Day four of the girls being back at school, and It. Is. Lovely. Don’t get me wrong, picnics on the beach, reading books in the sun, and playing cards endlessly into the night are wonderful, but so is, well, not doing all that.
Routines are not for everyone, and I’m certainly not craving boring or strict monotony, but I do find some reassurance in some daily rituals, structure and frankly knowing what day of the week it is! The girls are the same, the novelty of fluid bedtimes, meals you can mostly eat without cutlery, spontaneous activities and ice creams before lunch rapidly wear off as their little bodies and minds cry out for order and certainty. (Actually, pre-lunch ice creams never seem to wear thin…) Too little routine sees them unsettled, cranky and a little bit anxious.
And once again, there is some science behind this. Researchers have found that routine can have far-reaching psychological benefits, including alleviating bipolar disorder, ADHD, stress, anxiety and insomnia. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that every time you have to make a decision you are adding stress to your life. Estimates are, a modern woman makes 226.7 decisions each day on food alone. Insane. And just a fraction of the 35, 000 individual conscious decisions that we make each day. No you can’t have another ice cream. One decision down, 34, 999 more to go….
So routine can reduce the need to make so many decisions each day – which makes us more efficient (and sane). Waking up and ‘doing’ gives us more sense of control and less reason to fret than waking up and planning. Routine helps install good habits through repetition and reduces the need for determination and willpower (horray!) It also reduces procrastination, giving us much more time in the day (God knows we need it….).
A break from routine is also healthy, and that’s what the holidays are all about. But for me, this was the first school holidays that I’ve had the whole time “off” (and by that I mean trying to run the business while the kids are in my study with dripping wet togs demanding ice blocks and claiming they are “BORED”) and it was a really long seven weeks! I for one am very glad to be back in a place where the control freak part of me is a little bit more at peace. That said I miss my little buddies. As the quote goes, “There are two things I love more than anything in the world; 1. Being with my kids, 2. Not being with my kids.”