Redefined routine (a.k.a. what is it that I really, really need each day to function?)

from Jan

I, like many people thrive on routine.  I'm happy to have spontaneity, to change things up sometimes, and have days with absolutely no purpose.  But, the reason I'm comfortable with those less-routine situations is because I know the reliability of my routine. 

So, imagine my surprise, when I became a stay-at-home mom.  With an infant, I was able to get into some routine and stick to it.  I did not always like that routine, but it was there.  But, as Joshua got older, most expectations for my days went out the window.  And, since this was happening every day, it was really difficult.   

I have always been a person who just strives to be normal (please don't read that as dull).  I'm happy doing errands for an afternoon or just sitting on the couch cutting paper with Joshua, just as I'm happy taking an adventuresome hike or checking out Diggerland for the first time. So,when no day is "normal" and everyday is focused around someone else's schedule (mostly Joshua, but somewhat Jeremy, too), what do I do?  

First, I had to figure out what was so good about routines for me.  Was it the predictability?  Was it knowing I would get time for certain things?  Was it the control over my time?  Was it just habit?  After some introspection, I decided it was mostly a combination of knowing I would get to do certain things and habit.  New habits can be made, so I needed to figure out what were those certain things?  Here's what I came up with:  a shower (preferably in the morning); sitting down (at a table) to eat breakfast; some time to put dinner together; and dedicated time after Joshua goes to bed to catch up with Jeremy. 

Second, I had to work with Jeremy and Joshua to make sure these were reasonable and feasible.  As a stay-at-home parent, my needs/wants are, for better or worse, tied to their schedules.  For some of the items, like time to put dinner together, I'm happy to have help.  For others, like taking a shower in the morning, I'd rather count that as "alone" time.  We worked together as a family, and most days these things all happen.   

I have had to figure out a few alternative systems for time when Jeremy is traveling, we have family visiting, or someone is sick.  Having that mental assurance that routine will return makes those days doable.   

There are days, of course, when everything just falls amazingly apart and that's OK, because I know, eventually, I'll get stinky enough or the boys will get hungry enough, that my routine will fall back into place!   

Are you a routine person?  Why?  What are the keys events or milestones in your daily routine?  Am I missing something really good?  Please share!