Breaking the Routine

The original poster…I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.

Like fellow blogger Gena recently wrote in her post, I am a type A person, and by extension, a type A parent. I try…really hard, actually…to just go with the flow, but it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I like things planned, organized, and done ahead of time. Dinner is always at 6:30, baths always happen by 7:30, and I meal plan every weekend for the coming week. I like to be organized and follow a routine. Perhaps this is part of the reason that teaching is such an appealing vocation to me. We have lesson plans, plan books, strategic plans…there’s some room for flexibility, of course, but we have a good idea of what our routine looks like, generally. However, I’m slowly realizing the importance of doing things “just because”.

Last spring, my husband traveled out-of-state on a business trip. I was so worried my sons would be thrown off by Dad not being there for dinner since we always eat together as a family. I decided to throw caution to the wind and declare it “picnic dinner night”. We ate chicken tenders, fruit salad, and popsicles on a blanket in the living room while listening to music. We stayed up later than usual, had extra bubbles in the bath, and all was well. We did, of course, miss my husband, but this time, breaking routine was definitely worth it and fun. In fact, my older son kept asking when we’d have another fancy dinner picnic months after the fact.

This is something I vow to do more of.

When my kids think about their childhood, I highly doubt they’ll fondly remember how mom so precisely stacked the dishes in the dishwasher or how she could tell you on Sunday what we’d be eating for dinner on the following Thursday. They’ll remember the fun stuff. There should be more fun stuff.

Long ago, I came across this great poster entitled “How to Really Love a Child”, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it in light of recent events. I’d love to make my own as a reminder with suggestions from our readers!

Here are my additions to get things started…

  • Let them cover the entire driveway, and themselves, with chalk.
  • Say “ok” when they ask to use glitter and glue.
  • Let them drink hot cocoa after they’ve refused to put on their mittens and have freezing cold hands.
  • Agree to let them grocery shop while wearing a cape.
  • Let them stay in the tub past the point where their fingers and toes are wrinkled.
  • Praise them for putting on their own clothes without commenting on their mismatched outfits.

What would you add?

image from

2 thoughts on “Breaking the Routine

  1. Sark is well-meaning but not all of us are naturally silly. I think it’s okay to try to stretch a little — like the picnic on the blanket — I loved that! But please don’t torture yourself for being who you are. You don’t have to kiss elephants to build lasting memories for your kids.

  2. I am VERY type A as well! The BEST advice my Mom ever gave me… WHO CARES if your Thanksgiving pies and Christmas cookies don’t look like the pictures in Martha Stewart magazine! They still taste the same and your daughter LOVED making and decorating them with you! Years from now, she won’t ever remember that her Mom made the most perfect pies and cookies, but she will ALWAYS remember how much fun she had making them WITH you. I find myself playing this conversation back in my mind often… every time my daughter wants to “help” clean, cook, fold laundry, sign Christmas cards, wrap presents, etc. I can assure you, it was a life-altering conversation! Thank you, Mom!

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