Swapping Bad Habits for Good Routines

Whenever I get home – whether it’s from work, or Target, or… actually, those are the only two places I ever “get home from,” really… – I go through a ceremonial parade of taking things off and putting them away. It starts the moment I step in the front door, when I set the wallet, keys, and sunglasses on the counter. Then I slip of whatever’s on my feet and tuck them away in my closet; next the pants come off; then, the bra.


For real, though.

This weird, quasi-religious ritual is pretty much just me unpacking my day in pairs of freed body parts: when my glasses hit the counter, my eyes are off-duty; once the shoes are back in the closet, my feet are free; then out come my legs, and finally: boobs.

I’ll usually then spend anywhere between ten and three-hundred minutes – really depends on the happenings at work (or Target) that day – wandering around my house. Aimlessly. Inside, outside, sometimes I even check the garage out. I won’t be looking for anything, or thinking about anything. Just… walking, and maybe doing absent-minded chores like rotating the laundry I forgot about or scooping the litter box I also forgot about or watering my succulents that I magically don’t forget about (and which are miraculously still alive?!) or moving a picture from one wall to another for no reason whatsoever (except that using a hammer is fun).

This daily routine of unfastening my facade and taking inventory of every square foot in my house is the buffer between my public self – who’s upbeat, energetic, personable, and wearing pants – and my home self – who’s a grunting, pantsless slob that usually eats cottage cheese straight from the container for dinner. It’s not exactly meditative, since I spend the majority of it yelling things like HI BABYCATS! at Snuggs and Rorschach, or singing along to the Rent soundtrack at an intimidating volume. It is, however, a necessary moment (or collection of moments) in my day.

Since people don’t usually talk about their private, personal habits unless they’re self-conscious narcissists with a blog about themselves I have no information in my brain on whether this is a normal human tendency or if I’m actually revealing my own schizophrenic psychosis by sharing this quirk, but my assumptions lean more towards the former possibility because I know that people’s intellectual and emotional energies can only expend so much in a day, and at a certain point of stimulation each of us needs to turn off and just be a body without a brain for a little while.

I also think that structures are a really fucking critical aspect to any healthy human’s day. I’ve been a long time “free-spirit” who resented any semblance of routine in my life, but I came to realize through tribulation and trial that refusing to practice consistency in my home life actually made it a whole lot more challenging to take risks and be spontaneous outside the house. On the opposite side of that same coin, knowing that I have a safe sanctuary at home where I can physically be and mentally leave means an introvert like me can emotionally exert herself up to wazoo outside the house, because I always know I have that structured moment of respite and recuperation nestled into my day.

Creating positive routines in my life has only been as challenging as convincing myself I deserve positive routines in my life, and that took about ten years to do. But, having come to know that I’m the sort of person who adopts bad habits with very little effort – I smoked cigarettes for years, I’ve leapfrogged from one serious relationship to the other a million consecutive times, there have been entire years when I didn’t use dental floss (since the lack of a good routine is essentially the same as a bad habit) – I’ve discovered in my adult life that I can apply the same process of developing those bad habits into the practice of creating these positive routines. Doing the same thing over and over turns it into something you always do, whether it’s smoking cigarettes or waking up early enough to do yoga every morning.

And just like my doctor* always says: allowing an hour of mindless wandering each day keeps the nine-hour-Netflix-binges at bay.

*I don’t actually have a “doctor” doctor because I am ill-prepared for adult life, but I do have a dentist and a psychiatrist and my dentist says I have too much tension in my jaw and my psychiatrist says I need to be less of perfectionist so I think it all ties together, really.

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