When we hear the words “schedule” or “routine” we usually cringe on the inside. To many, those words mean that we do not have freedom in our lives to do what we want, when we want. We live in a time when spontaneity is almost revered and having a schedule/routine is viewed as a freedom stealer.
Yet, we expect teachers to have a schedule for their classrooms so we know that they will have enough time in each day to teach what children need to learn for the school year. We expect doctors to schedule our appointments and keep to the schedule as closely as possible so our time is not wasted in the waiting room.
As a homeschooling mother myself, I was torn between the freedom that homeschooling gave me in terms of the flow of our day and the personal need for my time to be assigned so my responsibilities could be completed.
Honestly, doing the same exact thing day in and day out can seem somewhat dull, and the longing for a bit of excitement, a change of pace, or the unexpected can weigh on the back of my mind…. until that change comes, and then I long for my monotonous routine again.
And then I went to our annual Classical Conversations Practicum and read this:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” G. K. Chesterton
Children want routine. They want to know what is coming next. They enjoy sameness and repetition….. even if it leaves mom feeling nearly dead.
But what is a routine? A routine is an unvarying and constantly repeated formula, as of speech or action; and a convenient or predictable response: a customary or regular course of procedure. [source]
Basically, it is a series of steps that you take throughout your day. It does not have a specified time, but it happens with regularity, the same way each and every day to the point where you no longer have to think about which step comes next.
Think of a gymnast. She has practiced her routines whether for the uneven bars, balance beams, floor exercise or vault so many times that her body knows exactly what is expected of it. The muscle memory has been so refined that she is mentally present to make sure each step is made with precision without having to wonder what she is supposed to do next. She can do these routines at any time of the day- no specific time has been assigned to each move- but she knows exactly which move will come next.
On a personal level, we do not have a specific time that our kids have to wake up, but when they do wake up, there are four things that need to be done (Addie has five things).
- Read the Bible (Addie has a devotional she reads, and Ian has a picture Bible he looks through)
- Make the bed (Ian puts his blanket and pillow on his bed)
- Get dressed
- Brush your teeth
- (Addie has to feed her fish)
I have a few routines that guide my day as well.
Morning routine (This is the best way for me to start my day. I usually have successful days as long as I complete the majority of this routine…. but sometimes life happens…. like the time I had one little monkey jumping on the bed and then doctor visits trumped my day.)
- Basic morning bathroom routine
- Throw a load into the washer
- Pack Brian’s lunch
- Make breakfast
- Send Brian off
- Clean up after breakfast
- Get dressed
- Devotions with the kids
- Prep dinner
- Make sure house is in order
Kids’ bedtime routine (except for nights that we are out late, this time is very important to my children)
- Watch one 30-45 minute show
- Read a chapter from a classic book to both kids together, talk together (Currently, we are reading through Pooh’s Library by A. A. Milne)
- Read a few Bible stories to Ian alone, sing with him, pray (Currently, we are reading through 99 Stories from the Bible by Juliet David)
- Read one or two chapters to Addie from a book we are reading together, talk, pray (Right now we are half way through Selah’s Sweet Dream by Susan Count)
My evening routine (what I have to do each evening to prepare myself for the next day)
- Check my planner for what is on the schedule for the following day
- Prepare anything that is needed for the following day and place it by the front door
- Lay out clothes for the following day (mine and kids)
- Prep Brian’s lunch
- Defrost meat for dinner the following day
Notice, there are no times set for any of the routines, no specified lengths of time for anything on the list. Because of my calendar, if we have to leave the house, I know what time we have to be out the door, but the routines can be done at whatever pace is necessary for the day.
1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When I follow our routines our days flow beautifully, there is less stress, and my children have a quieter spirit because they know what to expect and there are no sudden surprises in their little worlds.
Do I always enjoy following our routines? The honest answer is no. As much as my personality loves order, the other side of me hates monotony. But as the monotony of routine can sometimes push me into a rut, I like to think of the rest of G. K. Chesterton’s quote which reminds me of how much I appreciate the routines the God has put into our natural world:
“For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun, and every evening, “Do it again’ to the moon.”
Do you have a routine that you can’t live without? Let us know what works for you.