When you have a newborn, people often tell you to get that kiddo on a routine. It seems impossible at first with nighttime wakings and constant feedings, but eventually you figure out what the power of routine really means and that having one means solid footing.
Routine doesn’t have to mean the same thing is done at the exact same time, but maybe it’s done in the same way and followed by the same activity. Sometimes routine means how it’s done or where. Routine brings familiarity in many ways and that’s your solid footing, footing which could hold a person together in an otherwise chaotic situation. If you can’t have the whole routine, even a part of it may be enough of a comfort to hold back the anxiety that traps some into a helpless fight or flight feeling.
I have a sensitive child who struggles with emotion. If something tips him off balance, which can happen easily, he needs solid footing to get back on track. His routine may be a stuffy or a squeeze ball, or it may be escaping into a video game (though we try to limit the latter.) Without those comforts available to him, he breaks down. When he went on a mini trip with a friend, we were sure to pack those comforts for him. His friend’s parents kept things regular for the kiddos in terms of meals and bedtime, and overall he had a great time. Coming home required some decompression but there were no breakdowns on the trip. Win!
Even as I work-from-home, I’m still working on getting a routine down. It’s only been a few months so I’m still sorting out the details, but on the days I stick to the basics I find myself much more productive. Get the big guys off to school, stay up and do a couple chores, get the little one up, eat breakfast, write… If I’m lazy and get off to a slow start, everything is off and I lose momentum. I then need to chop my day in half and give up some tasks to get back on track. I need the power of routine, even if it’s not the whole routine each day.
Some people fly by the seat of their pants quite well. If that’s you then kudos to you! You cope well with change and still get the job done! Also, you’re rare if you don’t need any regularity. We’re a species of needs from food and sleep to comforts like familiar faces and favorite shows.
So figure what your power of routine is and not just the motions but the where and when and how. When the routine is off, find a way to do part of it the same. If you’re away from home, what (or who?) do you have the same? If you’re no longer at the office (like me), find a new schedule to get some ‘office’ time in and stick to it. When things rock your world, find a familiarity that’s constant and cling to that as much or as often as you need to to keep going. We’re creatures of habit in an ever-changing world. We can adapt but must be kind to ourselves and do it little at a time. Listen to your needs and get some solid footing. You got this!