A perfectly beautiful messy routine: New baby edition

Week #3 of life at home. What have I learned?

  • Things get tense at home when you are home all the time with the same people, even if you live in paradise.
  • Weather affects us. Have you noticed a difference between sunny days and cloudy days? One perhaps a little more cheerful than the other.
  • Routine is beauty. This was a phrase I heard repeatedly while training for a year of missionary work at age 18. Routine is beauty. Now, more than ever, when a lot of our external structure has dissolved through government mandates. Routine is beauty.

Routine can go like this:

  • 7:30 a.m. wake,
  • exercise,
  • shower,
  • dress,
  • eat healthful breakfast,
  • begin distance learning or online work,
  • break for healthful lunch,
  • read a chapter from classic literature,
  • take a walk in the sunshine,
  • return to distance learning or online work,
  • prepare a well-balanced and nutritious but still interesting dinner,
  • say prayers,
  • tuck perfect children into bed,
  • relax with a glass of wine with your partner and retire at a reasonable time.

I feel more relaxed and successful just writing that out.

People jumping for joy. A smart routine makes us feel successful.
Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash

Or routine can go like this:

  • baby wakes, hand baby to the spouse, sleep longer, wake, dress or feed baby, dress other kids, yell to kids to do their morning chores while nursing baby again, eat cold scrambled eggs made an hour ago by an ambitious 9-year-old, begin schoolwork sometime around 9 a.m., get distracted by online work while pretending to teach children, send a child out at the sound of a school district van honking with free lunches, steal chips from child’s lunch because, come on, they’re Sun Chips, forget if children are indoors or out after lunch because it feels so good outdoors, put toddler down for a nap, put baby down, remember to wash dishes, feed baby, try to pass her off to spouse, be reminded spouse has online lessons to give, walk about backyard with baby in a stroller, ask children if they finished their work, gather all the vegetables in the fridge and mix with rice for dinner, make a drink, maybe make a second drink, and binge watch “The Office” with the spouse.

I don’t feel quite as relaxed in that one.

Wide-eyed face expression. Lack of routine can make us feel anxious and out of control.
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

But it is real life.

Routine may be as beautiful as the calligraphy-laden cardstock or it might be the messy chaos of a schedule that is never quite certain.

The routine I am learning is one I once knew. Act when the baby is asleep; let everything stop when the is awake.

The key to mastering your routine: accept its place in your real life.

I may want my routine to operate by the clock. I may think of how much more other mothers’ are accomplishing during this quarantine. But right now, that is not my home. And that is okay.

In utilizing the small breaks offered to me I am trying to make sure a few things fit into my day: a short time of prayer/meditation, reading time for myself and reading time to my kids, writing time, time outside in the sun weather permitting and time moving.

Last week I had to be intentional about staying off social media. Now, I find the news posts and the encouraging posts draining because I want us to live life! Not just live coronavirus. So my appetite for scrolling has gone down.

My shortlist is not one I will complete every day, and I may lose some of those moments to a much-needed phone call with a friend or a wrestling match with the kids, but it gives me something to aim for. That, in itself, helps build structure, structure that also serves as self-care.

Those without a baby will find their time looks different.

For this next week, in a long series of stay-at-home weeks, what’s on your list of essential business? How can you prioritize the care of your heart and mind, as well as your body?

You may not manage it every day, since we know life cannot be perfect. Since life cannot be perfect, managing just some days means success.

That is beautiful.

Mother walking with child in the forest. A routine grounded in real life allows for unexpected blessings if we are open to it.
Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

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