I remember reading years ago (probably when I was pregnant with my eldest) about the differences in parenting values among cultures. Some cultures value interdepence–children are raised in every aspect of the community and taught that their actions affect everyone else. The kid who rebels and moves away has taken from the resources of the community.

Most U.S. culture tends to value independence–parents are aware of developmental markers, potty train earlier than some other cultures, and focus on raising adults who do not live in their parents’ basements until age 47.

The Dutch (according to this no-doubt too brief, and way overgeneralizing article from 17 years ago) value routine: Infants are put on a schedule, and disruptions to any schedule are considered harmful (woe betide the UPS guy who rings the doorbell during naptime!)

These days, I’m feeling very American mother (it may have something to do with college application season) and Dutch woman. I deeply resent the leaky tire that forces me to take an extra 15 minutes to fill it. Is the trash truck blocking my driveway on my daily ride to pick up the kids? I have to control and contain my scowl.

But some disruptions are almost impossible to overcome. If I don’t get my morning caffeine, I lose a good four hours of productivity. If I don’t get 30 minutes of cardio, my mood heads and stays south–and not on-a-Florida-beach kind of south. Getting my retainer in so that my teeth don’t shift one micrometer is so important to me that I have a daily reminder set up for that one. And I don’t think anyone could keep me away from my bedtime fiction. You could take my eReader, my paperbacks, my cheater glasses, and my computer away. I would still pull up my phone and expand the font so that only two words per screen showed up.

What are your daily must-haves, must-dos, fundamentals that keep you sane and reasonably kind to others?