Routines for Parents and CarersFeatured

We are all differentWe all know this, but I will say it again. We are all different, and so are our circumstances. We cannot copy what works for one parent or carer and try to paste it into our lives.There are so many things to consider before we set a routine:- Are you in full-time or part-time employment, and for how many hours?- Are you a single parent or carer?- How old are your children?- Do your children have any additional caring responsibilities, e.g. disabilities, neuro-divergent needs, etc?- Does the person you're caring for need full-time care?- Do YOU have any issues?The list can go on..."Don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice" - Steve JobsOver the years I’ve found some great routines and tools to help me stay more organised, sane, and efficient. As a parent and carer, (for me) there are way too many things to do and think about EVERY SINGLE DAY. My children are now 14, 11, and 5, and I also have caring responsibilities for my mum, to some extent. Some things worked and some didn’t and as the teenage years kick in, there are even more things to learn and adapt to. Perhaps I'll have to revisit my current routines.There were lots of things I did and stressed about for my first and second-born that weren't even acknowledged for my third. I read too many parenting books and listened to too many voices telling me that my children should be potty trained from age X and they should be doing X by now.Guidance is great if you need it, but expecting a child to reach certain "milestones" by a specific age is just rubbish. This doesn't include obvious ones that could have health implications. I'm talking about the ones where people feel the need to interfere in your business for no reason.So when I had my third, I didn't do much of what I did for my first two. To be honest, I didn't have the time or energy and I was much older. I didn’t even care about what others thought. He wasn't potty trained. He stayed in his nappies/diapers until he no longer peed in them (day and night). I knew he didn't have a health problem and that he probably wouldn't be wearing a nappy until he's 16, which meant we both didn't feel stressed and I didn't have to keep cleaning the floor full of pee every few minutes or hours. The list goes on. Sometimes, you gotta listen to your intuition. It's a great tool!There are so many things I would have avoided, but I won’t look back – if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be here now writing about it and trying to encourage other parents and carers.So, I'll write it again! Everything depends on personal circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all. Following the exact routines that others follow might not work for you at all.The routines below are “loose” – move them around, change the times, change the level, remove some, or don't do any…listen to what YOU want and do as you wish to accommodate it to your needs – always! This is just the way I do it and I thought it might help. :-)I've also recommended some useful free tools and resources you can use and/or pay for which might help.RoutinesMost days/weeks are different when you have caring responsibilities, especially now that we are in the middle of a yoyo pandemic! So if you become too rigid in a routine, don’t beat yourself up - I’m still striving to implement things. There's no such thing as perfect, it's about starting.MeditationThere are so many benefits to mediation. And it's not about not thinking about anything. That's probably what monks spend years trying to achieve. What I do know is that when I meditate/think/clear my head I feel great. Meditating in the morning is best for me. Even if you have five minutes, do it. But if you don't have the time, try to fit it in at any time during the day or evening.After you wake up, try to have a large glass of warm water.Find a quiet, distraction-free place to sit - on the floor, on the sofa, chair, whatever works for you.Use an app and just start. I started with 10 minutes a day for a whole year and a half. And I am now trying to move onto 20-30 minutes a day and I don't do it every day - something which I am still striving for because it makes me feel good, relax and think clearly.Tools/ResourcesCalm - https://www.calm.com/ I love this one. If you sign up for a year you can get quite a big discount. I use the free version now.Headspace - https://www.headspace.com/Comparisons - https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#calmExerciseStraight after you meditate, if you can, exercise. Do anything that makes you feel good, HIIT, yoga, pilates, run, walk, stretching, etc.We all know that exercise is good for us. Not just to help us get fitter, but it's great for our mental health too. Doing this in the morning can set you up for the day. But if you can't, then try to do it at any time that works for you, it should make you feel good!Tools/ResourcesHIITS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml6cT4AZdqI&t=1065sYoga - https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadrieneStretching - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_tea8ZNk5APrepare and PlanI know it can be boring having routines and schedules. Some people don't like to live like that and just like to go with the flow which is fine too, but for me, it reduces my stress and makes me feel good. You also need to be flexible for those days when things turn upside down or you just can't be bothered to do anything - those days are great!Make or buy a food planner and plan out your meals for the week in advance and plan your food delivery or shop visit accordingly to save money!Make most of your dinner in the morning before you start work and prepare some lunch and snacks. I hate everyday cooking, so this works for me. Then I don't have to think about it during the day! You could batch cook if that helpsHave set days for laundry.Set a day and time to do the main cleaning (unless you have a cleaner).Carve out some time with the kids - Even 10-15 minutes each 121 before they sleepTools/ResourcesMagnetic food planner example - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08B5QJTHL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1WorkIf you "work" i.e. you're a house-person, home-maker, stay at home parent, carer, employed, or have your own business, here are some useful tips.Keep your phone on silent and, even better, turn off the wifi when you're working on important tasks.Allocate set times to check and reply to emails and social media.If something takes five minutes, do it! As long as you are not distracting yourself from an important task, it’s worth it.Use a calendar to plan out your day, even if that involves house tasks like cleaning or clearing out or fixing something.Try to find an accountability partner that you can relate to, to help you reach your goals (personal or business).Try to get some fresh air at any time you can - without listening to anything, just absorb your environment. Go for a walk or run, even if it's up and down your street and only for 5-10 minutes.Tools/ResourcesGoogle Calendar - https://www.google.com/calendar/about/Goals Diary - https://migoals.com/pages/goal-digger-plannerYou might be able to find it cheaper or an alternative elsewhereNotion - https://www.notion.so/BedtimeWaking up early can be tough, especially if you've had a late night or interrupted sleep. So move the times if you need to. This is based on if you've had a good night's sleep - try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep and be fast asleep between 10 and 11 pm. If you haven't had enough sleep, try to stick to the wake-up time as closely as possible.An early rise can set you up for the day and a lot can be done in the morning to relieve you from mundane tasks. But an early rise isn't for everyone and doesn't work for everyone. Choose a time that works for you.Set a time you want to wake up e.g. 6 am (dependant on what you want to achieve in the morning) - so to get at least eight hours you should be fast asleep by 10 pm.Set your alarm for the next day.1-1.5 hours before your bedtime, turn off any screens and/or silent phones and try to avoid watching any news too! I can't turn my phone off in case my mum rings in the night for anything, so I have put her numbers on as an emergency bypass which allows me to silence my phone and turn off wifi! (iPhone)Have a getting ready for bed routine i.e. brush teeth, shower, bath, cream/massage, beauty routine basically, a taking care of myself time (me time) even if it's a quick 5-10 minutesTry to find some time even if it's five minutes or 30 minutes to journal - write about anything! How you're feeling, what you're doing or want to do, planning...Spend some time reading anything that interests you before you sleep, try not to read anything too negative. Sometimes we don't realise we're reading about negative things - but it can sometimes affect our sleep or the way we feel the next morning.Remember NOT to check your phone!Aside from the one's I've mentioned I have some other resources on other topics that might help, so feel free to reach out!Finally, one thing I got from pretty much all the books is to practice some form of meditation. Ultimately, I think your mind can make or break you - keep it well-nourished and the rest will follow Tools/ResourcesSleepSleep information - https://www.sleepfoundation.org/OtherNess Labs - https://nesslabs.com/aboutI love the way she thinks!Mind Valley - https://www.mindvalley.com/free-courses?otag=shortmenuSome free courses to help with the mindConnect with me and my projectsDiveIn.Network - https://www.divein.network/Women In FF - https://iweusme.wixsite.com/womeninffNo Niche Just Me - https://iweusme.wixsite.com/nonichejustmeLinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/shsparekh/Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/shsparekh/
MargaretZablocka's profile thumbnail
Hi Shreya,I couldn't agree more with what you wrote! I am a mum of 2 and daily routines saved my sanity. That's the reason I created Onoco: https://www.onoco.com/ a mobile app for new parents who need routines in their lives. Let me know your feedback
shreyaparekh's profile thumbnail
What a great idea Margaret. It looks really good. Hope it's going well.Routines definitely help and have kept me sane!