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Playful Self-Discipline: Daily and Weekly Routines

It’s Thursday and time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline project! This month’s theme is Organization, and so far I’ve written about making my bed, setting priorities, spring cleaning one cupboard at a time and taking stock of my progress at the spring equinox. Today’s topic is organizing my daily and weekly routines.

bea in the alpine meadows

Developing and sticking to a daily and weekly routine is something that I never expected to love about parenting. In my pre-baby days I was a big fan of spontaneity and would jump at the chance to just take off for a week of camping with a moment’s notice. Now I need to plan something like that rather a lot further in advance, and I would prefer to plan every meal of the trip and their required ingredients instead of throwing a bunch of random ingredients from the pantry shelves into a cardboard box and hitting the road.

My routines are a mix of the structured and organic, a flexible but predictable hodgepodge that is steady enough to get everyone through the day unscathed. The exact details and times are not fixed, but the overall flow of the day is often very much the same. I started looking at our daily routine awhile back, after reading Steady Days, and thinking about ways I could streamline my housekeeping duties led me to the weekly routine that currently works out well.

I’ve found that purposeful activity and connection is more important than doing the same thing at the same time every day. My kids have ultra-sensitive radar for the times when I just want to zone out and their behaviour will escalate until it grabs my attention. However, if I’m actively working on something away from the computer they will either join in or find their own activities to engage with.

Curious about my routines? Here’s a rough idea:


  • Wake up & bring Claire downstairs, meditate upstairs for a short bit, then come back down and get breakfast.
  • Check email, make breakfast for the girls, respond to urgent emails, surf facebook, etc while the girls eat and play.
  • Have a shower, get everyone dressed & ready for the day.
  • Either go out for a playdate, homeschool co-op meeting or outing to the park or shop, or start some kind of creative activity together at home.  Snack is served when we’re hungry.


  • Come home for lunch.
  • Claire goes down for a nap
  • Bea and I have time together to do something of her choice while Claire is sleeping.
  • When Claire wakes up the girls have a snack and play together while I clean the kitchen and one other part of the house, then get started making dinner.
  • Dinner, bath, stories, bedtime.
  • Me time, usually spent writing and reading blogs.

Weekly, I focus on one big task per day. Mondays are baking day, Tuesdays I do the laundry, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are open for whatever needs to be done the most and Saturdays are my day to write and decompress while Tom takes care of the girls for the morning.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with our routines. I like to have at least one day a week spent at home and at least one day a week out visiting with friends, but there can be a huge variation in social time from week to week. My playful self-discipline goal is to stay mindful of the impact our routine can have on the smoothness of our days, and to strive for a healthy balance of social or structured activity and self-directed time, especially when the fall comes and we start our first year of official homeschooling.  The more I learn about mindfulness and meditation, the more I can see how routines and mindful living intersect.  Every thing we choose to do (or not do) influences the path we are moving along in life.  Both the actual actions I take and my reaction to them have an effect on my path.

Have you got a daily or weekly routine? How did you come up with it?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachael March 31, 2011, 6:10 am

    Thank you for sharing your routine!

    Our routines, alas, have gone to hell. Well, not entirely, really, but I do feel that I’m having to make too many decisions about what to do during the day, rather than having my routine make my decisions for me. The trouble is, I think, that every day of the week has such different requirements. What rhythms govern all seven days? That, I suppose, is the question I should be asking.

    • michelle April 5, 2011, 2:13 pm

      Letting my routine make the decisions is one of the most appealing things about having one right now. Knowing that the big jobs are scheduled in lets me be more spontaneous about what we do with the rest of our time. It’s controlled spontaneity, to be sure, but fun nonetheless.

      Could you have different versions of a routine for different days? A preschool-day routine and a no-preschool routine, for example?

  • mumsyjr March 31, 2011, 7:00 am

    Oh wow, this post comes at a great time for me. I’m in this limbo period between undergrad and grad school, and now that you have inspired me to look at the routines and schedules we have, I am seeing how much they have revolved around making the time for me to study, while satisfying my daughter’s intense need for mega quantities of one-on-one time. Except now, both those needs have diminished, while new needs have arisen…which explains why I have been struggling so hard to find the rhythm for our daily fandango…the beat changed and I didn’t notice.

    • michelle April 5, 2011, 2:17 pm

      That is one of the biggest parenting challenges, in my experience – trying to keep up with children’s ever changing needs and abilities while still paying attention to my own changing needs and abilities! Have you figured out a new routine that works a bit better?

      • mumsyjr April 5, 2011, 5:06 pm

        We are definitely still working on it! And I do mean “we”. One thing that’s helping me move this process along is involving her in it, by asking for her opinions and giving some of the choices to her (“we are practicing piano two days a week, but you can pick which two days”), and giving her space to throw in her ideas as they come (one of which was taking a “walk”- she rides her bike- every evening before I start dinner if the weather is nice…it was a really good idea).

  • Dawn April 3, 2011, 9:36 am

    I quite like our schedule lately. It’s evenly about classes, visiting friends, family and doing drop ins. I realise that we can’t go overboard with classes for Cayden. 2 classes a week (right now it’s Capoeira and swimming) is all our schedule can handle. We once did 4 classes a week for a month and it was insane. I had all the grandparents mad at me since we had no time to see them.
    With the weather getting nicer I’m finding us just outside in the yard for hours and hours while we garden and play. I’m not used to this though, because when I look at the time it’s usually after 5pm and I had no plans for dinner.
    I think I need to re-do some meal ideas that have a spring theme, sine I’m still making lots of wintery dishes, soups etc.
    And then, I look towards our September’s schedule (when we officially start hs too) and it seems like already our schedule is packed. How does this happen?
    DL twice a week class, Forest kinder once a week, circus school, swimming, PLUS seeing friends/family, any drop ins, and then going to places like the library, Science World, the farm…hmmm it seems like a lot.

    • michelle April 5, 2011, 2:15 pm

      I’ve found the same thing lately – it feels like it’s been 2pm for ages, except that it’s actually 4:30!