Sunday night, I pulled out a notebook and wrote at the top of a page, “What is a sustainable routine?”
I need routines as part of my cognitive behavior therapy so teaching high school is actually a really great place for me, what with a bell schedule telling me what to do at what time, including eating lunch.
But what do I do when I don’t have a bell schedule or students?
I sketched out a possible sustainable routine on that piece of paper Sunday night, and adhered to about half of it yesterday. Today, not at all.
It’s not like I’m lacking for things to do; I have plenty of options. So. Many. Options. And maybe that’s part of the problem–the “paradox of choice.” Maybe limiting my options is a good step.
Or maybe what I need to do is take a step back for a day or two, breathe, give myself some time and grace to adapt to the current situation.
I go through something similar every summer–when the school year ends and my routine is taken away, it takes me about two weeks to recalibrate and find an acceptable balance. But I always know that it’s coming–May 1 hits, and I start thinking about summer contingency plans to manage my mental health.
This particular moment though? I saw it coming, but the same way I see summer storms–off in the distance with a chance that it might break to the north and miss me completely. Except this storm hit.
I’m not throwing out my Sunday scrawlings just yet–I think I created a manageable system for when I am ready for it to take hold.
My point is this: if you too are feeling unmoored, maybe even guilty for not creating a routinized life for yourself or your family, take a breath. We’ve not been here before. As my friend Matt keeps reminding me, “There is no playbook for this.”
And if you can’t give yourself a little patience or grace right now, contact me. I’ll give you some of mine.