Tag Archives: routine

Living by Intention

“We need never be bound by the limitations of our previous or current thinking, nor are we ever locked into being the person we used to be, or think we are.”
― Allan Lokos, Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living

Intention and simplicity have been two big themes in recent months for me. I’ve not necessarily done much along the lines of these themes, but they keep popping up, tapping me on the shoulder and making themselves known.

I think, with my surgery recovery, I’ve finally made some space to just be, to just listen to the undercurrent of my life, my rhythm, something I haven’t done in a very long time—if ever.

I’m going to back to work soon, and I’m fearful that this slight peace that has drifted into my life is going to disappear in the madness that was my life before surgery. I have been hoping that three months away from the rat race and stress was enough time to set me on a new path, but I fear that I did not do enough to cement this path. No pun intended, but when I think about traveling a new path, the last thing I want to do is put my feet to concrete and walk a road that to me seems so full of stress and anxiety.

The path I want under my feet is strewn with fallen leaves and green moss; it’s a dirt path for sure, maybe a few wood chips, but not the man-made kind, the kind that happen because a tree has fallen and small animals have chipped away at the rotting log and left their chippings and shavings all around the openings to new homes where new little creature families will be born and will grow up.

But to have that mossy green, soft, forgiving path and not the hard cement, man-made road of my previously too busy life, I have to intentionally choose it.

I’ve let it choose me over the last few months and it has been a simple, enjoyable beginning to a journey that I hope to continue. For that to happen, simplicity and intention must be my guides. I know I’m going back to work and I know that life can take over if I let it, but I would like to at least feel as though what I am doing is being done purposefully rather than just as it comes up and needs to be dealt with.

My goal for my return to the “real world” is to set an intention of simple living and purposeful living so that, at the end of my day, I feel that my day was one that was guided by my beliefs and core values rather than a day that just sort of happened to me.

Because that’s what a lot of the days fee like. Life takes over and the days just kind of go by.

There are plans, of course, and moments of connection and happiness. But for the most part, up until very recently, my days just sort of happened.

We had our family routine, and every morning we would get up and press play on that day and everything just moved along as if it were a recorded episode. The odd time we would press pause, but for the most part, we just moved along in the recorded manner.

When I return to work in a few short weeks, I want to do it differently. So I have begun to do more with intention.

One intention that I have been working on is writing. I want to write with a more regular rhythm. I’m always saying I don’t have time to write. But I don’t ever set aside that time, and writing is something I love to do. If I don’t value it enough to make time for it, then maybe it should not be part of my life. It’s harsh to think of it that way. But it’s refreshing, too. I know that I love to write, so I will have to be more intentional about it. And when I think of making time for a thing that I love, it creates in me a dedication to the enjoyment of that thing.

So, my intention has been to build a habit that supports my writing and my enjoyment of writing. I did this with one simple change. Rather than waking up at 6am and lying in bed enjoying the quiet before the rush of the day hits, I wake up at 6am and write.

Sometimes, I am interrupted by my littles who want to snuggle. And my intention for that is to let them in. I enjoy them more than I enjoy writing, and making time for them solidifies my dedication to enjoying them, interruptions and all. And since I was never writing with any scheduled regularity or intention before, why not let them in? Writing can happen anytime. Littles grow up and grow out of snuggles. But I do want to write and I do relish that time alone with my thoughts and my keyboard or pen and notebook.

So, I invite them into my writing and we make up stories; they dictate while I type. We play word games on my laptop or draw silly pictures in Microsoft Paint and learn about shapes and colours and patterns.

I may not get that hour of quiet writing time where I get to write whatever I want, but I get so much more. I get to teach and learn and inspire and be inspired. And when they are off to school and I’m alone, I get to write that story that we started while we snuggled in my bed at 6am.

Because, after all…

“We need never be bound by the limitations of our previous or current thinking, nor are we ever locked into being the person we used to be, or think we are.”
― Allan Lokos, Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living

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Life’s Routine or My Routine?

Ah, routine. It happens. Sometimes it’s a routine that we fall into and it works, so we run with it. Sometimes it’s a routine that we try to set up and it doesn’t work, so we scrap it.

Either way, routine happens.

Take, for example, our current morning routine. I get up before the kids, do what I need to do, then I wake them up. I always allow time for snuggles before they get out of bed (and if I’m lucky and one of them has snuck into bed with the other at some point through the night, I can snuggle both of them at the same time and make sure that no one is left out or that one doesn’t get more time than the other). They are close enough in age that their sleep requirements are about the same and they go to bed within a half hour of each other and wake up around the same time together. This simplifies things. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it has worked out nicely and I’ll take it with a giant dollop of gratitude.

Then we all head to the kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast, we tidy up the kitchen and head back upstairs to get dressed and ready for school. This can sometimes take half an hour. There will inevitably be fights over who gets to use the bathroom first, how much time there is for play before getting dressed, whether or not we’re walking or driving to the bus stop, etc. But generally, if I plan right and allow enough time for them to move themselves through their morning routine, they manage themselves fairly well. (And isn’t it all about teaching them those executive function skills so that they can manage themselves and won’t always expect me to do it for them?)

Our morning routine is something that just kind of happened. Obviously, I had to originally do some planning to get them up and out the door for school (and in my current, somewhat disabled state, the help of my parents is mostly what gets us through our morning routine), but this is the routine that we have fallen into and the one that works (right now):

  1. Mom gets up first and completes basic morning prep (mostly sitting for five minutes in a mindful state, splashing cold water on face to wake up, brushing hair, getting dressed)
  2. Wake kids up and have a morning snuggle (this reconnects us after a night apart in our own beds)
  3. Head down for breakfast, eat and tidy up together
  4. Head back upstairs to dress and get ready for school
  5. Head back downstairs to pack lunches and school bags
  6. Head out the door

The thing about routine, though, is that sometimes it needs to change. I had to let go of our old way of doing things when I realized (after way too long) that it wasn’t working for us.

I used to get up at the same time as the kids and insist that they get dressed before they ate breakfast. After breakfast, I would send them upstairs to brush their teeth and wash up while I packed lunches and school bags. That turned out to be a stressful routine for us. I was constantly yelling up the stairs for them to hurry up. They weren’t taking responsibility for their school bags (and really, they are the best ones for that because how do I know what books are supposed to go back to school and which ones can stay home on any given day?) So I let go.

And we floated for a bit, without a routine. It was a bit chaotic, and my condition and the extra adult or two in the house were also contributing factors to the floating, but the extra help made it easy to float and to slowly, intentionally drift toward another routine that could work.

We ended up landing in a nice, comfortable routine that is working…for now. It’s comfortable, safe and works well for everyone.

I remember when Little Brother was about five months old. I caught him napping in his baby rocking chair a few mornings in a row at around the same time each day. I remember being surprised that he seemed to dose off at precisely 10am morning after morning and wondered how I could have missed this napping routine that he had created for himself. So I started taking him out of his chair just before 10am and putting him in his crib in his bedroom. And sure enough, he’d fall asleep in his crib at precisely 10am and he would sleep until about 11:30am every morning.

Of course, that napping routine didn’t last forever (and I was very sad when he gave up his morning nap), but it was a routine that we enjoyed for many months and was one that I didn’t force or try to create to suit me. It just worked.

And that’s the point, I think, with routines. Routines are necessary, especially for children. They create a sense of knowing what’s coming next. But in order for them to be effective, they have to be kind of natural. Forcing a routine has never worked in our house. All it has done is forced me to re-evaluate the reason and need for that particular routine.

So now, we let routines show themselves and then we intentionally and lovingly slip into them until they no longer fit. We’re trying hard not to hang onto old routines once they are worn out and no longer useful and we are all happier because of it.

Memory

My daughter’s memory is incredible. I’m not saying that as in she never forgets and her memory is really good. I’m saying that as in her ability to remember things is odd.

I expect to forget things. I’m getting old (memory loss is related to aging). I don’t always challenge my brain (I have a job that is somewhat repetitive and doesn’t always challenge my brain in a way that creates new pathways). I have had two pregnancies (=two pregnancy brain episodes from which I have never really recovered).

But my daughter? She’s 5. Her brain, though it has gone through leaps and bounds since the first day she entered this world, still hasn’t filled up with all the excess that adults are carrying around.

Yet, every day we leave the house for school at the same time and with the same routine and every day she forgets her coat, hat, mitts, backpack, shoes, you name it.

But, when playing with a Play-Doh puppy modeling set, she remembered that the little dogs you can create also have a blanket because she saw the blanket on the box when she first got the set for her birthday more than two years ago. (She plays with this Play-Doh set about once every three months.)

As a first-time mother, one of the bits of advice I got was to create a routine for my child. Routine allows children to develop expectations about what will happen next and what their role is. I did this. It hasn’t helped my daughter one iota.

So, what is a mother to do?

The summer fall-down

You know how kids look forward to the lazy days of summer? How does the saying go? No school, no books, no teacher’s dirty looks? But then, after a few weeks, they’re bored and wondering what to do with themselves. You can only play at the park or in the backyard pool with the same friends for so long before everyone forgets how to get along.

Well, I’m kind of like that too. I so look forward to an easier schedule in the summer. Everything is more relaxed; bedtime, meal times, attitudes, chores. Ok, maybe too relaxed.

out of routine = out of my mind Continue reading

The Ever-Changing Routine of Life

Everyone’s family routine varies. Some moms stay at home. Some dads stay home. In some families, both parents work the same hours and the kids go to daycare/school. And in other families, the parents work opposites shifts allowing the children to be with a parent at all times.

In my family, there’s one parent with more work/life flexibility. That’s me. Continue reading

Resentful, yet strong

Usually, I don’t mind being creative to get my kids to do normal things like eat, sleep, brush their teeth, put their coats on, etc. And creative I must be, because, for some reason, my little ones, despite routine, seem to forget from day to day that these things must be done.

But when I’m tired, the thing that I resent the most is that I HAVE TO BE CREATIVE to get my kids to eat, sleep, brush their teeth, put their coats on, etc. Continue reading