When I was locked in the hospital I had difficulty knowing which day of the week it was. Most days seemed like “Groundhog Day.”

“Groundhog Day” is a movie where the main character Bill Murray wakes up each day to the exact same events; he is caught in a “time loop.” He realizes his predicament and tries to take advantage of the situation since no one else is aware of it. Finally he uses his situation to improve himself and those around him and eventually breaks the “time loop”.

Routine was supposed to be my friend. It was supposed to provide me with stability. In essence it was stagnating and presented a wide path to boredom.

Most of us are creatures of habit and subject ourselves and others to routine. I can appreciate how chaotic the world would be if we all woke up at different times but routine can be slumber itself. How much of the world goes unnoticed and unappreciated when we travel the same roads at the same time? We have the ability to find the unique even in routine but often the result is a string of days we pass through unaware of ourselves and our surroundings.

When I was a child repetition was used to sculpt my behaviour and knowledge. As a patient it seemed only to chip away at my spirit. I did not despise all of my regularity in part because I could not see it. I was unable to step to the side of myself with a view of me leaning against the same wall in the same hall waiting in line for medications. I was fairly content to wait for the food trays to roll down the hall with Saturday’s special. My most poignant recollection of routine was watching people form a line for medications. This wouldn’t be unusual normally but the evening line was almost always formed before the medication cart was present. People stood behind each other in front of nothing waiting for sedation. Routine may lead to productivity and continuity but it can slowly ruin a person who has no escape. We each have an inner clock but the bell does toll for thee and there is so much to see.

Is routine nature or nurture? Are your habits tied to the sun and moon or do you sway to some man-made tune?

16 thoughts on “Routine

  1. This is a fabulous post because of your insight. I’ve been through a similar situation, only it was self-imposed because of my son’s death. I feel that this routine thing is a way for us to stop time…it gives us time to reflect, to evaluate if we can keep going, survive…etc etc etc. I believe it is part of our recovery process and is not a choice. As you describe, we don’t object to the boredom, the sameness. For a time it serves us. Only when we begin to complain about it, do we know we are ready to move on, to challenge our circumstances. Thank you for such a meaningful post. It meant a lot to me.

    • I am glad my post was meaningful to you but am saddened to hear of your loss. It is interesting how you are able to look back and see your healing. We’re you able to see some of it as it was happening? I was lost in my pain many times and had little faith or strength to see. I am grateful for your journey. You have pointed out to me that boredom can be a signal to move on. “challenge our circumstances” how else can I grow?

    • Thanks for your comments. It took me a long while to get close enough to my pain to be able to embrace it. If it wasn’t holding me down I was trying to push it away.

  2. I’m told in every training I’ve been to that children need routine. I completely see the value of routine but if you don’t mix it up every once in awhile then they’re not learning and not having fun.

    • Possibly that is what I disliked about routine, it does make children of us. We are not given the responsibility of simple tasks and decisions which makes us feel incapable. This may be another aspect of the powerlessness of people in institutions.

      • I like routine when working with my kids.

        They honestly can’t even figure it out because they still ask, “What are we doing?” and I’m like, seriously? You’re asking me what comes after snack? What has come after snack for the past year?!?!? ROTATIONS!!!!

        Both probably benefit but for the sake of effort i’m sure the worker likes it more. If I had to plan a brand new day every week I’d be upset and probably leave my job because they don’t pay me enough to do that!

  3. I think most of us “sway to a man made tune” Almost everything we do day to day is routine established by man. Breakfast, lunch and dinner come to mind immediately. Why those times, the specific foods to be consumed? If eggs sound good at 4 o’clock that is when I will eat them. I have a son with Autism and one with Aspergers and they like certain things to be done a specific way and at specific times. They expect them already and I enjoy doing them because it has helped them understand about trust in me/mom. There are a few things though that I do not make routines (on purpose). I don’t want them becoming “rainmen” which is very possible with their repetitive behaviors. I think that breakfast before 10, lunch between 12 and 1, dinner by 6:30, bedtime at 8:00 with a half hour to read or be read to in order to transition, morning shower and evening bath are all healthy parts of our daily routines and they enjoy them. They are necessary here. They also learn based on repetition so I make sure I patiently repeat whenever necessary so that they can understand what they are doing or at least get it. So we march to the beat of our own drummer in the house because they are not “typical children” but basically it all ultimately revolves around man made tune because when my kids set foot outside of this house… society expects that they march to society’s drummer,

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