21-22 WEEKS PREGNANT
The Magic of a Routine
This week, you can
• Learn how routines help you stay organized
• Decide to create a few routines that make today easier
I PREPARE TO EXIT their homes, my clients often fret that whatever we
created will not last. It is as if they expect that an evil spirit will
suddenly inhabit their bodies, preventing them from performing
maintenance tasks. Do you feel this fear deep inside you? Perhaps you
envision the newly decorated nursery descending into chaos. Or maybe you
have never liked doing laundry and fear Baby’s soiled onesies will pile
up to the sky. This week I am going to demystify the art of
maintenance. It isn’t the scary, pain-in-theneck series of burdensome
tasks you think it is. In fact, you are already an expert organizer!
When I teach a seminar
I usually begin by saying, “You know what they say: There is good news
and there is bad news. Which do you want first?” Inevitably the audience
wants the good news first: I tell them that they are already organized.
More than just being organized, they are devoted to the systems they
have in place. “You are like religious zealots in your devotion and
zeal.” You can hear the buzz in the audience. “Oh no, Regina! You
haven’t seen my home!” I assure the audience I am correct, which of
course brings me to the bad news: Not all systems are created equal.
While some bring you peaceful, calm environments that literally nurture
and support your best efforts in life, your current system may assure
that you exist in a bastion of chaos. The environment seems to sabotage
you at every turn. Instead of being calmed, you are constantly agitated.
And now that you’re expecting a baby, life is about to get more
complicated and stressful than it’s ever been before. Even if you have
been able to get by with dysfunctional systems so far, why make your
adjustment to motherhood harder than it has to be? You need to figure
out a way to create new routines that work for you instead of against
How do you make the shift? Is there some
big psychological hurdle? Do you have to practice for weeks and weeks?
Is there any hope? Wait until you hear how easy it is! Here’s the
secret. Every action takes some time to perform. Whether it’s a few
seconds or a few hours, it’s a finite amount of time. In order to
maintain the order you create, you don’t have to expend any extra
energy. You have to redirect the energy you are already expending. Here
are a few examples.
Let’s say you habitually
walk in the front door and toss your keys somewhere. Later a drama
ensues. I like to say that “Where are my keys?” is actually THE most
popular soap opera in America! And when you have a baby, the drama
becomes that much more intense.
scenario, a year in the future. You come into the house with a baby on
one hip and a bag of groceries in your arm. You pitch your keys on the
closest flat surface you see and go about your business of putting away
the groceries. Two hours later, you and the baby are late for an
appointment. She dirtied her diaper at the last minute—as babies are
prone to do—and you had to change her. Now you’re running behind, but
you can’t remember what you did with your keys. The seconds tick by as
you run around the house searching in vain. Your arm and shoulder are
starting to cramp up from holding your baby, who now seems to weigh
about fifty pounds. The baby’s fussing; you’re sweating and on the verge
of tears. Why does it have to be so hard to get out and about as a mom?
what? It doesn’t have to be. Imagine that same scenario if you had
walked in the door and placed your keys in one designated spot. Later,
when you and your baby were on your way to your appointment, you could
have just grabbed your keys from that one spot and been on your way. It
wouldn’t have taken any longer to deposit them and you would have saved a
lot of time and emotional energy. As a mom, there will be plenty of
unpredictable events—a dirty diaper, a tantrum, or an unexpected
nap—that can throw your day off course and cause stress. Eliminate the
unnecessary stress of searching for your keys by making their location
something you can always count on!
another example. You walk into your bedroom at the end of the day. You
toss your clothes onto the easy chair. You do this for several days.
Your clothes get wrinkled. Maybe the cat or the dog decides to
periodically sit on the growing pile. Now the clothes are covered with
hair and wrinkled beyond repair. You could have worn some of those items
again but now you’d look like a homeless person. Somehow, the fact that
your clothes have been gathering fur on a chair has seemed to turn that
chair into some kind of junk magnet. Now your husband’s socks and belt
are there, too, along with your baby’s diaper bag and a toy or two.
You’re irritated with your husband, the dog, the cat, and maybe even the
baby; and to make matters worse, now you have a dry-cleaning bill to
contend with. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just hang the clothes up
to begin with, wear them again, hug the dog, kiss the cat, and embrace your spouse?
let’s look at your office. You open the mail. There are some things to
be tossed, a few sheets of paper to shred, and several items to file.
You say you are tired and it all sits in a jumble on your desk. After
several days, it looks like the Tasmanian devil blew through. Now you
have to set aside time to get caught up. If you think it’s bad now,
imagine that incoming paper doubling or tripling after you have your
baby. Hospital bills, insurance statements, immunization records,
reminder notices from the pediatrician . . . you’re going to have a lot
more paper to manage once this baby enters your life, and you need to
create habits now that will help you stay on top of it. It takes a few
seconds to put a piece of paper in its proper place right this minute.
It will later take the same amount of time but there will be additional
aggravation, guilt, and shame layered onto an activity that should have
taken a few minutes and raised your self-esteem.
DID YOU REALLY GET ORGANIZED?
lament I hear is this: “Regina, I get organized on a regular basis but
it never lasts! Two weeks after I expend all that energy, the chaos is
back. Why should I bother?” People are astonished to learn that they did
not in fact get organized. They tidied up. Things got shoved into
cupboards, drawers, and closets so the appearance of order might
reign for a few days. Being organized means that you designate a
specific spot for every item in your home. When you see that item out of
place, it gets returned to where it belongs. These are two very
different activities with two very different outcomes. Which one have
you traditionally done in your home?
sad song I hear is: “Regina, I can’t throw anything out. What if I need
it later? I don’t want to be wasteful!” This speaks to me of what is
called in metaphysical circles a “poverty consciousness” or a
“consciousness of loss.” It means people are ruled by fear. They are
afraid they will make the wrong decisions so they find a few noble words
to give them a pass. They fear they won’t have the money to replace an
item if indeed that need should arise. What they fail to embrace is that
they are being wasteful, not with stuff, but rather with space, time,
and energy. The space is so crowded they can’t function. Somewhere along
the line they were taught that this is the way life is, and freedom and
ease feel foreign to them. If you relate to this, I ask you to face
this issue head on. Along with a new baby come a lot of extra things.
You need to get comfortable with getting rid of items your child no
longer uses or needs, or you will find yourself drowning in stuff in
short order. And if you let your fear of lack keep you from exercising
healthy control over your belongings, you’ll be passing this fear on to
your child. I have a story that perfectly illustrates how a poverty
consciousness can rule us. I tell it in all of my seminars and classes. I
hope you see yourself in this dramatic story and find the key to your
own personal freedom when it comes to the bondage of stuff.
once participated at an event for young executives. We would each
respond to questions from our field of expertise, the goal being to
communicate how we felt the questioner could improve her life. A
successful young woman entered the room I was in with two friends. She
walked up to me and said, “Well, Regina, I find that two weeks after I
give something away, I inevitably need it. So, tell me, what do you
think about that!?” She crossed her arms across her chest. I wanted to
know her story. There’s always a reason these things happen. It’s never
chance or “bad luck.” She was going to be a tough nut to crack, so the
first thing I did was give her permission not to change.
would say that as long as this is your belief, it’s going to continue
to happen. My advice would be: Don’t give anything away!” I asked her if
she knew where this “consciousness of loss” came from. Were her parents
Depression-era babies? Had she ever been robbed or lost luggage on a
trip? No matter what hypothetical possibility I tossed out, she shot it
down. I had never before been unable to get a client to reveal the
underlying cause for such a belief. She would undoubtedly go down as my
first failure. Then, as if by magic, my colleague, a Feng Shui
practitioner, elicited this story from her.
she was five years old, she packed a tiny suitcase and went off on her
first sleepover. That night there was a tragic accident: Her brother
burned down the house! The next morning she had no home to return to and
all of her belongings were now in that one tiny suitcase. I was
stunned. I asked if she had ever seen the correlation between her fear
and this horrific experience. “No,” she said. I invited her to
investigate the possibility. How could a child not be scarred by such an
experience? Although the connection may not always be so clear, it’s
within your grasp as well. All it takes is a period of honest
RITUALS AND ROUTINES
Every day you
perform a series of comforting actions without giving them any thought.
Let me give you an example from my own life. I get up and do the
following without thinking: go to the bathroom, light incense on my
altar, put on the coffee, start breakfast, and bring in the paper. If
the series gets interrupted I feel off kilter for a few hours. Let me
give you another example: I create my grocery list all week and shop on
the same day. When it’s time to have my car serviced, I tie that
into a visit with another provider in that part of town. I usually go to
the dentist and the dealership twice a year. You get my drift.
you probably already have some routines in place. Alas, in the
established mix there may also be some routines that cause great
distress. Here’s a common scenario. You check Facebook right before bed.
You don’t set an alarm and time gets away from you. Instead of ten
minutes, you spend two hours. Now you crawl into bed exhausted.
Traditional Chinese medicine says that the sleep you get before
midnight is the most restorative. You can forget that noise because it’s
now 2:30 a.m. and you have to get up for work at 6:00. But you don’t
get up at 6:00, do you? You hit the snooze button several times and run
the risk of being late for work. You grab a food bar or donut and eat it
on the fly. You spend money for a designer cup of coffee because you
didn’t have time to make any. And you play catch-up all day. Sound like
you or anyone you know? It’s a ritual gone awry!
find it completely untenable to live this way once you have a baby.
Sleep will be at a premium and more important than ever. You won’t be
able to hit the snooze button for a half hour, then jump out of bed at
the last minute and still make it anywhere on time. Your baby will need
to be fed, diapered, and dressed before you can leave the house. You
will need to get adequate sleep or you’ll never be able to deal with the
demands of motherhood. Don’t panic! As the person who created these
inadequate, quasi self-destructive habits, you are completely free to
replace them with ones that nurture and uplift you in your new
THE POWER OF THE PEN
Right about now a
few journal questions will help you clear the cobwebs from your mind
and set you on the road to creating your own positive rituals and
Sit quietly in a nice comfortable
chair and think carefully about each question before you start writing.
The goal is to uncover the unconscious sabotage behaviors that are
perhaps ruling at least a part of your life. Once you identify them, you
are free to change them. This exercise isn’t about guilt; it’s about
identify two or three positive routines you have established like the
morning ritual I described above? Some of you may be hard-pressed to
What about time-wasting routines: Do you have any
of those you could list here? Don’t be surprised if this is a long
list! Ah, now we know you’re human.
What parts of your life don’t work as well as
you’d like? Are you always late for work? Do you not get enough sleep?
Do you habitually shop at the market without a list?
things you’d like to work on. What is the payoff for making each change?
It’s important to identify the payoff. That knowledge will help keep
you motivated when the going gets tough. For example: If you don’t get
enough sleep, why do you want more? Your response might be something
along these lines: If I got more sleep I wouldn’t be as tired during
the day. I could accomplish more and enjoy the day. I’d also like to
banish those dark circles under my eyes.
Can you identify at least three good habits you
have now? Is it possible to string them together in a way that creates a
positive, productive ritual? Keep in mind the way your life is going
to change in just a few short months. Are the routines and rituals
you’re creating conducive to life with a baby? Can you create a system
that allows you to make your morning coffee with one hand? Or read your
morning paper in a room where you can keep your eye on the baby?
Creating habits that take your baby into account now will help make the
transition much smoother later.
What habits could you cultivate to achieve this same goal?
Once you understand the
concept of routines, you can create new ones and revise the old as the
demands on your time change. Remember that getting organized takes time
and a little old-fashioned elbow grease. But staying organized is
really about directing your energy in a positive way. It doesn’t
require more of you; it just requires something new. After Baby is born,
I’ll have some suggestions for baby-related routines .
Children and animals thrive on structure. Perhaps they have something to