1 Big Idea to Think About

  • When we thoughtfully and selectively choose our routines, we can better build a life that matters.

2 Ways You Can Apply This

  • Focus on implementing one routine at a time.
  • Build routines that protect your most important asset – you!

3 Questions to Ask

  • What are some of my successful routines? Why are they successful?
  • Have I ever abandoned a routine too quickly? Why?
  • Which essential area of my life would I like to build a routine around?

Key Moments from the Show 

  • Is it possible for young parents to have routines? (2:23)
  • The challenges of establishing new routines as a new parent (7:27)
  • The essential nature of parenting and family (14:15)
  • Anna’s advice for new parents (17:55)
  • Protecting your most important asset (22:06)
  • Establishing routines that help you protect yourself (23:10)
  • Our best advice: Change just one routine at a time (28:13)
  • The enduring value of routines (31:33)
  • How routines can transform into rituals (33:15)

Links You’ll Love From the Episode

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

Connect with Greg McKeown

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Greg McKeown [00:00:00] Come with me on an exploration of self-discovery on this podcast, we decipher what really matters as we unravel the chaos of day to day work to learn how to build an essential life. Welcome back to the What’s Essential podcast. I’m your host, Greg McEwan. And thank you, really, thank you for inviting me into your life, into your day to day. Take a deep breath. I need that. May be your driving along. Listening to this conversation may be maybe you’re riding a bike or taking a walk, or maybe you’re in a picturesque place. Maybe you’re just washing up. But wherever you are, thank you for allowing me to join you for what I hope will be a useful, relevant conversation. Last week, I had an episode on the genius of routines, and I had such a response from you all. Many, many people writing reviews, many people sending emails, follow up questions. And it doesn’t surprise me in a way because routines really are that powerful. It’s the way to make execution of the most important things as effortless as possible. We talked about the genius of routine used by Michael Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, in that extraordinary eight gold Olympic record magical moment in Beijing. But the questions that came in afterwards were to do with how to apply this at home to family, to relationships. And that’s what we’re going to spend time on today. So by the end of today’s episode, you’re going to learn specific ways, things that you can apply right now to make your routines work better and to be able to therefore make execution of what’s most important, easier going forward. And to do that, I have brought with me my favorite person to interview, to talk with for a Q&A episode. Anna, welcome to the What’s Essential podcast again. 


Anna McKeown [00:02:17] Thank you. Such a pleasure to be here with you, Greg, 


Greg McKeown [00:02:20] and it’s always a pleasure to have you on here. And we we had a question come in from Joanna Laney, and she wrote the following she said Great Routines podcast Can you have Anna talk about routines? Pretty pretty, please. She said As a mother to a young baby, I find it so difficult to find a routine as parents, particularly mothers, sometimes feel it’s impossible to have a routine when everything I do is centered around a human who needs something at unpredictable times. So true. I find it discouraging to listen to people, talk about routines because I just can’t navigate them with a little one. I’d love to hear Anna and you discuss what you did as young parents, she says. Love your work. Thank you. But here we go. And that’s a great jumping off point for us for this conversation. Anna, what would you recommend to Joanna? 


Anna McKeown [00:03:15] Well, first, I think it’s really important to remember that we live in a world that is built on external routine from the time we start preschool. I mean, this continues through all forms of schooling from start and end times assignments do at a particular time. And now, with extracurricular activities taking up most of out-of-school time, it can feel like every minute is scheduled during our growing up years and on into professional life as an adult. Mm hmm. So personally, I don’t find it surprising at all that the transition into parenthood is so challenging. Honestly, how are people prepared for this in the culture of education centric and work centric living? How true 


Greg McKeown [00:04:01] is that? 


Anna McKeown [00:04:01] I think it can be really disorienting when you become a new parent because, you know, you add everything that comes with parenthood, the massive physical changes to the mother, the hormonal changes, the fatigue, the increased responsibility. And often there are feelings of isolation and motherhood can begin to feel really uncomfortable, to say the least. And I think at the most, maybe not the most, but it can feel truly depressing. So, yeah, let’s give ourselves a huge break when it comes to this transition. There may be better ways to prepare children and youth for the prospect of parenthood, but I think that’s probably for another time and another conversation. So here we are in young parenthood, and that phase is really, really important. 


Greg McKeown [00:04:53] OK, I want to interrupt. Yeah. So what you just said, which is so powerful, is that routines have been given to us for our whole childhood, at least a certain set of routines that all externally designed most within the education system could also be with sports and so on. But they’re all externally created. And then all of a sudden those all disappear, or many of them disappear, and it’s suddenly just all on you. 


Anna McKeown [00:05:24] Yes. 


Greg McKeown [00:05:26] So you’re saying noticed that massive transition? Of course you can’t just do routine. Of course it’s overwhelming. And I just didn’t want to miss that. What a great insight and reminder to us all. 


Anna McKeown [00:05:39] I think it’s so true and I’ve had conversations with lots of moms and and that was really an insight for me in talking to other moms. Actually, one mom said, I don’t know if this is true, but she seemed to think that the more education you had, the more difficult the transition was to motherhood. Hmm. And that made me think, you know, if that’s true, why? Why would that be the case? And that’s what got me thinking about just how routinized our lives are in school and in work with these external timestamps, you know, on this is what you should be doing at this time, and you need to turn this thing in. It’s a very structured, very structured. And I found when I became a new mom, a similar, I don’t know, feeling of being a little bit afloat, I think I had to come to terms with like how Routinized was I making my life? Like, how responsible was I for my routine before I started having kids? And I don’t think there was a lot of it because just so much of the external routine of college and work and job. Establish all of that for you. 


Greg McKeown [00:06:46] Yeah, basically. Basically, you had all the advantage of routine. Yes, but it was baked into the existing systems. 


Anna McKeown [00:06:54] Yeah, exactly. 


Greg McKeown [00:06:55] When you’re through formal education, when you suddenly become a young parent, if you’re those listening, if you’re an entrepreneur, if you are in any way, somehow suddenly separate from the traditional structural systems, there’s no routines unless you create them. And of course, that is a floundering experience. Why, why is it such a floundering experience in your experience? Why was that floundering? What happens when you have no routines? 


Anna McKeown [00:07:27] Well, there’s another factor here. When you have those routines and you don’t have children, you’re also responsible primarily for you. And so there’s a high level of control really in what you do, how you spend your time. So you have that advantage as well working with this external routine. So it’s a nice feeling, you know, there’s a there’s a high sense of control. There’s a high level of productivity of a certain kind that can be very fulfilling. You feel those endorphins when you accomplish that goal, when you turn in that assignment or that project, and it just feels good, you know? And then you have a child. And that control is completely changed. You know, you have this human being who you can’t control. And of course, this parenting goes on. There’s differing levels of types of parenting and controlling, but with an infant. Good luck trying to control their routine, their moods, their needs, the timing of those needs. 


Greg McKeown [00:08:31] Well, and the thing that’s clicking into place here is it exactly the same time as you lose all of your routines, you suddenly have a need for those routines that is greater than even before. So that’s a real double whammy because now everything is acting on you. If you don’t do something well, your child still has a need. Yeah. So that’s something 


Anna McKeown [00:08:58] I found with with parenting is the period of time it takes to transition. It feels a lot longer than life. Before that you start a new job, you give yourself a few weeks to adjust. You know, most habits were under the understanding. I don’t know if this is outdated, but that it takes about 21 days to really get into a new habit or routine that becomes second nature. But with a child or children, I remember wondering at the constant change they develop so much, especially within those first two years, there was constantly something new to be addressing or learning about. At the same time, it’s really slow. You know, there’s a phrase that my family sometimes uses where it’s like the days go by like weeks and the weeks go by like days. And it’s kind of this upside down life in terms of how time passes. And so you have a baby and then they’re just not sleeping on any kind of schedule and any doctor will tell you it’s going to take some time. They’ve been in your belly for nine months. This is an adjustment for them. But how quickly is that adjustment? And there’s shelves of books about when you should start sleep training and when you should start feeding them this and that, you know? And so there’s lots and lots of opinions out there. But I think across the board, the reality is that there is a timeline here that you don’t have control over. You have to flow with it. You have to learn a kind of patience with, OK, now they’re they’re teething. Now they’re taking this many naps a day. Now they’re moving on to that many naps a day. Now we’re moving to one nap a day. I mean, just napping is its own transition. And if you have more than one child. Good luck trying to get them to nap at the same time. 


Greg McKeown [00:10:45] So we can summarize all of this this way, which is that parenting of young children is the ultimate leadership challenge. I liken it to the an extreme entrepreneurial start up because the nature of an entrepreneurial startup is that change is perpetual. What you did week one is now different to week two and quarter three and so on. It’s it’s rapidly changing. And in fact, if you’re successful, it’s rapidly changing because of your success in parenting, I think is similar to that as your children are starting to thrive. They’re going to be different every single day and their need today is different than it was yesterday, and you have to keep adapting to that. And that surely is an additional reason that establishing routines is so tough because the change, the routine that worked yesterday doesn’t work anymore. And so, so that means you again at the time. You need routines the most you do, and there’s all sorts 


Anna McKeown [00:11:52] of failures with health and whether a child gets sick, whether multiple children get sick, whether they give that sickness to you, that could be a week or a week and a half of adjusting to upset nighttime routines and your own sleep. Schedule your own fatigue. And that’s just with that one factor. So, yeah, absolutely. 


Greg McKeown [00:12:16] Let let me let me offer you a chance just to express like given how hard it is given the challenge of it, you know, almost a why bother? Yeah, there’ll be people listening to this who had young children a long time ago, people who are having them right now. That’s, you know, especially relevant subject for them. But there’s also people who haven’t had any. Well, you know, why did you bother? Why did we bother when in fact is so challenging and so hard? 


Anna McKeown [00:12:46] Your thoughts? I don’t know if this is going to be a satisfactory answer, but I just need to pause and express how many many different types of parenting styles there are and how important it is to allow for that and to allow for different personalities. Different levels of need of structure or even control. I feel like we, you and I, I mean, we have big families, we have experience with large communities. And when you look around even within just our own brothers and sisters and their parenting styles, there’s a really wide range, isn’t there? 


Greg McKeown [00:13:28] Yeah, I mean, that’s I didn’t I didn’t know you were going onto anything like that subject. But yeah, I mean, a huge range of personalities of a 


Anna McKeown [00:13:36] routine, even 


Greg McKeown [00:13:38] for sure. And so of routines, totally. 


Anna McKeown [00:13:41] I hesitate to express to too strong of maybe an opinion about how things should be. I would want to first say to all parents, you’re doing better than you think. And bless you for for doing this, for having children and trying to raise them into responsible and kind adults who hopefully are able to perpetuate that with their acquaintances and possibly their own families in the future. 


Greg McKeown [00:14:16] Let let’s just double down on that. If somebody listening to this believes in family, if they believe in these relationships, if they care about people, if they want to do better than what was given to them, then they clearly are doing better than they think. It’s really important work. It is essential work. It has intergenerational impact, and I’ve had the opportunity over many, many years to listen to and to coach people in a whole variety of circumstances. I have heard people talk about experiences they had in their families of origin that would shock people to the core. There’s a tremendous set of deep dysfunction that people have experienced, and that term is to light a phrase. So have you had trying? If you are caring, then you’re doing really important work and you ought to be congratulated. And I actually think society is one of the evidence is that we live in a nonessential society is how often this is just assumed that people should do it and can do it and not explicitly praised for the toughest, most important. 


Anna McKeown [00:15:28] Absolutely, I agree. And I mean, I I am definitely pro-family, so I don’t know that everyone listening to your podcast is pro-family, and that’s OK. But I want to be really upfront about that because I personally believe that family is where all the most important developmental things happen. I believe my influence and your influence, Greg, are the most impactful for our children’s view of the world. Their approach to life, their relationships now and in the future. Physical and mental health, education, problem-solving, coping strategies. I think all of these begin at home, both good and bad, both through example and through teaching. And I really want to give my kids the best advantage in all these areas. So yeah, I’m like all in with that. And I know I’m not going to get it right a lot of the time, too, so I’m really grateful for forgiveness. I’m grateful for good therapists when it comes to routine like big picture. I know lots and lots of people who have varying levels of routine and their parents and as children in a home where there was or wasn’t routine. And I don’t know that that’s the deciding factor in in what kind of humans they become. Of course it it has an impact and it will affect the relationship between partners and families. 


Greg McKeown [00:16:53] But right? You’re saying that there may be other generative causative factors more important than this. Nevertheless, you have said to me before I do, you’ve said I believe in routine, I believe in routine. 


Anna McKeown [00:17:07] Tell me what simplifies things. It simplifies decision making. It gives children a sense of stability, knowing what to expect. It helps to know that life with children isn’t an endless whirlwind of activity. If you have a routine, it can really help to alleviate some of what feels like just chaos with raising children. But I also believe in agility. And, you know, we’ve already talked about all the things that can happen. Not all the things, but you know, a few of the things that happen with raising kids with sickness and, you know, things you can’t control. 


Greg McKeown [00:17:43] And right? 


Anna McKeown [00:17:45] So that is a really good question. And the list is probably endless, but you can’t routinized everything all at once. So I would start like if I were to give myself advice as a young mom knowing what I know now, I would say, first of all, don’t expect any routine to work every day, but if I’m following a routine three out of five days. As I would celebrate that as a win, I’d also start thinking about like what matters to me, what is really important to me as an individual, as a person, for my family, for my home. For instance, I really value my sleep. And certainly when I was a young mum, if I wasn’t getting eight hours, it really impacted my mood and my ability to roll with things, my ability to speak kindly. You know, sleep was really important and and so that became an important thing for my kids. I know and there’s a lot of a lot of books on this and a lot of different opinions. So this is just mine. But but it mattered to me that my kids got into a good sleep habit. I didn’t want them to have a challenge with this throughout their lives, and I also wanted it for. For me, I wanted to have as much routine around that so that I could hopefully get some sleep, and it was really helpful to to read the literature out there. One of the books that worked for me was healthy sleep habits. Happy child, and it was 


Greg McKeown [00:19:22] a life saver made 


Anna McKeown [00:19:23] sense to me. It spoke my language and I was really blown away by this simple fact. And that was that most children aren’t getting enough sleep, so we kind of put them to bed a little later or a lot later than they need to be because they don’t seem tired. So then we’re waiting until they’re tired. And then we put them down and then they’re overtired and they’re cranky and they aren’t able to self-soothe as easy. And it’s suggested like if this was happening with your child, try and put them to bed two hours earlier. And I remember thinking, No, no way. But a friend of mine had done it and she’s like, my child went to sleep without a fuss and they slept longer through the night. And so that sounded really appealing to me 


Greg McKeown [00:20:03] because what is happening in some circumstances is that you’re trying to put your child down when they’re overtired. Yes. So then they’re too rattled to actually be able to self-soothe. And so if you can get them while they’re tired but not, you know, completely cranky and over it, you might be able to get a couple of hours of extra sleep for them, which of course, for all the reasons we’ve discussed on this podcast before, you know, helps them and helps you. 


Anna McKeown [00:20:32] Yeah. And as I kind of stress and tune in to their cues about fatigue and tiredness and how much sleep they needed, our children tended to go to bed early and get up early. And that’s not how I would have chosen for it. I would have liked them to go to bed maybe an hour or two before me and then sleep an hour or two after I got up. But now that wasn’t to be. And but they did get on a really good schedule and it was really consistent and routine. And that was really helpful because I knew what to expect and knew when they were tired. And there were times where I was pregnant, when my children were young, we had them really close together and just a little story about that. I remember I would nap during the day when I was just so exhausted and pregnant, and I’d put on Cinderella on the television, the DVD because it was one of the only movies that didn’t have really scary parts. And so the girls wouldn’t scream and I’d be distressed and wake me up so I would lie down on the couch in front of the television. And not all children sit and watch TV, but these two did, and it was what I needed, and they would sit there and watch while I slept. And I was thinking about that. Like, there are times where maybe I might go lie down in their room while they played because it was a safe space for them. But they wanted to be near me. But I was so exhausted I could stay in there and sleep and not have to worry about them hurting themselves because they were maybe too small to open the door, but I was in there with them. 


Greg McKeown [00:22:06] I love that as you’re exploring routine, as it applies to young parenting, that the first routine you are talking about is sleep. Is that the first priority of life is to protect our ability to prioritize anything else, and sleep is the primary way that we protect the asset. And I want to say this now to Joanna. I want to say it to everybody listening. You are the asset of your life. And we’ve said it before, but I want to say it to to cut through all of the other sounds and influences and pressures that we feel and comparisons that we feel and competition that we feel and FOMO that we feel. I want to cut through all of that and remind you again, you are the asset and you must protect the asset. And I’m not talking about anything but you. And sleep is one way to do it. It’s not the whole story, but that’s where you’ve chosen to. Begin, Anna, and I just love that emphasis. What is something that a young mother or father can do to protect the asset of their social life? 


Anna McKeown [00:23:18] So some things I’ve seen friends do is they might do a mom’s night out or it doesn’t have to be mom’s. I think just sometimes it’s kind of a support group to know that you’re not alone and other people are going through the same stuff as you, but a night out with friends, a date night out with your husband. I also liked seeing Young Moms plans, social things like with their children, too. Let’s go to the park. So that time with kids isn’t just time with kids. Your time with kids can also be time with friends. 


Greg McKeown [00:23:52] And now let’s just take a moment for an ad break. And now back to our conversation, the exhaustion of isolation is something that we’ve all experienced in the pandemic, but really, if you if you’re a parent of young children, you already have that. If you you’re at home a lot of the time with young children, you know what that isolation is like. And it is the cause of burnout. So I love that suggestion. Beyond that, what’s any of the things that you’ve heard of other young mothers doing? Yeah, I think you’d recommend in terms of routines, 


Anna McKeown [00:24:34] the need is for education. They’re missing that intellectual stimulation. I have seen friends take classes. One of my friends took a night class on meditation that really was super valuable to her, and she shared that with me and that was super helpful for me too. That was my introduction really to meditation as a as a practice. Also taking, you know, an educational class or joining a book club. Those are some ways that you can keep feeding your mind physically. Finding a workout buddy, I think, is really valuable. Or you can swap watching kids while you work out. Or you could bring kids in running strollers and get some talking time in there with jogging together or walking together. I remember trying to do that alone and waking up early before my kids were up and doing a video workout and they were doing pushups. And I think everyone in the video was on their feet doing pushups, but all I could manage was push ups on my knees. And one of my little ones, I think, was like three or four years old, had woken up and had come out and was just sitting there watching me do the workout. Yeah, holding his blanket, holding his blanket seemed like just kind of rubbing it on his face. And he said to me, Mom, you’re doing that wrong? Oh, it was one of those moments of why am I even doing this? To get to doing it should be up early trying to work out. 


Greg McKeown [00:26:23] That is a 


Anna McKeown [00:26:24] summary of her getting here with me. You can just join me. No comment over there. No. 


Greg McKeown [00:26:31] Yes, no one was allowed to watch watch work out unless they were coming to actually. 


Anna McKeown [00:26:36] And then another another routine, I think is important as self-care. And so that could include journaling or a bath time or just scheduled alone time. Go to a movie by yourself, if you can. I mean, that probably sounds impossible when children are young, but but it might be worth it. It might be worth getting a sitter. And and I would also say on that note, I have another story where I felt so overwhelmed. I hired a babysitter because I was so tired of taking all the kids to the grocery store, and she came and watched my kids while I ran like a chicken with its head cut off because we didn’t have a lot of money. We were poor students and I was trying to get all the errands done in this little window of time, and I came back exhausted and tired, and I see this babysitter having a lovely time with my children. They’re playing and making memories, and I’m like, Did I just make the right trade off? Should I have hired someone to go do all of that? Maybe while I had just time to focus on my kids? 


Greg McKeown [00:27:46] That’s such a good point. You could you could have had that person go, Hey, here’s the list. You go grocery shop and I’ll play 


Anna McKeown [00:27:53] for your needs 


Greg McKeown [00:27:55] depending normally, depending on your on the on 


Anna McKeown [00:27:57] the self-care. No, I might just put a plug for if you’re going to get a sitter, consider using that time for self-care or something that feeds you. Not just. To run yourself into the ground so you can get more done, 


Greg McKeown [00:28:13] something I want to say is a sort of, you know, sort of interim moment here is is to remind everybody listening that both of us advocate for changing just one routine at a time. So here are a whole series of ideas. This if you take on all of them at once. First of all, you’re not really being an essentialist about routines. And secondly, you will be overwhelmed because routines take time to adjust and to develop. But out of this list, you just select one that sounds like the one you need right now and build that in. Yes. 


Anna McKeown [00:28:52] And I think I’m reiterating what you just said, but allow for a lot of grace for yourself in this process. I struggle with this process. I struggle with routines even right now, we have three kids who are doing a lot of their schooling at home, either through independent study in college or homeschooling. And we are still refining, revamping, scrapping and starting over from scratch. Different routines at different times because things happen. Life happens. And all of a sudden the routines went out the window. Or that routine just isn’t working anymore. 


Greg McKeown [00:29:35] We are working on a routine right now that has the possibility of being a real game changer. But it’s a great illustration of the messiness of routine building. So the vision is simple from nine a.m. till noon every day. All of us sit at the same table and do quiet, deep work. That’s the vision. Day one, after having said, this is what we’re going to do after having tried to explain it to the children to enforcing that that idea or rather preparing it. At nine am, I was there. I don’t think anybody else was there, I was gonna be 


Anna McKeown [00:30:19] on a yoga class. 


Greg McKeown [00:30:22] You were completely gone. And and then I managed to get one of the children, maybe by 9:00 or 9:30. It took probably till I say 10:30, maybe to have everybody there, but it was really great once we did. And it was, you know, I kept saying it, Oh, this is so terrific. Well done, everybody. And we’re all going to help everyone. We’re going to keep each other accountable to doing this. 


Anna McKeown [00:30:49] And coming back to that affirmation, Greg makes such a difference. 


Greg McKeown [00:30:52] Well, it was necessary for my own sanity. And even by day two, we did not get that is consistently done. And then day three and I think today may be day four. And for a portion of the day, we actually yeah, I found 


Anna McKeown [00:31:07] myself with everything 11:30 at the table. They were all there earlier. Right? And I’m doing my deep work and then I look up and I’m like. Where did everyone go? Are they done, which they might have been, I mean, I checked in with a couple of them. 


Greg McKeown [00:31:23] Well, at least one of them wasn’t because I just checked in on me before we left to come to do this. But here’s the thing is that if you it’s like with routines. If you want to go slow, try and go fast. And if you want to go fast, you’ve got to go slow. And you’ve got to recognize that the win is that over time, a routine will then serve you and work for you and will be reinforced in the culture of the home, and this is how it’s done. So it takes longer to establish than you think, but it serves you for much longer afterwards than you imagine. So it takes a sort of let’s call it a new math, a new mathematics to make it make sense. And it’s all to do with the power of residual results, takes longer upfront, but serves you much. 


Anna McKeown [00:32:17] And I think there’s something to be said for trusting your gut on this because it does take tenacity. It does take time and and you need to be able to to trust that that vision that you had for that routine is worthy and not to throw it out the window. I I think it’s really tempting as a parent, especially with new ideas about parenting or things like that to kind of give it a try. And then it doesn’t really work, and you’re like, Oh, well, that doesn’t work for me or that doesn’t work for my family. And I found that sitting with an idea for a while and not throwing it out quickly can yield results like you’re saying. And eventually, with that going slow and really trying to implement a routine, it will serve you eventually just don’t give up on it. There’s a routine that’s really dear to my heart and it’s reading to the kids. I had one of those moments where I’d been reading something in it, and it was talking about what a blessing that is to kids and the benefit of reading to your children. And my dear dad had read a couple of well, he read the whole Chronicles of Narnia to us as kids, and that’s a really dear memory to me. And we were all in our beds. We shared rooms and he sat outside and read those to us. And I had always wanted to do the same, but the kids were so young the opportunity didn’t present itself for a little while. And then one day I had that feeling that maybe I should give this a try, and I pulled out a book and just started reading. I think while we were cleaning up after dinner or something, I’m not sure it wasn’t at bedtime yet, but it was kind of a test to see if it was at all interesting to the kids, and that began a routine at night to read to the kids. And it helped to get them into bed because they wanted to be read too. We did chapter books, so they were motivated to get their stuff done and get in bed. It created this really lovely feeling, calmed things down. And it was a bonding experience and a shared memory that we all have and that commitment to continuing with it. I didn’t read every single night and there were sometimes breaks in between books, but we’d come back to it. And over time, we’ve read a lot of books together and I’m starting to reread some of them with my younger kids now because they don’t remember any of them. 


Greg McKeown [00:34:52] Yeah, this is a great sort of crescendo point on routines because really the reading the reading routine moved all the way to becoming a ritual. You know, you would go pretty consistent time each night, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t like military. It wasn’t an exact time. It was with the ebb and flow of life, but it was consistent and went on for years and years. But there was a very particular feeling I would often be maybe in the kitchen cleaning up while you were 


Anna McKeown [00:35:25] great around, by the way. 


Greg McKeown [00:35:27] But as I would. Well, it was great for me too, and the children were young enough. So it just sort of worked as a pretty good win win. But I remember even as my comings and goings, I would walk past the hallway where you were reading and that was magic. You know, that was layer by layer building a rich family culture. And it definitely fostered a love of reading that has been I mean, I would say it’s remarkable and and and I think you deserve a, you know, tremendous credit for having just kept and it is messy, messy. It is because it is out of bed. 


Anna McKeown [00:36:10] Kids begging you to read again and crying when you wouldn’t. There’s lots and lots of yes. 


Greg McKeown [00:36:18] Yes, all of that and almost every time. But the still power and keep coming back to the routine, especially routinized. Think what is essential? Because it’s not just about creating a routine life, if you create a routine, even many routines, even multilayered, interrelated routines around what actually doesn’t matter most to you. Then they’ll work against you. But if you can design them yourself, if you can choose them one by one thoughtfully and selectively, you will be able to build a life, then a family that really matters. 


Anna McKeown [00:37:02] What does that mean? 


Greg McKeown [00:37:03] Give me the final word. Yeah, just give you the last word. I think I already gave you have anything you’d like to say. 


Anna McKeown [00:37:12] Is there anything not said? 


Greg McKeown [00:37:14] Yeah, that’s how it goes. That’s what it’s like being married to me. We’ve come to that time again, the end of the show. If you’ve found value in this episode, please write a review on Apple Podcasts. The first five people to write a review of this episode here with Anna. This Q&A episode on the genius of routines as applied, especially to parenting and being the parents of young children, you will receive a signed copy of Effortless. Make it easier to do what matters most. Just send a photo of your review to info at Greg McEwan dot com. That’s info at Chiari, GMC, K e 0W and Adcom. Remember if there’s only one thing you do differently as a result of today’s episode? Figure out something that’s essential to you and build one routine around it. Keep coming back as messy as it is to reinforce that routine until it becomes a gift and an asset to you. Stacks the deck in your favor. Well, take a deep breath. Enjoy today. Enjoy this week, and make it part of your essential routine to listen to another episode of the What’s Essential podcast next week.