My alarm beeped at me at 6:15 this morning. I was not happy with it at all. I may have slapped the thing a little harder than necessary.
I could stay in bed. I could sleep another hour. My children would not wake until after seven and my teens later than that. No one would judge me. I pulled the comforter a little tighter under my chin.
And then the cacophony of demands banged around my brain. To-dos, chores, appointments. So much to do and so little time to buy groceries. Did I want to run late? Did I want to hyperventilate through the day? Did I want to drag the children frantically behind me?
Or instead, did I want to calmly face each task with joy? Greet each moment with purpose? Relish extra moments for hugs, walks, and snacks? Even grab another cup of coffee in the afternoon?
That did it. I scrambled out of bed to grab hold of my day. To enjoy it. To find the rest in my routine.
My word for the year is enjoy. Ecclesiastes 2:24 reminds us, “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” Enjoy the work. Even the housework, perish the thought.
A fuzzy bathrobe, warm coffee, leather journal, and worn Bible begin my precious routine. Nearly an hour of uninterrupted reading, writing, and prayer. It truly is my favorite time of day. God speaks to me as I breathe slowly and anticipate the goodness He will show today.
I am a woman of habit. My routine has varied little over the past twenty years. Breakfast, chores, Bible time with the children, homeschooling, lunch, quiet time and working, practicing the violin, picking up the house, cooking dinner, rushing off to evening activities, snuggling in bed with David before sleep.
It’s a comfort to walk the familiar path through my day. The hours may change, priorities will interrupt, but as Solomon promised in Ecclesiastes 1:5, the sun will rise and the sun will set. God set a rhythm into our day to assure and refresh us.
Why is routine so comforting? Why do we crave rhythms to our days? I have found several benefits to continuing my daily pattern.
1. Routines set family expectations.
My children know what to do when they get up. They run upstairs for rest time or to their desks for quiet study after lunch is cleared away. There are no arguments about schoolwork or chores or bedtime because the routines are now habit.
2. Routines keep life balanced.
There is a time for everything, Ecclesiastes reminds us. There is a time for homeschooling and a time for play. A time for clearing clutter and a time for cooking dinner. A time for soccer and a time for snuggles. When I mess with those times, I create frustration for us all. Last week, I spent extra time with my son on math well beyond our usual homeschool hours. Next thing I know, an hour had gone by and the two of us were incredibly cranky. We had put things out of their place. Math could wait until tomorrow.
3. Routines protect against overcommitting.
I love to do so many things. Writing, editing, playing the violin, speaking, meeting friends. But I have learned from the protection of my routine. If a new opportunity will not fit into my pattern, I have to let it go. Stretching my time and energy to the breaking point harms me and my family.
4. Routines offer comfort in stressful times.
Homeschooling can be stressful. Family illness can be stressful. Extra appointments, life milestones, and relationships can all be stressful. Staying in my routine gives my day a foundation. I know when I will meet with the Lord about it. I know when I will feed my body. I know when I will sit and just be. Every morning, I know at least a few things that will go as expected this new day: I will pray first thing. I will drink coffee. I will eat. I will see my husband at night. These comforts give hope.
5. Routines offer a fresh start in the midst of a bad day.
When the morning goes wrong, I am tempted to throw in the towel and declare the day a lost cause. But my routine offers me several do-overs throughout the day. Things can turn around when homeschooling is over. I will feel revitalized after some work is completed. A warm meal will do us all some good. There is always a place to take a deep breath and start anew.
6. Routines give a fresh start after a bad day.
No matter my failings, no matter the trials, no matter the discouragement, the sun rises again. There is a new day, a fresh start to the rhythm of life, a clean, crisp beginning.
7. Routines provide optimism.
Our daily routine isn’t a slavery to the clock. The routine does not own us or our family. The routine gives us a rhythm to keep going. It offers confidence as we tackle the next project. It gives guidance for the next task. It gives comfort to the end in sight.
Routines are not about timetables and schedules. Instead, we can comfortably meander through the familiar path well-worn by happy memories and joy-filled accomplishments. The prayers offered, the breakfast devoured, the lessons learned, the fun-filled lunch hour, the quiet afternoon hours, the delicious meal . . . the pattern of our family life. In peaceful rhythm, the sun rises and sets over our steady walk together.