Routine Questions

Today I’ve been pondering grown up routines, or the lack thereof, in my life.

I’m not a follow the rules/routines person. In fact, I often kick and fight against them with the ferocity of a toddler who doesn’t want to wear that top that was on high rotation last week, or eat another slice of watermelon, even though it was my most favourite thing at lunchtime. I tend to thrash about, arching my back, crying ‘No, no, no, NO!’ or ‘I do it myself!’

Sometimes though, I don’t do it myself, not if the state of my house, my finances, or dare I even type it, my fitness *cough*, are anything to go by.

Perhaps I just suck at being a grown up?

Yet, for all the kicking and screaming, I crave my own routines, I like sameness.

When I think about it, I have never liked imposed rules or authority. Ever.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There was that brief, or not so brief, decades long dance where I tried so, so, so hard to find all the rules of christianity (version whoknowswhatpoint.0) and live exactingly by them, which of course I failed miserably at.

Never mind that I couldn’t get it right, I somehow ended up as the rules police for anyone within cooee. The saddest thing about it all was that I was surrounded by numerous people who thought that the best, most loving, most follow the rules-y way to get someone else to live by the rules was to restrict, to monitor, to judge, to enforce ‘accountability’ – so I became one of those super helpful,  but actually the antithesis of everything good you allegedly believe in types.


I’m mortified by some of the things I did, said and believed in those days. Mortified.

And worst of all, we were so wrong about so much of it.

My attempts to live right finally came crashing down around my ears, when one day at bible college (there’s so much I have yet to tell you) I realised, excuse my French, that fuck me sideways, I was in love with the RULES and not the Big Man Upstairs.


Utterly, terrifyingly thunderstruck.

I loved the (perceived) black and white, the definite, the do list and the don’t list, and the layers of self-righteousness I had slathered myself in over the years were revealed in that one moment, and it was, well… sickening. My world fell apart.

So, the whole follow the rules for Jesus thing hasn’t really been that successful. No gold star (or halo) for me.


Fast forward a good decade or so and I’m still pondering routines and rules, though they’re more broad societal expectations these days. What does it mean to be a 47 year old adult, without many commitments outside of myself? How should I live?

The thing is, I get that routine isn’t the enemy. It’s just a thing, a tool, a way of being in the world that helps people stay on top of all the stuff.

But I don’t have that much stuff to juggle.

No kids to ferry to 17 different extra-curricular activities a week, no community-based save the trees/lemurs/parks committees to attend, no date night to squeeze in around my busy career, meal planning, all the ferrying and worrying about keeping all the plates spinning.

So why can’t I get my shit together and get organised?

Or is that the wrong question?

Better still, what does that even mean? To have my shit together… I’m not sure I know. Do you?

Should I be a meal-planning, outfits laid out the night before, of course I have a savings plan, thrice weekly gym-going kind of girl?

Do I want to be that girl? Could I be? Is that inherently better?

I don’t know.

I don’t.

Maybe the single life has allowed me to skip over some of the ‘get your shit together’ stuff that being a grown up seems to require.

But being a grown up isn’t simply a matter of maturing, marrying and raising a family, is it?

It isn’t just about having a mortgage, or laying your younger self’s dreams aside to work in a ‘safe’ job until we retire.

Well, it is that to a lot of people, to varying degrees, but those things aren’t the core realities in my life.

Even though single person households are on the rise like never before, there is still a sense of being outside the mainstream as an older single person.

I am an unencumbered adult.

I guess the first thing most people think about being single (aside from maybe thinking it isn’t ideal) is that it means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Mostly, I do just that, whatever I want, without having to negotiate with anybody. I want to be at home, watching TV, painting, writing my blog, reading a book, and eating copious amounts of chocolate. So that’s what I do.

I go to work because I have to, not because I want to. I mean, some days it’s enjoyable, but mostly it’s about that hourly rate, paying the rent and then getting out of there. It’s not always like that, but it is the season I’m in.

And it definitely means I want to wear a bra as little as possible outside of those working hours. Done.

The solo grown up life means I can live a life free of a lot of routines. Is that the best choice though? The jury’s still out.

Single adult life means self-reliance, which is something I’m proud of, but which can also be scary.

It means standing alone, but needing a community.

Maybe it is just an inescapable part of human nature – we default to measuring our worth by external things, by comparisons, and quietly (or not so quietly) tut-tutting when others don’t walk the same path. We wear our badges: married, single, parent, careerist… and in some ways those badges help us navigate our way through. I think they also serve as roadblocks. We may see what we don’t have in common before we see what we do have. For instance, just because I’m not a mum and you are, doesn’t mean we couldn’t be great friends. I feel that roadblock every now and then, and it makes me sad.

It could be the same for you. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m the only one that sometimes feels these things.

Perhaps I can meal-plan or schedule my way out of these bigger questions…. or perhaps, in some cases, all that organising, scheduling, ferrying, and planning is a way of avoiding things too.

Can you have your life honed to a routine that runs like a Swiss watch, and still not have your shit together? Most likely.

In the same way, all my lack of routine could be something that holds me back. What from, I’m not entirely sure.

All this questioning. I need a nap.

It’s definitely something I do though, and mostly enjoy, even if the questions prick me a little as I ponder them.

Perhaps that should be my blog’s tagline? I Give You The Verbs: asking questions since forever.

But I think questions are a good place to start, don’t you?

It may not lead me to any immediate action, but it has lead me here, to writing, which is one of the ways I get my thoughts in order. Then they swirl around some more, like the un-attended dust bunnies under my non-routinely vacuumed couch.

What do you think?

Are you a routines person?

What works for you?

What does being a grown up mean? Are we there yet?

I’d love to know what you think about routines and labels, how you navigate the choppy waters of adult life.


Annette x









12 thoughts on “Routine Questions

  1. Omagerd…. we’re supposed to vacuum UNDER the couch?! I missed that part of the adult rule book. Or I wilfully ignored it. My inner toddler sees your inner toddler and wants to share my icecream.

    I feel myself tantrumming against authority, against ‘shoulds’ and against the pressure… all.the.time.

    It does my head in, this adult caper.
    I know that if I didn’t have to do most of it, I’d sure as hell be choosing to remove that bra, eat chocolate and write and write and write. My bra stays on so I don’t traumatise the kids (:-() or suggest by freewheeling that I might like a grope in the kitchen (I usually don’t go for gropes when I am cooking tea). The chocolate never lasts past shopping day because everyone seems to find it. And I know my washing machine better than any other human being because I spend more quality time with it than with sentient beings.

    I’d do all the things I love so I think you actually have chosen the rules and routines that suit you. It goes like this: I do what I have to, so I can do what I want to. ! I don’t think there is a specific way of being a grown up; you can do anything you like! I guess the trick is to audit occasionally and make sure you still like all the things you choose to do or not do.

    Keep asking the questions. They make me think and I like that a lot.


  2. this is great Annette!
    by that I mean, am I nearly your twin? … helloo!
    i like my early to bed routine and my morning routine, but for the rest of the day i resent being organized! … it’s my truth! it is me! …
    i know that people are more productive when ordered! but i don’t want to be like that! it’s not creative enough for me! i love being like this!
    I hate labels too! … but society pushes them to the fore!
    I no longer have to fit into a box and i have lessened my commitments!
    my partner and I give each other as much space as we want and need!
    it works well for us!
    if the shoe fits wear it! … if it doesn’t chuck it! … what! … i’m talking about shoes now! … got a bit of a thing for them!
    nuff said and i’m working on a photo to send not that savvy about some stuff!
    truly listen to yourself, for the answers are within! … much love m:)X
    my mother dubbed me a dreamer! … she was right!


    • Looking forward to getting that photo Merilyn!!
      I am like you, generally very happy with my situation, but I know a little more discipline could be good for me. Ugh, I don’t think I have it in me!!
      Long live the dreamers.


  3. So much to answer here….and so much to consider too.
    I hear you but I wonder why you even need to question?
    Is there something creep, creeping back into your life via silent or unspoken means? Ok, I am so not a therapist…so I will continue.

    For the first time since…I was 20 I have a life I can lead generally any which was I choose. I am not single but this is the first time EVER I have no responsibility to anyone (except hub, whom I love with all my heart and soul) but me.

    And it is both liberating and stressful.

    I like routines and I like organisation and I like to have something to look forward to. I was so suited to my career as a teacher because…timetables, routines and all that but luckily I loved it too.

    What has happened in my new life as a retired person – from all paid work, from caring for grandkids and so on – is that I am confused some days about ‘what the heck now?’

    However, there is a part of me that is loving the freedom to choose as well. I am giving myself time and permission to keep on exploring what it means to be me at almost 66 and I am liking it more each day.

    Onward my bloggy friend and art lover.. onward. That’s all we can ever do.


  4. I hear you sister. I love my routine, but suck totally at being organised. In fact I loathe it.

    I have way more interesting things to do as an adult, not that boring shit we are suppose to do. Hubbie and are both the same (except he is way more tidier that me) and decided to do things about it like get a cleaner etc, so at least the house is clean.

    Our saying in our house is “we work to live, not live to work”.



  5. Wow! Yes, a lot to consider here! Here we go! I am a structure person. I like to organise and plan my days and weeks because otherwise I feel like I can too easily fritter time and I hate getting to the end of the day (unless I’m on holidays) and feel like I’ve achieved nothing, produced nothing. Maybe that is a flaw. I’ve sometimes considered that. Should I chill a bit more? I necessarily need routine because there are three other people in my home and they gave their own demands on their time which I am trying to work around. I don’t like labels because we are multifaceted as individuals. I have been a SAHM for 19 years but I would like to be seen as not being defined by that. It may be a point of initial connection with other parents but I like books and craft and movies and TV shows and I can connect over those things too. I think I am a grown up because I manage to keep myself and others clothed and nutritiously fed, I have to take responsibility for things. Sometimes I don’t want to be a grown up and wish I could go back to having no responsibilities and having my mum calling me to dinner and a delicious meal being placed on the table before me!


    • I think you are a good grown up Carolyn! I like books and movies and creative pursuits too.

      I wouldn’t mind dinner being cooked for me occasionally, but can I nominate someone else to do the cooking!!


  6. Annette, you have such a way with turning thoughts into words, such a gift.

    I have found myself fighting the word routine…scares me. I don’t want to do the same thing at the same time every single week. I want to feel like my life has some spontaneity and freedom and it can right? Of course with kids I need to drop them at school and they have tennis on Fridays, oops not this week I’m sneaking them to the mountains to escape Halloween…you see always fighting the routine for the good stuff.

    Since trying to slow down and create a life with with some spontaneity and freedom to do the things that make my heart sing, I have had to dig deep and address the need for this routine. I want to be organised and I want some order but not strict routine. I like how Brooke at Slow your home talks about routines – Rhythm. Rather than being strict about what you must do going with the flow and if it’s a cooking day go with that. Finding the rhythm that works for you in your life. It kind of makes the word routine feel more flexible.

    Some stuff matters, some stuff doesn’t. I guess it is about getting rhythm in the things that you need to do in order to do the things that matter to you.

    I am currently getting some rhythm in the kitchen, as much as I have fought it. I need some rhythm in there and to my great surprise I am enjoying it. Helped along by an online community, who would have thought.

    Anyways, I’m probably rambling but I guess if some particular area in your life needs some rhythm, I think it is easier to focus on that rather than set a strict routine if your not a routine person but a routine rebel 😉

    What is an adult anyhow? Do we ever work it out? I think it is more adult to ask these exact questions.

    Great thought provoking post. Thank you.


    • Good ramble Fran!

      I like the concept of rhythm over routine. I actually called the post rhythms and routines then changed it.

      I like to go with the flow as much as I can too. It works for me, except when I go all adult freak out in my mind!!


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