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The Importance of a Foundation Routine

It was 9:26 am on a Friday morning and I was chatting with my husband on the phone when my other line beeped.  A quick glance at my phone screen showed that my Mom was on the other line.  My Mom never calls me that early, especially on a Friday when she’s normally getting ready for work.  Knowing it was probably important, I asked my husband to hold and switched over to my Mom.  Little did I know that my whole world was about to go topsy-turvy and sideways and that I would suddenly find myself relying on my foundation routine to keep things moving forward.

A foundation routine can see you through the toughest of times.

In the few seconds it took for me to switch over to my Mom a number of thoughts crossed my mind.

  • perhaps her and Dad were thinking of coming for a visit, maybe for Thanksgiving.
  • maybe we left something behind the other weekend when popped up to visit them
  • maybe she just had a few minutes and wanted to touch base about something
  • heck, I even thought that maybe she called me by accident.

The call connected and we said our hellos, and then my Mom said seven little words that made my heart stop –

“Now, we don’t want you to worry!”

Time froze and everything went crystal clear like it does in moments like this.  My Dad was in the hospital, but he was doing fine.

I wasn’t to worry.

It was not a heart attack.

I wasn’t to worry.

“We’ll call you as soon as we know more”

“Please don’t worry.”

Ha!  Don’t worry?  Is it even possible to love someone and not worry about them in small ways on any given, normal, day?  But I understood what they meant.  My Dad was OK!  He was in good spirits and I shouldn’t stress or allow my fears and worries to send me into a dizzying tizzy.  I understood that all too well.  In my younger years I had a tendency to let my emotions take control, and this was not a moment to allow myself to slide back there.  Instead though, through no conscious effort on my part, I found myself in this weird place where life didn’t feel quite real.  Almost as though I were living a dream.  Things were too bright and too shiny.  Time seemed to stand still one moment and fly by the next.  I was in a fog and completely scattered in the most calm of ways.

That was nine days ago!  And things are slowly but surely settling into a new normal for us.

The Importance of a Foundation Routine

Why am I sharing this story with you?  Because life can change with no warning.

Yesterday, I asked you choose your top three must dos in the area of life you’ve chosen to focus on for this challenge.  These three items are your foundation routine for that area.  No matter what else happens each day, if those three things get completed you will count the day a success.  There is another name for these three things, this foundation routine we’re building – Survival Mode!

When your world has gone topsy-turvy, upside down, inside out and backwards, these are the routine things that will keep things flowing.  These three things are the motions you go through when you’re … well… when you’re going through the motions.

On that Friday, after the call from my Mom, I walked away from the computer even though I was working on a post.  (That one will come out in November)  I decided to clean the house, starting with tidying, dusting, and vacuuming the family room.  FOUR hours later I had managed to tidy up the room, but I dusted only half the tv stand and the base of the floor lamp.  When I went to grab the vacuüm, I grabbed the broom instead, and that was the moment when I realized that I needed to fall into survival mode.  I declared it a scattered day (for the next five days) and just went through the motions.  I tackled my top three things in each area of my life, with the exception of work, and I allowed myself the time I needed to focus on family and make plans for what we might need to do.

You see those three little tasks do so much more than help us build our routines.  They keep the various areas of our lives running for us when we need to turn our attention to other places.  After a few weeks of doing them daily, we’ll reach a point where we don’t think about them anymore we’ll just do them.  A few more months and they’ll come to us so naturally it will sometimes feel as thought they do themselves for us, with no thought or planning on our part.

Building these foundation routines is about more than getting things done.  It is about holding on to pieces of normal when we can’t tell up from down.  They are the islands of sanity in the chaos. So when you find yourself facing one of life’s curve balls – whether it is a family emergency, a personal crisis, or something else entirely, big or small, it doesn’t matter – you will have these routines in place so that you can go through the motions and come out on the other side without feeling totally lost.

On  a lighter note, one positive thing that came out of all this is that I changed my focus area.  You see, originally I was going to focus on my work area this month, but I didn’t have much laundry to do and the mountain of dishes waiting for me each night before I even thought of cooking dinner made me realize that I need to change-up my top three things for the home front.  My dailies used to be:

  • cook dinner
  • one load of laundry
  • clean the bathrooms

I realized that some of these didn’t make sense anymore, and I know myself well enough to know that when I start feel scattered the home area is the first one to start reflecting that.  Those three little things helped me pull me through one day to the next and I’m so thankful that I had them to fall back on, but I knew that they needed to be tweaked and changed to reflect how our lives are now.  I used to love doing the dishes in the morning, but that changed when Liam started school 4 years ago, yet I haven’t adjusted the routine to fit our new schedules.  I’m still learning as I go.

I said it on day one and I’ll say it again now.

I’m walking this path right along side you – you are NOT alone.

So when you feel yourself starting to wonder if it’s worth the effort to stick to these three daily things, remember that you’re not alone.  I’m here with you, and I promise you it is worth it.

Have you picked your area of focus and chosen your top three to do items?  Drop me  line in the comments if you want too, I always love to hear everyone’s perspective.

PS: My Mom and Dad are doing well.  A full recovery is expected.



A foundation routine is built with the motions we go through when we're just, well, going through the motions.

From Scattered to Sane -ButtonThis post is part of the series From Scattered to Sane: 31 Days to Reclaim Your Life (or at least take back your time).  You can find all the posts from this series on the From Scattered to Sane page.  As each new one comes out, I’ll link it up there.  I’ll also be sharing each post on all our social media channels, you can follow along on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!  I hope you have as much fun following along as I’m having sharing this all with you!


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  1. HI Alli, Alita again. Since I have caught this series at the end of August, I am going to apply these tactics in September. I have actually made 4 tasks those being: Tidying up the Kitchen( I dont have a dishwasher so I have to dishes by hand and I LOATHE doing the dishes), Picking up the Living Room, Picking up the Bathroom, and Laundry as laundry allows for other things to be done during both the wash and dry cycles. Do you have any tips for those of us that despise dishes and do not have a dishwasher to get through this tedious but necessary task?

    1. Oh I loathe washing dishes too, though I’ve started to enjoy the escape. My best advice – wash as you go. I used to have one of those dish cleaning wands that you fill with dish soap and I used to quickly wash and rinse dishes throughout the day and I just let them air dry. My other tip is something I have just recently started doing. I put on some music on my phone, plug in some headphones crank the music and drown out the world. It makes it a little more fun.
      You can also enlist your kids help. Turn dinner clean up into family time.

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