Get a Chef, a Maid and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

The following post comes to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Kat.

Would you like more time in your day? Would you like to stop nagging your children to do their chores? Would you like a more peaceful home with less effort?

Effective daily routines can make it all possible.

The Power of Routine

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” Planning and creative thinking allows us to do more with less time and less effort.

Successful people subscribe to the power of routine. Whether it’s an athlete going through her workout routine or a business woman who has developed a process that allows her company to run even in her absence. Every successful business and organization has time tested and finely tuned routines and processes. If we want to be effective and intentional mothers, we need to create systems that work for us.

Taking the time to develop a routine frees up our time and our brains. We can use our routines to easily delegate responsibilities to others and teach our children. Or we can create routines so that our brain power can be focused on other activities like listening to an audiobook, a podcast or our favorite music while we do our chores.

Here are 3 key routines that will reduce your stress and increase your free time.

Get A Chef – Routines for Meals

We have all heard how helpful meal planning can be, but the process of creating all the menus and shopping lists can be quite daunting. For many, it’s hard to stick it out long enough to see the payoff.

The truth about meal planning is that you don’t have to do it every single week. The key is to create 8-12 plans and then just rotate them.

All you need to do is take 1 hour each week to plan your meals. Create your recipe and shopping list and save it on your computer. After 6-8 weeks, you’ll be able to cut your weekly meal planning time by 90% because rather than having to do a full meal plan each week, you can simply grab one you’ve already created and head to the store.

Another option is to have a meal planning party. Invite 8-12 friends over and have each of them prepare a week’s worth of simple, healthy, tasty meal recipes and a corresponding categorized shopping list. Ask them to bring 1 copy for everyone in attendance. At the party you’ll all exchange meal plans/shopping lists and you’ll leave with two to three months worth of meal plans that you can rotate. Voila.

Get A Maid – Routines for Cleaning

Some people clean best in one weekly spurt. Others do it best little by little. The first step is to decide which method works for you. Then write out your cleaning schedule. It may seem silly to write down that you’ll mop the floor on Thursday or dust on Tuesday, but the process of writing down those simple tasks releases your brain to think about other things rather than keep track of the minutiae of cleaning. The more tasks you can get out of your head and into a schedule, the less stressed you’ll be.

First, list the specific chores that make the biggest impact on the peacefulness and presentation of your home. Then highlight the areas of your house that need the most focus.

Too often when cleaning, we get stuck on the task and lose sight of the big picture. For example, we might need to clean the master bathroom and because we have all the bathroom cleaning supplies out, we take the time to clean ALL the bathrooms. In reality, though, that half bath RARELY gets used and doesn’t need to be cleaned at all and that extra 15 minutes could have been used more effectively.

So when creating our cleaning routine, it’s important to really sit down and think about the chores that will have the biggest impact so that we can focus our time and energy accordingly.

With this list in hand, create a core cleaning chart for the day, week, month, quarter and year.

Yes, it will take some time initially (30 minutes to an hour), but it will save you MUCH more time in the long run.

Get A Nanny – Routines for Your Children

This is the set of routines that have helped me the most. I have three young children and directing all of them towards going to school or getting ready for bed can often leave me longing for the peaceful bliss of working the Air Traffic Control tower at LaGuardia Airport on Christmas Eve while all the power is out. Blindfolded.

My children relied on me to direct and motivate them. And it took every ounce of patience I had. And more.

But then (cue skies parting, sun shining down and angels singing) I simply created a chart that walks them through their routines. Now they have discovered the joy of checking things off a list, accomplishing chores and feeling less like puppets and more like grown ups.

Word Of Caution

Just as a hired cook, maid or nanny should not come into your home and disrupt your family or negatively affect your relationships, we need to make sure our routines work for us and not let them control us. Introduce routines in a positive way. Make it fun and exciting and ALWAYS put your relationships above the routine. Be flexible.

Action Step

Mark off a 3-5 hour block of time on your calendar this week (or use your weekly planning retreat time) to work on creating your routines.


When we feel overwhelmed, routines provide a simple way to find our footing again. Routines can literally free up HOURS each week and help you create the warm, peaceful home you desire. It does take time to plan them, but the reward in the long run is well worth it.

What tips do you have to share for creating effective routines?

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat and her husband Jimmy live the great state of Texas and have 3 children ages 7, 5 and 2. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.

About Kat

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat and her husband Jimmy live the great state of Texas and have 3 children ages 7, 5 and 2. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.

41 Responses to Get a Chef, a Maid and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

  1. Becky November 12, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Best routine I ever did- run the dishwasher every night before bed, whether it’s full or not, and then empty it every morning. This allows me to fill it throughout the day and keep the dirty dishes out of my sink and off the counters and table! Seriously, this has helped more than anything! Second best routine- take out the trash every other day (or every 2 days), whether it’s full or not. This helps me to keep the house smelling fresh, and I’m not putting it off until I can not possibly cram in one more molecule of trash lol.

  2. Cleaning Service San Francisco January 14, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    It’s truly a nice and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Tammie April 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    That's so funny as I was reading this post I noticed this! “have each of them prepare a week’s worth of simple, healthy, tasty meal recipes” I have a recipe blog for a second I thought you were talking about my blog. I thought there maybe was even a link! ;) I do hear you about the menu planning though I have been finally trying it myself and I can see how it will save me so much time once completed! In fact it is already saving me time!

  4. Erin April 13, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    What a wonderful article, thank you! Can I repost it on my blog? I do a weekly post called Wednesdays Ways to Save and would love to guest post this article on an upcoming Wednesday, even as early as this week. Please let me know. And thanks for your encouragement/tips!

    • Lindsay April 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

      Feel free to reference or link to this post, but it is copyrighted material and cannot be republished in its complete form.

  5. Lisa April 12, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Wow! This is great. I have been trying to do this in my own home to get more free time. I found that it was working. But then when I asked my husband to help out the months that I didn't get out of work until late, he said that all the organizing and planning I was doing stemmed from me having OCD and that helping would be enabling me in my illness – so he didn't want to help. Please pray, everyone…please pray that the Lord will give me wisdom and even love in this tuff situation. I feel angry – not love.

    • AC June 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

      Well, I’m taught that men will do things “their way” and if we accept that, there’s peace. Good luck.

  6. agodlyhomemaker April 11, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    i loved this post!! thanks!

  7. Meggan April 11, 2010 at 1:46 am #

    I'm curious how old kids need to be to be able to follow a chart? I have a 2 year old who I'd love to do this with, but do you think she could get it?

    • Chantal Moir February 3, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      It may work if you use pictures that your child can associate with tasks and such.

  8. Susan April 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! I'm starting to potty train my son and one tip I picked up from my reading is how important the routine is to help him learn. I'm looking forward to making more routines so I won't feel so overwhelmed with him, my baby, my husband and house to take care of.

    Also, I hadn't made master lists of menus (great idea by the way!) but I had started making grocery lists from There you just choose the meals you want to make and it compiles a shopping list for you. Print and you're off! It's a great time saver.

  9. Lindsey @ The Herbangardener April 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Awesome post! I love it; I think I'll implement the cleaning strategy. I think that'll make the biggest difference in my state of mind, since a dirty house seems to affect my psyche more than I'd like!
    And listening to audio books while cleaning is a trick I'd forgotten about! Thanks for the reminder.

  10. clownbreeder April 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Encouraging to keep at it and organize some more to save time and get more done, thanks!

  11. Jen April 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I so need this. Last week was soooo busy for me and then the weekend. The house got so far past the point of return it feels like. When the house gets like this I feel like I can't do anything. I get so irritable and don't know where to start. I would love to see a sample idea of your schedules for yourself and the kiddos. Thanks for all you guys do!!

  12. simpleinfrance April 8, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    We live in the South East–currently in a town called Gap, although we'll be moving a little farther south in the next few months. How funny that your husband's family is from France (and your husband too?) A lot of bloggers I 'meet' have a French connection of some kind.

  13. Gabrielle April 8, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    Love, love, LOVE this post. Like the previous commenter said, I often feel like the odd woman for doing meal planning on a regular basis, but peace is incredibly important to our family, so I don't want to figure out what's for dinner at 4 pm! It's good to see other like-minded women!

    I really appreciate the tips on routines for children. We just have a 15 month old, so I'll be keeping this in mind as she gets older. Thanks!

  14. Reini April 8, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    I love the idea of having a meal planning party! Unfortunately, I seem to be the only wife in town who fixes a regular menu plan…”So WHAT are you doing? Writing out a menu and planning a week ahead? No, that CANNOT save you money, can it?” Thankfully, there are Lindsay and other mommy bloggers who post their scrumptious recipes :-)
    I created a list of my hubby's favorite meals (and mine, too, for there is more than roasts and pizzas) to simplify my weekly meal planning.
    BTW, I am hosting a German homekeeping blog which is called “Hausfrau aus Leidenschaft” – that means – guess what – passionate homemaker!

  15. katinspiredtoaction April 8, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Yes, I love how routines and charts minimize the questions and increase our children's sense of independence.

  16. katinspiredtoaction April 8, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    “Discipline and routine (mixed with joy and flexibility) are a mother's best friend! “

    I think you've summed it all up right there. :-)

  17. katinspiredtoaction April 8, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    You're more than welcome. It's so encouraging to to hear great stories like yours. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Diana April 8, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    Love this post! I follow your inspired to action blog and have really been working on building routines for the sake of my little one, but I have realized how it helps anyone at any stage of life. I recently posted a little note in each room that dictates what needs to be done in there daily, weekly, and monthly. It's a big step for me. I am new to routines overall, but I am determined to make this work! I'm truly thankful to you and Lindsey for your blogs.

  19. mmmomx2 April 8, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    I have our routine posted on a big chart, on the fridge. It is actually listed by time, but my kids enjoy having such strong structure. I never hear anymore “Can I have screen time?” or “when do I have to do chores?” I just tell them to read the chart. Even though my 5 year old isn't reading yet, he can still read the chart! It makes for a more peaceful day!

  20. Kristy Howard April 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    I LOVED this post! I have felt SO overwhelmed the past few weeks… I am just coming out of several months of miserable pregnancy sickness and fatigue, and had fallen so far behind in housework, homemaking, and routines in general. I asked the Lord to forgive me for allowing myself to become so frustrated, then began to prayerfully focus on true priorities. With the Lord's help, I am happy to say our home is running smoothly, our 3 young children are pleasant and cheerful again, chores are being done, and I actually have more “free” time to rest, read, or spend with the Lord during the day.

    Discipline and routine (mixed with joy and flexibility) are a mother's best friend!

    Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

  21. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    “And routines and clear expectations make kids more independent which is great for their self esteem too.”

    So true.

    Where in France do you live? My husband's family is from Verdun.

  22. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    That whole site looks like it's filled with useful info. I'll have to dig into it later today. Thanks!

  23. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!

  24. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    I'm SO glad you find this post and the ebook inspiring and useful. Have fun planning!

  25. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I'll be doing monthly posts here, so perhaps my next one can be on kids routines and I'll try to put together some helpful charts too.

  26. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    It's really amazing how much time 30 minutes of planning can save. Thanks for commenting!

  27. katinspiredtoaction April 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    I'm glad you liked the idea. I hope you get lots of great recipes from your party!

  28. Jessica April 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    A meal planning party?!?! GENIUS!! I already emailed over a dozen friends to see if they'd like to do one the end of this month :)

  29. Cathy U. April 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    In the past you posted your winter menus. Are you planning to post your spring menus? I have found your ideas very helpful for my family.

  30. grgramb April 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    As always, well done! Wish I could find that spot in the first picture. Than sure is peaceful! luv you

  31. Shawn April 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    An excellent reminder of how a little planning can change our lives!

  32. jessica April 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    love this theme! would love much more on the kid routine part! details and ideas of specifics (esp when they aren't big enough to read). I did try a “chore” chart but it quickly fell by the wayside… (my kids are 5, 3 1/2, and 2)

  33. shannonhazleton April 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    This is so helpful… I'm going to sit down with my notebook TODAY and work on this. I also downloaded “Maximize Your Mornings” a few days ago, and I've been reading through that, and making preparations to get up early and put a morning routine into action. Again, thanks so much.

  34. mandikaake April 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Wonderful post! Thank you so much for this lovely article. So very true in everything it has to say.

  35. torgy33 April 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    A wonderful book to help you in this area is called “Managers of Their Homes” It is an excellent book and VERY useful! It helps you plan out your daily routine with your chores and with your kids.

    • Lindsay April 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

      Yes, my mom used this while we were growing up and she loved it!

  36. simpleinfrance April 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Oooh, great post! I used to be a teacher, so I know that unless you want to spend every minute directing behavior, you NEED A ROUTINE–and also probably a written communication of that routine for the kiddos. I don't have kids yet, but when I hear about people being driven to exhaustion by 2-3 of them when I used to work with 100 a day. . .well, I know that they are probably doing things the hard way.

    And routines and clear expectations make kids more independent which is great for their self esteem too.