Summer is most definitely over. Mornings are cool and crisp, and the smell of campfires float through our open windows in the evening. The leaves have just started to turn – when you actually stop to look you can see the bright green world fading into orange and brown. Beyond these sensory cues is the presence of the school-year routine. Work, school, soccer practice, dance lessons, church, repeat; each day we go through the same motions, and each week follows the same pattern.
In reality, the existence of any routine is a sign that summer is long gone!! Summer is fun and busy; every week is unique and filled with a different family adventure to look forward to. But as we sink into fall, we settle into rhythm.
I have really noticed the presence of routine in the mornings. Last year, during his kindergarten year, our son would attend the before-school child care program each day. This year, for his first-grade year, we decided our son could ride the school bus each morning. (Oh, the excitement this brought for him! The newness has yet to wear off…)
Admittedly, the decision to send him on the bus was initially driven by a sharp rise in fees for the before/after school program. It was, at first, a challenge to give up my flexibility in the morning; to lose the potential for early morning overtime at work. But what a blessing this change has been for our family! We eat breakfast together most days, and I get one-on-one time with my son every single morning!
This new schedule brings a morning routine unlike our family has ever experienced before! That bus arrives at the bottom of our street at 7:28 am every single morning. Our mornings must flow around that strict 7:28 am pick-up time. Wake up, get dressed, make beds, eat breakfast, brush teeth. At 7:20 my son begins to tie his shoes; we walk down the hill. I stand in the same spot each morning; the same 2 other moms stand in their respective places as we wave the bus away. I trek back up the hill to drive to work, often passing the same cars and seeing the same people walking on the street. I park in the same spot, say good morning to the same security guard. My mornings are straight out of that old Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day – wake up every morning and do the exact same thing!
I’ve been pondering how I can make God more present in this routine. I am strategic, a planner, a worrier, a Type A personality. If something is out of synch, or if my next steps are not planned, I use my spare time to plot and scheme – I live in the future, not in the present. But with a solid routine in place, it is far easier to be present in the moment!
At our Wednesday night adult education class last week we began our focus on family mealtime. We read these verses from Deuteronomy; words spoken by Moses from our God; words of guidance to the Israelites and to us:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
We defined these moments as “life giving rhythms.” In the routines of the day, we talk to our kids about faith, we teach them God’s commandments, we speak to each other in love.
This week’s weekly email about my child’s development told me this about my “3 ¼” year-old: “Routines big and small regulate your child’s day and his seasons. Their predictability fosters a deep sense of security.”
In a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months, I will be desperate to break routine – desperate to get out of town, skip work and never go to soccer practice again! I’ll be so deeply stuck in this routine that I’ll forget to appreciate life moving so quickly around me. I’ll be complacent; in a rut! But right now, routine feels good; routine feels safe; routine brings security! And our current routine provides time with my kids. It is up to me to decide how I will use it.