4 Steps to Creating Routines in Chaos

Routines have been on the forefront of my mind lately. My husband is about to have knee surgery next week. I thought it would be no big thing (denial in full force here) but after he met with the surgeon we found out that he would be in a straight-leg brace and on crutches for 2-3 weeks. So, now it’s legitimately a big thing and I’ve been just a little bit stressed about it. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’ve been making lists daily of everything we need to do before his surgery to ensure the house is in order, the Christmas decorations are up, and the fridge is full. I make lists for him as well (he may not love this) and then he starts to become just a little stressed out.

Part of what is so stressful is that this surgery is going to shift our established routine into a new, temporary routine while he is home from work for two months recovering. You see, I’m really good at creating routines and pretty terrible at being flexible. In my mind, I live my life according to the “c’est la vie” philosophy. In reality, I love to be in control. The struggle is real.

Alas, this is the reality of a #solopreneur and #mompreneur who runs a lifestyle business. So, I’ve been evaluating our routines and embracing the fact that I won’t really know what our temporary routine is going to look like until my husband has the surgery and I can assess what kind of support he is going to need. At the bare minimum, I’ll know I’ll be taking on all of the household chores, driving, and care of our puppy and toddler for a few weeks – in addition to serving my clients and running my business.

In my most recent blog post, I shared with all of you my morning routine and how transformational that has been in my life. As promised, I’m following up that post with a few more insights about creating routines that work for you, your life and your business. Even in the midst of changing and unknown circumstances routines can continue to be created.

"Routines allow for a sense of structure and predictability that everyone can lean into and depend on – no matter what is happening around us.

Sometimes, these routines may need to be adjusted to accommodate for life but, in the end, having a plan will help you to feel better about the day and

week ahead and leads to a greater sense of optimism."

-Vanessa Anne

So, then, the real question becomes – How do I create a routine in the midst of chaos?

I should probably also give a little more insight into how I define chaos. For me, chaos is anything that is random, unexpected or deviates from the norm. Change and transitions are a form of chaos.

Step #1: Write down your current routine (even if you’ve never intentionally set a routine, just write down what you do in a typical day). Even though I have this written as a schedule, I don’t aim to have routines dictated by time as much as by flow.On a typical weekday, this is what our daily flow looks like…

5:45 AM – Wake-Up + Feed Dog + Grace & Joy Routine

6:00 – 7:00 AM Client Work

7:00 – 7:15 AM – Little L Wakes Up + Get Dressed

7:15 – 7:45ish – Read Books on Couch + Drink Milk (Little L) & Coffee (ME!)

7:45ish – Start Making Breakfast + Quiet Play Time (Puzzles or Blocks)

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM – Eat Breakfast

8:30 – 9:00 AM – Clean-Up Breakfast + Morning Chores

9:00 – 10:00 AM – Focused Play + Learning Time with Little L

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM – Open Block

(If I need to work during this space, Lyla watches a show. If I don’t need to work, we play some more, take a walk, go outside, run errands, etc.)

11:30ish – Lunch + Clean-Up + Read Books

12:30 ish – 3:00 ish – Lyla Naps + I Work

My husband is home from work most days by 3:15. I usually keep working until about 4. Then, we move into our nightly routine of dinner, playtime, and bedtime.

Other than a punctuation for gymnastics once a week and the occasional playdate. This is pretty standard for us. We keep our lives simple and slow but this gives Little L needs the space she needs to grow and play and the space I need to serve my clients and manage my business.  

Step #2: Determine what parts of your routine can stay the same in the midst of your chaos. For me, this means that my morning routine can stay as is. This isn’t going to be impacted by our current circumstances. If you need a refresher on my morning routine or what to implement a similar one, check it out here. Little L’s nap time will also remain the same. However, what I do during her nap time may have to shift. Pretty much everything else will be up for grabs right now until after surgery.

Step #3: Focus on your mindset. For me, this looks like setting a relevant, weekly affirmation during my morning routine that I write on a white board in my kitchen that I say out loud multiple times throughout the day and anytime I’m feeling anxious or stressed.

Step #4: As you begin each day, follow your “normal” routine as much as possible, accommodating where you need to and as you need to. Each time you deviate, keep coming back to your routine and pick-up where you left off and assess what the ONE thing is you MUST DO and then let the other things go for now. During times of chaos, we focus on the MUSTS (I must make sure my husband takes his pain meds on time.)

During chaos, our bodies need extra time to rest. So, once all of the MUST DO’s are taken care of, take a moment to sit, breathe and do ONE THING that is restorative to you and possible in your current circumstance. For me, that might look like taking a bath after Little L goes to bed or having a glass of wine with dinner. It might even help if you write down a list of self-care ideas that you can stick on the fridge or mirror so that you don’t even have to think about it, you just pick the one on the list that sounds good and is possible.

The chaos won’t last forever. The change will take place. The transition will become complete. My husband will return to work following his surgery.

Throughout this season (however long or short it may be) continually ask yourself what you need and find ways to have those needs met as much as possible. If you have someone else going through this season with you, check-in with them to ask them how they are doing and what they need. Offer what you can and feel free to say no to the things you can’t do.

As a BONUS STEP, be sure to ASK FOR HELP! Be vulnerable and let others know what you need. For me, that looked like asking for meals so I could cut-down on cooking. I love to cook but I’ve found that to be one of the more difficult tasks to do with a toddler running around the house. I also asked my parents to keep Little L and our puppy the day before, day of and day after my husband’s surgery to help us prepare and for me to gain an idea of what he was going to need without having to attend to their needs as well.

How do you handle chaos in your life? I’d love to hear from you what your best piece of advice is for staying calm and carrying on?

C’est la vie.