I know. Mondays are the devil.
Or at least that’s what we’ve been taught to believe, right? We’re supposed to dread it — the start of the work-week, the renewed slog, yet another futile attempt to roll our own particular stone up the hill.
But this view of Monday just doesn’t work for me.
I need routine. True, I have an aggravating habit of resisting it at almost every turn, but I know, deep down, that I need it. So I try to craft a routine, one that I’m capable of sticking to beyond just the brainstorming of it. And I currently have one that seems to work.
I get up (I won’t say at what time, because our culture still bears judgment against those of us who aren’t up at dawn) and have a glass of water. I then work out for about thirty minutes, followed by a shower. I get dressed and go to the kitchen to start the coffee. While the kettle is heating up, I use that time to tidy up the kitchen, which is most likely still a mess from Alexander’s cooking the night before. I load the dishwasher and start it if it’s full. I hand-wash what didn’t fit in the machine. I wipe down the counters and take out the trash if it’s full. If the water still hasn’t boiled, I clean out the litter box.
As I wait for the coffee to brew, maybe I’ll snack on a small breakfast — a scone from the Stop-and-Shop bakery, or a slightly toasted English muffin with butter and honey. Then I fix my coffee. So as not to dirty up a spoon each morning, I like to add the sugar and milk first, give the mug a few swishes to mix them, then pour the coffee over top.
So now I’m dressed and I have coffee. I’m about as ready to be an adult as I’m ever going to be.
I start with housework. Usually there’s at least one load of laundry to put through. Or maybe it got washed and dried already, and it just needs folding and putting away. The living room probably needs to be vacuumed. I’ve also most likely let my books and magazines get out of order, so I’ll try to stack them in a way that I think makes it more likely I’ll finish reading them in the near future.
I like to spend about an hour on housework. Then I fix another cup of coffee, which I take to my desk. For the rest of my time at home, I’m there, attending to everything else — answering emails, keeping up with the bills, planning lessons and church music, and so on. On a good day, I get about two good hours at my desk before it’s time to head to Foxboro to start that day’s music lessons.
It’s a pretty good routine, if I do say so myself. And it almost never lasts.
Life intervenes. Emergencies arise. Sometimes I’m just plain lazy and don’t feel like working out. Or folding the damn laundry. I compromise on the routine and decide to focus instead on “just getting through the day”.
This unravelling usually starts somewhere around Wednesday. By Thursday, I’m answering emails in my pajamas and scrambling to get to work on time. Friday — which is the one day I don’t have to be anywhere if I don’t want to — generally means sleeping far later than is respectable, even by my standards, and then punishing myself for not using my one wide-open day to get more accomplished. I tell myself I’ll get caught up on Saturday when I get home from teaching, but by that time I’m too worn out, and the prospect of doing anything productive just brings on a paralyzing wave of despair. Come Sunday night, dishes are piled high, there is no clean underwear, and I have at least a dozen messages the answers to which will have to begin “Apologies for the delayed response…”
But then comes Monday. Monday means I get to start over. It’s the proverbial clean slate, and the chaos that accumulated the previous week becomes, as if by magic, a force that can be quickly subdued by a renewed commitment to the routine. It doesn’t matter how much I neglected the housework over the weekend — come Monday morning, I will get up, do the dishes while I wait for the coffee to brew, and maybe fold some laundry before sitting down to my waiting inbox. And I will commit to carrying out this routine for just one day longer than I did the previous week.
If every Sunday, then, is a little Easter, every Monday is, for me, a little New Year’s. A smaller turning of the calendar, sure, but one that offers the same opportunity to start over with a new sense of resolve and dedication.
Let’s see how well I do this week.