In the past few weeks I’ve been discovering, or re-discovering the value of having a routine. Chaos has been the standard modus operandi in our lives for so long, that it’s often not seemed worth the time it takes to set up a routine in the first place, to actually do it. Of course the painful lesson there, is that the time you spend to get into a routine usually pays very worthwhile dividends in time gained on the other side of the implementation. You might lose a precious half hour to setting the routine up, but you usually gain a whole hour or two for having it in place.
The area on which I’ve been focusing most recently is the kids’ evening routine leading up to bedtime. While I’d always stuck to at least doing the wash up, read stories, tuck in routine with Victor, I didn’t always start him on each part of the routine at roughly the same time. We had to do all of those pieces, but when they happened was all over the map. I didn’t think I’d be able to iron it all out so that there’d be a specific order and time for each of those activities, so I never really tried until recently. It turns out that I was wrong – I spent a little extra time last week easing Victor into a pattern that starts and ends at a set time (within a half hour, give or take) and hey presto, all of a sudden I’ve got a kid who goes to bed and is asleep before 9:30pm every night leaving me with a precious hour of free time.
Julien can still through a stick in the wheels of routine if, say, he’s sick or teething and needs a lot of attention. However, Vic is old enough that he’s starting to self-regulate and it seems that the more routines I give him, the more he internalizes them and the more secure he feels about going through them by himself. That is a huge leap forward and really frees up my time and makes our evenings a lot easier and more pleasant so that story time is a full half hour of happiness for both of us.
Now that this has worked out so beautifully for the kids, I’m taking a look at the rest of my life and thinking about areas Sabs and I could put routines into place and reap similar rewards. I’m thinking about our approach to housework in particular, and trying out something new that will make each chore an expected quantity instead of the unexpected it is now. Namely, we never know how many loads of laundry we’re going to need to do, how many sinks of dishes, etc. So what if we put some routines in place for Saturdays and Sundays that would quantify exactly how much we’re going to do? Instead of concentrating on cleaning the entire place from top to bottom and getting bogged down in paralysis about the enormity of that task by weeks’ end, why not just commit to a particular number of loads, a particular number of hours and if it doesn’t all get done, it’s okay.
I wonder if there’s some kind of security in knowing exactly how much work we’d need to do, so that there’s not this constant feeling of pressure and anxiety over the upkeep of the house, and the question mark of who is going to do what.
Right now I’m thinking, given how well it’s worked for mealtimes and bedtimes, that it’s sure as heck worth a try.