UNBUSYING and Schedules vs. Routines – What’s the Difference?

By Leah McDermott

One of the most common questions I get from my community is “How do you get it all done?” People assume that I’m insanely busy, never sleep, and live on coffee. I mean, as a mama of two, homeschooling, running a business, keeping up with my home, and constantly planning the next family adventure, sure…I’m a busy person. But the secret to getting everything done is that I actually try NOT to be busy. In fact, you might say, I “unbusy” my family’s life as much as possible.

If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that you’re doing – planning healthy meals for your family, keeping track of bills and birthdays, planning learning activities for your kids, making sure you get to appointments and meetings on time, balancing a job, or any of the other thousands of things that parents do…well then you’re right where you need to be!

Here are my tips and tricks for unbusying and getting control of your family’s schedules and routines:

#1 Schedules vs Routines – Let’s get clear on this first. A schedule and a routine are NOT the same thing, so we shouldn’t use those words interchangeably. A schedule is something that is rigid, not flexible, and needs to be adhered to for any success. A schedule is time-strict, meaning you do X at this time, and Y at this time.

Many families who are feeling overwhelmed try to “fix” things by setting a strict schedule, and while they might stick with it for a day or so, it often falls off and they end up right back where they were – overwhelmed, frustrated, and even more hopeless since that didn’t work.

A routine on the other hand, is flexible, changeable, and follows a natural flow and rhythm to your family’s lives. It allows everyone to know what is happening next while still allowing for those random changes and moments that are key to a happy, healthy, and exciting life!

Now, some families will set up a solid routine and attempt to ditch a schedule all together. Unfortunately, this won’t work in the longterm either, as often things like paying bills late or missing important appointments might happen!

To be truly successful, you need BOTH a schedule and a routine. The key is how you balance the two.

Your schedule should be quick and easy to manage and look at, and should involve very little portions of your calendar. The things you schedule are the immovable/unflexible things in your life like doctor’s appointments, important meetings, schedule phone calls or dinner dates, etc. It may even be things that you tend to put off that you need to make a priority like self-care, planning time, and the like.

Your routine then fills all of the gaps in your day. It’s the natural rhythm of your family’s life that, when you pay close attention to it, will be very easy to spot and map out. Things like meals, nap times, play times, reading and activity times, etc. When you are following your family’s natural flow, everything easily falls into place! Trust me.

#2 Unbusying – OK this part is important so pay attention! If your schedule takes up most of your day, you need to do some serious unbusying. You can’t expect to say “yes” to a thousand things and also be able to pay attention to your family’s rhythms and flow. It just won’t happen.

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