I have had an aha moment. A mindset shift. A glimpse of a different perspective.
You see I have had a on/off relationship with to do lists, schedules, routines and diary management. I like the idea of them, I try to use them, but I just forget about them after a couple of weeks.
And it’s not that I can’t be organised or that I can’t plan my week ahead. It’s just that it’s plain boring. I do honestly love a framework around my week, and if it were only me I would do the same routines everyday – and I wouldn’t need a planner or schedule to achieve it.
But I have a family, and several people’s timelines to keep in mind. But the idea of blocking out time in the calendar for when everyone is going to have their shower, or to put things on a to do list so that I can cross it off, is, just so unappealing to me.
But I recently read that this stuff is meant to be boring. And maybe part of me feels as though it’s pointless to put in the energy to plan and then put in the energy to action that plan. I just feel like it’s too tiring.
Why does it feel so tiring? Well I spend so much of my energy nagging my family to act on my verbal prompts of “have your shower”, “brush your teeth”, “we need to go now”, that I am exhausted and that even if I had any time frame and schedule in my mind, it would be out the window anyway because they take so long to listen.
So what has eventuated over time, is (and this is my aha moment), we have fallen into rhythms (I like this word better than routine because to me routine feels more like it was created to follow, whereas rhythm is a more natural, organically developed way of life).
Some rhythms are “helpful” and some are “unhelpful”.
For example, for us, a “helpful rhythm” is on Saturday mornings we can get up slowly and ease into the day and don’t have to get ready for swimming lessons until 9am (for a 10.30am lesson). It gives us space. We don’t feel rushed. My husband can go to the gym in the morning and get back with plenty of time before we leave for the swimming lessons.
A “helpful rhythm” for me is having my support workers come at 9.30am for our sessions and then I have the rest of the morning free.
A “helpful rhythm” is only booking in one thing a day (in the mornings) and then having some quiet time after lunch before school pick up.
But we have so many “unhelpful rhythms” going on too, and to be honest I thought I was going to struggle with coming up with the “helpful” ones but am relieved there were a few I could mention.
So “unhelpful rhythms”…
Our weekends get away from us with things like groceries and school lunch supplies being bought on a Sunday afternoon. I find it stressy, even though it’s hubby who goes and does it, but I just want him home with us.
Hair washing after swimming lessons. I would prefer these to be done on a Saturday afternoon, but seems to end up being Sunday afternoon too.
When we get home after school, I have little energy to get my girls to have their showers and eat their dinner properly or do some homework, and yep even going to bed is hard work. So it all gets on top of me and I need to use anxiety to get me into action in order to get them into action.
As I write this I am realising that I seem to have to use anxiety to get me into action in many areas of my life, and although some anxiety is good for you to get things done, I have a lot of resistance to it. I hate the feeling of being anxious because it makes me feel rushed and panicky. I feel that maybe this is a big part of why I resist planning and scheduling because I don’t want to have to employ “anxiety” that often. Even writing this paragraph I can feel myself holding my breath and the feelings of anxiety rise up within me.
But back to rhythms. Now I have established that there are these unhelpful rhythms, I have an idea on how to mould and tweaks them (fine tune them even), into more helpful rhythms.
Really dig deep and journal about what a “helpful” afternoon rhythm would look like (and then do the same for other parts of the day/week). Really picture and visualise it and the feelings of calm that come with it. Because that’s the feeling I want to evoke – calm. I feel this bit will be easy.
Then with that in mind create some sort of documentation to reference and to use to share with the family. This bit will be a little hard because I like to honour people’s individuality and preferences on how they like to do things.
Put it into action. I have gotten to this point in the past when I have tried to get some sort of routine in place and for some reason I just don’t have it in me to enforce. This area will be my greatest challenge and I will need to do some mindset work around this.
I have to move past the anxiety. I need to be less defensive when I am trying to get the girls to do what they need to. I need to stay patient, and I want to remain firm but compassionate.
The goal is that we get ourselves into more helpful rhythms, reduce anxiety, nag less, and bring more harmony to our home.