1976: Nadia Comaneci earns seven perfect scores for her routines.
2009: The routine flight of US Airways 1549 becomes "The Miracle on the Hudson".
2012: My family and I feel the blues, perhaps because life has become too routine.
One of the great tenets of child-rearing is the importance of sticking to a routine:
- Get them to bed early, even while on vacation: it'll be easier to re-establish a routine for the school year.
- A calming bedtime time routine will facilitate getting them to sleep.
- Routinely insisting on proper eating habits will result in healthier children.
It's all true. Children do respond well to routine. Routine also makes it easier for a parent to not only manage their family's time, but their own as well.
Until routine becomes monotony.
Yesterday, we all felt it, but my son was the first to vocalize it:
"Dad, when are we going to do something different?"
"What do you mean?"
"Everyday it's the same thing: get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, go to school, come home, do my homework, eat supper, go to bed...I'm bored."
I tried to point out the diversions in the monotony: playing outside, crafts, after-school activities, tobogganing or skating on the weekend - but to no avail.
It could be a seasonal reaction. In Montreal, this can be a depressing time of year: days are short, the weather is cold and cloudy, the holidays are over, and January seems very long.
Even the activities we partake in aren't so much a distraction, but a necessity.
Not skating, or sliding, or building a snow-fort during the winter months would be nearly illegal in these parts, if not downright cruel.
And so it goes.
Often, solutions can be gleaned from the smallest changes, which is how I intend to approach the problem.
Today will be 'Get Your Hands Dirty' day: I'm going to throw a large cloth over our dining room table, and pull out the paint, paint brushes, old t-shirts, Playdough, modelling clay and chalk, and let them have at it. Once that's done, I think we'll make homemade pizza for supper. It'll be havoc, and clean-up may be a scene from Les Misérables, but it will be a different kind of misery.
It's not much, but it's the best I can come up with,short of an unaffordable family trip to the Von Trapp residence.
After that, it will be bath, then bed, then wake, then school, then February, then March, then the warmth of summer, then college, marriage, houses of their own, and my wife and I waiting for the grandkids to visit. It will all fly by, I know.
That's why, today, I will focus simply on all of us getting our hands dirty.
After all, without hands tumbled into a vat of chalk, 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci might not have had sufficient grip, and may never have show us her perfect routine.