After living for no more than a school-year in any one place for the last eight years, I am now a homeowner, along with my husband. That doesn’t mean that life is any less chaotic now, but it does mean that I’ve been motivated to establish a routine for myself. After all, I can no longer say, “Why bother? We’ll be moving soon and that will upset everything.” Now, what would be much more likely to upset everything would be a lack of routine.
So here is my routine:
First: Get up, breakfast, see my husband off to work, and hope the toddler keeps sleeping for just a little bit longer.
Next: The toddler is definitely up by now. We eat eggs (second breakfast for me). I turn on an audiobook from the library (I’m currently listening to At Home by Bill Bryson.) and try to get the kitchen back to it’s daily zenith of cleanliness. The toddler chews, the dishwasher chugs, and I put things where they belong.
Mid-morning: By this time I’ve also started a batch of laundry, meanwhile noticing that there are also a lot of clean clothes on the floor– the toddler has been getting creative with her outfits. The cleanliness of the kitchen begins to decline as said toddler pulls out her box of paints and asks for a cup of water. I happily oblige and pull up a seat next to her. The fun part about having a kid is being a kid. The fun part about being a kid is being creative.
After that: Let’s face it: I’m probably still in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast or paint, or I’m back in the kitchen finding us a snack. Either way, I’m in the kitchen. At least I’m making good progress with the audiobook.
Then: By this time, I’m done with most of the items on my list that are possible to complete with a toddler around. Which means I’m stuck doing fun things, like reading books, building with duplos, playing the ukulele, or going outside if the air won’t freeze our faces off. Sometimes we run errands. (Sometimes we run errands all day, but we’re talking about routine here.)
Noonish: We eat lunch and I clean up the kitchen again. Around this time of day I switch from speaking Spanish with the toddler to speaking English with the toddler. We’re trying to find our bilingual balance.
Eventually, maybe: The toddler goes down for a nap. This usually involves a lot of me laying next to her, reading. I am sure I’ve read more in her 2.75 years than I did during my four years of college, especially if you count the audiobooks.
If she falls asleep: I sneak over to the computer and do graphic design stuff. I tweak a logo, send another draft to a client, update a brochure with new information, make a post on social media, email a prospective client, or maybe even do a project just for fun. I also try to update my poetry blog.
Otherwise: Some days, the toddler does not take a nap, in which case we replace all that graphic design stuff with tired toddler antics, then go for a walk to the library (again, only if the air won’t freeze our faces off) in an attempt to reboot our attitudes.
After nap-time: I make supper. The toddler helps. It is good to be in the kitchen. In the kitchen, there are knives, food, and fire, which means another opportunity to be creative.
At last: Husband gets home, we eat, and we have our evening. We go through the mail, we talk about our days. Either we work on the house or he works on the car. I clean the kitchen again.
Finally: We all go to bed so that we can do it again. This sounds pathetic, but that’s not how I feel about it. I don’t mind doing the same thing over again, because I can see how we are learning and growing because of good things we’ve put in our routines. I don’t mind spending time cleaning the kitchen because that’s where life happens, so I like it to be relatively clean. Besides, food is important. I enjoy the silliness of my daughter and spending time with her (except when she should be napping, in which case I spend time with her anyway). I enjoy part-time work that allows me to connect with other working people. Graphic design is one of those things that pushes me continually upward even while I just do a little every day. And that’s what routines are for.