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Rhythms + Routines

Do you feel like there’s never enough time? Are you collapsing at the end of each day in exhaustion from racing from task to task? This episode is all about organising your day with routines and rhythms. We’ll chat about why having a plan will serve you better than winging it, and how you can help your kids organise their day, no matter their age!





BONNIE: Hello and welcome, this weeks episode is all about rhythms and routines, and how to organise your day.  We will chat about why having a plan will serve you better than winging it and how you can help your kids organise their day no matter how old they are.

LILY: And if you are looking to get organised right now you can head to littlehomeorganised.com.au/organisingcheatsheet we have a free 5 step system that helps you get your household a bit more organised and you can jump on that and get started.

BONNIE: Now Lil I have to admit that when I have no plan for the following day I find that I get to the end of that day and I feel really discombobulated, I like that word

LILY: Holy Dooly

BONNIE:  That is a good one hey

LILY: What does that mean?

BONNIE: It just means out of sorts really

LILY: Okay

BONNIE: But it is a fancy word and it makes me feel really academic saying it. But it is true, like I get to the end of the day and if I haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve because I haven’t had a plan it means that I just get to the end of the day and feel like I have wasted my time

LILY: I definitely think that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  If we don’t start our day intentionally or have a plan in place then the things that matter most to us may not actually be at the forefront and may not get achieved, and so when we think about organising our time it is important to consider a structure of some sort to help us achieve that and what we are going to talk about today is actually not going to be pro schedule from minute to minute to minute and it is not pro fly by the seat of our pants lets just wing it, we are going to be talking about that juicy part in the middle which is all about having rhythm so having some flow to your day but also having a routine and how that will best serve you and your family.

BONNIE: So it is all about finding the balance and what works for you rather than saying we are pro one way or the other

LILY: Yeah for sure and you will be more up one end or more up the other end and that’s fine

BONNIE:  So to get started let’s talk about what a routine actually is?

LILY: So a routine simply is a sequence of actions that we regularly follow and then when you think about a rhythm that is an extension of that, so if I have a routine in place that I get up in the morning and get my kids ready, we go hope in the car, I drop them at school, I come home and do some household tasks or I go to work and then I pick up my kids and then we have afternoon play and then we have dinner and then we go to bed, that is a routine and then when we think about the rhythm of the day, the rhythm of the day is kind of flow and the way that things go from one moment into another.

BONNIE: In our work with our clients, it really helps a lot of parents for us to actually break down the day into 3 sections and 3 different routines as well.  So often we will help clients work out their morning routines, so getting everybody out the door, the afternoon routine of when everybody comes back in and you are preparing for dinner and baths and showers and then an evening routine, so this might be after dinner or after the kids have gone to bed if you have got younger kids, and I think that really helps to break it up into those 3 kind of routines because then you can plan a morning, or afternoon or an evening routine and not have to worry too much about the whole day in one big chunk, because I think that overwhelms people.

LILY: Yes but isn’t it interesting how when you think about your morning routine and your afternoon routine when you have small children, time is a void like it is so quick and so gone and so if you are starting out your day and you haven’t got a really set good morning routine and afternoon routine with those kids it is chaos and things just happen so quickly.

BONNIE: That’s right and then you just feel like your time got sucked away from you and you never get that time back

LILY: Yeah

BONNIE: So I wanted to define what a rhythm actually is because if you are not sure what a rhythm is as opposed to a routine, a rhythm is more of a flow, a rhythm is where tasks flow seamlessly one into the other, so you might structure your daily rhythm using anchors, so anchors are certain points in the day that are pretty set in place, that is what an anchor is, it grounds you,  so might use your meals as anchors and you might say we are having breakfast around 7am and we need to do that anchor of everybody having breakfast at 7am because otherwise we are not going to be out of the door, getting ready for school, on our way to work but 7.30 or 8 o’clock or whatever your timing is, so that is one anchor for you.  Your next anchor might be lunchtime and so you have this gap between when you come home from school drop off and between lunch where you might say, I am planning to get these 3 activities done.

LILY: But it doesn’t have to be that 11am I do this.


LILY: At 12 o’clock I do this


LILY: And that’s were the flow come in

BONNIE:  That’s exactly right, so your anchor points might be very different depending on what your day looks like.  You might be at work and you might use mealtimes or meeting times to help structure your day.  So a lot of work places might start with a staff meeting in the morning and that is your first anchor point.  Well I have to be at work for the staff meeting and then between that and the next meeting I have got an hour and ½ so I am going to try and get these 2 or 3 tasks done in between that time.  And I think the other thing that is really important to remember if you are aiming for an ideal rhythm you need to have a healthy balance of being, versus doing activities.  So this is like the Yoga side of things, the breathing in and the breathing out, so the breathing in is when we are refilling our cup we are having a cup of tea, we are sitting down and reading a blog post that we really want to read.  We are recharging our self and then the doing side of activities is the output, the breathing out, that’s when we are doing the washing, we are doing the dishes, we are cooking a meal, we are having a meeting so that’s the filling other peoples cups and the giving out to others.

LILY: Yeah and it is really important that there is a balance and how we organise our time to have that breath in and that breath out, as you say the being versus the doing.  If we think of it visually you can imaging that all of us are a big jug of water and if we are to pour out things for just functionally in our house or pour out from our self for other people, the water has to come from our jug, but if we aren’t refuelling, if we aren’t breathing in, if we aren’t taking time for ourselves in our day and how we organise our time, our jug will be empty and how can you expect to fill someone else’s jug if you have got nothing left and so having the in and out throughout your day is essential.

BONNIE: That’s a really great visual and I think what is really important to point out here is well is why is it important to have some sort of structure to your day and I think for me as a mum the most important reason I can think of is that it helps me plan my day better so that I can make a little bit of time to recharge myself so if you are someone who likes to do adult colouring-in or to sew or to craft or to watch an episode on a streaming service, whatever it is that recharges you when you structure your day with a daily rhythm or a flow it actually allows you to plan some time in there for yourself because you know as a mother it is difficult to get time to go to the toilet by yourself.

LILY: Oh yeah absolutely, so it is important that we do find those little pockets of time in the day and the thing is if we just fly by the seat of our pants before you know it time has just gone racing by and all the good intentions you had at the start of the day just have slipped away.

BONNIE: That’s true and you know to be really successful with your daily rhythm those tasks that you do every day they have to become like second nature, it has to become like driving your care.  Do you know how many times I have rocked up at Grandparent care and thought I don’t even remember the drive here.


BONNIE: it’s a bit scary

LILY: Isn’t it, it is terrifying to think there is many people on the road who are doing that.

BONNIE:  Yes it is

LILY: So that is using your procedural memory so that is that

BONNIE: That’s a big word

LILY: Oh there we go my big word for the episode. So the procedural memory is those tasks that we do and it is robotic, its become just a part of our brain that uses it, doesn’t need to be in the high function basically, so like when I hope in the car and I am a learner driver it is not yet procedural memory for me necessarily yet because I am so hyper-aware of looking up at the mirror and everything but now as an experienced driver for many many years I just hop in the car, I turn it on, I don’t have to think twice about it.

BONNIE:  Mmmmmm

LILY: Yeah so that is often were can like lull and we can be doing some of your best thoughts when you are driving your care or when you are in your shower because you are not having to think about how do I wash myself you just know how to do it.

BONNIE: And you know I got so lost in my thoughts coming home from a drop off the other day that I actually stopped at a green arrow and I got beeped because it was like come on what are you doing it is a green arrow and I thought oh sorry I am just obviously way to off in lala land and I have got to focus and get back to what I am doing and that is driving a very dangerous automobile.

LILY: Yeah

BONNIE:  So I want to talk a little bit about schedules because I know that a lot of people feel like a schedule, a daily schedule that outlines every 15 minute increment is the way to go but I just don’t feel like it is necessarily for everyone.

LILY: It totally depends on the person but I feel like they can be crippling of providing the space for creativity and flexibility, so I will give a personal example.  I worked for an amazing summer camp in the US and camp has to run on a strict schedule because they are managing hundreds of children and hundreds of people and so it is quite regimented in the timing, everything is marked with a bell, so the bell rings and we are off to the next thing.  There is always adequate time for the children to do what they need to within their program time but once that bell rings you stop what you are doing and you go onto the next thing and if there was a moment there for me or for a child engaging in the activity to really get creative and explore and it was like going up towards the end of the scheduled time they would obviously have to stop because they have to go off to do the next thing so that is just a part of life but you can also see how in a different environment, say they are at home during school holidays and you’re saying alright we have got crafts from 10-11 and then we are going to have outdoor activity time from 11-12 and your child is just off at it that day or they are just getting really creative and passionate about a project that they are doing that schedule is going to not serve you, that’s where the ebb and flow of just kind of having a rhythm to your day is much more important.

BONNIE: I love those words, ebb and flow because I think we can use that visual of the water in a lot of areas in our life when it comes to organisation so the ebb and flow of clutter coming into our lives and the ebb and flow of starting one activity and moving onto the other, that transition I think that is really important and I think something we often forget to do is actually create buffer time between some of our transitions, so me, for example, I am great at organising, I am great at decluttering, I am great of letting go of things, my time management skills are actually not all that fantastic and the amount of times I have actually turned up right on time or a little bit later than I would like to, to a time management workshop that I am actually giving is countless.

LILY: Oh, I just think that is gold.  It must humanise you to the people who are sitting there waiting for this lady who is about to talk about organisation.

BONNIE:  It is a very humbling experience and I think everybody there actually has a good laugh about it because they realise oh I don’t actually have to be perfect.  She is not perfect so why should I try and be.

LILY: And that’s it, like our motto is definitely progress not perfection

BONNIE: That’s 100%

LILY: So we are talking about how being too scheduled is not a positive thing but also having no structure and just winging it, that doesn’t serve you either, you cannot plan your day if you don’t know the things that you want to achieve throughout that day.  You are constantly going to be putting out fires when they pop up left right and centre because there isn’t a plan in place and then you start to move into a mindset of reacting to things as they happen instead of being pro-active to prevent those things that happen and that is going to be chewing up a lot of your time.

BONNIE: I think this whole idea of being preventative rather and having to find a cure, prevention is better than the cure, that is really important,  the other thing I think that’s really good to remember when starting a daily rhythm or implementing one is that that intentionality then turns a thought into an action.  So it is not just a pipe dream anymore you are actually turning that dream, that goal into a reality

LILY: So it is really important to you that you have time for yourself and you are not able to find that in your day you do need to plan it in your day especially if it is not currently a habit and rather than having it being a dream of I wish I had time to sit down and have a hot cup of tea and read a book for 20 minutes, if that is not currently happening for you wishing for it is not going to happen.  Something has to change. It hasn’t happened up until now so if you keep doing the same thing you are going to keep getting the same result.

BONNIE: That sounds like the definition of insanity

LILY: Yeah

BONNIE:  Doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result

LILY: And isn’t it funny how we are all a little bit insane

BONNIE: Oh we are and it is like that dress in the cupboard that we look at every time and think maybe next time when I wear it I will actually like it on me and so we keep it and we try it again and it looks terrible and we just keep doing it to ourselves.

LILY: Maybe if I tried with these shoes, maybe if my hair was pulled back that time

BONNIE: but maybe if I dyed my hair, but maybe if I actually changed everything else about the way I look that day the dress will work.  The dress just has to go

LILY: Yeah.  So how do we go about scheduling our day then if we don’t want to be too regimented and we don’t want to be absolutely loosy goosey

BONNIE: So when we are scheduling our daily rhythm it is great to have those anchors and then to say okay I am going to plan these couple of tasks in between and I think on a grander scale beyond your daily rhythm but looking at your weekly or your monthly rhythm it is really important for you to schedule in things like dates with your spouse and one little tip that Peter Janeski gave me a couple of years ago, he is a local psychologist, is the idea of scheduling in recovery time and so after you have had a really intense couple of days or a week away or a conference or whatever it has been really busy and really intense, you schedule in with your spouse and your family okay I am taking these 2-3 hours or ½ a day or a whole day or whatever the time frame is and I am having recovery time.  That means I am not going to be involved as a parent, I am going to just do whatever it is that I need to recharge me.  So for example in our family, there has been times where my husband has been very busy doing 12 hour shifts for a couple of days in a row or he has done night work for a week and he has needed sometime to catch up and me being who I am I like to give him lots of jobs to do which I think he loves and so what we will do now is if he has a row of night work is we will actually say okay on your 4 or 5 days off afterwards this is going to be the recovery day and he is like I don’t want anything booked in for that day I just want to be able to sleep in

LILY: What a great idea

BONNIE: Yeah it is, it really is and I think it is really helpful especially when you have got one partner who is not a morning person it helps knowing that on that recovery day that you are not expecting them to get up and they are struggling to get up because they are so tired and their body is trying to recover from that week of nightshift.  So it just helps the communication I think between spouses and it helps you have a bit more of a plan and it means that you are not putting your expectations on someone else that are unrealistic.

LILY: So at the start we said that well-known motto, if you fail to plan you plan to fail and this is not just about your emotional and mental health it is also about the physical tasks you want to achieve in your day to day and everything that we are talking about is if I can make some kind of plan it doesn’t have to be too loosy goosy it doesn’t have to be too regimented but if I can implement some flow and some rhythm to my day with my family I am going to achieve more of the things that I want to achieve.  I am going to be more intentional with my time and as we know time is a finite resource

BONNIE: Okay it must be time now for this weeks clutter confessions


Anonymous caller:  Hey Bonnie and Lil my clutter confession is a bulk self help books that I call my good intention books that I will read one day but I know that I never will and I never have but they sit just staring at me on bedside tables and on bookshelves hoping that one day I will have the good intention of reading them.

LILY: Oh love a good self help book

BONNIE: I have to admit books are a really big crutch for me

LILY: They are for me too

BONNIE: Self help books in particular.  I am an avid reader and I love learning and I love all the self help books so I know that when my collection is exhausted I am going there

LILY: Books are one of those hard ones to declutter because I feel like knowledge is so valuable and so there is almost like we want to protect books like they are this like sacred item and we find them really hard to let go of but it is also interesting that everything you can find in a book basically you can find in a digital form now too.

BONNIE:  You know I think it is a fear factor that makes us hold onto books because we think what if that one piece of information that would change my life is in that book and that is why people who have hoarding disorder hold onto newspapers and things like that because they are worried that there is a piece of information in there that is going to change their life and they might miss it and it might be really really important

LILY: Mmmmm

BONNIE: So that is where I think the self help book clutter comes into it because we want to be the best version of ourselves

LILY: And what if something in that book helps me change how I live my life.

BONNIE: Exactly and if it transforms my life in a positive way then why would I get rid of that item.

LILY: Well speaking of things that have changed my life, being a mother for the first time whooo that is challenging.

BONNIE: Baptism of fire

LILY: Oh mate no matter how many people tell you it is like being thrown in the deep end you just don’t know how deep that water is until you are there.

BONNIE:  And you are a really good swimmer too

LILY: Ahh thank you, but now I want to talk about routines and rhythms and how we can implement them with our kids because with those of us who do have children, it doesn’t matter if they are baby, in primary school, or high school organising your time especially when you have kids helps you have a successful day and we always want to be setting up ourselves up for success

BONNIE: So now that you have a baby, what helps you as a mother know what’s coming and be able to prepare for it

LILY: Gosh, so much of it is new, my simplest answer is routine and the clearest example I can give of is bedtimes.  So we have a set routine and my 4 month old in recent weeks has come to really learn when certain things start happening this means I am about to be put to bed and he is not necessarily on board for that.  So his routine for getting ready for sleep will be after he has had his wake time and he is showing me the cues that it is time to go to bed we will put him in his sleeping bag, we will sit down and read a story together and I make sure if the blinds are going to be closed that I have closed the blinds and if it is night time we turn on the white noise and then we sing our special song and then I tell him you know that I love him and that he is going to have a good sleep and I put him down in his cot and I walk away and he now knows oh this means bedtime and it helps him actually relax and accept the fact that it is time for sleep and when I know that I can expect that he is going to sleep well during the day that helps me plan my day because I have a rough idea of the times I am going to have in between his sleeps because he has been in somewhat of a rhythm to be able to know what I can get done.

BONNIE: And I think back to all three of my kids and when they got to that age at similar age to 4-6 months and they started to learn what the rhythms and routines were before bed I loved seeing how they actually ended up smiling when I was putting them to bed and the amount of times that I would start singing  that sleep song and they are smiling at me because they are happy and they know the predictability of what is coming next that is a beautiful thing and as a mum when you are struggling with sleepless nights and trying to get the kid to do what it should or what the textbooks say that he should or she should it is really encouraging to get to the end of the day and have your baby smile when you are putting them down to sleep and be actually happy that you are leaving them.

LILY: Yeah, Yeah and it has been because we have had a routine and it is has helped him know how things flow but also having a routine has helped me plan my day going out and about because I know he has a certain wake time for his age because I know roughly how long he sleeps at certain times of the day because we have a set start and finish time.

BONNIE: So you have anchor points

LILY: I have anchor points, that is exactly it.  So my anchor point is a 7am wake up time and is now at a point where he sometimes wakes up say like ½ hour before that but he is just happy to chill in his cot and then I pick him up at 7 and then his bedtime is 7pm, and so those are my anchor points in the day and then kind of whatever happens in the day happens but I know roughly oh once he wakes up at 7 he is going to be awake for roughly this long, he will sleep for roughly this long, then he will be awake for roughly this long and then I know that every time I go to put him down to bed unless something unusual is happening, unless I have missed sleepy cues, unless he is teething there will be a somewhat expected flow to our day and then what happens in between I don’t have at 8 o’clock we are going to go for a walk down this street and then we are going to come back and 10 minutes of tummy time and then we are going to put you in the jolly jumper, we don’t do any of that stuff I just know oh I would like him to have a crack in the jolly jumper once today because I know how much he loves it.  I really like to get him to have some outside time today.  I know that he also likes to have some nappy free time and so I just make sure that at some point in the day those things happen and that is where it is more of a rhythm and a flow than a set strict structure but it is also not so lygoosgoocy that I don’t have any intentions for things for him throughout the day because he is constantly learning and I don’t want him to be a potato so I need to make sure that I know put some effort in with him.

BONNIE: So as a teacher one of the things I found really beneficial and I am a primary school teacher, one of the things that was very beneficial for me in my classroom is having a picture story board up of what the day was going to be like and that really helped kids who had ASD or even ADHD to know this is what is coming because when kids have something that is unknown there is a bit more fear around it so we would just have these simple pictures that might have say story time at the beginning, then we are going to do maths, then we are going to do English, then it will be morning tea, then it might be science and soce and then lunchtime and then in the afternoon I might be creative arts and music or something like that, and having that picture story board just really helps the whole class know this is where we are going and this is what is coming next and that is something that can implemented in the home as well especially is you have got an ASD child because those pictures really help play out the story and you can get as detailed as you want so if you have a child who is struggling to dress themselves you can actually put those pictures in order for them, a picture of them waking up, a picture of them making their bed, a picture of them opening their curtains or their windows, and then a picture of them pulling out pants, shirt, socks, shoes that kind of thing.  So you can be as detailed as you want but just having that picture storyboard put out there really does help kids to know what is coming next and it saves on a lot of tantrums of oh I don’t want to do that because they know that is what is expected.

LILY: So for example lets say you would like your children to do chores which might I add is a great idea.  They should be helping the house, even really small children can do chores but what you can do when you are laying things out at home is you might have Wednesday and each child’s name and then what chore they need to do.  I would suggest having them complete the chore at sometime during that day.  I don’t think a set time for chores is necessarily what works best for everyone so being flexible on that front can be a good way to get your child to know okay you have this responsibility I am going to provide you a bit of space and room to get that chore done in  your time and if you cannot complete that task then I will tell you when you need to do that and keeping in mind this is probably more suitable to older children than younger children

BONNIE: I think chores and reward systems are a whole other episode that we will need to get into later because I know that there are a lot of families who really struggle with teaching their kids to help out around the house and I think it is really important for them to learn how to be fully functioning adults and thinking along that line when you are talking about older children and rhythms and routines a rhythms and a routine helps prepare your high schooler or your university aged student for life in the real world and that is really our goal as parents is to train up our children to become fully functioning independent adults who will leave the home and go off and start their own lives without us and having that rhythm and routine prepares them for workforces, it prepares them for university or college and being able to do tertiary study because image if you have got a kid that has never actually had a set routine or rhythm to the day and all of a sudden they have a job where they have to be there at 9am everyday chances are they are going to be late frequently because they are just not use to a certain wake up time, they are use to lucy goocy as you like to say.

LILY: But also keep in mind that rhythms and routines are not just for students who decide to go on and do tertiary education, rhythms and routines are applicable in any job and if you are getting to the office or the worksite it will be at set time, there will be set tasks you need to achieve and so helping our children know how to use a set amount of time to achieve things is really important.

BONNIE: So just to summarise, to create the ideal daily rhythm having a balance of doing and being tasks is really important. It is also important to have some sort of structure in your day whether it is a rhythm with anchors or a routine or a schedule because if you have nothing then it is unpredictable and kids especially need predictability and we as parents need to know that we can block out sometime for us to have a cup of tea or to have a recharge and more importantly we want to role model to our kids what success looks like and you want to be able to teach them that knowing that you are setting that right example.

LILY: So when you are getting organised it is important to be intentional with your time, make a rough plan for what you want to have happen during that day

BONNIE: If getting organised is something you would like to do but you are not sure where to start download our free organising cheat sheet from littlehomeorganised.com.au/organisingcheatsheet these are the 5 Ps that we use to organise any and every space in the home.

LILY: So now it is time for this week’s tidy task

BONNIE: So this week’s tidy task is a gap analysis and what I want you to do is get a big piece of paper and draw a bridge and on one side of the bridge I want you to draw your current routine or rhythms and underneath it I want you to put down there what your daily rhythm or routine is, use numbers, use dot points, use pictures however it works for you.  On the other side of the bridge I want you to put your ideal rhythm or routine and then what you need to do in the middle is actually write down some dot points or ideas that help you bridge the gap from what you are currently doing to what you ideally want to do.

LILY: So the idea of the bridge is to make the end goal more achievable,  sometimes the end goal is just a little bit out of reach so let’s start implementing some things to get us close to that end goal.  And that’s it for this weeks episode. We want to thank you guys so much for tuning in, we know how busy life can be and we really appreciate you lending us your ears.

BONNIE: And remember progress, not perfection

LILY: See you later



ANNOUNCER: Hey we would love to keep the conversation going head over to the Little Home Organised Community group on Facebook, ask questions, find motivation and share your before and afters, and if you enjoyed the show please help us keep it going by hitting subscribed on apple podcast, Spotify or where ever you listen.  It is free and ensures you do not miss an episode but if you really want to share the love, leave us a rating and review. Trust me it makes all the difference in the world.




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