Why Our Family Needs Both Routine and Spontaneity

I love my routine.

I love the expectedness of it. Left to my own devices, I’m as set in my ways as a 90 year-old hermit.

This isn’t a new thing for me, or a “getting older” thing. I think I’ve been this way since birth. From childhood, my life has been marked by a few periods of extreme change. But, outside of those instances, I’ve always had a pretty consistent routine for myself–though the specifics have changed, depending on the phase of life.

There’s more to the appeal…

As someone who has a deep appreciation for checking things off to-do lists (where are my list people?), I love how a solid daily and weekly routine helps me consistently get things done.

How does this affinity for structure translate into marriage and motherhood?

 We keep a pretty steady routine in place for our family. Again, this has been tweaked (sometimes drastically) according to the season of life. Most of our days follow a recognizable pattern, which keeps the household [mostly] running smoothly. The trick is making sure that we don’t fall into monotony–especially within our marriage.

We’ve seen some benefits of consistency:

  • Kids’ behavior improves because they know what to expect and, in turn, what’s expected of them. This leads to fewer power struggles when it comes time to clean up the play room or get ready for bed.

We even reiterate this verbally, like “after dinner, we take a bath and brush our teeth before    bed”. It’s a beautiful thing when they realize a task is non-negotiable, simply because it’s part of the daily routine.

  •  I think it provides a sense of security. Speaking as a former child, I always felt most comfortable when I had a general idea of what to expect the next day. Our kids seem more calm in this routine, especially Daisy–who likes a rundown of the following day’s plans at bedtime.

If there’s too much upheaval of the norm (which, you know, DOES occur sometimes–major life changes often create this feeling of chaos), we see more meltdowns and tears over “nothing”.

  • As I mentioned before, a consistent routine helps make sure that the important DAILY tasks get done, at least most of the time. I’m sure your life, like ours, has a lot of moving pieces. Habits are powerful tools in managing all the craziness, and maintaining forward motion toward goals.

So we’ve talked about routine. It certainly has its merits. But it’s only part of what our family needs.

My husband is the opposite side of this equation. He’s the king of spontaneity, and has been balancing me out in this area since we met.

 He’s gifted in spotting those moments when we should “just go!” and –usually–convincing me to take a spur of the moment leap. This brings me to the second part of this discussion: leaving room for spontaneity within the routine.

 

routine and spontaneity

There are some distinct perks to allowing for some flexibility:

  •  It brings out the fun side in all of our personalities–even me, with my decades-too-old habits! Suddenly going somewhere unplanned, or quickly deciding to try something new together sparks all our interests. An added benefit is that we–as a couple–get to remember that we love doing fun things together! Our daily routine does so much to set the tone for our home, but the “crazy” things done as a family often create the stand-out memories.
  • It provides opportunities we might not have had otherwise. Sometimes, the activities you do at the last minute are those you might never have planned in advance! Whether the opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience or just the time for a deep conversation, it’s always worth it.

This doesn’t even have to be a “big” experience. Some of ours have been as basic as taking the kids out out late on a summer evening to get ice cream!

  • It keeps a sense of adventure alive in our family. There’s something special about experiences shared together. Life doesn’t END when you have children–it simply expands and evolves. Sometimes this means involving them in whatever spur-of-the-moment activity…and sometimes it means quickly finding a sitter.

 

  • This is a self-centered benefit, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. Spontaneity is good for ME. I often struggle with flexibility and “going with the flow”. So opportunities to do just that give me a chance to grow as a person. I’m learning, slowly, that changing plans can be a good thing.

What about you?

Do you love a stable routine, or are you the spontaneous one in your family?

Recommended Reading:

Surviving Vacations With Babies and Toddlers

How I Learned My True Identity

The Joys of Afternoon Quiet Time

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