Learning to Be the Queen of Routine

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About a week after our son was born, I was on the phone with my mom, complaining about stretch marks. Specifically the ones that streaked angrily across my stomach, from one hip to the other. Bulging and purplish-blue, they were not invited to the pregnancy party and yet they showed up anyway, fashionably late but there nonetheless. I had never been much of a bikini girl but just catching a sideways glimpse of myself in the mirror before getting in the shower had become disorienting. Depressing. I was none of the things I thought I was supposed to be after having a baby. And these stupid stretch marks were simply expressing to the outside what I felt like on the inside.

“Use this cream everyday for a year and they’ll go away,” my mom advised. Every. Day. For. A. Year. What? No. I couldn’t think of a single thing I had ever done everyday for a year. Breathe? Eat? That was about it. I just couldn’t wrap my head around doing something every single day. Needless to say, I didn’t use the cream everyday for a year. I would use it when I thought about it. And guess what? Those stretch marks, although faded and flattened, are still there. Now, I realize there is a whole league of moms who will say, “Be proud of your battle scars! They tell your story and prove that you’ve loved and lived!” And I completely agree. I’m still not a bikini girl, but now it has more to do with not exposing the moles on my stomach to sun. Right now, I got 99 problems but skin cancer ain’t one.

But the more important lesson here is that there are things that we should do everyday. We should tell our children and our spouse that we love them. We should smile and make someone else smile. And we should take care of ourselves, especially the moms. We’ve heard a million different people say it in a million different ways: Moms never make themselves a priority. We put everyone else first, ourselves last. And as a result, sometimes we look like this…

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These are supposed to be sunflowers. I grew them from the seeds that my friend sent me after she had so carefully pulled them from her own garden. I watered them everyday for about 4 days. And then I forgot to water them…for about a month. They grew as tall as they were able and did the best they could in these drought conditions. But now they are stunted and withering. I’m going to try to bring them back, but that requires watering. Everyday. It needs to become part of my routine.

My husband is the chief conductor of the Hot Mess Express unless he’s fully immersed in his routine. Up by 6:15, coffee, the same breakfast, out the door by 7:15, the same snacks throughout the day, run Monday/Wednesday/Friday, home by 6, in bed by 10:15. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes I think, How boring…when do you ever get to eat the cupcake for lunch? But most of the time I think, At least he’s doing most of the important things everyday. It’s not that he tailspins into calamity when he’s out of routine, he just isn’t really at his best. I always thought that routines made for a monotonous life, but what he’s taught me over the past 13 years is that it ensures progress is made and goals are met. Chipping away, one day at a time. Make it part of your routine and one day you can look back and see just how far you’ve come.

So, there are things I’ve started doing everyday: flossing, using essential oils, drinking at least some water (which is a big step for someone who drank coffee until it was time to switch to wine), washing my face, eating some fruit. There are some things I need to start doing everyday: exercising for 30 minutes, drinking more water, stretching, taking time to be grateful. Each thing I do for myself takes a tiny bit of time away from someone else. And I have to learn to be OK with that. I have to learn that being the Queen of Routine doesn’t mean I’m being royally selfish. It means I can serve my kingdom better, everyday.

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4 Replies to “Learning to Be the Queen of Routine”

  1. Try to think of it as moving every day for 30 minutes. It makes it a routine but less of a struggle IMO. If you can’t do your workout – you’ll feel less like you failed if you say, go for a walk for 30 minutes. Or play in the yard with E for 30 minutes? (See what I mean? Still moving, and getting the blood flowing but not feeling like you failed) PLUS more time with family makes us better right? They have water apps that can remind you when to drink. There is a fun one, it’s basically about you feeding water to a plant (I know this is a struggle I suffer from too) but your phone will DING when the plant is thirsty so you drink the right amount that you have designated so you can water YOURSELF and not over water your plant. As you do well, your virtual plant grows, until he’s too big for his pot (or her pot) and you plant that plant in a garden and then you get a new plant. You get to name them and pick their pots. I know this sounds totally silly but it’s fun. I haven’t done it in a long time – mostly because I have a 32 oz cold jug (originally meant for a frozen treat in NOLA that Michael got me). Well, we fill them up in the AM with ice and water, and I drink 4 a day. (sometimes only 3, and if I do less I can feel it and I have to remember to do more.). So basically you’re looking at a woman that drinks at least 128 oz of water a day. And if you’re good at math, yes that’s a full gallon of water. Yes I pee a lot, but my skin looks so much better. (It also helps that I’ve started at the least wiping my face with a make-up wipe at night or washing it daily). I also floss everyday. Someone once told me that the mother is the habit builder in the family – it may or may not be true, but think of that power. 🙂 I always find it’s easier to make small changes… say drink more water as your first goal, and try to excel at that for a week, then if all goes well, add in another item like say… washing your face every night before bed, then the following week maybe you try to make sure you have a veggie or some type at EVERY meal. Just build it all until it snow balls into more. That’s the ONLY way I stick with stuff. If I go balls to the wall health nut – I cave in 2 weeks!! Whole30 was the ONLY strict thing I stuck to for a full month – and it showed me a lot of issues I had with sweets, and also inflammation in my body due to certain foods, but it also proved to me without a shadow of a doubt, we are what we eat and just fixing your food habits a lone will do wonders. (Well that and not drinking for 30 days but I did that 4 times successfully I’m done with that! 😉 haha OK I’ve rambled. I love this new blog!

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  2. Allyson! I am legit writing a post about this right now – I took a break to read your post. Routine is something I NEED in my life right now. If anything, to keep me on task, as evident by my break in work. Ha. 🙂

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  3. Routine is absolutely key. I think that what i am still struggling with since retiring is the lack of routine and my failure to put a new one in place. Perhaps I need to make going to Jazz the foundation of my new routine. I’ve recently added water to my routine. Am pretty good at 32 oz – hey! that’s up from 0 – and am working my way to 64. Kelly’s 142 leaves me in awe! would like to know more about Whole30. Have had a couple of people recommend it to me.

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