When we hear the word “routine,” we think of doing the same things either in the same way, at the same time, or in the same order.  Doesn’t that sound limiting and confining?

Isn’t that the opposite of freedom?

Well . . . it depends on what form of freedom you are referring to.  If you are thinking of the freedom to be spontaneous, the freedom to change your mind, or the freedom to do things how you want and when you want, then yes.  Following a set routine definitely limits those kinds of freedoms.

But routines bring other types of freedom, which (in my opinion) can be far more enjoyable!

I’ll show you what I mean with a quick example . . .

One of my clients (I’ll call her Abby) didn’t love the idea of meal planning.  Instead of being forced to cook what was on the menu, she wanted to wait and see what the family was in the mood for that night. 

Unfortunately, with the freedom of spontaneity comes other limitations.

She was limited by the ingredients available, and those ingredients didn’t always cooperate.  She was also limited by the clock.  Often, she couldn’t use the ingredients available because the prep-work would take too long.  The result?  She usually ended up making something the family was not in the mood for, which is exactly what she was trying to avoid. 

The worst result was how frazzled she felt while cooking.

Abby shared one particularly awful memory . . .  

She had been frantically searching online for a substitute for oregano, while forcing frozen chicken to defrost faster, and wondering whether the wilted broccoli was still okay to eat, when one of her kids came to her with a homework question. 

Before she could stop herself, she had barked at her child to leave her alone!  A immediate pang of regret ran through her, but she couldn’t even stop to apologize.  

Although the dinner struggle didn’t lead to such an extreme response every night, Abby regularly felt the same kinds of frustrations to a lesser degree.

Compare this to Taco Tuesday . . .

A different family I am friends with has tacos for dinner every Tuesday night.  They’ve done it for so long, it has become second nature.  Mom always buys the ingredients on her weekend grocery run, she knows the recipes by heart, and she’s confident that the kids will gobble it up.

Yes, cooking the same meal every Tuesday is limiting in some ways, but mom gets to enjoy so many other kinds of freedom!

She is free from scrambling to decide what to cook.  She is free from worrying whether they have the ingredients or whether there will be enough time.  She is free from children whining about what’s for dinner.

But more importantly, because the work of cooking is easy, mom can relax!

When her son interrupts her with a homework question, she is perfectly comfortable pausing to give him her attention.

Important clarification . . .

I am not suggesting that every family cook the exact same meals every week.  And I am certainly not proposing that every facet of life must be ruled by routine.  I am simply comparing these two dinner scenarios to illustrate how there are freedoms and limitations on both sides of the equation.

The power of a routine lies in its predictability.

By deciding ahead of time, we are free from last minute rushed decisions.  By doing things the same way over and over, we can notice patterns, anticipate difficulties, and find ways to avoid them.

Simply put, routines make life easier.

Since the mission of Home On Purpose is to make your life at home easier, the use of routines is a running theme throughout the program.  Just about every lesson series and instructional guide includes effective strategies for harnessing the power of routines, and enjoying the freedom.

But where the freedom of routine really shines through is in the Guide to a Smooth School Year.

This guide helps you identify and solve the biggest sources of frustration regarding school-life.  You will reflect on past experience, anticipate the specific difficulties your family is most likely to encounter, and discover new approaches for avoiding those difficulties before they begin.

When a typical school-day in a typical week runs smoothly, your whole family will feel the freedom!



Home On Purpose is the home-care division of Practical Family. 

This program is designed to make your home more functional and easier to manage, so you can breathe easy and enjoy life.

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