We’re currently on a year-long Home Assignment. Pretty much the antithesis of routine, right? I know you understand the nomadic life of moving from place to place every few weeks or months while in your home country.
We’re on the tail end of a 3-week road trip right now. Routine what?
Which is why I’m craving a routine when we get home in a few days. No more driving for multiple hours. No more fast food for a long while. (Hallelujah!) No more, “Now, who are these new friends? Do they have kids? How many? How old? How long will we stay with them?”
I’m so thankful for how well our 3 kids just went with the flow and adapted to 10+ beds/rooms in the past few weeks. Really, I could learn a thing or two from how quickly and easily they jump into new surroundings and friendships.
Yet we all crave routine.
It’s not easy to stay consistent, though. I get distracted, sucked into something more interesting for the moment, lazy, or busy. Just like other temptations, those things satisfy me for a while, until I finally notice that quiet whisper, calling me back into a rhythm. I think of Jesus when he would minister to hundreds of people, teaching and healing them for days on end, but then he needed to sneak away for some rest, reconnection with his Father, and perhaps finding a routine again.
Every stage of life has a different-looking routine. I can remember the days of college and pre-marriage of hour and a half quiet times. I’d journal, read scripture, write out what I was learning, and then read some of another book. When I was teaching full time, I’d get up at 5am to do this! It was a sweet, sweet time, and I know it’ll happen again someday.
Fast forward a few years and we had 3 kids 5 and under and I barely knew which way was up. Sleep deprivation was constant and it was all I could do to stay afloat. I remember trying to get up earlier than the kids to have some quiet time, but somehow, they could sense my body heat in the living room, and would join me every time. If I tried to stay up late to read, I was out cold in 5 minutes.
It was a stage with a routine of diapers, constantly looking at the clock, trying to remember who needed to take a nap when and who needed to eat next. Even though there weren’t long periods of times when they all napped at the same time, I would try to create at least a little quiet space for myself. Often, it would be interrupted with a hungry baby and instead of reading my Bible, I’d end up praying while nursing. And that was ok.
Now that my kids are a little older, I can create different routines. (Mamas of babies and toddlers, I’m finally on the other side to tell you it actually does get better!) While my youngest naps, the older two have a few hours of quiet play and reading, which frees me up to mostly do what I want during that time. When it all works out, it’s glorious for everyone involved!
I’ve noticed when any of us get off our routine for a while, we start to get at each other more. Grace and patience are thrown aside, while selfishness and bad attitudes creep in. When it has gone on for a while and I’m starting to pull my hair out, I start to analyze what the cause could be. Nearly every time it comes down to my inconsistent parenting and lack of routine.
When we know a general idea of what to expect, we can function better, get more done, and usually with a better attitude.
Now, as I type that, I have to also remind myself that life is full of unexpected things and I have to continually check my heart’s reactions to these situations. When an unexpected visitor knocks on my door while I’m in the middle of home schooling, I need to be ok with answering and seeing if it’s something I can handle quickly. Or when our local boss tells us we’ll be going downtown to take care of visa paperwork tomorrow morning, and it’ll take half the day, and it doesn’t matter what I had planned, I need to be ok with letting go of my plans and remembering what takes precedence.
Flexibility is a great attribute to learn, but like Jesus, in between the chaos, I want to find the routine of life that brings peace and reminds me to continually surrender control to God, no matter what is happening.
Routines will look different through the various stages of life. Meeting with Him, time with my husband and kids, and ministry will ebb and flow as the variables continue to change. May I seek contentment in each stage, knowing He can work through me every step of the way.
What helps you stay in a routine? When you get knocked out of a routine, what brings you back?
Since the theme is routine, I thought we’d do something a little different, where we can all participate sharing recipes and meal ideas! I know many people who have some sort of meal rotation. Whether weekly, monthly, or maybe just a list to choose from, we all have go-to meals that our families love, are easy to make in our part of the world, or could feed an unexpected crowd. Could you comment below and share some of your favorite meal ideas? You can simply tell us the name and we can look it up, or you can link a specific recipe. How fun to have recipes that can be made around the world! Who doesn’t love a giant list of new already-tried meals?! I’m so excited!
I’ve already shared lots of our family favorites in previous posts, so I look forward to seeing your ideas!