Tag Archives: family life

Our Fall Routine

29 Sep

mums.jpgWe’re almost a month into the school year now, which is a unit of time that hasn’t really mattered to Travis and I since we graduated from college over 10 years ago. But now we have a kindergartener, and our lives are ruled by the school schedule.

Which, as it turns out, has been really good for us so far. Yes, the arbitrary holidays that the kids get off from school but we don’t get off from work and spontaneous early releases are going to drive us crazy, I’m sure, but the overall structure of school five days a week has enabled us to do something we’ve never done before:

Stick to a routine.

When I think about how to describe the way our days are going now, I can only think of the trite, “It’s just so. good.” But it really is. I have been trying to stick to a weekly routine since we moved back to Minnesota and I became a stay-at-home mom four years ago, but I could not do it for the life of me. I’m one of those people who functions well with schedule obligations like bookends–something to reign in my “free time” (or should I just call it unscheduled time?) and give it boundaries. I can’t be all scheduled, but I also can’t be all unscheduled.

Enter our routine now. Emma needs to be to school by 8:25 AM every day Monday through Friday. She needs to be picked up at 3:00 PM each of those days as well. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:45 to 2:45, during which time Annabelle and Corbin go to daycare. Mondays and Fridays, Travis takes Emma to school so I can still have a few lazy mornings.

Those scheduled things have taken up just enough of my week that I have felt the need to get more intentional about my unscheduled time. I also just recently realized, after lamenting for years how chaotic life felt, that I was a main culprit in making it chaotic by not sticking to a routine. So my routine:

I meal plan and make a grocery list on Sunday.

Mondays are reserved for grocery shopping and MOPS, and playdates or errands as time allows.

Fridays, I stay home to get stuff done (like laundry) and don’t change out of my pajamas until school pick-up.

At the beginning of the school year, I switched from working 9 to 5 two days a week, to working 8:45 to 2:45 three days a week. So I have an hour and a half with the kids every afternoon between school pick-up and dinnertime, and we’ve even developed a routine with that time. On Mondays, we go to the dollar store and buy Lunchables (at the girls’ request–they’re obsessed). Fridays, we go to a park near the school. The other days, we head home and play outside (while it’s still nice!) until Corbin needs to nap or nurse, usually around 4:45. Then they watch iPad while I take care of Corbin and start to make dinner. It’s not a ton of time, but it’s been so. good. to just have a slot of time everyday that I spend hanging out with my kids, doing what they want to do.

And Travis and I still have our scheduled workout times (M & W for him, T & Th for me), as well as our weekend hobby times. Sunday mornings, we go to church, and the rest of the weekend is fairly negotiable.

Something I recently read in an email from minimalist Allie Casazza was along the lines of “You may think routines make life boring and predictable. But routines actually provide the foundation for adventure.” She used the example of being able to spontaneously fly to visit a friend in need, leaving her husband in charge of all 4 kids, and feeling peaceful with the knowledge that their house was tidy, there was food in the fridge, and their schedules predictable because she had laid that foundation with her routines. I should’ve saved that email (why didn’t I?!?!) because that message resonated with me so much. I am loving our routine.

I should mention that the parameters of a school schedule aren’t magic. I’m not all of a sudden able to stick to a routine because I have a kid in school. My desire for and ability to stick to a routine have slowly evolved over the course of this Year of White Space. During which time I’ve learned that the main requirements of a routine are that you do it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, and that you make time for it, which means guarding that time from other things. As a spontaneous and a Yes person by nature, I’ve had to learn how to stick to a routine.

For example, even when I forget about meal planning on Sunday until it’s 10 PM, I buckle down and do it so that I’m ready to go grocery shopping on Monday, instead of just blowing it off and saying, “Eh, whatever, I’ll do it tomorrow.” I keep telling myself, “If you want life to feel more predictable, you have to make it more predictable.” (Obviously, unpredictable things still happen but most of my strife with a chaotic life has come about through my own doing.)

Lest you think that our routine has made our fall a rainbow of mums and pumpkins, let me assure you that it has not. My job has been crazy busy and stressful, we’re in the midst of changing caregivers for Corbin, the girls have daily tantrums over everything and nothing, Travis’ work has been famine and now feast, and I’m staring down the barrel of another hunting season. But the routine definitely helps make things less chaotic. And that’s really all I can ask for.