Happiness is well within your reach and can be achieved through intentional actions and everyday routines. Here are a few principles that will help parents live a joyful life one routine at a time.

By Ashley Brown
April 02, 2021
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Credit: Illustration: Yeji Kim.

Living a happy, joy-filled life is possible. The problem is we often look for happiness to be given to us by loved ones or through temporary pleasures. And as parents, we often put other people's happiness before our own. But there are ways to find happiness within (and we should never feel guilty about focusing on ourselves!). A good place to start? Focusing on your routine.

I am a firm believer that routines can put you back in the driver's seat and place happiness within your control. Routines give you the power to make intentional choices, lighten your mental load, and make living with ease attainable. It makes sense why there has been so much focus on maintaining routines throughout the pandemic.

As a mom of two and founder of Routine and Things, a digital platform that offers products and tips to start, maintain, and enjoy routines, here are five ways I encourage others to plan a happier life using routines as a basis.

Get Clear on Your Values

To cultivate a happier life using routines, it all starts with what's important to you. Your values matter and knowing what they are will help you create routines that consistently bring them forward. When your actions align with what matters most to you, you are far more likely to be satisfied with life. To determine what your values are, be sure to avoid comparing yourself to others and instead focus on what is absolutely important for you to feel happy and healthy in your life. If something doesn't align with who you are, don't feel bad about removing it from your life.

Identify Your Needs

To build a routine for a happier life, you must also recognize what you need at this very moment. That could be a personal need, a need for your family, a work need, or any other focus in your life. For some guidance, you can ask yourself which part of your life is causing you the most stress, frustration, or anxiety? Your answer is usually a gut reaction and a clue for where to begin creating a routine to help get things in order. If you're still struggling to decide where to focus your attention, you can check out this free routine assessment to put you on the right track.

Keep it Simple

Starting a complicated routine with too many steps will just be overwhelming and challenging to continue. The solution is to keep your routine as simple as possible. After all, simplicity is key to long-term success. Simplifying the actions or steps involved in your routine will make it easier to maintain and allow you to continue making progress toward the happy life you want to live. For example, a morning routine that includes journaling and meditation is much simpler than a morning routine involving journaling, meditation, reading, planning your day, and exercise.

Get Creative

As parents, we often miss out on opportunities to spark joy in our lives. It's time to change that. No matter which routine you want to start—whether it's one focused on doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen—make it exciting for you. Contrary to popular belief, routines do not have to be a boring means to an end. Spice up your routine by adding elements that will help you spring into action. Consider listening to music or a podcast, talking to your best friend on the phone, lighting a candle, or letting in light during your routine.

Help Yourself Stay on Track

What's the point of starting a routine if it's out the window a few days later? Staying on track is ultimately your key to living a happy life you are proud of. First, it's important to lead with compassion when starting a new routine. You will have moments where things don't go as planned. This is normal and the best way to overcome this is to be kind to yourself—this serves as a beautiful permission slip to start again. Another way to stay on track is by having tangible tools that can assist with your routine. For example, set a reminder on your phone or make a note in your planner. Remember, the best tools are those specific to the routine you're investing in. Think about which ones can help you continue to make consistent progress toward the happiness you desire.