Saturday, March 3, 2012

On Routines...

G started a new project at work this work. He was chatting with a colleague about how chaotic it all seemed right now, but that the days would soon fall into a routine. They both simultaneously sighed  "I LOVE routine!"

As a parent, routines are a must. Experts say that kids thrive on routine and it definitely seems true for ours. Sleep, food, exercise, and downtime--all of these things are necessary at certain times of day and without them kids get cranky and overwhelmed.

I've noticed, though, that I thrive on routine just as much as my children. This is why weekends overwhelm & stress me sometimes---we wake up Saturday morning, and though we have a list of things we want and need to do, we don't always have a game plan as to how and when they will happen. G, though he says he "loves routine" , is actually quite resistant to making plans.  In fact, I feel like I'm nagging when I ask him repeatedly to sit down and plan the day (this JUST happened, I went down and asked him what he wanted to get done, told him my list, and then asked..."so how should we do it"...and he sighed and said "I don't know, just take a shower now and we'll figure it out").

I think the words "schedule" and "order" can be off-putting to some people. It sounds very forced and unnatural...totalitarian and strict. Kind of "we run a tight ship around here."

Replace those words with "rhythm" and "routine", and you get a whole different, much more organic and natural, feel to essentially the same concept.  The days have a natural rhythm---incorporating your body's and household's needs as well as allowing time for relaxation and socialization.

But that requires an explicit or implicit schedule that everyone is on board with. Being PRO-active instead of RE-active and just running around dealing with whatever comes up and feeling like we can't get ahead and then the day is over and we haven't done anything truly fun. If we sit down together and decide what we will do when, we can move through our day without arguing multiple times about what to do, all the must-dos will be done, and we can look forward to the fun activities that we planned. When I know what to expect I am not anxious. When I know when the tasks need to be done, I can do them without feeling overwhelmed.

I think I'll go downstairs and nag again...I need to know what's ahead of me today!


  1. I completely hear you re: the routines, the nagging, the husband who won't make plans....

    What happens if you just tell G, "Ok we need to get XYZ done today, so why don't you do X, and then while you're doing them, I'll do Y and Z."

    It works with Luca. I still have to nag, "Honey, are you doing X yet, or are you checking your email AGAIN???" but it's better than not following the routine, and not getting everything done.

  2. I truly began to appreciate the value of routine after g was born. I feel like the bulk of my efforts during his infancy went towards putting a good routine in place (that first year will get you - as soon as you think you have it down, the baby changes).

    Parenthood has really taught me this lesson. I was one of those fly by the seat of your pants types before. Now I recognize that the value of routine extends way beyond taking care of kids. It really helps to get things done.


  3. I applaud even as I realize I forgot to feed my child lunch today. (But it's the housecleaning Saturday of the month, so I have some excuse.) We used to have the same...tenseness...about weekends because I always wanted to make sure we accomplished the necessary crud as efficiently as possible and felt like my husband was always trying to weasel out of things so he could watch soccer... Now we do as you suggest--over coffee we each express how we'd like our day to go and figure out a good plan. True, there are still sometimes adolescent sighs of discontent, but it's better.

    Someone whose parenting advice I actually tend to trust once suggested that rather than thinking of a child's schedule you think of it as a rhythm, which I totally loved. Rhythm! There's nothing threatening about that, is there?