Mindful Monday: re-establish routines

I often say that I’m a strange blend of free spirit and reluctant control freak. As much as I love the idea of eschewing schedules and living in creative spontaneity, in reality I need routines to thrive…and in my life, total spontaneity usually turns out more chaotic than creative. In fact, I argue in my book that creating structure in my life has actually helped me to be more spontaneous and creative overall, because when I know things are getting done, I’m less anxious and don’t need to waste time putting out fires and running in circles.

But even though I understand routines are my friend, the rebel inside me still resists them and throws up plenty of roadblocks. Add in spring fever, traveling, and a bigger-than-usual workload, and it was only too easy for the structure of our daily lives to start to erode over the last month or so. Little things mostly, but it’s funny how the little things can really add up to big crankiness and feeling like my life is out of control.

So this week, I’m working on re-establishing some of the small routines that have fallen by the wayside. Nothing big or life-shattering or especially difficult, just a few little things that seem to make a significant difference in how the household runs:

  • Coming-home routines. Shoes by the front door, coats on a hook! With the bouts of warm weather over the last couple of weeks, the kids have been playing outside a lot more, running in and out of different doors, swapping out jackets for hoodies and hoodies for shirts. As a result we’ve completely lost control of the coat and shoe situation. After several mornings of running frantically around, trying to find missing shoes or coats before the kids miss the bus, I know it’s time to issue reminders and walk everyone through the steps once again.
  • Meal and snack times.  Daylight savings time is a perfect opportunity to rejigger our meal and snack schedules. We’ve been eating around 6:30, but what I’m finding is that that doesn’t leave time for an evening snack. So at 9 PM I’ve got kids wailing from bed because they’re hungry and I’m wailing in the living room because I just want to finish the last season of Big Love, already. I’m thinking we need to bump dinner time to an earlier time and then plan a regular snack before bath and tooth-brushing.
  • Computer and homework schedules.Back in the fall I created a detailed schedule allotting computer time to each kid, and it worked for months. But lately I’ve let the boys stray from the schedule, which just causes confusion (whose turn is it again?) and also means homework is getting done at erratic times. So, though I know I’ll get some protests at first, it’s time to return to the stricter schedule.

Change is never easy, and I know I’ll encounter some resistance as I re-implement our old routines…both from my kids and my inner rebel. But usually at some point the family stops kicking up a fuss, because it turns out everyone is happier when they know what to expect. Including – especially! – Mom.

Do you have any routines that have started falling apart a little? Join me in getting back on track this week! Or maybe you have another Mindful Monday intention on your mind this week. Tell us about it!

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