Karl Douglass: The comfort of routine

August 4, 2013 

Parents all over town are breathing a sigh of relief. School starts on Wednesday.

We enjoy spending time with our children, but the regularity and consistency of a school schedule makes daily life easier to manage. Summer's shifting schedules of day camps, summer programs and road trips take all of us out of our daily routines. Breaking the routine is good, but sometimes it can be more stressful than relaxing.

So it is no wonder that I saw parents gleefully buying school supplies and new outfits this past week. They sat through appointments with doctors and dentists. They patiently waited in line to get the kids registered in a new home room or a new school. All of these tasks were made more bearable by the knowledge that day-to-day life would be back to normal in less than seven days.

We talk a lot about the importance of school for educating our kids or providing a skilled labor force. Less attention is paid to schools' stabilizing effect. Knowing where your child will be for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year is quite useful to a parent who needs to properly allocate the hours in a day between working, caring for a family and resting.

Routines may get a bad rap, but routines make us comfortable. Just knowing what to expect next makes most people more relaxed and, as a result, more productive. School is a big part of most families' routines. When school opens, routine returns and, typically, family life gets more predictable, more productive.

I can't wait for school to start. Fortunately, neither can my daughter so we are on the same page. Regardless of what the school year ultimately holds, knowing that I can drop my child off each morning at a place where she will be safe and productive for the next seven hours is great for my productivity. School doesn't just impose structure on her schedule, it forces structure on mine. And the structure that school creates is good for our entire family.

Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.

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