Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
We did, for the most part. A couple holiday parties, a great visit with my parents and one of my oldest friends, my son’s first solo travel as a full-fledged GUY (not an “unaccompanied minor”), a New Year’s Day board game extravaganza, and a Lord of the Rings marathon (extended edition, of course, which meant twelve hours in front of the TV last Saturday).
There were some rough patches, too. Anxiety is rearing its head in my family, and it's a wily beast. Thankfully, the light was bright enough to fill most of the dark corners in our holiday.
Reentry is never straightforward, however. The kids are dragging themselves back to school with varying levels of success. And I’m inching back into my daily rhythms, finding my sea legs. The habits and routines I assume are so well-established fade away while I’m gone, and I come home having to relearn them. I’m not exaggerating: if I’m away for more than a week, I literally forget how to plan the week’s meals, how to structure my writing hours, who’s driving whom in the carpool. I have to gear myself up to exercise again, puncturing the excuses that have somehow reinflated themselves so I can remember that I actually love being active.
If I don’t write things down -- even the regularly repeating things -- they disappear as soon as they fall out of regular practice. Example: I keep a list of dinners my family loves, because even the tried-and-true, cook-by-heart recipes I’ve made for years get forgotten if I don’t make a note of them.
Straying too far from my routines for too long turns a rest into a disruption with troubling speed. (I’d better write that down.)
For me, the key to reentry lies in trusting my tools.
- Daily use of my calendar (I use Google Calendar synced with my iPhone calendar.)
- ...and my to-do list, which I use for both to-do’s and reference lists such as “favorite family dinners” (I use Things for iPhone.)
- “automating” important tasks by establishing set times for them each day or week. For example, my grocery shopping, exercise, and writing “slots” happen pretty much at the same time week after week. If my schedule fluctuates too much, the mental overhead it takes to manage it saps my energy and makes me more likely to flake out.
No fancy tricks or life hacks...just a faithful return to the simple tools I know work for me.
Does this "forgetting of routines" happen to anyone else? I’d love to hear how you handle it, and vacation reentry in general.