When I was still working full-time, with Henry and Charlie in daycare, our weeks played out in a series of predictable steps. Monday through Friday, we got up, got dressed, got fed and got out the door to work. We left work, got home, got fed and got to bed. Weekends played out with the same familiar tasks: random errands, housecleaning and grocery store runs.
If the chain was broken – a to-do went undone – then things would crumble a bit. We’d run out of diapers for daycare or we wouldn’t have what we needed to pack lunches come Monday or we’d have to use milk in our coffee instead of half and half. Tragic stuff, I know. Our schedule was so very rigid and unforgiving. And, have mercy if someone got sick. The wheels would come off the bus.
Imagine my surprise, when after quitting my job to stay at home, I began to miss the routine of full-time employment. Because, at least then, someone got to the grocery store every week. With no set schedule, no established routine, our life felt a little… chaotic. Funny how, when you get what you’ve always wanted, you remember it looking shinier from the other side.
Suddenly, I had the time I had always craved but had trouble organizing it. It was at that point, I realized just how important routine was to our lives. We just simply all do better when we can roughly predict what’s headed our way. When I was working full-time, we had that predictability. In the absence of that, we had to create a new agenda at home. So, you know, the laundry would get done and I wouldn’t forget to feed anyone.
We are now three weeks into the new school year and our little family is once again thriving on the regular routine of life.
Gone are the long – so very long – summer days filled with boredom, infighting and too much television. We have purpose again! And, priorities! And, one night a week set aside for Cub Scouts and another for the library. We swim on Saturdays and take walks every morning. The pantry is stocked and lunchboxes lined up like sentries. Backpacks are emptied and paperwork is Dealt With. Our schedule isn’t as inflexible as it was when I was working full-time but it’s enough to keep the aimless wandering at bay. And, hooray for that!
Henry is handling second grade with aplomb. We revamped our homework approach this year following a first grade filled with entirely too much rage around the 8:00 hour. He now must get all homework done prior to any electronic time. When I made this blanket pronouncement, a week before school started, I was one of the many in the household that doubted my own commitment. HOWEVER, I am pleased to say that we have kept at it, the incentive is sufficient and now we have a new routine that makes everyone happier. I feel like a real parent!
Charlie came home from school today and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. That was unexpected. And, impressive. It is so endearing to see him proud of his school accomplishments. Like being line leader or flag holder. He is learning so much and has flung himself wholeheartedly into his new routine. Less endearing? The artwork he brings home with all manner of breakfast cereal glued to it. Millie just doesn’t understand why it isn’t edible. Tussles inevitably ensue.
Millie and I have our own little routine during the time Charlie is in school and it involves breakfast with a little Barney on in the background (that dinosaur is STILL around!), a walk around the neighborhood (yay for fall!), and then an hour or so of me trying to get her to stop getting into things she shouldn’t be getting in to (she has a knack for finding all the markers in the house). Some days, we run a quick errand, some days we just do a lot of this:
We have months of school ahead of us and months of the same routine day in and day out. Washing the same water bottles, packing the same cream cheese bagels, clearing out the same paperwork from the same school folders, reading the same stories over and over.
Hmmm, routine sounds significantly less appealing when described this way. So, remember to ask me how I’m feeling about routine come December, okay?