I’ve just come in from my daily 45-minute walk outside. It’s humid, a little bit too warm, and later in the day than I like to go. I was tired before I started, so every step was misery. It was boring because I walk that route every day. Everything hurts, from my feet all the way up to my sore shoulder. I had a million reasons for not wanting to go, and a thousand excuses ready to rationalize staying home. Everything in me was saying “I don’t wanna walk…”
But I went.
I went because for every excuse there is a reason why I shouldn’t accept it. I went because it was the right thing to do for myself. And I went because unless I do that every day, I won’t get the results that I need to get.
For the past two and a half years, I have taken two daily walks that take about 45 minutes. I rarely missed a day. I sometimes went out at 11:00 at night so I could get my walk accomplished. My discipline was flawless and my determination was unwavering. I was proud of myself for sticking to my routine, and I even enjoyed the time spent on the route. I used my walking time to think, process, and problem solve in my head. Because I didn’t give myself a choice, my walks felt comfortable and productive.
Then I stopped. For some reason, I started listening to my own excuses and giving myself some breaks. Once in awhile it was not convenient or easy to make the time I needed for my walk. I let go of my discipline and stopped caring about it. My routine was broken. Along with this, I grew unhappy and frustrated with myself. The negative consequences of skipping my walks sporadically started to add up. Before long, I wasn’t walking at all. Just like that, a well-established routine that I had actually enjoyed and greatly benefitted from had fallen apart.
Now that I am rebuilding my walking routine, it is painful. I am back at square one, battling my own excuses all over again. I am out of practice, so I am sore. I am definitely too tired to go, and when I do I am exhausted when I return. But my determination is back, and I am driven to redevelop my routine.
When I think about how hard it is to build routines with students, I can now relate. No wonder we need to continuously revisit and reteach routines! They are so easily broken, and so difficult to rebuild. Even routines that become familiar and comfortable for kids can suddenly fall apart for a multitude of reasons. Now that I am living out this truth with my own experience, I have a new perspective on working to develop and maintain routines in the classroom. We often do a really great job in the beginning with teaching and working to develop those routines–but do we recognize when they start to fall apart? In order to keep kids moving through their day comfortably and happily, we need to be vigilant for the breakdown in routines that happens so easily, then address the underlying issues and build them back up again before it becomes a painful return to square one. It was surprising to me to realize that a routine that I thought had been completely integrated into my daily life could fall apart fairly quickly and easily. (How unfair is that??). The same is true for kids–they not only need help in building good routines into their reading lives, but repairing them when there is a breakdown.
For now, I will try to be less crabby about walking and find the joy in my routine once more. It’s there…I just need to be reminded of it.
And it will help when my feet stop hurting!!