June 13, 2018

Exactly 5 months ago, I landed in Tucson, Arizona.

Of all the questions I have been asked since, my daily routine is (hands down) the most frequent.

The curiosity comes in one of these forms: “How are you?” / “What are you up to these days?” / “What are you doing?” 

And oh, how I get it. It’s unusual for a 29-year-old to be a stay-at-home wife, especially when she’s not a mom. Of all the labels I have stuck on myself, ‘homemaker’ was most certainly not one of them. ‘Homemaker’ = my mom.

I woke up from jetlag to a new identity. One of complete freedom and control of my time, yet one that I was so unfamiliar with. And anything unfamiliar is scary. And so, I did the familiar in an attempt to re-introduce some normality into my life. I took out my Get To Work Book and started planning, organising, setting weekly goals and mapping out my daily routine. Because all of that I am good at.

Daily routines are the structure for everything we do, every habit we establish, every ritual we keep. I believe in routines wholeheartedly, that a good one is as close as we can get to a good life. So, while I am free to choose to have no routine, I do it anyways. It is nothing close to a full schedule, and my days are what I make them out to be mostly. It sounds wonderful. It is wonderful. But only if I choose to put down my insecurities to embrace the possibilities.

TV and Netflix are simply not a part of my day. It hasn’t been for years, and I thought it was because I didn’t have the time, but I guess not. Although, YouTube sometimes is for inspiring interviews, presentations by thought leaders and product reviews.

What is part of my day? What do you do, Felicia?

Mornings start at 8am-ish with “Alexa, give me my Flash Briefings“, to which she will chirpily respond with daily news highlights from the channels I subscribe to. The sound of me washing up and getting ready for a new day is accompanied with interesting/confounding/depressing information of what went on in the world while I was asleep. Our house continues to be filled with Alexa’s voice as I go about boiling water for my morning tea, waking up our herb garden by letting light in from the balcony, contemplating if I should go out there to water our aloe vera plant and succulents for fear of being greeted not-so-warmly by a scorpion.

I change out of my PJs and into ‘active’ clothes, a small action that I discovered is very helpful in not just keeping me productive, but also in mentally preparing myself for my afternoon workout. Otherwise, I’ll just never get out of my PJs (aka ‘lazy’ clothes).

Armed with my morning tea, I get settled at my standing work desk in the bedroom (or the dining table for weeks when Jason is on the evening shift and still asleep in there). I turn on my computer, turn off Wi-Fi, set a timer for 1 hour, and write.

The timer goes off, Wi-Fi gets tuned back on. I check/reply to WhatsApp messages. I check/reply to e-mail, often having to discount-the-discounts by unsubscribing from 1-2 senders that I no longer want updates from – yes you, Victoria’s Secret, Le Creuset, Target, Amazon. 

At 10am-ish (ok, sometimes 11am depending on how carried away I get with WhatsApp messages and e-mail), I check my schedule for the day. Nothing fancy, just Google Calendar. I make/review my to-do list in my planner. Usually I’ll have a few items already on there, but there’s always room to add a couple more tasks that come to mind. The rest of the morning goes towards powering through what I set out to do. At this point, I usually lower my standing desk so I can take a seat.

Afternoons start with lunch and I have social media over for company, Instagram is my favourite guest. With my afternoon cup of tea in hand, I head back to my work desk, raise it to standing position, and it’s back to my to-do list which at the moment looks like travel planning, marketing volunteer work and home improvement/decor projects.

I’m productive up until 5pm-ish. When I start feeling my energy dip, it’s time for a walk outside or a run in the gym. Having my ‘active’ clothes already on really helps in getting me out of the house instead of in bed for a nap. I started out in April at 3km/30min, currently at 5km/37min, working my way up to 5km/35min by end of Summer (2 weeks to go) and 8km/60min by end of Fall.

Once every month, gym time takes the form of a full-body workout at home – floors to vacuum and mop, surfaces to dust and disinfect, mirrors and windows to shine, toilet to refresh, bedsheets and pillow cases to re-fluff.

At 6pm-ish, I start cooking dinner. That’s right, before I shower. Unlike in Singapore where it’s humid and perspiration trickles down your forehead while you’re watching TV in the living room, the desert keeps you nice and dry all the time. I enjoy showering after I cook, and ain’t nobody got time to shower before and after she cooks, so I wash my hands and arms with anti-bacterial soap and consider that an A- for food safety. I can live with an A-.

At 7pm-ish, I am treated to a living room illuminated by the beautiful orange glow of the sunset from the balcony. This is, and will always be, my favourite part of our apartment. Upon sharing this with Jason one day, he pointed out the irony of how HDB flats in Singapore have a lower value when facing the sunset.

Evenings start with dinner, served before 8pm. Sometimes it’s me and social media for company again, but if we’re lucky, Jason is home and we make a dinner date out of it.

I’m washed up and in bed with a book by 10pm-ish. I read until I can’t keep my eyes open or until Jason is ready for bed.

This is the routine for weeks when Jason works the morning shift. It’s a schedule that’s easy to scramble and adapt to weeks he’s on the evening shift – for instance, cooking in the morning instead of the evening so he has food ready to take to work.

There you have it, my daily routine in this season of life.

Do I question if I am spending my time wisely? Do I question if I am doing enough? Do I question if what I’m doing matters?

All the time.