It's very helpful to have good routines with the children. I think it's good for the kids and it sure is helpful for planning the day/week. Annika is just now at two months of age beginning to follow a loose routine which is something we've been missing so far. Previously she could eat three times in three hours and then nothing for five hours. Or fall asleep at 5 pm or 9 pm. It makes daily life complicated. Especially when you have more than one child. Now we're doing fairly regular feedings every 4 hours or so and she goes to sleep around 8 pm. every nigh and is usually asleep when I go to work in the morning. With a couple of night feedings of course. Although I like routines they do present a problem. And it's a big problem for some. Getting used to routines for some means doing nothing unexpected which can move the schedule an hour of two. Nothing that shakes up everyday life and makes you do something fun and different. No little spontaneous excursions. No restaurants where you don't know exactly what food they have and how your child will like it. And no spontaneous trip around town with no planned destination. And definitely no trips by plane since no one knows what can happen at the airport or if your child will sleep. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you get old. And you get old fast. Being 35 and living like a 75-year old isn't appealing but I see it every day. The challenge is to stick to routines that are good for the children and the family but still aim to life a fun and satisfying life.
I consider it very important to feel young in the mind and body. For me it's a life quality issue. As the years go by I still want to feel good and be able to run around with the kids as much as I want to. Physical fitness is important but the mind is the key. If you don't force yourself to stay active and do new things, your mind will get old faster than you ever thought possible. Being spontaneous at times requires good confidence. A confident person will handle unexpected situations well and perhaps seek out the unknown. For the record, I'm not good at this. Or at least it's not natural behavior for me. I'm confident but not a spontaneous person. I touched on this in my post "'Is politeness dead?" where I talked about my polite upbringing that lacked important parts in the social area. I was also raised to be careful, not take risks, and just kind of fit in. This worked out well but it also means being boring. I started to change, or rather forced myself to change, after I met my wife many years ago. It doesn't come natural to me so I constantly have to think of doing new things and force my brain to think this way. It may sound easy but it's not.
Being married to a Latin woman means many spontaneous and unexpected situations. Almost daily. It's frustrating at times but it's also refreshing. I have a cousin of mine who is the total opposite. She's got two kids and never leaves the house. Because leaving the house means possible unexpected events. She doesn't even want to go over to a friends house because of the breastfeeding issue. What issue? Everyone breastfeed in Sweden and you can do it anywhere without anyone even glancing at you. I think living this way makes you very old, very quickly. I'm afraid of this happening to me. I don't mind losing my hair or being older but I just don't to be 40 and living like I'm 80. That's no fun. Having routines is important but to have good routines you must know your child and her needs well. My sister in law is the anti-routine person. No schedule whatsoever is far from good for a child and makes family life a complete mess. Last year she spent a month with us and the first day around noon Daniel was getting ready for his nap. My SIL said that her child doesn't nap any longer which we thought strange since she was 20 months old. She goes to day care but takes no naps said my SIL. What happened? Her child proceeded to take a daily nap every single day during the whole month. The only reason why she didn't nap at home was that she was never given the chance because of poor planning. And also that my SIL doesn't know her child.
So how does a family keep good routines but still have fun and do some spontaneous things? How do we keep the mind young? I think priority one is to establish good routines for your child. That includes regular feeding times, naps, and a good night routine. When that's in place, perhaps after 1-3 months, there is more time and confidence for creative things. It's not so much what you do, it's just doing something different. What's really important is to venture outside the comfort zone. This can be really tough. What's a comfort zone? It's where you spend 99% of your time. Leaving this zone is educational and refreshing but problematic for many. It's little bit like facing your fears and overcoming them. Although being out of the comfort zone doesn't have to be that dramatic. Different workout routine, new restaurants, new friends, new travel destination, different kind of book, try different foods at home, or go to places in town you've never seen before. It can be a little thing or a trip to another continent. It keeps you young and ready to meet new challenges.
Having kids is a life changing situation. For me it has been positive in all areas and having kids should not mean stop living. Life is just getting started around 35, there is no need to act like 75. And don't forget that our children copy our behavior, good and bad. Acting and showing them that new situations are something to embrace is a wonderful gift that will stay with them their whole life.
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