The kids went back to school today. I'm pretty excited to have some semblance of a routine and regular schedule for the first time in a couple months (moving back to back with the holidays wasn't very routine-friendly).
Last night we talked about our school-day routine before getting the kids to bed. We make beds when we stand up out of bed. We brush teeth when we go to the bathroom. We take a shower before we get dressed in our school clothes that are laid out the night before. We don't play or eat before we're dressed and ready. We put our socks on before we come downstairs. We keep our shoes in the shoe place by the door.
So this morning went really well. I got all the big kids to school on time (the clear morning routine plus the fact that everyone can now actually find their clothes and the fact that I've finally figured out the fastest route between our home and their school sure helped). After dropping off the big kids, the twins and I had a quality reading time and I so enjoyed snuggling with them by the fire while we read. I replied to a handful of emails while they drew pictures (30 minutes of email time in the mornings - max - that's one of my New Years Resolutions) then we had a nice little lunch together before I took them to school (another resolution - lunch at 11:15 so they can be at school by noon - and we were on time!). I came home, got dinner in the crock pot (resolution to figure out what to have for dinner before it's actually dinner time), and spent the last hour and a half on the phone with April prioritizing Power of Moms stuff (and I'm feeling much better now that we've put off some things that were making me way too stressed - resolution to be better at prioritizing and saying no). Now I've got 20 minutes to write this little post before I go pick up all the kids (resolution to write more often and write shorter more targeted posts).
Routines are wonderful things. I've missed them dearly. And routines sure help with resolutions.
Of course, most days the established routines get messed up here and there. Unexpected things pop up - usually at the least opportune times. The repairman shows up when you need to go pick up the kids from school. Someone calls with a crisis when you're trying to help your kids with homework and you probably shouldn't have answered the phone right then but you did (or one of your kids did...). Your twins dump out 50 pounds of pinto beans in the pantry while you're downstairs cleaning up the potted plant they upturned a few minutes prior while you were trying to do story time with your older kids (happened to me a few years ago - similar sorts of things again and again almost every day while the twins were two - any semblance of a routine was hard in those days - but still, days when I tried for at least a simple routine went better than those when I didn't even attempt a routine).
But having a routine that generally works is a very good thing. Having times where you can usually plan on having a little quiet time to get things done or plan on helping with homework or plan on running errands or plan on doing bedtime stuff is a good thing. Being able to "blame" the clock for the necessity of doing certain things at certain times can be a great thing with kids - and can help you be more personally disciplined as well. Knowing what to expect and setting up expectations for your family members about how the day should go generally makes the day go better - as long as your expectations are realistic, that is.
So today, I give thanks for routines - imperfect and flexible but generally tried-and-true routines. Long may they live.