Routines in a “New Normal”

As a teacher, routines are everything. Students, especially young students, perform better when routines are well established. They help the children establish good habits ( and in some case healthy habits like brushing their teeth) and feel comfortable with transitions. Children feel and work better when they know what comes next. Routines help them establish trust in their relationships with the teacher and their peers. They also help children trust the environment.

Routines also help with time management. After all there is a schedule of activities that must be adhered to at school and for that matter in most work places in their future. I have found that routines are important to me not only as a teacher, but as a person. Routines help me cope with change and control my stress levels. They become critical in maintaining my mental and emotional health.

I have struggled with depression for many years of my life. One of the ways, I control this is well-established routines. My daily routines reduce my anxieties while giving me things to look forward to. This is how I learned to use things to “fill my bucket” (see Jan. 9th conversation), and establish self-care (see Feb 8th conversation). Routines inform my daily schedule. So, I was thrown for a loop when the Corona-virus changed everything.

The first week of being home wasn’t bad. It was like a vacation break. The second week became more strained when businesses began to close and going out was curtailed. By week three, I was starting to feel the stress. Depression was waiting at the door of my sub-conscious as I began to process our “new normal.” My morning routines gave way to staying in bed. My walks gave way to watching too much daytime TV, my writing time gave way to trying to work from home with virtual learning, my reading time gave way to playing card games on my tablet. My morale was in a slow motion fall; not only mine, but most of my family.

During this time, my husband kept working. His job has not shut down. One day I noticed his mood and attitude seemed upbeat compared to the rest of us. (I won’t lie, that ticked me off.) I asked myself, ‘what does he have to be so happy about?’ I fumed over it for several days, especially when he would come in and ask me how my day was or what I had done all day. Then one day when I was forcing myself to work on rewriting a poem, it hit me. His routine hadn’t changed. His life hadn’t been interrupted in the same way that ours had. (Can you see the light bulb?)

The wheels in this creative head began to turn. The next day I got up, dressed like I was going to work, went to the kitchen table for my devotional time, ate my yogurt, and pulled out my laptop for a day’s work. I felt better. The next day I got up, made my bed, did my hair, put on my favorite earrings, and followed the routine from the day before. The third day, I added a drive to the schedule. My mom and I went for a drive just to see the spring flowers and trees. We didn’t get out of the vehicle; we just enjoyed the view and the conversation. Now we have a new routine. I felt grounded. I felt better.

Our new routines give us things to look forward to, as well as purpose. There are transitions in the schedule which helps the day to move along. There are activities in the day that keep my mind stimulated and my emotions in check. (I even have an answer to my husband’s inquiries when he gets home, instead of resentment.) Yesterday, I made spinach wraps for dinner. (Trying new recipes is one of my favorite pastimes, we call it “Chopped Wannabe)

Routines are important to the entire family. I’m helping my mom and my granddaughter establish “new normal” routines, and we’re all smiling more. Our life has a new schedule. Thank goodness, I don’t have to get up at five in the morning, but I do a have to get up, and I do have to “Cease the Day!” How about you? Is your spirit lagging? Do you feel the blues going on, or see it in your children? Perhaps it time to set some very important “new normal” routines in your family.

A guide to the early morning habits that boost your productivity and relax you—featuring interviews with leaders like Arianna Huffington, General Stanley McChrystal, Marie Kondo, and more. Amazon.com

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