A busy mom’s day is filled with chaos and motion. Always on the go, if not physically, then mentally. Always worrying about what needs to be done next. Let me show you how a principle from big business can work to make your life more peaceful and productive.
Standard Operating Procedures for your home
If you have ever worked for a larger company or corporation, they probably ran by Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Even smaller companies can benefit from this practice, but not all small companies know or even understand what an SOP is. They may have been called something else, but they were there, helping run the business efficiently.
Let me share a definition from a technical manual explaining what an SOP is:
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity followed by an organization.
Okay, you say, that may sound good, but how does that apply to me in home, in my business and my work?
Your home and life can benefit from a set of Standard Operating Procedures as well! There are actually multiple areas that this could cover, but in this post I am going to focus on how routines will help you get more done in a day.
In the defintition above, the first thing stand out to me is that this is a routine that is written down. And I am sure they didn’t just pull their SOP from a hat, it took a little time and effort to develop them. And this is what I am encouraging you to do. But first, le’s see what happens when there are no SOPs in a home.
A typical daily “non-routine” in many American households
Mom’s alarm goes off at 6 am. “Aw, man,” she says to herself, I SO should’ve gone to bed earlier than 1 am!” She punches her husband and hit the snooze. And she hits it 3 more times before she realizes it is now 6:30! She hops from the bed, tiptoes past the baby’s room, and wakes her 5 and 7 year old. “Hurry, hurry, you’ll miss the bus, get up NOW!
She goes back and punches her husband again and reminds him he is going to get stuck in traffic if he doesn’t hurry. She pees, throws on some sweats, back to the kids’ room and of course they are still in bed. “GET UP NOW! I do not want to have to drive you to school because you wouldn’t get outta bed!”
Her yelling has now woke up her 2 year old, who of course wants in on all the commotion and begs to “get out”! She picks him up, plants a quick kiss on his forehead and runs to the kitchen. She cleans out coffee pot and makes the coffee and then pulls out a box of cereal and 3 bowls.
The big boys come racing into the kitchen, chasing one another. They sit at the table and then proceed to whine because “they don’t want that kind of cereal!” She tells them, “Fine! Go get what you want”, and of course they come back to the table with the sugariest kind they could find. She quickly pours milk in their bowls. Coffee is done, so she grabs a cup for herself and then pours one for hubby to go. By now it is 7 am.
The bus comes in 10 mintues. She realizes that she did not go through the school folders last night so she asks the boys where their bookbags are. They look at her and in unison say, with a shrug of the shoulders, “I dunno”. Great! So she looks in the familyroom, their bedrooms and then she remembers they must still be in the van! So, out into the garage she scurries to get the bookbags, digs through and finds anything that needs to be signed.
She looks at the clock, it is 7:08. “Honey! You are gonna be late!” she yells down the hall. And without taking a breath, she looks at the boys and says, “You’re done! Bus will be here any second! Up, up! Here’s your bookbags! Love you, bye!” And she sends them scurrying out the door, barely catching the bus. And as they climb the bus stairs, she realizes they both have bedhead.
She turns around, grabs her cup of coffee, sits down at the table and sighs. Her day is just beginning and she is exhausted already.
Now, I could keep going here, but I don’t want this to be a saga. I am sure many of you have had similar mornings. And as you read it, you can probably see some of the things that could’ve been planned better. It’s always easy to look at someone else’s life and do that.
I encourage you take a look at your own “non-routine” routines and see where you need to make some changes to implement your own Standard Operating Procedures. Think ahead to issues and things that need to be taken care of and put them in your plan.
Without going through the exhausting morning rush again, let’s look at some things a mom could have done differently.
Let’s start with the day before.
- When kids get home from school, part of the “How was your day? routine” should include looking in bookbags, praising or encouraging them about their work, and signing any papers, placing back in bookbag. Once homework is done, bookbags go by the door, on hooks hung just for this purpose.
- If you have a coffee pot with a timer, make this part of your evening routine. Wash the coffee pot and set for 6 am.
- Turning the computer off earlier will help you get in bed earlier which will make the whole day go better. (even an hour can make a BIG difference) I am just as guilty as most of you, although I have really tried to do better and actually go to bed when hubby does. Although I may or may not be horizontal tweeting, as Scott Stratten calls it.
- Either get up when the alarm goes off, or set it earlier so a snooze or 2 won’t throw you off. Wake your husband. Jump in and get a quick shower, and get dressed for the day. At least in jeans and a decent shirt. It will make you feel better, I promise!
- Tell hubby that you will not keep having to wake him repeatedly, he needs to get up on his own, he’s a big boy.
- Because you woke early, you have time to gently wake the boys. Help them get up by talking about their day. Oh, and their clothes? Have them pick them out the night before.
- Get your cup of coffee and sit for 5 minutes to enjoy the quiet.
- When the kids arrive in the kitchen at 6:40, ask them what they would like from the 3 choices that they already know about and are approved. It could be waffles, a specific cereal or yogurt. Expand, but limit, the choices.
- Going by their morning routine chart, the boys know they are to brush their hair and teeth. Mom has time to help them with their hair. They grab their bookbags as they head out the door to wait for the bus.
- And the hubby? He comes in the kitchen at 6:50, gets his coffee, kisses everyone, and heads out, on time.
This post has gotten long, so I will write a follow up post next week. For now though, I want you to think about how you can establish some Standard Operating Procedures in your house. When everyone knows what is expected and what to expect, things will run smoother. Not perfectly, but it definitely will help! And when things run smoother, guess what? You will be able to get more done in a day!
Do you have routines in place in your home already?