Routines, rituals, and systems…oh, my!

As I grapple to get a grip on the parenting thing, I am constantly tweaking, testing, and adding new ingredients to the soup, trying to create routines and systems that will make our family life easier and more enjoyable.  My attempts have been numerous, ranging from charts to track TV viewing to bedtime schedules designed to eliminate nagging to developing a tradition of Sunday night being family movie/ game night.

I envision weaving together a seamless string of rituals that bring comfort, meaning, and joy to our lives.  However, what for me may seem like a pathway to peace and harmony often seems to the other members my family like a set of annoying rules that are either too complex or too onerous to follow.

Many of my systems are short-lived.  And yet, I don’t give up!  I continue to believe that with the right combination of creativity, ease, and consistency (in sticking to the plan), we will hit the jackpot of family happiness and our quality of life will skyrocket.

And a few things have been successful!  We’ve been having family meetings on a regular schedule for close to six months, and I definitely think they’ve been worthwhile.  (More about family meetings in an upcoming post.)  The kids have been preparing dinner on their own one evening a week since late spring, and that has gone really well.  And, as mentioned in an earlier post, Fun Day Monday lives on!  These are all systems that were instituted in an intentional manner.

Then, of course, there are the rituals that evolve organically.  Zoe drinks herbal tea every night before bed while she reads.  Alexander finds great joy in lounging around the house in his cozy plush bathrobe whenever possible.  I usually read the Writer’s Almanac website each morning as I look for poetic inspiration to begin my day.  Should I leave well enough alone with the rituals that have come about “naturally” and give up on the rest?

Am I trying too hard — or being rigid and controlling — in the name of “intentionality”?

Is it misguided to hope that the path to serenity can be spelled out in a word document?

Or do moments of beauty, grace, and order sometimes need to be constructed?  Would we miss some wonderful activities that will become part of our collective family memory if I had not pushed a routine or ritual forward?  Maybe only time will tell.

Let me know what you think.  What rituals and routines have you tried to create?  Which have succeeded, and which have failed miserably?

The orange reading chair — where I usually sit on weekend mornings reading and journal writing while everyone else is still in bed…


2 thoughts on “Routines, rituals, and systems…oh, my!

  1. One of our many failures is an early bedtime routine. Kevin and I always work late. Once the kids are in bed, our second round of “work and chores” kicks in. Sadly, it’s now transferring to our kids. The older they get, the later they stay up too. We’re turning our whole family into a bunch of night owls–and definitely not to the betterment of the kids!

    • Sounds like you are a family of night owls and a routine that goes against your natural tendencies is going to be a tough sell! Which makes me think, we will have more success if we craft our routines so they are a good fit with our kids’ temperaments and preferences.

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