Sometimes routine is a good thing, it gives the day a sense of order, creates a rhythm, and with that a sense of direction. Other times, routine is like a cage that you desperately want to escape. It becomes monotonous and suffocating, leaving you feeling like a slave to its repeat happenings. When I became a Mom the advice centered around routines was plenty, some of it helpful, some of it not so much. A nap schedule and bedtime routine did make my life, and my daughter’s attitude much more pleasant; but, sometimes that routine is broken, and that’s okay.
Yet to this day my favorite piece of advice is this, “Remember, you are in control, not them (the kids)” Ha! Isn’t that great? Since when? My daughter is totally in control of me and my routine. As a Stay-At-Home Mom I am blessed with the opportunity to be flexible, daily. My routine varies, and that all depends on my daughter. Some mornings we sleep in until 8:00, other mornings we are up at 5:00. Some nights we sleep sound, other nights our sleep is wildly interrupted with multiple wake-ups. Some days we like all the food on our plate, other days the dogs get lots of treats. Don’t get me wrong, we do have order. Following waking-up we regularly make and eat breakfast. Naps usually happen between 11:00 and 11:30, followed by lunch, and bedtime is always aimed for between 7:00 and 7:30. I do put my foot down, and naps are taken even when my little one thinks they are unnecessary (which looks like a chorus of assertive “no’s” followed by a sound snore). If you talk to my husband, you will quickly learn that I even have a cleaning routine; it involves the smell of vinegar and sweeping, mopping, and more sweeping. What can I say? A clean house makes me feel at peace (although I often think I may lose my mind trying to keep it clean).
Routines have their place, they serve a worthy purpose. They keep our days moving, and our minds active. They are good for me on a number of levels. We have certain groups and playdates that we attend on certain days and although I don’t attend every time, getting in the routine of going often gets me out of the house rather than allowing myself to stay in and go mad within the confines of my own doors. Getting out even when I am so tempted to stay in is often the push the day needs to be a good one.
Then there are days when getting out is just plain hard. Maybe it is because getting my daughter dressed was a full-body workout. Maybe yogurt hit the floor and splattered when I tried to put it in the fridge while looking the other direction, or maybe staying home just sounds nice. These are the days when routines get placed on a shelf and flexibility is welcomed with open arms and a sigh of relief, because routines are not what make the world go round. Staying home from playgroup means putting up a tent in the house and having a morning picnic inside. Postponing bedtime means more laughs with Daddy, and letting go of the cleaning routine, means more one-on-one time with the people who matter the most. Sometimes we want to hang out with our family not our routine, if you know what I mean. Routines often need to be broken, and trying to stick to them can cause more harm than good.
You are never really in control anyway, so rather than lose control, just let it go. On the days when the snow falls, the cold is bitter, and cabin fever sets in, find that routine that gets you out anyway, and then break it for hot coco, snuggles, and a day in. When the luxury is there, choose your routines wisely and apply them only when necessary. After all, aren’t you the one who created them to start with?