Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

The Illusion of Routine and the Mad Scientist Mom by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin FacePunch. (This is what I named it because it is SO pumpkiny.)

By Julie

I realized a few minutes ago as I woke up and cleaned the kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee that I reheated from last night’s pot, listening to the kids fight over Matchbox cars as they slam onto the wood floor, that this is not what I usually do.

I also realized that what I usually do is an illusion. I have an ideal of what I want to do every morning, a routine that I like to think of as mine: Make the coffee, clean one chosen thing and make breakfasts while I wait for it to brew, do 20 pushups before I sit down to edit while the kids watch TV before school. But this is not even MY ideal.

This is me, working around a series of non-negotiables and squeezing in time to do what I want to do, which is write 1000 words, edit for clients, drink my coffee in peace and—happens AROUND the non-negotiables.

I also realized that my ideal routine—and I’m not talking about My Perfect Day Routine If I Was Only One Thing and Not Twenty Each Day—my ideal routine that involves the things I need to do and want to do and the incidentals that prevent me from doing them seamlessly DOESN’T WORK.

It’s okay that it doesn’t work. Routines need to change consistently as your non-negotiables grow and real life gets in the way. I’ve always been of the mindset that you need to change your routine or things will always go exactly the same.

I can’t do anything NEW if I do everything the same.

I can’t grow if I don’t implement change.

I can’t be excited about doing if I’m always doing the same things.

If I really change my routine all the time then routine becomes experiment—and experiments fail.

To be clear, I’m happy. My stuff—all my stuff—is working. But it could work better. This is the first month of school drawing to a close. All new routines for everyone in the house. I am the captain of the routines—their routines are dependent upon my implementation. So now that I have found what works for my family, I have to adjust my routine accordingly.

I don’t come first in the planning scenario. That’s okay. I’m going into October with a few new thoughts:

  • MY time and needs are still important and non-negotiable despite being the last to get planned. Timing and importance are not the same thing.
  • Having multiple routines in the house that I am the captain of means that I have a crew. A crew means that everyone has responsibility that I hold them accountable for. The new change that I have to implement is that responsibilities are not favors to me—they’re important to everyone. (Bringing dishes to the sink and navigating your own quiet time are responsibilities to yourselves, kids. Not favors to me.)
  • My time to do necessary things needs to feel less like stolen moments—even if they are. Otherwise my time to do stuff I just feel like doing makes me resentful.
  • Implementing accountability and realization of responsibilities for a whole family takes time. If I don’t take the time to set those up now in light of all the new stuff we’re doing, I will regret it later. Also known as: THE EVOLUTION OF THE CHORE CHART WHICH NEVER WORKED ANYWAY.
  • CHECKLISTS AND CALENDARS AND ROUTINES ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Chew on that one for a while, organization freaks.

I guess at the end of this whole seemingly well-organized ramble, what I’ve realized is that my responsibilities need to be as important to my family as theirs are to me. We’re a crew. While writing, editing, and all the things that contribute to that are MINE and belong to me alone, respecting what each of us does as individuals on the crew has always been part of our routine. Growing how we view each other’s non-negotiables is how we grow our respect for each other and ourselves. It’s that perfect balance of routine and individuality and growing great kids that value themselves and people that I don’t just want and demand, but that I’ve already started. This is the next stage. Life is an experiment and one that almost never seems to totally blow up on me, so I look forward to this next phase of life with a smile on my face and a stack of calendars and lists in my hand.

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