Daily routines and seasonal rhythms

8 June 2017
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?