How important are routines to you? You may think routine boring, or you may love it… Either way routines are essential. They are one way our brains save time and energy for more important work. Some people have routines for almost everything, and find themselves at a loss when they are thrown out of order. My years of teaching taught me a great deal about the value of routine for small people, and even more so for myself (especially as the one in charge of littles)! But… we have to be careful that our routines don’t become ruts from which we cannot escape.
What is a routine?
A routine is “a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.” Some synonyms: procedure, practice, pattern, drill, regimen. (Oxford Dictionaries Online) My dad was a procedures man, even down to choosing his clothes for the day. He alternated what he called Blue Day and Brown Day. I used to tease him mercilessly about this when I was a teen and college student. The tables have turned, and he is laughing at me from Heaven as I admit to running a Blue Day/Pink Day schedule pretty steadily for the past few weeks. It’s not completely conscious, just more of a “I wore blue yesterday, so I feel like something different today…” kind of thing. I remember asking him in a smart-alecky tone where grey fit in. I was answered with “Grey can go either way; that’s why I always pack a grey suit for business trips.”(Along with both blue and brown day ties!)
How Can a Routine Help?
You can use a clothing routine to make getting dressed in the morning faster and easier. When getting ready for bed, I check my calendar and the weather (thank you smartphone!) and hang up my clothes, including underwear and accessories, for the next day on a hook inside my closet door. It takes about 2 minutes to do while I am still awake, and saves far more than 2 minutes in the morning. My creativity level is zero first thing in the morning. If you want to change your mind about your outfit, feel free, but having a default automatically lowers the AM stress level! Another plus to preparing in the evening: no morning surprise that something you want is dirty, torn, or just plain trashed. Also mismatched socks or shoes are less likely to surprise you later in the day! Dirty Secret: We go to church on Sunday evening. I dress for Mass right before we leave, and when we get home I hang my outfit back on the hook to wear Monday morning if the outfit suits the day’s schedule. Ta-Da! Monday morning no-brainer! (Today includes crawling about under our house, so the dress can wait for tomorrow.)
When the Routine Becomes a Rut.
When we were living in Spain, and I was home-schooling our sons, one winter was particularly grim, and cold to boot… Mondays were almost unbearable, and I fell into the Monday morning black turtleneck, denim overalls, black buckle booties rut. Every Monday, for weeks on end. It was convenient, and saved brain space, but was adding to my Monday Blues. If you are bored with your clothes, you may be in a rut. How to climb out? Maybe your rut is capris and a tee. Jeans and a logo tee. It might be a dark suit and white shirt. Start small. Add something extra. Maybe a necklace, or shoes that aren’t flip flops. Maybe your daring could be a pocket square. If you are a jewelry queen, your challenge could be to take something away. If you wear bold jewelry, try something more delicate. Dainty pieces are your go-to? Try something more assertive. Change is good, and teaches us new things about ourselves. Chances are you have pieces in your closet you never wear. Why not put one of them on today?