, maybe scrolling through social media first thing in the morning is putting you in a bad mood because of the content you see. Or perhaps adding five minutes to journal your goals for the day puts your mindset in a more productive, positive place. Think through and try a few routines and then determine practical steps to make the desired routine a habit.
  4. How can I take advantage of time management techniques? There are a ton of time management techniques out there that you can try. Here are a few to explore:
    • Time boxing – This relays on a scheduled day, in 30 or 60 minute blocks. Set a specific amount of time to complete a task and then move on to the next thing once your time is up. For example, allocate 60 minutes for professional development, and 30 minutes to prep for dinner. Scheduling your day in time boxes can keep you organized and on top of what you need to do. And here’s a bonus tip from Working Mother: use the auto-responder in your email settings to tell people when you are working but focused on an important project and will be slow to respond.
    • Activity batching – List all of your activities for the day and then batch similar tasks together to get them done at one time. For example, check your email and voicemails at the beginning of the day instead of every time you get a notification that you’ve got mail. This allows you to stay focused on other tasks later in the day instead of being distracted by your inbox. 
    • Pomodoro – This is a technique that uses a timer. Work for 35 minutes (or whatever time period you desire), then take a five minute break. Then repeat. The idea is that you need to give yourself small rewards or breaks throughout intense work to keep your brain fresh and focused.
  5. Will to-do lists help? Some people thrive on making lists and then checking things off. I am one of those people, but not everyone is. If you aren’t sure, try it out for a few days and see if your productivity spikes. If so, a to-do list might be your new best friend. 
  6. How can I make small changes to move my family towards healthy food and exercise habits? The biggest obstacle with establishing healthy routines is that it seems overwhelming to do it. Making small changes every once in a while will set yourself up for success. Determine the healthy habits and routines you want to start and then break them down into small tasks that can be implemented a little at a time. For example, if you want to get your family exercising together, don’t sign up for a gym membership and then make every go for 90 minutes every day. Instead, start doing five minute stretches together before dinner. Once that is going well and has become a habit, then start doing fun, physical games together a couple of times a week, like playing basketball or dancing. Whatever your family enjoys, start there!

Establishing healthy routines will look different for every family. Experiment with what works for you and what doesn’t. And don’t let yourself fall into the comparison trap – your family is unique so your routines will be too.