7 Tips to Help You Appreciate the Routines of Raising a Family
It’s 10am on Monday morning; do you know where you’ll be? Chances are if you are a raising a family, you do. That’s because most families, especially those with young children seem to get into routine that helps them to both manage the daily responsibilities and keep things predictable. Predictable is nice, right?
Nearly every parenting book today suggests that parents follow a routine. When your baby is born, the routine of eating, sleeping, and bathing becomes life consuming. As the child grows up, the routine changes slightly in duration but still seems to revolve around the basics of life. Parents begin settling into their roles as mom and dad, and everything flows pretty smoothly. (As long as the routine is followed) Routines are proven to provide children and adults alike with a general feeling of security, and a sense of calm that seems to hold stress at bay. But what happens when the routine gets too comfortable? And worse, what happens if you wake up one day and realize that your life is a nothing more than a full circle that starts over each and every morning?
The quick answer is that you begin to stop functioning from the heart and become robotic. Appreciating the routines of raising a family is difficult, when the rhythm of life is so set that any deviation causes fear or stress. Some people become so entrenched in the to-do list, and the doing every day that they forget about one of the most important aspects of the routine. Living. FULLY.
Often, it is the routine that begins to control the family. And when this happens not only can the marriage suffer, but the feeling of connectedness among family members can as well. Interestingly, in 70% of married couples seeking marriage counseling, one of the most prevalent complaints was simply boredom. Ironically the security and stability that we as humans seek through marriage, is also one of the reasons that family doesn’t work. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence and your mind may wander back to those days of freedom and spur of the moment fun. When was the last time you laughed till your belly hurt? When is the last time you woke up on a Saturday morning and just instantly decided that your toes needed to feel sand….so you drove to the beach? With the family? When is the last time you just made love to your spouse, without checking the kids or locking the doors or worrying about who might hear you?
When you are following a routine, it becomes very easy to not appreciate all that you have in your life.
There are some simple tips that you can use to bring back some spontaneity and gratitude in your life so you will appreciate the ‘routine’ ups and downs of having a family, more than you do now.
- Schedule free time into your routine. For instance, on every 2nd Saturday of the month decide that the family is going to get up, get in the car and go and do something different. It doesn’t have to cost money. You could take a drive through the mountain, or visit a State Park. The key is instead of sticking to your routine of using Saturdays as a cleaning day – decide that every once in a while, the house can stay a mess. After all, the mess will wait for you, but the children will keep growing away. The idea behind this idea is to simply give you and your family something different to look forward to. When you have something exciting on the horizon, it is easy to spend your time in the trenches feeling satisfied and happy.
- Appreciate the small stuff. Sure, you are in a bad mood and you are tired of cooking, cleaning, and cooking again. Yet, you are pretty much guaranteed that during your day, you will find 10 things to make you laugh. When your toddler says something hysterical or when your husband/wife gives you an impromptu kiss, savor it. If you strung together all the little things during the day that are funny, sweet, nice, kind and enjoyable – you would be surprised how much differently you feel about ‘being stuck with the kids.’ You might want to start a notebook and write down your ten things each and every day. Imagine what a heirloom this will turn into when your kids are grown.
- Be willing and able to deviate from the routine. In other words, don’t be afraid to step out of your box. If a friend calls and ask you and your kids to go to the park, but it’s near lunchtime…go! Do. The worst thing that can happen is the kids are cranky at night, but remaining flexible and open for small opportunities like this really helps to bring the joy back in your day.
- Sure, sometimes marriage and raising children feels like jail. Since absence makes the heart grow stronger, take a short vacation every once in a while without the kids. One of the reasons that every else in your world loves your kids is because they don’t live with them. If you and your spouse go out for a walk, take in a movie, or spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, not only will your relationship be strengthened, but you will also miss the kids and appreciate more when you get back.
- Take 20 minutes to yourself EVERY DAY. 20 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but the reality is, it’s just what you need. In fact, import your 20 minutes into your routine every day. Use this time to take a bath, read uninterrupted, talk dirty to your spouse on the phone, or meditate. This little trick, believe it or not can have amazing results, quickly erases feelings of being overwhelmed, and helps you to appreciate the routine of raising a family.
- Sure, thinking back to the wild days and fraternizing with your single friends makes you feel like you are missing out on something. Well, go out with them for one night or spend a few hours in their shoes. Chances are you will realize pretty quickly that the hustle and bustle at your house, and being tied down to the kids and spouse….aren’t so bad after all.
- Realize that nothing is permanent! Your family will not be the same way it is right now in a year. In 5 years, you won’t even recognize your life. Even with a routine, the kids are going to grow up, and eventually you and your spouse will be right back where you started from. Alone. Simply put, realize that every day your family is growing AWAY from you. Regardless of how boring, and often how complacent it feels to be married and raise a family, it is changing right before your eyes. Sadly, you can never go back. When you affirm this in your mind and heart, it is truly easy to overlook the small irritations and begin appreciating what you have when you have it.