I know it’s the middle of October by now, but I just have to say – My Dearest Routine, I have missed you so much. And – Welcome back! Am I the only one – or are you with me? September is what I call the ‘Transition period’ in our household – going from the bliss of summer to re-entering the real world.
And you know what the funny thing is? I always knew that having a routine is paramount for children. That it benefited them in so many ways, right? But I would have never imagined that it would have had such great impact on me, as an adult. That I would be missing it so much so that at one point I found myself yearning for its return – even before Labor Day weekend. I suppose there is something to be said for order.
Yes, for us, with the summer months in full force, the routine was out the door. Completely and utterly so. We had one too many nights that we stayed up way past our bedtime. Kids and adults alike. Other times, we got up way before we normally do.
If it wasn’t that someone was visiting and staying overnight, we were doing some remodeling in the basement and staying up for that, paint all over our pants and shirts. If it wasn’t a party we had been invited to, we had guests that we were entertaining on our back patio. If it wasn’t someone dropping by from a far-away land, it was friends celebrating birthdays, farewell parties or just plain getting together for no reason other than – it’s nice out, do you wanna come over and grill?
And then, there were the days of reunions. Happy hours. Soccer games. Trips to the pool with the kids. Long weekends packed with one thing after the next, staying up with company or watching a movie on the back porch. Because it’s too nice not to enjoy our lounge chairs out there. And – this is the only time of the year we can do it. And then there was the vacation that was long-overdue, seeing the beauties that the Colorado mountains are at last. I can’t say I wouldn’t have preferred not to have waited for that long – But man, was I ever grateful. And yes, it was well worth the wait, if you must know.
So – you may be asking yourself – why is this post called confessions of a couples counselor? I am just about to tell you that. Ready? Today marks one week since I stepped foot on the foam mat flooring at the gym in our neighborhood where I have had membership fees deducted from my card monthly since January. Prior to last week, I have not shown my face there – oh, I don’t know – in a while. How long exactly?
Let’s just say it’s been so long that they threw away my equipment with my name on it (after keeping it in lost and found for a while first) because they had no reason to believe that I was ever showing my face there again. My yellow attendance card had made its way into the trash because it had one day too many missing on the paper, unsigned. Some might say they haven’t seen me forever. And as much as I hate to admit it, they would be right.
But, doesn’t the saying go something like this? Confession/realization is the first step to recovery…? Well, there you have it. Black on white. So that’s what I did. I walked in there again for the first time last Monday. I was kind of hoping that nobody would notice. But the owners welcomed me with open arms. And some of the other FIT members remembered my name. And you have to understand, nobody ever remembers my name. So – Believe it or not, they took me back! (And I had so much I don’t know if I should be admitting it publicly like this right here. But – ‘Tis the truth)
And there is no excuse. Being a counselor who works with couples, I should know better. I talk to couples about making regular commitments to each other. I talk to them about the importance of sleep. The importance of physical activity. I talk to them about the significance of regular family conferences. I tell them they need to talk about money. And about sex. And the dirty dishes in the sink. And a myriad of other things they don’t want to talk about.
It’s not that I didn’t know any better. Or that my lower back hasn’t been complaining all this while. But, somewhere between my head and my feet (as they are the ones getting me out of bed when it’s still dark in the morning), something short-circuited there somewhere, and once I’ve been out for a week of two, that new routine – it sort of just set in. Maybe you know what I am talking about. And if you don’t, well – that’s what happened in my case.
My million-dollar question for you today is this:
That’s right, what happened to your routine? Might you have neglected yours in some way? Have you been eating out too much and left to the graces of the establishment that your friends picked? Have you collected what seems like an enormous pile of mail sitting on the counter, with a mental note on top saying “I will do it tomorrow”? Has your vacuum cleaner been lonely in the closet so much so that it started entertaining the idea of approaching the spider in the corner? Have you neglected your yoga mat for so long you can’t remember the secret spot where you stashed it quick when your friends were at the door, ready to celebrate Memorial Day in style?
Might you have neglected your relationship? It’s all legit – all those things that we put on our plate over the summer – they are all very good and very real. I know you were busy. So was I. And I know that you were probably even spending a ton of time together – and about 10 or 20 other people at a time. But, do you even remember when the last time was that you went on a date? And I mean – Just the two of you, so that you could really connect again?
Our daughter by now knows to use the phrase “having alone time together” when we drop her off at her grandparents’ or a babysitter steps foot in the house. And she is not even seven yet. When was the last time you did that? Summer is really good for many things. But I am afraid, with the routine out the door, our relationships suffer too.
If you are asking yourself how long I have had the hidden camera rolling at your house, it is YOU I am talking to. What are you gonna do about it?
If you need to get that date night back on the calendar, do that. If you need to call and reserve your favorite nanny or grandparent so that you can accomplish that, do that too. Make a plan. Make it happen. Start with one day. One date. One week. That’s all it takes.
Once it happens once, you just keep making it happen. The first step back in the right direction is always the most difficult.
(Alternately, if you are looking for a place/gym/program to call home, check THIS out. I would be lying if I said I don’t recommend it highly. Besides, under its new ownership, the place looks like it got a makeover and they DO know your name.)