The gentle sounds of the crickets fade giving way to the shuffled songs, from my iTunes favorites, as my morning alarm breaks my sleep. I rise and reach for a sweater or sweatshirt! “My husband likes a cool house…I usually have my fuzzy socks on my cold feet daily.” I make my way to the hall, leaving the door cracked, in case my furry companion wakes up, and head down the stairs. I move through the darkness, in a haze, and reach for a cup…pour…zap…mmm, Coffee! My routine! This daily schedule seems automated but comfortable. “I could probably do it with my eyes closed…but who wants to clean the possible mess?” Let’s Keep It Routine!
We set up routines to make things flow in our scheduled day. Routines can be a teaching tool for a child: tying shoes, brushing teeth, washing hands…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I made lunches everyday for three boys…it was quite the symphony! The boys were thrilled that I remembered who liked mayo and mustard and who didn’t. “They were a little picky!” As they got older they were given the task of making their own lunch… When we adopted a little seven year old boy…things changed! The boys had started making their lunch, by themselves, when they were 10, 9, and 6! “Don’t worry..I was right there.” There were days that mom had to step in and make lunches because of the bathroom rotation or the chaos surrounding the sock basket. “Ah..good times!” The boys were all in High School, with one graduating a month later, when our youngest joined the family. He was seven years old with no concept of routines. The routine making of lunch became a screaming fire-drill. “Sadly it was our routines that had to change.”
It was easier to make it for him and sometimes one of the other boys would step in and make it for him. I would be helping him get dressed…or tying his shoes…well your get the picture. He was quite the handful and still is! He had been allowed to dictate what he wanted from how he dressed to what he wanted for lunch. He told me, on several occasions, to get him a Happy Meal from McDonald’s and bring it to the school. “That demand was met with laughter and a motherly No!.” He got upset and fought us every morning when we were making his lunch. The assortment of lunch meats and cheeses were not to his liking. The chips were not his favorites…and the cookies or snack cakes were smashed in his book bag when he got home. If this did not work then something else needed to be tried.
He has been making his own lunch for two years now. We scheduled the preparation of his lunch when the last of his brothers left for school. This gave him the entire kitchen to move haphazardly through as a solo act. No conflicts or clashing of Titan wills…just a 9 year old. We also did away with the lunch meats and gave him his own jars of Peanut Butter and Jelly. We have kept it simple for him…everything he needs for his lunch is in plastic, Tupperware like, containers. Cookies, plain chips and gummy snacks. Let’s Keep It Routine!
He talks to the peanut butter and jelly as he spreads them on the bread and places the sandwich in the bag. The messy counter top, covered with peanut butter and jelly, is still an issue. “We are working on how to be neater.” He talks to the animal crackers as he parades them individually into their bag. He retrieves the semi-frozen juice from the freezer and places it in the lunchbox with child-like dialogue. “It is very noisy in the morning!”
The asking of ridiculous questions mimics the second hand as it ticks. “Do you know this person?” “How do you say M E D I C I?” These questions were asked this morning. I stop doing my morning routine and glance at the page just above his little finger…”That is pronounced Med i chee.” Of course it was already broken down for him in his book…he just gets very impatient. He has his chores, like the boys had at his age, that he can never seem to do in a timely manner. On Mondays he gets up 15 minutes early for several reasons. Garbage day…husband’s work schedule, get organized from the weekend…you know how it is. He sets himself up for an Epic Fail daily as he chats with himself and sings and dances through the kitchen…plays in his room instead of brushing his teeth…pulling treasures out of his shoes before putting them on…then realizes the time and heads out the door. Chore are left undone…”Guess who gets stuck doing them?” He is not the only one who does not do his chores…I had to take the trash bag from the kitchen to the garbage can in the garage this morning..then take the garbage can and recycling bin to the street. You guessed it…the 21 year old son forgot to take the can to the street last night. Yep! Daddy was not pleased about that. Granted he was busy doing something important for the family business last night so that the item could be shipped out today. But come on! I have to laugh here…he just came down the stairs in a panic to take the trash out… “He heard the recycling truck come by and it woke him up!”.
Why do we have routines? As adults the question seems ridiculous but, a child needs to have them to function as an adult. What a vicious circle! Want clean socks that are easily found…wash them and fold them and put them away where they belong. “What a concept!” If you don’t want peanut butter and jelly all over your fingers when you pull the sandwich out of the baggy then don’t make a messy sandwich. “Right!” I know that if I want that first cup of coffee, and do not want to wait, I must make sure there is coffee made at night. “A pot is made before my husband gets home every night.” Let’s Keep It Routine!
Does it make me a bad parent if my morning routine revolves around finishing the chores not completed or done at all? “I hope not!” As I write this morning I am aware of the things that lie ahead of me…my routine with the added items on my list of To Do’s. This is a busy week of practices…final preparations for our Easter Music on Sunday Evening. This means my schedule will be altered significantly and, barring any unforeseen incident, things should go smoothly. I am down to the last of my latte’ and will set about making a second one in a few minutes. The house is still presentable on the surface. I will spit-shine and polish after dusting the various ceiling fans. “I hate this chore!” I really should put on a hazmat cover-all for the ceiling fans! “I wish I knew where all this pesky dust came from…I would love to send it back…COD!”
So I am off to the rest of my day…secure in my little corner of the world. I apologize if you see my life as mundane in nature…no I don’t…I love my life and it’s fire-drill tempo. Let’s Keep It Routine!
What are your routines? Do you find yourself doing things without thinking about it throughout your day? “Me too!” Speaking of routines…time for another latte’! Have a great day!