Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Color me boring

Meeks over at Juggling Motherhood recently posted about her love/hate relationship with routines. She’s speaking of routines as the glue that holds her family together – making sure everything in the household runs as smoothly as possible… and although I don’t have children, it led me to consider the routines in my life.

As I’ve mentioned before I used to travel a lot for work. And if I wasn’t traveling, I was frequently working at a different client location every few weeks, so it seemed like my life - my work life anyway -was never routine. That bled into other areas of my life… for instance, trying to plan a dentist appointment when I had to book months in advance just to secure a slot felt an insurmountable task. What would I be doing in six months? How the hell should I know? After a long while where I didn’t plan much of anything and watched life pass me by accordingly, I got a lot more flexible. Make plans, keep them if I can, change them if I had to.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I’m comfortably ensconced in a life where I go to the same office day after day, and work on closing the books on the same cycle month after month. I even changed employers, but my title and job responsibilities are still fundamentally the same. I was really worried when I left my position as a consultant that the very sameness of it all would make me want to stick a pen in my eye, just for a little variety. But you know what? I found out that I like routine. Color me boring, but there is comfort in it.

So here’s a glimpse into the little habits that I’ve grooved into over time:

1) I eat the same breakfast day after day. Cereal and a small glass of orange juice. I’m happy to eat the same cereal every-damn-day too, because who wants to be faced with choice at 5:30 in the a.m.? On weekends, I either repeat the cereal routine, or make a waffle… which by the way is my go-to choice if I’m out for breakfast, too.

2) Working for a technology company that, not too many years back, boasted a ping pong table in one of its conference rooms, the office dress code is fairly casual. And though I haven’t completely capitulated to flip flops and shorts like some people there (*cough* engineering *cough*), I do wear jeans without fail on Tuesday and Thursdays. Well – not when there’s a board meeting, but that’s pretty much the only exception I make. It used to be jeans day on Tuesday and Fridays, but since I work at home in my PJs on Friday now, I switched it up.

3) Thursday evening is “unofficial start to the weekend” night, and D and I celebrate with a pint at our local pub. The wait staff there know us, and even before we’ve sat down at “our” table – in the corner by the fireplace - there is a pint of stout being pulled for him and they are guessing out loud what I might like from limited list of drinks that I order regularly. As D said once, “I thought if I’d ever stayed somewhere long enough that they asked at the pub if I wanted the usual, it’s time to move on, but it’s kind of nice that they don’t even ask anymore.”

4) Friday night is pizza night – often accompanied by Wii golf and vodka redbulls. It’s so nice to just know what’s for dinner without having to think too hard.

5) Weekend mornings, I wake up early – a habit I can’t really break since I am a terminal morning person. But I quietly surf, read, catch up on the week’s DVR’d TV, or lately, work :-( , while my night owl husband has a bit of a lie-in, and then return to bed for a cuddle when he wakes up. We spend a good long while easing ourselves into the day before venturing out into the real world, and even then there seems to be a well-worn path to the grocery store, Costco and the library. Every now and then, we might change it up a bit by (gasp) visiting the usual haunts in a different order. I know, right? We are just a coupla crazy kooks.

I know there are some people that might find such sameness suffocating, but as I think about these routines, I find the recurring theme is that they provide parameters in my life that just make things easier. In those moments, I don’t have to wonder what to eat, or wear or stress about how I’m going to spend my time or when the grocery shopping will get done. Fortunately, I’ve also learned the value of going with the flow. Routine is nice, but when a hair-brained idea pops into my head, a little flexibility goes a long way. I suppose I’m simply floating on, anchored by my little customs, but open to the great unknown around the bend in the river.

What about you? Does a life this routine make you feel itchy just thinking about the sameness of it all? What’s your most comforting routine?


  1. Oh god I wish I could make things a routine. I keep trying to do this but have never managed to pin it down and therefore my world is this chaotic round of "Oh fek! whats in the cupboard for breakfast at 6.00am, oh sh*t I knew I should have ironed my work clothes last night and oh hell what am I going to wear". Along with healthy doses of "what the F^& can I make for dinner" while gazing into the contents of the freezer at 6.30pm when I get home. Combine this with washing and trying to dry Bens footy gear on the heater on a friday night before saturdays games and doing my assignments at the last minute and really my life is one giant stressball but like I say I keep trying to get into routines but never quite manage to make things become routine even with the best intentions. Sadly I think I have passed this fruitfly mentality onto my poor son, he is as routineless as I am. :-(. Nightmare really. Maybe I shall try harder tomorrow to start some routines.

  2. Ah, Betty, motherhood must throw a whole load of chaos into the equation that I haven't dealt with. And even still laundry routines (or lack thereof) completely stymie me and I've only got a few pockets of calm in my life from my routines. The rest of it is a mess. Sigh.

  3. We take comfort in some of our routines while constantly trying to avoid a rut. At least it's never dull.

  4. I both get bored very easily with same-old same-old and love routines. Food-wise, anyway, I eat the same things over and over. If I like something, I can eat it every day for months. And then I'll switch, but it'll be the next thing for months. Nick and I used to have a place a couple blocks from his condo where we went all the time and people knew us. We didn't have a standing order, but I found something so nice in having a neighborhood restaurant.

  5. You're routines sound much quality time w/ ur loved one that has just become the norm. Sometimes if we are not careful, spending time apart and keeping ourselves busy can become the norm.

    Good on you!

    PS I'm liking the Pizza night..yum!

  6. You make a good point that I hadn't considered, Meeks... that the routines in my life do naturally guide us to spend time together. One nice thing is that I factor in those routines when making plans... for instance, I wouldn't schedule something in the Thursday pub night slot if I can help it. We find those evenings are good for the relationship - even if sometimes we only quietly enjoy the paper together with our pints.