Tag Archives: routine

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.

In the Swing of Things

9 Nov

One of the hardest things about moving back to Minnesota was the ‘stalling’ of normal life. We spent 3 months living in a town an hour away from where we knew we were moving, so it was very impractical to get involved in anything, in either place. Our lives were essentially on hold – especially, it felt, for me. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first time since being on maternity leave. I didn’t have a house to manage, decorate or organize. I didn’t have any activities or obligations. I was floundering.

God used that season to test my faith, and stretch me beyond my comfort zone. I was reminded that growth never comes from doing what’s easy or comfortable – only from being pushed beyond what we think we can handle. That said, I’m glad that season is coming to a close!

Emma and I finally have some semblance of a ‘normal’ weekly schedule. (With Travis’ crazy work schedule, our family’s schedule still isn’t normal, but hopefully it will be more so by the beginning of next year.)

I joined MOPS, which meets about 2 Mondays a month (some months only 1).

I enrolled Emma in an Early Childhood and Family Education class, which I attend with her, called Time Together on Thursdays. We do crafts; learn animals, songs and sign language; and play with other kids.

We have been going to the same church for the past month or so. We’re not ready to commit to being members yet, but we like what we’ve seen and heard so far. And we’ve met a lot of great people, which has been so nice.

I’m in a book study with 3 other ladies on Thursday nights. We’ve been reading The Home Experience by Devi Titus and while she’s very southern and some of her suggestions are impractical for mothers of preschoolers, it has been a great encouragement in this season of staying home to study how being a wife and mother is a valuable, worthwhile calling, and how I can bless those around me by taking it seriously.

And finally, starting next week, Emma will be going to daycare one day a week on Tuesdays – so that Mommy can have a break and pursue her dream of writing a book!

It is very nice to have life starting to look more ‘normal’ again. I’m glad, though, that it has taken as long as it has, because we have been able to be intentional about what we’re filling up our weeks with, instead of just adding stuff for the sake of being busy.

Now if my husband were just able to stop working so much, we’d be set!

The Blessing of a Broken Routine

7 Apr

Vacations are great. It’s actually been proven that simply planning a vacation makes you happier. I can vouch for that. During the past 2-3 weeks of being crazy busy at work, knowing that I was going to have 3 days off was like a ray of sunshine through clouds of gloom. And now that that trip is over, I’m looking forward to our Alaska trip where I’ll run my first full marathon.

But something about vacations has always bothered me: the break from routine. You may think that sounds ridiculous but for me, a person who values routine, having many days in a row without my usual routine makes me feel naked and unproductive. It also makes me worry that my routine must not be that important to me, if one little vacation makes me throw it out the window. The result is that I come back from vacations feeling like, for however many days I was gone, I wasn’t really living my life. I was living someone else’s life, a life in an alternate universe.

I can hear some of you saying, “That’s the sign of a good vacation.”

And now, I’d have to agree. I was thinking about this while we were down in Evansville, how feeling so separated from normal life bothers me. And then I realized: the break from reality is God’s blessing. True, I come home from vacation feeling like I was someone else for a while, but that reinvigorates and refreshes me for my everyday life. It makes me even more excited for my routine, more thankful for my own bed, more loving to my pooches, more grateful for my house. Without the break from reality that a vacation provides, I wouldn’t feel that new life instilled in the “same old.”

So now, I’m looking at the break from routine as a good thing… and trying to keep that positive perspective when I look at what happens to my eating habits on vacation.

Over the course of doing my Food Log for Lent, I have experienced many of the “diet downfalls” that normally trip me up: group meals, vacations, baby or bridal showers, date night, post-long run food fests. It has been very interesting to me to see how my body naturally regulates itself so that higher calories days (or weeks) are balanced out with lower ones.

On our recent trip to Evansville, I kept up my food log as much as I could (though I’m pretty sure I missed a mini Twix bar or two). And looking back on what I ate and drank, I was interested to see that 20% of my calories were EMPTY. Meaning they were in the form of chocolate (not dark), alcohol (white wine), and soda (Mountain Dew), and provided no nutritional value (there were other things consumed that weren’t the epitome of health but they had some nutritional value). I compared that to a “normal” week of eating and found that my empty calories then were only 8% of my total calories. Sure, the numbers aren’t a night and day difference but when I look at days where I ate 700 calories of pure sugar, it’s not hard to see why I feel sluggish and blob-like on vacation.

You know what they say, Knowledge is power. It’s been helpful for me to see the truth of my eating habits, even when they’re not pretty. And even though at first, I was surprised at how much I ate (which ended up being a higher-calorie week than average anyway), I’m now surprised that the times when I feel like I’ve eaten “so much food” and have “gained 5 lbs” really aren’t that big of a deal calorie-wise in the end anyway (it’s still a big deal glorifying-God-wise). And because I can relax over “the damage that has been done,” I can focus on what really matters: finding my satisfaction and joy in God alone.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little more chocolate than usual while I’m on vacation.

A Morning Routine.

6 Oct

Last weekend, when I was going through all my old files at my parents’ house, I came across novels I had written in junior high and high school and a sheet that said my life goal was to publish novels. Seems I’ve  known for a while that I wanted to be an author someday…

I realized a while ago that I just need to buckle down and write already. I just have to put my nose to the grindstone and get ‘er done.

I had actually forgotten about my BHAG of finishing my book by the end of this year. Whoops. It might still happen. But it might not. I’m not going to get rid of that goal completely, but I’m making it more concrete by shooting for writing for 45 minutes, 5 days a week. 

So I am going to implement a new morning routine (bet you haven’t heard that before!). I am going to get up at 5:30 and after feeding the dogs and eating breakfast, get in the Word from 5:45 to 6:30, then write from 6:30 to 7:15. After that, I will resume my regular morning duties, such as showering and making a lunch. All workouts will be pushed until during lunch or after work. So far, I’m 1 for 1! It feels good to be productive in the morning and be able to relax with God and the Bible before heading to work.

And I’ll just leave you with this hilarious pic:



I guess it is 60% of the body…

21 Jun

Somehow, over the past month and a half, I have managed to drink at least 64 oz of water a day.

Some days, I even drink 96 oz. That is 3 Nalgenes of water.

For some, this might be normal. They’re probably not having to run to the bathroom every hour having to pee like a mad man. But for me, this is a feat.

Rewind back 18 months to my time at D2S: It’s 2 PM. I’m sitting at my desk, my empty coffee mug long since stowed away in my cubby, my completely full Nalgene still untouched. I happen to glance over and realize I haven’t drank anything since my coffee that AM. So I open my Nalgene, take a few pathetic sips from my straw (knowing that I spill water all over myself without one), but still go home at 5 pm, with an almost-completely full Nalgene. At dinner, I choke down a glass of water. During and after my workout, I stomach another 10 oz.

Total water intake: 20 oz.

So what has changed in the past month and a half?

……I’m thirsty?

Honestly, I don’t know why I enjoy drinking water now. I never really have before. In Minnesota, it wasn’t a huge deal that I didn’t drink a ton of water because it’s so humid. Ever since we moved out to extremely dry Colorado in 2007, I have regularly endured headaches from being dehydrated. But even those headaches were not enough incentive for me to start drinking more water. I just couldn’t do it.

Obviously, since I brought a Nalgene with me to work every day, I had the best of intentions. I wanted to drink water in theory. But to drink that water, I had to force myself to do it because I never felt thirsty. Never. Ok, maybe for the 30-60 minutes I worked out a day. But seriously, the minute I was done exercising, my thirst was gone. I could be out on a 5-mile run in 95 degree heat, having fantasies of an ice cold glass of water and hardly wait to get home. Once I finally have that clear glass of deliciousness in my hands, my mouth full of anticipation, I take a drink and… eh. Do I really have to drink this? I pour out my glass of water and drink a glass of milk instead.

While I can’t pinpoint it is all of a sudden enjoyable for me to drink an entire 32 oz before 10 AM, I can pinpoint a wonderful side effect of my new love affair: energy.

For many months, I had come to the conclusion that I just had less energy than most people. Travis would get up at 3 AM on a Saturday to go fishing or duck hunting, come back around noon, and instead of taking a nap like I expected him to, he’d mow the grass, change the oil on both cars, clean out the gutters, work on his assemble-yourself muzzleloader, and do whatever else he does out in the garage. I, on the other hand, would roll out of bed at 9 AM, have a cup of coffee and breakfast while reading the Bible and a book, then lay around all day watching TV, possibly prying myself up long enough to take the dogs on a walk. I thought about doing productive things, like printing those vacation pictures I’d been meaning to, or vacuuming up the massive clumps of dog hair in the kitchen and bathroom – but I just felt so tired.

I had heard that lethargy can be a result of dehydration. I am living, walking proof that that statement is true. I cannot believe the amount of energy I have now, compared to then. When we went camping over Memorial Day, I felt that familiar lethargic feeling when we got to our campsite and were setting up our tent. After a moment of self-pity (and a nap), I decided to drink some water. And it worked. That feeling went away and I felt great for the rest of the trip.

I’m convinced that this is why I, a person who does not like being busy, have been able to handle constant busyness over the past couple of months with minimal breakdowns. It is so much easier to handle being busy when you have energy! It’s AMAZING!!!! Just kidding. But seriously.

Another thing that helps me handle constant busyness is having a routine. That was one of the hardest things about my job last year when I was traveling and working from home – no two weeks were alike. Things were constantly changing so I could never get into a routine. I like routines because I love being organized and it helps me to ensure that everything that really needs to get done in a day gets done. If I have extra time, sahweet!

Now that I’m back in a regular 9-to-5, I am getting my routine down:

Daily Routine

5:00 am – Get up.

5:15 – Train.

6:30 – Shower, do makeup, get dressed.

7:15 – Make lunch for me, snack for Travis. Brew coffee.

7:40 – Eat breakfast while reading the Bible.

8:20 – Leave for work.

9:00 – Work (aka read blogs, surf the net, log workouts, etc).

5:00 pm – Leave work.

5:35 – Get home and make dinner. Eat dinner.

6:30 – Take dogs on a walk.

7:30 – Get workout clothes ready for next day.

7:45 – Watch TV with Travis or read a book.

9:00 – Lights out.

My weekly routine has become to go grocery shopping on Sunday and do laundry/clean the house on Monday (my rest day). It’s working so far.

Have you noticed your water intake affect your energy level? Do you like to have a daily/weekly routine or wing it?