Back into routine
I can’t tell you how glad I am to be back into a routine.
I’m not saying I’m glad that school has started and that I’m working full hours again. Not exactly. I’m not saying I’m glad that the holidays are over and that we won’t be heading off anywhere fun for a while. Not exactly that either.
What I’m saying is that it feels really good to be in a routine (pretty much any routine would do) after a summer where we spent almost a month on a foreign continent and then travelled (in various configurations of parents and children) up to Manitoulin Island for five weekends in a row. And that doesn’t even count the week spent at family camp, the soccer tournaments in other cities, and the constant barrage of playdates and sleepovers.
I’m all summered out. I’ve had enough of adventure and vacation. I’ve had enough of crazy schedules, late nights, and eating meals in places other than my dining room. All I want is a few weeks of knowing what I’ll be doing on any given day.
I mean, I still have to take kids to one dentist appointment, one psychologist appointment, two soccer games, and a swim test this week. I’m still a parent, after all. There’s no way to make that schedule too regular. My expectations aren’t high.
I’m just enjoying waking up at about the same time every morning, having everyone dressed and fed at a reasonable time, having a regular occupation for my kids, cooking in my own kitchen, having more then six-point-two minutes in a row to get work done, getting to bed when I should, and being decently certain I can expect the same tomorrow. That shouldn’t be such a huge deal, I know, but I do feel a hundred percent better now that we’re a week into the fall and settling into a real routine.
And I think the kids feel better too, even if they might not notice or admit it. There’s less fighting and bickering (though there’s always some – always). Everyone seems less cranky and on edge. Which is all the result, think, of sleeping proper sleep, and eating proper food, and having a proper routine to structure their day.
The irony is that one of the first things I do when I talk to parents is emphasize these exact things. I tell them, you can avoid a whole lot of behaviour management if you can get kids into a good structure of healthy living. Have a regular schedule so they’re not too anxious or bored. Make sure they get enough sleep so they’re not overtired. Make sure they eat good food so they feel healthy and well. This is literally the first subject in any conversation I have with parents about discipline.
But sometimes it takes seeing the effects of these things in your own family to remind you of how important they are. You go on a trip, or you take a vacation, or you otherwise fall out of routine for a while (which can sometimes be a good thing), but you forget so fast what a difference that routine makes, both for you and your kids.
So, if you haven’t found your fall rhythm quite yet, if you’re still coasting along in vacation mode, just remember – a little routine might be just the thing you need.