Routine. Sometimes you don’t realize just how much you need it until it no longer exists.

That’s how I feel right now.

Because of an increased workload the last couple of weeks, I have been putting in more than my share of overtime hours at my job. While the money was great for those few weeks, I felt like a gigantic stress ball the entire time. It caused an overabundance of chaos in my life; chaos I’m not exactly used to and don’t particularly like.

I live a very structured lifestyle. I know what I’m doing at least a week in advance and I absolutely despise last minute plan changes. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit. 

It's funny to think back to a time when I couldn't tell you who I was or what I was doing with my life. I never had a routine. But now, I need it. I crave it. Without a routine, I feel out of control. But with it, I stay organized and remember what I need to do from day to day. 

The most I did during these last few weeks of having my routine all screwed up was eat, sleep and work. It left very little time to tend to household chores. And I felt like I barely saw my family at all.

Fortunately, my children, who are 16 and 14, are relatively self-sufficient and require very little from me in terms of direction to navigate their daily lives. So I was able to work all those extra hours. Abbey can not only drive but she has her own car, which means there’s an extra driver to get Jaiden home from sports practice several times a week.

And my boyfriend, Tony, was there to pick up the slack where I left off. Always one to help out around the house, he really stepped up to make sure everything got done when I couldn’t do my part. He took care of meal preparations several nights a week and picked Jaiden up from school when Abbey wasn’t available. He really made sure the house remained in working order, and I am eternally grateful for that.

In fact, I'm grateful for my little family, who put up with me being gone so much and helped keep our house in a mostly working order. 

When my workload finally slowed a little, I made sure to take some extra time to get my life back on track. I finished up some chores around the house and the girls, Tony and I decorated our house for the holidays. I can’t tell you how good it felt to get back into a routine.

This entire experience reminded me to find a happy balance between my work and my home life. As great as it was to have been able to help out when my job needed it (and get some extra money in time for the holidays), I realized how it important it is to me to make sure I’m spending plenty of time with my family. I felt as though I was working my life away, which was draining all of my energy until I had nothing left to give them. I didn’t think that was fair.

It's something I'll be more mindful of in the future. Because before I know it, Abbey and Jaiden will be off to college and out of the house. I’d hate to think I spent their last few years at home neglecting the most important routine of them all — making memories with my family.


Amanda Smith, a working mom of two children, writes weekly for Read more from Amanda »

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