My childhood was extremely routine.
Life was divided by seasons, and organized by days. Routine and careful planning were the ways Mom and Dad made sure all our needs would be met.
The busiest season was fall. A warm September meant two more crops of hay to get into the barn. Those crops, added to the three from summer, ensured our cow Betsy had plenty of food when the pasture grass turned brown and crisp. Mom canned tomatoes and shucked and shaved ears of corn to put in the freezer.
Our apple tree produced full boxes in October. I learned to use a sharp knife at a young age to help Mom peel, and make applesauce and apple butter.
October was also meat month: deer hunting, butchering a calf, a pig and chickens that were no longer good layers. I thought of it as the bloody month. Mom and Dad used the kitchen table to cut the meat, wrap it in thick white paper, and write the contents on each package.
The meat bundles were packed in our wash tubs, loaded into the car and whisked away to Knepper’s Lockers to be frozen. Dad would bring home a few packages once a week.
Before the first hard freeze, Dad dug the root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, turnips and rutabagas. Mom and I grabbed the turned-over treasures, and filled gunny sacks to be stored in the dirt cellar under our house. The veggies joined rows and rows of jars filled with berries, apricots, peaches and prunes.
By the end of November, harvest was complete. Our table always held an abundance of good food.
Each day also had its task. Mom taught me a song to remind me what happened each day. I’m sure many of you remember it:
“This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes all on a Monday morning.”
- Monday was “wash our clothes.” Laundry was hung on a line — even in winter. They’d freeze dry.
- Tuesday was “iron our clothes.” I started with ironing hankies and pillow cases.
- Wednesday was “mop the floors.” I would sweep, and Mom would mop.
- Thursday was “wash the windows and scrub the outhouse.” That didn’t fit the tune.
- Friday was “bake our bread” — and sometimes cinnamon rolls or a cake or pie. It was my favorite day.
- Saturday was “go to town.”
- Sunday was “go to church.”
Visiting was squeezed into afternoons or after supper as a regular part of the schedule.
Relationships were very important. Routine, routine, routine. There was great security in knowing our family’s routine.
As modern conveniences appeared, routines disappeared. Washers and dryers created instant clothes care. New materials no longer need ironing. The mop bucket’s been replaced by the Swiffer. Indoor plumbing makes it easy to give the bathroom a quick cleaning every day. I’m sorry to say my windows seldom get washed.
Bulk stores have cut shopping to once a month.
Church services are relegated to Sunday mornings, and the rest of the day is recreation.
You’d think with these quick, easy solutions we’d accomplish more. It’s just the opposite. We become in-grown, distracted, more “busy.” I find myself whittling away the day with meaningless time wasters. Why do I do that?
I’ve determined to recreate a routine. Daily activities include morning exercises, reading, praying, crossword and Sudoku to get my brain charged.
My ongoing goals are:
- Phone at least one person each day.
- Organize one drawer in my house each Tuesday.
- Take someone to lunch on Wednesdays.
- Send someone a thoughtful note each Thursday.
- Write for two hours each Friday and Saturday.
- Read one hour every day.
So far, I’ve sent cards to friends, trimmed shrubs and created my unique Christmas cards with my extra time. Can I keep this going and continue to be more productive? I hope so. I invite you to join me in creating an intentional routine so each night will bring the satisfaction of a day well done. Routine, routine, routine.
Chase Hoseley is a freelance writer and retired kindergarten teacher who lives in Clarkston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.