8 June 2017

Daily routines and seasonal rhythms

It's been comforting to get back to my regular household routines after a few years of intensive writing. Once established, rhythms and routines help you get through repetitive housework. They reduce procrastination that can take hold of us sometimes and they help us work at the same time and pace as we did yesterday and will do again tomorrow. You don't sit at the kitchen table wondering what you should be doing, or staring at the computer screen with another cup of coffee wondering where the day went. When you have your daily routine worked out, you'll have all your tasks done and still have time to do what you want or need to do - be that sewing, gardening, talking to friends, looking after grandchildren, working in your home business or going out to work.

I don't set specific times for my domestic tasks. Instead, I have a list of things that I want done by a certain time. That works well for me but it's not the only way to do it.  We eat our main meal at midday here so my routine is to have a group of tasks completed before I start making lunch. That includes making the bed, tidying the kitchen, general cleaning, straightening the lounge room and doing the floors. My routine isn't the same every day. It's either that exact list or a variation of it, depending on what needs to be done.

The way to start developing your own routines is to make a short list of what you need to do, either on a daily basis, over the course of a week or month.  A list for a daily routine would probably look something like this:
  • Make the bed
  • Prepare breakfast
  • Prepare lunches for school and work (although this is probably better done the night before)
  • Pack dishwasher and wipe down kitchen benches
  • Prepare the evening meal to go into the slow cooker or remove a meal or frozen meat from the freezer 
  • Load washing machine with one load
Decide how much time you have to carry out everything on your list. I would expect the list above to take about one hour, or you could do what I do and tell yourself everything on the list has to be finished by 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 or 11am.

When you do your list the first time, you may need to make minor adjustments. For instance, if you have a limited amount of time to get through the list and you can't do it all, you could carry out a couple of the tasks the evening before. Things like preparing lunches or preparing the evening meal could be done after dinner the evening before.  Don't be shy in asking the family for help with this. You are not the only person who should be working in your home. This work should be shared.  Teenagers and older primary school children could load the dishwasher, wipe the benches, change their bed linen or load the washing machine. They could probably make their own lunches too.  They might complain when they start all this, particularly if they haven't helped with house work before, but they will grow into the habit of it, just as you will, and it will become easier and just be a part of their day. And believe me, when they grow up, they'll be able to look after themselves and they'll thank you for it.

After the first day, decide what worked and what needs changing. Whatever needs tweaking, do it after that first day so that on day two you have a clear run through.  If you still have problems, keep tweaking so you can do your list in the time you allow yourself.

Often you'll have at least two sets of daily routines - one morning, one evening. When they're established, work out your weekly and monthly routines. Weekly routines will be for cleaning bathrooms, changing bed linen, vacuuming the floor, menu planning etc while monthly routines will help you deal with cleaning the fridge and dishwasher etc.  It you need help creating your lists, there are hundreds of housework lists here. Just make sure your lists cover all the work you need to do and you set realistic time goals.

You can make up short lists for other areas at other times too, and this is especially helpful for seasonal cleaning or on weekends when you need to get through your housework as well as spend time with your family. But start with daily routines first and when you've settled into them, create weekly and monthly lists as well. How do you organise your housework? Do routines work for you?



  1. I have set days for housework and shopping: For example: Monday floors, Tuesday kitchen, Wednesday toilets and basins, Thursday order meat from butcher, Friday pick up meat and freeze, Saturday showers,monthly farmers market and meal planning, Sunday grocery shopping. These tasks are completed by late morning.
    Daily includes beds, washing, ironing, looking after our pets, veggies etc.
    Social get togethers and appointments all in diary and sometimes routines need adjusting.
    The kids soak their school shirts each night, wipe the shower after use, help with the dishes every night, make their beds, keep their rooms and fish tanks clean.........
    I like routines and lists, get everything done and have time to walk, ride my bike, cross stitch and read at some stage every day.
    Also just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your photos.

  2. I love both lists and routines. They keep me from falling apart😁 I'm not sure how I would function without them.

  3. Hello,

    After three years of studying, today is my last day of classes and I am looking forward to getting back to my 'normal' routine or just having time to bake bread, knit and sew. :)

    1. Oh yes, I know how that feels. Congratulations on getting through your classes, Yvonne,. I'm sure you'll enjoy getting back into your routines.

  4. I thrive on routines. In fact, when something interrupts, I have to take a deep breath and LET-IT-GO or else I'd get all irritated. Routines help especially with my time management.

  5. As I take care of my elderly Dad and have to go to him when he lets me know he is up and about my morning often gets disrupted, however there are certain chores I do every day and I tackle them as soon as I can. These chores keep my home looking fresh and clean so that I can welcome company when someone visits, it is a nice feeling to be able to welcome someone in and know your home is presentable, I am still trying to work out a good routine for weekly and monthly chores but the everyday things go like clock work. Judi

  6. i'm hopeless, i got into the habit of not doing housework til it needed doing (depression) & now i have no idea, sure the floors get swept (not very often) & the dishes & clothes get washed but what else do i do? i tried doing lists years ago & just never did them ... hopeless
    i do need to try better though
    great post as usual Rhonda
    those gardens look awesome!
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

    1. Hi Selina. You should start slow to get yourself reestablished. List three things that you know you need to do every morning or afternoon. Things like washing up, preparing ingredients for dinner (or defrosting), sweeping the floor, wiping down the kitchen table and bench, cleaning the stove, making up a shopping list, menu planning - you decide but choose only three things. Do that in your allotted time for three weeks, then add two more things. I am told it takes three weeks to establish a habit, see if it works.
      Depression is a nasty customer so be kind to yourself, take it slow and get back to your housework using small steps. Good luck! xx

    2. thanx Rhonda, i will try that & see how i go, sounds so much simpler when you say it :)) but 2 or 3 things i think i can do
      thanx again

  7. Hello Rhonda from the USA- West Tennessee. I love your blog and have been a follower for years. I have both your books. I pour over them and have really just enjoyed them. I have finally decided to try my hand at soapmaking using your recipe. However, I notice that the measurements are in metric. Do you weigh your ingredients? I don't have a scale and generally metric is not widely used in the US, especially in my area. I have all my ingredients together and hope to work on this Saturday! Thank you. Kim

    1. I'm really pleased you're enjoy the blog and books, Kim. Yes, you have to weigh your ingredients. Here is a conversion site that will convert grams to ounces. Good luck! http://www.metric-conversions.org/weight/kilograms-to-ounces.htm

  8. Rhonda, this is very helpful. I am going to use one of the list ideas from the link you added. As is, I tend to do routine tasks daily, but having a weekly/monthly/yearly schedule will keep me more organized. Thank you for inspiring me. Great pictures too! You have a beautiful home. Cheryl from Washington State

  9. This is very good advice about coping with depression. I already know this but am not practicing it. Thank you for the reminder.

  10. I love a structured daily routine, it helps me be less stressed, knowing I have a handle on my day. In the morning at breakfast, I make a list in my large diary of jobs to be done that day, and when I get from work of an afternoon I get stuck into those jobs before starting dinner. Some days are bigger than others but they balance each other out and by the weekend all the big jobs are done leaving my free time to sew or garden. It works well for me and my home. Have a lovely day.

  11. I too love routines and lists. Because I work outside the home, morning and evening routines on weekdays keep me organized without any stress. At work, lists help me get things done efficiently so I rarely have to bring work home.

  12. Thank you. I think some of my children (and I) would benefit from a more obvious rhythm in the home. This just helped motivate me.


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