On Routines

Predictability and routine rule the world. In the eyes of my boys I can find excitement come from running through the day’s plan. A plan, a way, a means to an end… they like that. Just as I can see their desperate and confused looks when things aren’t as they thought it should be. When tears flow from the day’s plan being postponed or cancelled. I can remember finding complete disappointment in things not going as I’d imagined or thought up in my head, especially as a child.

I Iike to think I’m more spontaneous, adventurous, romantic. That I’m having more fun when I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I am. But truthfully I suppose I’m more practical than not when a choice is forced upon me. If you’re a working mom your weekdays are fiercely enforced with routine. Wake up, get everybody dressed, make the beds, downstairs for toast, coffee and cereal. You try to squeeze some fruit in too. Rushing everyone out the door, grabbing hats and mittens, putting on little boots and zippering zippers. Trying desperately not to forget the nap blanket you’ve had folded in the downstairs closet since you took it home for a wash over three weeks ago. On your lunch break (if your nursing days are behind you) you rush off to run an errand or get some kind of a plan in place for dinner. Working is the easy part, the part of your day that takes little thought.

Five o’clock comes and my husband and I are rushing from opposite ends of town to collect our children. Get home, try to greet each other and ask about each other’s days as we’re cleaning out lunch boxes and cooking up dinner. Days blend together in the rush of it sometimes.

“Is it a nonny day, a school day or a mommy and daddy day?”, my youngest asks each morning. I’m always the happiest and most confident when I can respond, “It’s a mommy and daddy day”, with a smile. We can make pancakes loaded with chocolate chips and drink orange juice leisurely while deciding on surprising the kids with things like, “We’re going skiing today!” or “We’re going to a friend’s house!”. I think about the time I have to relax, to enjoy my children and maybe some leftover time to be alone with my husband. Wondering if I can devise some sort of a combo of nap/reading time for an afternoon delight. If I’m lucky I’ll even get in some grocery shopping and maybe some planning for the week ahead.

I suppose if I were a mom who didn’t work outside of the house, I’d have devised many types of routines and schedules to keep things running smoothly. I know that disaster usually hits our house hard when I have no plan in place and it leaves lots of room for bored kids, which always turns borderline dangerous.

I know to stay at home, you need to slow yourself down. You have to build your routine and find what works best in your house and stick to the plan. Remember to be mindful in the shuffle of laundry, endless kids birthday parties, school duties, shopping, cooking and of course picking up countless matchbox cars and other such prized trinkets. But to be a working mom it’s pretty similar. You still need to stick to your routine. You have to figure out how manage getting to those same birthday parties, logging some amount of school volunteer time, and of course the endless cooking and cleaning. But it’s also similar in that you need to slow yourself down and be mindful when you are home and with them. It’s true your routine is a little more rigid and not set so much by you, but you still need to stick to it and you need to remind yourself to be present instead of letting yourself wonder off thinking and planning the next things to come. Planning is king, you’re always telling yourself. You need to stay on top and keep yourself well organized. You can’t afford to get behind. Yet you can’t afford to spend the time home obsessing with preparation. You can’t afford losing the way the sun comes up on a winter morning and sharing that with your kids and making memories while looking out the window or getting out into it. Little boys won’t be little forever.

You can find Cindy on Instagram at @cindyleed77

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