We all have things that seem to be the bane of our existence. They gym, the dreadmill, I mean treadmill. The dentist…and for me, routine. I am a writer, creative and do not like routine. Until I take a closer look at my life. Growing up, my mother believed very much in routine, that this is what children needed in order to be healthy. In addition to three square meals, lots of love and some discipline, we also had a lot of routine. We had dinner with a certain time frame and went to bed by a certain hour. We had so long to do homework, chores and piano practice. She said that routine could bring order into an otherwise chaotic world for a child. And indeed we did thrive.
But in my adult life, I just seem to do well without schedules. I do what needs to be done when it needs doing, and do my best to manage time. And I am constantly running 15-20 minutes late. But lately I am seeing more value in this thing called routine of which she spoke. And I think it might just save my sanity.
Since Dad moved in life has been on the hectic side, running from doctor appointment to doctor appointment, learning to be a caretaker of an 80 year-old and everything that comes with it. It can be so overwhelming at times. So what do you do when life gets that overwhelming and big that you can’t seems to see over the top of it? Routine.
There is comfort in routine, in knowing what comes next and when. It allows for you to free up your time and space to be creative and concentrate on what is really important. It allows you to follow a natural order. And when you think of the science of it, it makes perfect sense. Even the human body has schedules. The heart beats on schedule, we do not have to think about it. We breathe on an automatic schedule. Our blood and lungs work on schedule and to their tasks and we do not have to think about it. We go on with our lives.
And that is what I hope to accomplish with this new order, so to speak. Dad will have a pretty set schedule – approximately when to get up, I will fix his breakfast, then when physical and occupational therapy happen, when his companion care comes over to help with tasks or run errands, when to go to the senior center to meet friends and be social. When he doesn’t have to constantly figure out what comes next, what he is going to do and why, constantly coming up for a reason for existence without my mother, then maybe he can relax and just enjoy.
And maybe I can relax a bit too. Certain things will be on autopilot, so to speak. I can focus on my work, my relationship, friendships and such. Gears can be shifted to I can just be a good daughter, good friend and co-worker. This routine may be just what the doctor ordered to get life back to manageable.
And maybe the secret to order is being flexible enough. Flexible enough to work within the bounds of routine but still allow a loose schedule. With exercise we much stretch ourselves, our muscles, to give a little. Life can be messy. And if we are puritanical in either direction of too much schedule and routine or nothing at all, then things can spiral. We feel overwhelmed and out of order.
So I am looking forward to this new schedule that sets the pace for the new year. I am looking forward to being able to concentrate on what is truly important while the everyday things take care of themselves. It takes a lot of hard work to put a routine in place, but we are almost there. And in that order, we can make a life of spectacular.