It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The kids are all back in school and everyone is happy. They love their teachers and their classes, and they come home speaking positively about their daily experiences. The teachers are funny and the class pets are incredible. What’s cooler than feeding a bearded dragon blueberries for breakfast? I know it’s early in the year, but this is a huge win since it’s already a major improvement over last year. While my kids are happy and content with their new daily routine, I’m having a hard time reestablishing mine. I couldn’t wait to hear the sweet sound of silence in my house, but now that it’s here, I’m not enjoying it quite as much as I thought I would.

As the summer drew to a close, I made big plans for my childless days. I would set a routine and maybe even stick to it. It would start with waking early, exercising early, working early. I should’ve considered the fact that I don’t enjoy doing ANYTHING early, nor do I enjoy routines. I simply cannot do the same things at the same time day after day. It’s just not in my wiring. Methodical is not and never has been my style, and the more I try to control my scattered schedule, the more out of hand it gets.

Don’t judge me too harshly. I get my kids to school on time. Everyone arrives at his/her scheduled appointments, practices, and play dates when they’re supposed to. I even feed them three meals a day and almost always at the expected times. I’m not THAT bad off. But when it comes to daily repetition of a monotonous schedule, I check out.

I may not be the most orderly person, but I do know a lot of people who are. It’s kind of the equivalent of having stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

My husband lives and breathes by his schedule. As a matter of fact, he turns into quite the pair of grumpy pants when it’s interrupted. For twenty years, he has risen, worked out, and finished his first cup of coffee before the sun peeked over the horizon. I can see why my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach drives him crazy, and he tells me regularly I need a schedule. I keep reminding him he shouldn’t do that.

My daughter is cut from his cloth. She comes home every day, puts her backpack, shoes, and clothes exactly where they go. She unpacks and cleans her lunch box, and readies all of the above for the next day. I joke with her and her dad that their routines slightly resemble Mr. Roger’s cardigan and shoe shuffle, but they don’t find it as funny as I do. She does her homework without prompting, and checks to make sure all of the doors are locked every night before she goes to bed – even if I’m still awake.

My sister is an amazingly organized forward thinker. She has a solid routine, her laundry is always caught up, and she’s almost always in a great mood. In my house, laundry and good moods are not related. Although my brother-in-law and husband insist my sister and I share a brain, we are quite opposites. They’re just upset because we beat them quite handily every time we play Taboo, but that’s just because of our sisterly telepathy and the fact that she has more fun facts packed in that head of hers than Cliff Clavin (Kudos to those of you who remember who that is!). During one of our recent conversations she told me she was working on a paper for school and really wanted to get it done this week. It’s due in October. It is quite clear to me she’s the superior sister.

My sister-in-law is stored in my phone as “My Little Harmonica” due to her extreme Monica Geller-like tendencies. Her house is tidy and spotless. Her children are tidy and spotless. Her daily routine is tidy and spotless. She is a self-declared control freak so it won’t offend her that I wrote that, and unlike me, her calendar is spit spot and her correspondence always goes out on time. Always.

While I often try to mimic the crazily regimented people in my life, I just can’t seem to fall in. My routine is to mix up the routine. That’s right; I like to mix it up. In all fairness, I do have 895,327 tasks to do and clothes to fold in any given day. If I don’t make a game out of it, things just won’t get done. Oddly enough, I am more productive when surrounded by noise and distractions, hence the struggle with the kids being gone. I honestly think I’ve given myself adult ADD and don’t know how to function when I’m left with just the A.

One of the biggest impediments to my schedule maintenance is the occasional whim to start a new project in the middle of the day for absolutely no reason even when I still have 895,326 things left to do. There may have been a few times when I’ve started a new project which required emptying the contents of one room to another, only to start painting a totally different room which led to painting the whole house, doors, jambs, and baseboards. When I needed more painters tape, I couldn’t find it in the garage which may have led me to then pull the garage contents into the driveway to better organize them. It’s like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie gone horribly wrong. Someone diagnose me. Please. Except for my husband. He should never venture across that line.

Today started as the much scarier version of If You Give Laura a Schedule. The day was too organized for my liking, so I tried to throw in my usual kinks to get myself back on track, but it wasn’t working. Just when I thought things were slipping out of control and I was about to start painting the exterior of my brick home, I got a message and a photo from a friend that said, “This made me think of you and your blog. You’ve found a way to hold it all together and you do it so well.”

My first response to my friend was that I felt more like WD-40 than glue as slippery as this day was going. But her words were like a reset button. I said a simple, “Thank you,” refocused on the tasks at hand and put the paint away. My husband probably wouldn’t have been on board with painted brick. He’s so conventional like that.

I’ve spent a LOT of time wishing I could be more scheduled like my husband and more of a planner like my sister and maintain the fitness calendar of Hera, but the only logical choice for me now is acceptance. I need to stop fighting being “me.” I am who I am, and I need not be like anyone else. Ultimately, the net gain is the same and the projects all get done. It’s just not a very orderly process, unless you’re me, and then it all makes perfect sense.

There is one routine I can follow: the kids’ bedtimes, which happen in a staggered fashion based upon age. This little trick that further distinguishes the kids’ hierarchy of respect and responsibility amongst them also allows me a little more one-on-one time with each of them as the evenings close. As I was tucking my son in to bed tonight, he told me was glad he gets to stay up later “because we get to hang out a little longer,” and my heart melted. I may not have my schedule in order and my paintbrushes may be petrified, but some systems are working. More importantly, I have my kids’ seals of approval, and that’s all that really matters.

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One thought on “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

  1. Another great article. I have to disagree though. You are such an amazing multi-tasker. You are always doing and giving whatever is needed to support that beautiful family!
    You are amazing and I am humbled by your stamina and depth! My OCD drives my hubby crazy! I guess it works both ways. I love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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