In defence of routine, predictability, the little things

24 Sept 2023

The little things

Do you remember when I used to start most blog posts with ‘I’m currently sat in café…’? Yeaaaah, some things don’t change, because yup, I’m currently sat in a café, hot chocolate perched next to me despite the fact it is 30c outside. I have learned my lesson from previous years and did not immediately get hyped about autumn the moment 1st September rolled around. There is always a final hurrah for summer so I’m still floating around in lightweight dresses and jumpsuits and trying to embrace the ice creams before my favourite ‘ber’ months kick into action. 

I feel like I’m here, but not fully present in this space if that makes sense. Figuring out how to juggle everything with a young child is a never-ending learning curve. I feel like ultimately, the answer is that everything will always be a juggle and I will simultaneously feel like I am on top of everything and on top of nothing, my brain space continuously tugged and yanked in multiple directions. 

I’m not quite sure how to finish the short story I’m writing; I think I just need to leave it alone for a bit to figure itself out so, whilst I’m sat in front of my laptop, I thought I’d write an old-school blog post. The type where I just throw thoughts at a page without much foreplaning.

I have been keeping a diary this year. An old-school page-for-each-day Paperchase (RIP) journal that I write in every night – just a few notes about what happened that day. I was motivated by not wanting to forget the minute details of Alfie and the ways he changes and develops all the time and, if I’m honest, because it slightly freaked me out how much sleep deprivation was affecting my perception of time and how I remembered things. I wanted a physical record to check when I felt a little like I was losing my mind. 

Thankfully, our sleep quality has improved since the start of the year and I trust my memory a lot more again, but the need to capture details of Alfie remains. Recently, I had a flick through things I have recorded and was struck by a) how many details even a non-sleep deprived person can forget so quickly and b) by how many of our weeks look, well, the same. 

There is predictability in our lives at the moment. The days Alfie goes to nursery, who gets up with him on which day, likewise, who does bedtime, the one afternoon a week I sit in a café with my laptop, the day the weekly shop comes, the activities and lunches I cycle through on the days I look after Alfie; there’s variation but the bones of it look the same week in, week out. 

I think my pre-baby self may have looked at this from the outside and wondered if life was boring. It probably would be to some people. But I’ve been surprised by how much contentment I am finding in our current routine. It is predictable but it’s also full of all these little joyous moments that make up a pretty lovely life. I’ve always been a big believer in appreciating and soaking up the little things but there’s nothing like a global pandemic and the fog of early parenthood to give you a brutal reminder of just how important the little things can be. The small, joyous moments of the day-to-day are what have got me through the last few years, particularly when spiralling around amongst the darker moments of sleep deprivation, and I have even more of a renewed appreciation for them now that I am no longer woken up every 1-2 hours. 

I think we need the routine. ‘A routine baggy enough to live in’ as Matt Haig says, but a routine all the same. I want the lovely surprises that life can throw at you, but I also am enjoying knowing what’s coming next week if I’m honest. I think after the uncertainty of the Covid years and the uncertainty of the trying to conceive-pregnancy-childbirth-newborn years, I was craving a bit of predictability. I’m also finding that leaning into all the aspects of our current phase of life, make everything so much easier. Accepting that life with a toddler often is repetitive and slow with sudden bursts of utter chaos, and just going with it. Savouring the fleeting moments where he does something totally new like it’s no big deal. Seizing the brief moments where I can squeeze in couple time, exercise, reading, baking, writing; the things that fill my cup. None of it is big or exciting but I’m pretty convinced that if you’re happy with the small stuff, with the day-to-day, then the big and exciting stuff is just a lovely bonus.