Routinized vs. Whimsical

Have you ever seen this question on a personality assessment:  Are you more routinized or whimsical?

That sounds weird to me.  Is whimsy the opposite of routine?  If you asked me, I would say the opposite of routine is haphazard.  The opposite of whimsy is serious.

I’m seriously haphazard, but that sounds a bit dangerous, so maybe I should stick with whimsical.  I’m whimsical.

I can keep a routine when life demands it, but I’m happiest when I don’t need to think about keeping to a schedule.

My daughter, on the other hand, is routinized to a degree I find almost comical.

Last Friday, I reminded her to do her homework and laundry on Saturday instead of Sunday, so we could go to a matinee of Frankenweenie on Sunday.  Her brother had an evening shift, so he was free to go with us Sunday, but not Saturday.

The same had been true the weekend before, but she had quietly refused to do her laundry on Saturday.

Now, to whimsical me, this seems a non-issue.  Laundry one day or another is not a big deal.

To her, it is.  When reminded about the movie plans, she looked at me blankly and said, “But I do my laundry on Sunday.”

“Yes, I know, but you could do it on Saturday so we can go to the movies as a family.”

“That’s not my routine.”

“You could do it this once, because your brother works Saturdays.  We cannot go to a movie as a family on Saturdays.”

Walter Crane, 1864

“I don’t do my laundry on Saturday.”

“Yes, I know, but you could.  It is possible to do laundry other days.”

“It would mess up my whole weekend routine.”

“Well, then you have to choose.  You can stick to your routine and not go to the movies, or you can do laundry on Saturday and go to the movies.  It is your choice.”

“I like my routine.”

“It’s your choice, but I’m telling you now that if you don’t do laundry on Saturday we will go without you.  We missed the movie last week because of your laundry routine, and it won’t be in the theaters much longer.”

“Fine.”

And it was fine, as I knew it would be.  She did her laundry on Saturday, and we went out on Sunday, and she enjoyed the movie.  Of course she did.  She loves going to the movies with her brother!

I know that I am just as incomprehensible to her.  She is always trying to make sense of my scattered housekeeping.  Every time she sees me dust, she asks if book club is that night.  It is true that I always dust before book club, so one week each month she is correct.  The other three or four times she is confused when I say no.

Nilfisk, 1960

Everything I do puzzles her, or, rather, when I do it puzzles her.  “Why are you vacuuming on a school day?” she’ll ask, if I last vacuumed on Saturday morning.   “Who is doing laundry on a Wednesday?”  “Why are you going to Costco on a Friday?”  “I thought you went to the library on Mondays.”

My daughter might be right.  Recently (sometime in 2012) I read the book Willpower, and one of the things I learned was that people who have strong routines have greater willpower because they don’t have to use it up deciding whether or not to do mundane things.  If Monday is laundry day, then there are no mental calculations of how many more days of underpinnings are in the drawer and do I really feel like doing laundry.  No, you just do the laundry, and your mental energy is saved for more important decisions.  (It really was an interesting book; I’m not doing it justice.)

Reading that did cause me to briefly consider establishing a household routine, but I decided not to bother.  When I’ve needed more structure (or my children have), I’ve been able to implement it.  At this point, though, I’m enjoying my natural whimsy.

What about you?  Are you more whimsical or more routinized?
Do you wish you were more of the other?

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10 thoughts on “Routinized vs. Whimsical

  1. Whimsical, if that is what we’re using to mean relaxed, non-routine-ish. Except, now I’m being forced to be routine-ish because of that scary thing called High School (well, not me so much on that one, mostly the high school student, who actually loves routine) but also because of newly needed therapies, remediations, extra intensive course work, etc. for my newly diagnosed dyslexic+ son.

    Heretofore I managed to muster “cleaning day is Friday” and “school is after lunch” but school is now all day for some, and helping a child become literate though the odds are not strongly in his favor….well, whimsy is not a word that fits with that very well at all.

    (p.s. – I am grateful to be able to say so here, since I’m not mentioning it on my own blog…..thanks for asking what I’m sure you didn’t realize would be quite so therapuetic a question…)

    • Reader, I completely understand. Homeschooling high school forced me to be more orderly than is my nature, too. Adopting my daughter did the same. When our children need structure, we whimsical moms are adaptive enough to develop a routine. (Glad you felt comfortable sharing here.)

  2. Ginger, I am exactly the same way. Relaxed (though I adore that term “whimsical”. Now that my kids are older I’ve fallen back into my relaxed/haphazard ways of getting ‘er done. I don’t mind…much. Unfortunately, I don’t have any routine people questioning my free spirit. I think that would actually help me.

    • It does help. I don’t consider their reminders nagging at all, because I know how easily I can forget things like buying bread or scheduling a doctor’s appointment or signing a permission slip.

  3. I skew waaay into the routinized column. I am a control freak and having clear routines helps me feel like I’m in control. That being said, I have three kids, ages five and under, so oftentimes my routines fall victim to the demands of real life. I’m still learning how to deal with that gracefully.

    • Being a mom is all about being out of your comfort zone and responding with grace. It doesn’t matter where you start, you’ll be pulled in directions you never imagined.

  4. I like a routine for somethings – agreed with so many points in Willpower – I have routines and schedules so I don’t have to think about them. Although I’m able to swap or skip if necessary – including a trip to the movies 🙂

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