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Back To Routine

After a couple weeks of bad weather and illness, we finally found ourselves back into our normal routine on Thursday, and I have to say everyone’s much happier for it.

We’re not schedule freaks; we don’t have Maddie’s day broken down into “7:30 a.m.: wake up. 8 a.m.: color while waiting for breakfast. 8:15: breakfast.” And believe me, I know people that do that. But we do have a certain routine that we’ve worked hard to cultivate. It provides flexibility for errands or fun days like the zoo, but gives Maddie a sense of what comes next – a sort of comfort in knowing what lies ahead. In broad strokes, breakfast is followed by time Outside – church, the playground, a play date, the zoo, whatever. Then there’s lunch, naptime, playtime at home or running errands, dinner, and so on. The routine is flexible enough that we can imitate it even when we’re not at home – if we’re on vacation, for example, we’ll hit the beach or pool in the late morning during Outside time and stick to her usual order for lunch etc. Giving her built in “retreat” time every day – naptime at home rather than on the run, followed by quiet playtime at home – helps her cope with different people and situations coming in and out of her life.

This has given us a child who’s remarkably good at adjusting to new surroundings or circumstances. On days that we’re completely out of the routine, Maddie takes it in stride and adapts: instead of Outside time we’ll bake if we’re stuck in the house, or play with Rainy Day toys, or something like that. But after a few days of having to make due, she gets cabin fever and begins chafing at all the “filler” time in her life. With bad weather, at least we can have play dates and give Maddie a change of scenery; but with illness we’re on lockdown and get a little stir crazy.

So Thursday for the first time in almost two weeks, Maddie was back into Full Routine and the happiest I’ve seen her for a long time. A few things worked to make it so awesome:

First, she’s feeling much better. A little sniffly still, but much more energy and her mouth doesn’t seem to be bothering her. Second, the weather’s cleared up and made it possible to get outside. And third –

Maddie’s friend Naomi, who was also sick, is feeling much better, so for the first time in WAY TOO LONG, the girls met up in the park. Straight out of the strollers, the two of them began simply running around the playground together for the sheer joy of it. They kicked around the soccer ball. They shared snack together. They played on the slide and in the tunnel. In short, they did everything they normally do, and savored every moment.

Back at home, Maddie was happy to continue her daily routine, and slept a nice long 1 ½ hour nap thanks to her morning outdoors. Her usual evening with Daddy while I worked was clearly the perfect topper; when I called to check in on my way home I could hear the lightness in Brian’s voice and knew Maddie wasn’t the only one enjoying the benefits of being back in the routine.

To paraphrase Browning, “The lark’s on the wing, Maddie’s in the park, God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world!”


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