How routines have changed my life in a big way

I love spontaneity and I hate feeling boxed in. Being stuck in a boring routine all day feels like my soul is dying a little at a time! I am only sort of joking about that. For years, I have struggled with the desire to always fill my time with something spontaneous and exciting, knowing that I need to balance it with real life and discipline.

For a long time, I tended to swing from one extreme to the other. I was very disciplined for a few weeks and then, when I just couldn’t take it anymore, I would drop pretty much all of that discipline — stay up until 3 a.m., go out and do fun things with the kids when we should have been home, and eat junk food.

For the past year, I have learned a lot about myself through personality testing and the Enneagram (I am an ENFP and Enneagram 7). I realized that this internal struggle to balance discipline and hatred of monotony with what I considered fun and freedom were part of who I am. It was so freeing to realize that! I wasn’t just crazy! I learned I needed to find better ways of living that embraced my personality along with the necessity for discipline.

About 5 months ago, I asked about this struggle on one of my Facebook groups to see if anyone had any tips that worked for them. I got several great suggestions, but the one that affected me the most was to use morning and evening routines to anchor my days, and allow for flexibility and spontaneity in the middle.

I am not being overly dramatic when I say that this advice was literally life-changing to me. Over the past few months, I have established morning and evening routines that really ground me and yet still have the flexibility I crave.

I think it takes some time to sit down and really come up with what routines will benefit you and your family the most.

My daily routine

Morning

I start my mornings by waking up at a consistent time instead of waiting for the kids to wake me up. I immediately jump on our exercise bike for a half an hour, make myself a smoothie for breakfast, take my vitamins, then shower and get ready for the day. That alone is a pretty big deal for me. Not only am I getting in some exercise, I get a healthy breakfast as well. I am also fully awake and much happier when my kids get up for the day.

Evening

In the evenings, I do a quick 10-minute Pilates video when my husband starts bedtime with the kids. Then I get ready for bed with the kids. I wash my face, brush my teeth and take out my contacts.

After the kids are in bed, I watch TV. While watching TV, I check my Google Calendar for the next day and write anything I need to do or anything still on my mind. I usually fold a load of laundry then. It only takes a few minutes, but it helps calm my mind and get me ready for the next day.

Night

The biggest change I made is turning off the TV and computer by 10 p.m. That alone is a little insane, but it has been really nice to actually wind down and read. I am usually ready to go to bed by 11p.m., which is a big change from midnight or later which was often the case before.

Give yourself grace

None of these routines are particularly profound, but they make me feel healthy and well-rested, which benefits pretty much every aspect of life. Please don’t think I do these perfectly. The kids still wake up too early sometimes and every now and then I am still on the computer at 10:30 p.m. But I know this is the exception and not the norm. If the kids are up too early, I send them to the playroom and let them know I will see them when I am done exercising. And if I have one late night, I make sure I get back to my routine the next day.

I really encourage you to really look at the routines in your life and think about how they are benefiting you and your family. If they aren’t, take a little time to choose 1 or 2 simple routines you could add to help anchor your days.

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