This morning, in homes around the country, alarms rang, lunches were packed, children had trouble finding backpacks, school bells sounded, rush hour traffic increased and time cards were initialed. 2015 officially began today as daily routines re-entered our lives and the fantasy of the holidays receded until next year.
For me the two weeks of celebrating included eating foods I don’t normally consume (especially in such large quantities), sleeping in and taking naps, a “jammie” day (explanation to follow another day), overnight visits from grandchildren and granddogs, increased visits with family and friends, more spending money and less cleaning the house. I relaxed my expectations for what I should do and did more of what I wanted to do.
I did enjoy the break, but I must admit, the return of routine is not necessarily a negative occurrence. There is relief and calm that arrives with schedules. Predictability and consistency are important attributes of a healthy life. Knowing the kids have to be at school at 7:30 every Monday through Friday, that work starts at 8:00, that drum lessons are on Monday at 6:30, that church is Wednesday and Sunday, and you try to do the laundry on the weekend – these regularly scheduled activities provide the structure we need. Structure establishes boundaries and creates a rhythm all people need to some degree.
Research shows that the ordinary and familiar create an environment where we thrive. Dogs are trained with consistent schedules and rewards. Children feel safer when the environment is predictable and consistent. Adults experience less stress when we feel in control of our time The critical factor here is balance: enough structure for predictability, enough freedom for spontaneity. Maybe that would be a good goal for this year. I think I’ll try it.