Being a military wife and raising a large family, I need routine. Routines make sense to me. That is the only way I can make sure homework is done, date night happens, dinner is cooked, and everyone goes it to bed on time. Over the years, I have spent considerable time establishing routines that work for our family. But just when I have a system all worked out, change happens.
There are times change is an unwelcomed visitor. We would make plans only to have them altered by people and situations outside of our control. From unexpected illness to changes in my husband’s work schedule, I have to make adjustments to the routine that finally started working well. I hade to create a new normal.
Change is an inevitable aspect of life. For there to be any growth or improvement, we must experience change. In some cases, this is as a result of positive life transitions like starting a new job, welcoming a new baby, graduating from college or a spouse returning home from a deployment. These changes often make us feel excited and fill us with joy. We may see possibility and hope for the future.
In other ways, we are forced to experience change from life situations that we never anticipated. For some of us, this may be a rejection of a loved one, the loss of a child, walking through a divorce, receiving new orders to move, or being let go from our job. These types of changes can make us feel a loss of control, experience stress and even reveal fear. If we are not careful, we can allow these changes to make us bitter and resentful.
Regardless of why, any type of change usually requires that we find a new normal. What does life look like now? What is normal for me in this season? Here are three ways that I have been able to create a new routine.
1. Discuss expectations
Everyone responds to change in different ways and within different time frames. Creating a new routine often requires understanding that change is a process and not a one-time event. We all need to time process emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically the implications that come along with change. Former routines may no longer work with the new changes. Before these life shifts, you might have been able to get up early to go the gym or cook dinner every night without meal prepping. Now your energy level may have changed, and your taste buds are different. Conflicts can arise when we expect others to respond to change a particular way without discussing our expectations.
Create a family meeting time. This family meeting may be between you and your spouse, you and your parents, or maybe everyone should be involved. During the family meeting, discuss what expectations you have of each other. What chores do you expect the other person to do? What amount of time do you expect the other person to invest in a particular day? What changes do you expect the person to make? These conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary.
2. Be patient
New routines take time for everyone to adjust. It takes weeks for everyone to get on the same page, even then it won’t be perfect. In many ways, lack of routine can make me feel that things are out of control. I spend too much time doing some things, and other things don’t get done. Some things start to pile up. Then I just become frustrated. Some days it can be we might fuss, use sarcasm, or become distant when things feel out of sort. Creating a new routine requires that we be willing to be patient and extend grace. This includes extending grace to ourselves.
Patience requires us to wait calmly in the face of frustration and adversity. When we exercise patience, we can choose to use our words to speak with kindness and love. We extend compassion because we decide to see the situation from another person’s point of view. Basically, less fussing and more loving. One key to implementing patience is self-control. Consciously being aware of our words and actions aids us in using self-discipline in how we respond to others. How are you thinking about the situation? What words are you using to describe how others are responding to the changes? Are you able to express gratitude?
3. Design new routine
In some cases, the routines we had before life changes do not work anymore. We may not have the same amount of time or even the same amount of energy to complete the tasks that way we used too. You know what, that is okay. Take time to create a new routine that fits the demands of this season. Take inventory of what the new change requires. Do you have to get up earlier or stay up later? Do you have more travel time to make it to your new job? Reflect on the impact of the new change in your life.
Start by making a list. Write down the essential tasks associated with the new change. How do these responsibilities fit in with the current demands of your life? How will you pick up the kids from school with different work hours? Who will get up in the middle of the night with the new baby?
Regardless of why we may need to create a different routine, this new change can be beneficial. We learn. We grow. We evolve. We become stronger. Within each experience is a way for us to see God’s hand in our lives in magnificent ways. As you begin to create a new norm, continue to seek God’s wisdom and direction in prayer and in His word. Be willing to discuss new expectations, be patient and design a routine that works for you in this new season.