I Do Love My Routines, But…

When routines get in the way.

I love a good routine but can there be too much of a good thing? Consider this…

As part of managing the family commitments, we have developed a routine for our weekdays. We manage to wrangle all of the activities and appointments, getting everyone where they need to be on time and still managing to cook dinner, do the housework and get into bed before we collapse. Sport and regular family gatherings occur on the weekend and we seemed to be getting into a routine about that too. It got to the point where, apart from consulting the calendar on occasion, I didn’t have to think too hard about where we were going or what we were doing on any given day. I was on to a winner, less time spent planning and organising, more time free to think of other things. At least that’s what I thought.

While I was congratulating myself on a job well done, my daughter was having other thoughts. One day she came to me and said that we don’t do anything together as a family anymore. Well, I think it took me a full minute to pick my jaw up from the floor. What about all of those sporting activities I watch, the running around we do to this activity and that? Nope, apparently that didn’t count. We were in the same location but technically we weren’t doing ‘things’ as a family. The kids were doing the stuff and we were the cheer squad. I conceded the point.

Then it occurred to me, what about our Sunday beach walks? We take the dog, meet the grandparents, have a coffee, chat and stroll the beach before returning home. We do this every week, nice, happy, family activity.

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I thought I had her, she couldn’t disagree with me on that. But she did. You see, she pointed out to me that it was a nice thing to do but that doing the same thing every week was not so good. As beautiful as the beach was, it was like Groundhog Day. Every day was blurring into every other and nothing memorable was happening. I realised that it had become an easy way to live. Comfortable. I did not have to make any decisions or put any effort into thinking about what we did or where we went. It was just a case of rinse and repeat, each and every week. Maybe she had a point.

It made me think that we needed to put a little more effort into planning our family time. You would think that spending time as a family would be something that just happens and there would be no need to plan for it at all, but that’s just not the case. Being together and doing things that create memories are very different. We can get so caught up in the doing, that we forget to consider the living, the experiencing, the enjoying.

We are a family that likes getting out into nature and going on hikes and bushwalking. It was therefore a very simple thing to move our regular Sunday walk to a different location. I did a bit of Googling and stumbled upon a hidden gem up in the hills only half an hour from where we live.

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We hiked to the waterfall, took photos of all the wildflowers that lined the track and lamented the fact that we didn’t realise it was a dog friendly location until we got there. The activity in the end was virtually the same, it was only the location that had changed. By moving our regular walk to a different location and creating a small change in the routine we gave ourselves the opportunity for memories to be created.

How simple, how unexpected!

There’s no way I will be getting rid of my useful routines but this experience has taught me that all routines need to be reviewed from time to time. Broken routines need to be changed and new ones created that best suit our needs. This is definitely something I will be doing regularly from now on.


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