I sat down earlier today to work on my much-neglected bullet journal. I hadn’t really visited it for a couple of weeks because Hurricane Harvey kind of threw our schedules for a loop. Kids were out of school, I wasn’t on a project, my husband was getting ready to travel, and a lot of our routines were just shot. It was basically a working parent nightmare.
One thing that did save us just the tiniest bit was making sure that our nightly routine stayed relatively intact. Relatively being an operative word. Even when our days were a little hectic and topsy-turvy, there was a little comfort in knowing that our nightly routine, including snuggling with them and reading to them at the end of the day, would stay pretty close to the same. This was also exceptionally helpful when school reopened, and we slowly eased back into our regularly scheduled programming.
Being Type A with Type B tendencies means that I like the idea of routines, but I may not always be the most precise in the execution (I apologize to my husband… a little). But, no matter how I slice it, I noticed that having routines is better for my kids. When you have two parents who like to understand the rulebook and play by it, it’s really not surprising! Through them, I could see that when the normal boundaries are there, they can sense this safety net that allows them to flourish and bounce around within those protected walls.
And believe me, they did a lot of bouncing when our routine went out the window.
As a working parent, I also find it incredibly helpful to have this framework of our nightly routine sketched out. In case anything changes during the week, like my husband traveling, for example, we have this outline to help keep us on track. And normally, this nightly routine is a mental checklist that I can keep a tally of very quickly in my head.
Have the kids eaten dinner? Check.
Are their lunch kits packed and in the fridge? Check.
Do I have the homework folder or library book or nap mat or permission slip packed in the backpack? Check.
Do I have everything that I need for work already laid out? Working on it…
But invariably, as I go through the list, there’s always something that I miss. Something that slips. One week, I left my kindergartner’s goggles at home for swimming lessons (which I try really hard not to do, especially when purchasing a new pair of goggles at her swimming lessons often comes with a heftier-than-I’d-like-to-pay price tag). Another week, I forgot to pack her library book, and things were not super pretty when she was the lone kid who couldn’t take home a new book that week.
Side note: I’ll forget other stuff at home for either my son or me and it’s not just my daughter that gets the short end of the stick… she just happened to have the most noteworthy examples.
So keeping this mental tally wasn’t really cutting it. Obviously. And I would normally plan this out in my bullet journal, but maybe I left it in the car or maybe I didn’t want to clutter up a page with what all we do… which leads me to think about the folks who may not be super into bullet journaling (or super great like me remembering their bullet journal). Maybe they like another type of planner. Maybe they like printables!
So what does any good working parent do? She turns it into a checklist. That’s also a printable.
Because, obviously, why not?
I thought through what made for a successful nightly routine for us, and I started to see similar patterns arise. We all had to eat dinner, either something that we cooked at home or something that we called an audible on and ate at Chipotle (or if we’re super fancy, a delivery service like Amazon Restaurants because we’re living the dream). We all would get our clothes ready for tomorrow, in part so we don’t have to deal with the I have nothing to wear! debate. We all had to find some way to decompress and wind down at the end of the day, which also gives us a great chance to reconnect with each other without all of the external noise and mishegoss.
And the more I thought about it, the more I liked seeing the breakdown of each task by the person who needed to accomplish it. Because let’s face it, who knows when these tasks will actually get accomplished? Sometimes lunches are packed right after we eat dinner. Other nights, lunches get packed while one parent bathes the kids. Some nights, I wake up at 2 am and realize I haven’t packed the lunches and trudge downstairs to rummage through the fridge and see what I could possibly send with them.
But back to the subject at hand, the nightly routine checklist actually became something that I really needed and looked forward to. It also doesn’t hurt that there may even be a little science to back up the idea that checking things off of a list makes us feel good.
Hence, the creation of the working parent’s nightly routine checklist. I thought through what are common tasks for us as a family with young children and compiled them into one printable checklist that you can use.
Not into printing the same page over and over? Don’t worry. I have a great solution for that! You can always pop this checklist into a picture frame and use dry erase markers to check off what you’ve accomplished and write out what you need to tackle tomorrow. When you’re all done and done, just wipe the glass clean and start over again. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
I hope this working parent’s nightly routine checklist is helpful for you and your family! What all do you do as part of your nightly routines? Weigh in below!