THE BLOG
03/21/2016 01:43 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2017

4 Ways to Break Routine and Keep Things Fresh

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Routines simplify our busy schedules and give us structure. And let's be honest: Sometimes the only way to make it through the week is to switch on auto-pilot, turn off your brain, and just let routine take over.

But what happens when routine gets in the way of your relationship? No couple is immune to the numbing effect of the daily humdrum. Swallowed by the monotony of packing kids' lunches, running errands, and folding laundry, each day can seem more boring than the last.

Luckily, there are simple ways to snap out of your routine rut. With a little effort, you and your partner can break free from the day-to-day tedium, keeping each day fresh -- and your relationship even fresher. Follow these four tried-and-true strategies to ditch the rut you're in:

1. Turn off auto-pilot, and turn on awareness. One of the best ways to break routines is simply to recognize them. Real change begins when you turn off auto-pilot and heighten your awareness. Start by making a list of your routines. With your partner, write down both of your daily routines--from cooking breakfast to going to sleep, include it all.

Next, compare your routines. Do you always get the kids ready for school? Does your partner always cook dinner? Are you always the one who does the laundry or makes the bed? And who usually initiates sex? You'll both be amazed by how many daily patterns you've unconsciously fallen into. Recognizing those routines is the first step to breaking them.

2. Dream a little -- and discuss. When we want to escape the daily grind, most of us dream about white sandy beaches, cold piña coladas, and not a chore in sight. But, alas, your responsibilities are here to stay. Instead of drifting off into an untouchable daydream, dream realistically. What are the three main routines you wish you didn't have to do? Discuss this dream with your partner.

Maybe you wish your partner would cook dinner instead of you. Or maybe your partner wants a vacation from doing the laundry. This is also your chance to discuss your intimacy routines. If you wish your partner would be the one to initiate sex, say so! Communication is key here. Once you can openly discuss the routines that make daily life boring for you, then you and your partner can work together to spice them up.

3. Switch up the small things. The amazing thing is that spicing up your daily routine doesn't have to be difficult -- there's no need to reinvent the wheel. All you have to do is just spin it the other way around. Remember those three routines you'd love to take a break from?

Create a plan with your partner to switch up your roles for those routines, a little at a time. When you swap chores or responsibilities with your partner -- even just once or twice a week -- you each get what you want. You'll get the break you need and your partner will, too. It's a win-win strategy for keeping things fresh, one day at a time.

4. Get a little crazy! It can be hard to let go of routines altogether, since they comfort us. But forgoing routine entirely is exhilarating for any relationship. Once in awhile, you've just got to let loose! Pick a day to throw routines out the window altogether. No chores, no schedules, no errands -- just roll with the day, without a plan in sight.

If the kids are having fun, let them continue playing past their bedtime. Have a picnic in the living room instead of eating at the table, or have an impromptu breakfast in bed. A routine-free day is one of the best ways to reset your daily life. So challenge yourself to go to sleep tonight without a plan for tomorrow.

Bonus: If you're feeling adventurous, extend this free-spirited approach to the bedroom. Step out of your comfort zone and initiate a wild scenario -- like role-playing in bed -- for an extra spicy break from the norm.

How do you break routine and keep things fresh? Share below in the comments!