Returning to the routine

Reading time: 5 mins

It’s been almost two months since we moved into our new home and we are starting to settle in and figure out what our routines are, which means I’m also figuring out how to make time to get back into some of the things I used to do when I was living alone to make sure there is a balance (something that is important to both of us).

That said a lot of my new routine involves the two little dogs I now live with and who I utterly adore (as those on my Instagram can attest) but that’s just a very welcome bonus!

I can tell things are starting to settle down because I’m starting to get back some of my previous habits; I’ve had my gym induction and once this bastard cold leaves me I can start getting my gym routine sorted, I’ve managed to sit down at the piano a couple of times these past few weeks which is just enough to keep my hand in, and (whisper it) I’ve even started to get back into the habit of writing again, mostly in my journal but the urge to delve back into that long lost NaNoWriMo draft is starting to build.

I’m reading more, listening to podcasts more, playing FIFA occasionally, and even managed a little meditation or two last week, all things I didn’t fully appreciate I was missing until I revisited them. I’ve also been sleeping better, largely because I’m reading in bed before I go to sleep so my brain is much calmer and so I’m sleeping better and much more consistently than I have for a long time, which in turn gives me more energy to tackle the new day when it arrives. Win win.

The upheaval of moving home is something I’ve always played down both now and in the past. The last time I moved it was just me to consider so it was easy to manage as there was only me to consult with and only me to make all the decisions, of which were many as I was also consciously decluttering my belongings at the same time.

Moving in with Becca, Sasha, and Dave (the latter two are the dogs) has been a wonderfully happy adjustment and it’s nice to have a place that feels like home. It’s been a long time since I lived with someone and had to make joint decisions, little things like which piece of art print goes on which wall, and I’m lucky that we are both pretty similar in terms of our approach, so getting used to living with someone else again hasn’t been a stress at all (well not for me at least, I’m not sure how long I can get away with blaming my farts on the dogs though…). We are both practical, independent when needed, and happy to discuss things that need discussed. Sure we don’t yet have any art up on the walls but considering that’s the only thing I can think of that I think ‘needs’ done, well it’s safe to say my stress levels are low and contentment levels are high.

I say all of this because all this upheaval and change has made me realise how much I need a little structure and a semblance of routine in my life. Now that I have the beginnings of some regular habits I appreciate them all the more when I make the time for them so I’m focussing more on that as we move through the year whilst leaving room for life and living it.

Meditation helps keep me in the now, and I’m conscious of pausing now and then to make sure I’m enjoying whatever it is I’m doing, and yes that includes washing the dishes. Seriously, taking a little time to hand wash dishes, feeling the hot water on your hands, the satisfaction of cleaned plates and glasses, can be a rewarding experience if you look at it that way. So, most evenings I have a few things that need to get done, but the rest of the night is taken more on a whim than a plan.

And there’s the difference I guess, in the past I was bad for planning out evening after evening, and then getting stressed out when something caused those plans to change. These days my life feels a lot less prescriptive than it used to be, I no longer maintain an unrealistic, self-imposed, regime and I’m enjoying life all the more for it.

I’ve mentioned this before I know, my regime; the habit of breaking down entire days into chunks of 30 mins. 30 mins to wake up, get showered, dressed and out the door. 30 mins to get to work. 30 mins of chores when I got home. It was my way of making sure I wasn’t ‘lazy’, and rather than trust that I’d have the motivation to, for example, do some hoovering when it was needed, I had each weekday evening planned out, shuffling repeating items around to fit in time with girlfriends and gigs and nights out, with my Sunday evening being the catchment time for all the things that I ‘missed’ (god forbid they bleed over into the following week and impact THAT schedule, can you imagine the chaos!!).

These days I’m much more relaxed about that kind of thing. Sure I’m looking to plan which nights I go to the gym but I’ve plenty of evidence from the past couple of years that missing one night here and there isn’t the end of the world (I’ve not failed just because I missed one session). And yes, there are still gigs and nights out to attend, and family and friends to be catch up with, but those things will happen when they happen and everything else can just shuffle around as needed.

I realise a lot of this may seem obvious to many of you but it’s taken me a long time to get to this point, and now that we are settling into our new home I’m starting to appreciate more and more how lucky I am. The knock-on effect of my counselling a couple of years ago is still landing it seems (this is a good thing).

There is still plenty to do in our new home, many of the walls are still bare, the spare rooms still strewn with boxes, but all of that can wait until it really needs done and we know, over time, we will get it all sorted out. For now I’m happy taking things as they come and letting my routine develop.

A small example; Becca works on a Saturday so I’ve already got a little bit of routine where I get some chores done and then walk the dogs. I have to admit the utter joy of spending time in the park with an eager dog who is overjoyed that you keep throwing his ball for him to fetch is something you can’t, and shouldn’t, measure in terms of time but of joy. Plus, he’s THE best boy so that helps.

So my routine is starting to fall into place, naturally and organically as it should, and I could not be happier. I know I need some level of routine, a balance away from the work days, just as I need time to myself occasionally, and I’m comforted by both the slow return of it and that it’s not at the cost of my mental health. It’s oddly elating to be living a life that isn’t built around the possibility of failing, to be living a life that finds me smiling every single time I wake up.

And that is a routine I am wholeheartedly on-board with.

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