As we put the girls to bed on Sunday night, Emily said to them, “Remember, we’re getting back to our regular routine tomorrow.” I don’t know about what it’s like in your family, or what it was like for you as a kid, but I remember how I would dread the end of the weekend, the conclusion of summer holidays and the impending return to school following Christmas. I didn’t want to go back. I’d groan and moan and whine and complain (even though I was a good student).
Not these girls. As Emily finished her reminder, and we closed the door, we heard one of them shout, “Yay!”
Now, we’ve had a busy couple of weeks, and a really busy weekend. We went to a Christmas Eve service at our church (which was new), and then celebrated Christmas with three groups of people (this is standard for us). Hudson went for a sleepover with his granddad, all the kids did an overnight with their grandma and grandpa… and then after one night at home, we drove into Toronto, spent the night in a hotel and went swimming, went to the ROM and the CN Tower, attempted to go the Lego store in Yorkdale Mall, gave up and then made the trek home. When we plopped them into bed, Hannah cozied up with her pile of stuff and said, “I love my bed.”
She was happy to be home. Everyone was happy to be home. We were all ready to get back to life as usual.
My girls love routine. Emily and I do, too. We’re not slaves to our routine, and vacations are fun. But in all honesty, they create a different kind of stress for us as a family. The kids fight less and don’t ask to watch TV as much. They—and Emily, too—know what to expect each day. And let’s be honest: when I’m at home, I’m a disruptive presence. A welcome one, to be sure, but I throw the regular routine out of sync because it doesn’t include me.
Since we’ve gotten back into the routine, Emily’s seen a big change in the kids. Abigail’s been grinning from ear-to-ear almost constantly, and Hannah was even eager to do her reading and school work on Tuesday (she even told me her favorite part of school today was reading about Naaman’s being healed of leprosy when we were out later that night). And as for Hudson… well, he’s just happy to be here like always.
Sometimes I wonder if more of us need to know it’s okay to be fans of routine. I mean, we hear messages and read blog posts and books and all this other stuff telling us about living audaciously, living boldly and radically. To go and do your thing, and be wild and free, and fast and furious, and some other such stuff. And that’s cool and all—but you know something? It’s really tiring. It’s like trying to live out your faith like a Barney Stinson mixtape: it really can’t be all rise. You can’t live everyday like you’re going to reach a new mountaintop. There are valleys (lots of them, in fact), too. But there are also these great things called plains—long stretches where things are kind of flat. They’re ordinary. They’re kind of dull sometimes. But that’s actually where we spend the majority of our lives. In ordinary situations. In average circumstances. And this is where God does most of his work in us: in the average, ordinary, routine and kind of boring moments of our lives. What we do in the routine is what prepares us to enjoy the mountaintop moments and to survive the valleys. So enjoy them. We love routine. I hope you do, too.