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?