Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Downside of Routines

I mentioned yesterday the pluses of routine. Today I want to touch some of the downsides of them.
First, having a set routine can be stagnating and boring. Even the best walking track gets boring if done absolutely the same way day after day, and even a two-week "diet paln" can leave one feeling after a while that one is not living a "normal" life. But worse than that, if a routine becomes so important that it is unbreakable and unflexible, we have become prisoners in a jail of our own making. When asked to do a favor for someone which infringes on our regular routines, we may often be tempted to refuse without even really considering if the request is feasible.Perhaps we could, with minor adjustmants to our schuedules, accept the opportunity to help another, but servitude to our "routine" my cancel our logical thinking. (In extreeme cases, this can be downright dangerous.)
We need to be able to alter our routines when change is called for (as I did by sleeping in on Tuesday), while keeping in mind that regularly-done tasks may be more difficult when not done in their regular way. (If I had given myself an extra incentive, or perk, for walking, I probably would have done so despite the novel I was devouring.But I underestimated my evil inclination....)
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It is well-known that children, teens, and adults with Down syndrome often have "scripts", or "grooves" : routines that they will keep, almost no-matter-what. These routines give the person with intellectual disability the security of knowing what is expected of them, what they need to do, and what comes next. It is definately worthwhile to occaisionally purposely alter the standard schuedule of the day, starting from when your child is young, in order to teach them possibility of flexibility.


Batya said...

The routine is necessary to facilitate life and all the responsibilities etc. But the routine shouldn't be worshipped to the detriment of life. Sometimes they must be changed.

G6 said...

You raise a very interesting point.
I too, am a big believer in the importance of routines, for everyone.
Children benefit the most because their ability to predict what is coming helps them feel more in control of their environment, but the same practice works well for adults too, to feel more in control of their surroundings.

But there IS that very real danger of becoming a slave to the routine. The routines are created to help us enjoy our lives MORE and if they prevent us from actually LIVING our lives to the fullest, then they are no longer accomplishing those goals.

I had an "aha moment" this week in a similar vein. I have recently instituted a strict exercise routine in order to get in shape. I was invited to a simcha during my regularly scheduled gym time and a tiny piece of me was afraid to give it up. I had to KNOCK MYSELF ON THE HEAD and remind myself that I go to the gym to feel better about myself when I'm living my life - the gym was NEVER MEANT to BECOME my life!