Routine—to me that word was always a synonym for boring. I equated it with squelching creativity and becoming a human drone.
I was wrong.
I love being flexible, being able to adapt and change plans adjusting to surprises that seem to come my way no matter how well I try to plan. Then, God gave me a husband with ADD and three kids on the autism spectrum. They thrive on routine. Even with them, I still haven’t mastered the art of it; however, as I’ve grown older, I’m beginning to understand the blessing of routine.
I read a devotion about William Wilberforce. After he became a follower of Christ, “his ‘Great Change’ led to immediate and practical changes in his money and time.” (Raynor, https://us12.campaign-archive.com/?u=de3c3c99943adc53b3408937c&id=a43e39be7b)
The devotion focused on stewardship, and it got me to thinking about routine and how a good routine can create good stewardship in my life. John C. Maxwell said, “The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” And Will Durant said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
So, as much as I fight against routine, God was revealing the truth of it to me:
Routine can equal security, especially for young kids: Studies have shown that children thrive with routine and feel secure. Especially during COVID and these times that seem so uncertain, our children need to feel secure and know that some things don’t change. Keeping a routine in your home and making special times to read and play together will help our kids feel safe, secure, and like everything is going to be okay. When we come out of this time and look back, I hope that we realize we’ve created some great family times together and that our attitudes and actions helped our kids feel secure. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Eph. 6:4, NLT)
Routine can equal love and care, especially for children dealing with special needs: Routine helps children know what to expect and to know that their needs will be met. One thing that my kids are concerned with is when we’ll eat and what we’ll eat. Daily they need to know that we have a plan for meals. Reminding them that God has always provided for us has helped. They don’t worry about it any longer, but they still like to know the plan. It helps them feel secure and safe. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. (Psalm 65:9, NLT)
Routine can help lower my stress: When I have a routine and a plan, I don’t stress nearly as much that I might forget something or wonder how I’m going to fit everything I need to get done into my schedule. I can take each item as it needs to be done and know that I have a time set aside for that item. I guess, in reality, having a routine makes me feel safe and secure a bit as well. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT)
Routine can help me accomplish more: As a creative person, I balked at routine. I felt it would hinder creativity, but I’m learning just the opposite it true. As a writer, we often challenge each other to write a certain number of words each day. Some of the most fruitful, creative times I’ve had as a writer were going through monthly challenges to write every day and come up with new story ideas each day. It was amazing! Like exercising a muscle in a workout, creativity became easier and ideas flowed more freely as I built in a consistent planned routine of writing. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 4:23-24, NIV)
Routine helps me develop discipline: I read a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod where he teaches we should get up early enough each day to have a morning routine that includes five consistent activities. I adopted this idea and found myself getting a better start to the day and much more accomplished as a result. Just as Elrod talks about in his book, I no longer dreaded mornings like I used to. I find it easier to get up and get things done with a plan in place. Of course, admittedly, it helps that I love what I do. But even when working at a job that isn’t my favorite, getting up early to do the things that I do love like praying, spending time in God’s word, writing down a new story idea, etc helps me face the day with a positive attitude before I even head to work. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)
Routine helps me be a better steward with my time: When I have a schedule and plan, it is so much easier to set goals and use my time wisely. Everything has a time, and I’m more able to follow God’s leadership in my daily life because I’m not scrambling to figure things out in the moment, but I can obey as the Lord leads. So, in reality, I have more ability to be flexible and adaptable when I have a routine. Life is more organized and can be adjusted without skipping important items that must be done. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. (Psalm 143:8, NLT)
Routine can help me manage or improve my health: For me that mostly translates into consistent sleep. I’m a terrible night owl, and my brain goes constantly thinking about the latest book I’m writing or other things going on in life, so developing a routine where my mind and body is ready to sleep at the same time each day has helped. I’ve also developed a routine with my diet that has made snacking mindlessly a thing of the past. Planning has prevented me from failing on my health plans. It’s amazing how successful and accomplished sticking to an eating plan can make a person feel! You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. (Proverbs 3:24, NLT)
Routine helps me maintain a thriving relationship with Christ: Have you ever had trouble keeping a consistent quiet time with God? I have. The best thing I ever did was plan to spend time with God first thing in the morning. I had visions of sitting at my desk, taking notes, and just digging deeply into God’s word in the wee hours of the morning. That’s hasn’t always (okay, has seldom) worked for me. Instead, I’ve found a reading plan that works well for me, and it’s on my phone. I will have a notebook or use the note app on my phone if I need to write something down, but most of the time, I just relish God’s word and pray. I would rather be consistent and spend time with God and His word than try to do it “perfectly.” Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17, KJV)
I don’t know about you, but the hardest part of developing a routine for me is that my schedule is not consistent. So rather than a daily routine, I must schedule a weekly routine, which is not as efficient. However, I’ve seen the benefits of doing the best I can to develop a weekly routine and to keep as many daily routine items as I can such as a consistent sleeping, eating, and quiet time plan.
This blog post was hard to write because this is an area that God is still working on in my life. I know for some parents of small children, this is a huge challenge. I know some moms who feel they never get a good night’s sleep once they become moms. They can’t seem to relax and trust that their children are okay, or their children haven’t yet learned to sleep through the night. I know some just carry anxiety from the responsibilities of parenting and running a home. And I’ve seen those who’ve done well with routine and discipline to help them through it. I think we just have to guard our hearts and minds. We want to find a routine that works perfectly for our family, and there just aren’t any. As your children grow, the routine will change. Just when you get comfortable with one thing, something else happens. And with COVID causing so many unexpected changes in our usual lifestyles, this can be even more challenging. But whatever we face, we know that God is still at work and in control. With His wisdom, we can navigate these experiences too. We can pray for wisdom as we try to plan routines that will bless our families and help our lives work well no matter what the circumstances.
So, the conclusion I’ve come to is this, and I hope it encourages you as well as you find the blessing in routine:
- We make plans and set up routines to help us with our own daily responsibilities.
- We remain flexible and open to the Spirit’s leading so that He can guide us through important divine appointments or teachable moments that come along for us and our children.
- We fight against the temptations of perfectionism and fear of failure and place all things in God’s hands.
- Know that you are blessing your family with any routine that becomes consistent; you are creating a home where your family feels secure.
- We remember we are stewards of our lives, the times we have, of our children, and of all that God has given us, and we seek to be faithful in managing all of it according to God’s will and plan.