Monday, July 26, 2010

Our new routine

Fairly cooperative

Naps whenever she darn well pleases

After reading on a couple of different blogs how helpful it is to have a schedule or routine, I finally decided to make one for me and the girls. I had resisted for a long time because I couldn't stick with the schedules I'd made (a la FlyLady) back before Ivey was born. With FlyLady there isn't just one routine, there are several. For me there was the morning routine, the after-work routine (because I did this when I was still working) and the before bed routine. In the book it said something to the effect of it being wise to go ahead and start the before bed routine right after dinner. Yee-haw. These routines required lists of details and just weren't my style. I kept falling off the FlyLady wagon and finally gave up, although there are many things I love about her system and still use from time to time.

Plus, routines have a nerdy reputation. I thought, I'm not doing anything that complicated. Do I really need a list to tell me what I should be doing? Isn't that overthinking it? Until I became a stay-at-home mom a year ago, I lived a structured life. I attended daycare or school from infancy to college graduation, so I had to wake up and get ready and go to class almost every day. I didn't always like it, but I did it. Right after college graduation I got a job and the structure continued. Then I quit to stay home with two little girls who frankly don't care what time it is or whether or not I've had a shower or if we're all still in our pajamas when Daddy gets home at 5:00. Some days I don't have to leave the house for anything. See how this is dangerous?

It's easy for me to get sucked into Facebook or blogs or whatever and not get my day moving early enough. I fail to get a head start on the girls, tasks pile up on me, I get overwhelmed, and then I get depressed. Not severely depressed, but too depressed to function productively. It's a day-to-day thing. If for some reason I don't get anything accomplished by midmorning, forcing myself to get started is hard. Sometimes I barely get anything done in a day (other than taking care of my girls, of course) and that's a bad feeling in the afternoon. If I am already dressed and have done the dishes and started the laundry by 8:00, it's going to be a good day!

I think the kiss of death to my previous routine-following was the idea that things should be done at a certain time. I am not going to wake a sleeping baby to do the next thing on a list. Adults can adapt to a strict schedule, but with little children it's not so easy. Also, I detest dropping something I'm in the middle of just because it's "time" to do something else. It's counterproductive and frustrating. That's why it was so helpful for me to read about the differences between "schedule" and "routine" on Amy's site. We are definitely routine people, and this time I decided to start slowly by creating a loose timeline of events around things we already do. We already wake up and eat breakfast, so I decided after that we should immediately get dressed and go for a walk or play outside while it's still cool. Our routine for the afternoon was already in place, so I just wrote it down with a couple of minor changes. Here is our new routine:

Eat breakfast
Get dressed
Go for a walk/play in the yard
Art or craft project (Suzi, not me)
Play or read
Clean up
Eat lunch
Read books
Naptime (again, not for me, just Suzi and hopefully Ivey)
Movie and snack
Play in yard/go for a walk
Clean up
Get ready for dinner

Instead of waiting until we are up in Suzi's room to read her a book before naptime while the baby crawls around, I try to read to both of them at the table immediately following lunch (while they're eating "zurt," as Suzi calls it). This is more relaxing for me, I can read for longer, and sometimes Ivey will wind down and take a nap in her highchair. This happened for the first time the other day. Today, though, Ivey apparently didn't get the memo about our routine because she refused to listen to my story and then didn't want to take a nap either. This is exactly why a timed schedule does us more harm than good. Earlier we decided to play in the yard, and while I'd only intended to stay out for half an hour or so, some clouds rolled in and cooled things off and the girls were having a great time. We stayed out for over an hour and it didn't mess up our day.

We've only been doing this a few days, but I love the effect it's having. Who cares if it's geeky? I am a geek, so maybe that's why I like it so much. The girls seem happier and I have more time to get things done. Making the effort to get outside, all by itself, helps get us moving in the morning and gives us a chance to get exercise and sunlight. Right now we do it early in the day before it gets hot, but when it gets cold late this fall we'll probably do it right before lunch instead.

I have high hopes for this new leaf we are turning over. It will be such a benefit to our getting serious about homeschooling Suzi. I haven't been able to decide which type of homeschooling to do, or even which books to read, so I finally buckled down and ordered a book to get me started. I think we will try unschooling with a dash of whatever strikes my fancy or Suzi's for this first year. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book, which is about the first year of homeschooling. It had excellent reviews, and in my usual fashion I skipped on down to the one- and two-star comments. The complaints were that it was too unschooly and not religious enough. Bonus! So I bought it. (We are religious, just FYI, but I don't care to read about it at length in a homeschooling manual because I want whatever we do with Suzi to pertain to our own specific beliefs, which may or may not be the beliefs of that author.)

This new routine, the quickly approaching end of summer, my book that's in the mail and particularly Suzi's readiness to begin homeschooling all have me so excited! While writing this I remembered how as a little girl I used to line my dolls up and school them from old textbooks. It made my heart sing. Now I get to guide my wonderful daughter through her education, for real. I get to watch my child learn and learn with her. My heart is all aflutter with visions of pumpkin farms and plays and zoo trips and nature walks. Working together side-by-side in the kitchen. Hearing her read to me. We have so much to look forward to together.


Anonymous said...

A routine has to be flexible when kids are involved, for sure. I couldn't do a schedule. But knowing that I have time set aside for certain things helps me.

I'm glad the routine is working for you, and that you're feeling excited about what's ahead. Hooray for looking forward!

Unknown said...

ivey will get on the deal. you keep with it and she will begin to understand that there is a routine and i think that is what helps to keep kids calm. they know what to expect so things make sense. and staying flexible for things like great days outdoors... well, that's what childhood is about.
someone once told me that it takes babies 3 days to change a routine. i think it stretches for older kids so just keep at it and compromise a little if ivey is really pushing back (special book with ivey after baby is asleep or quiet reading/ play in her room by herself every other day). this routine will also help you keep your sanity! so hurrah to stay at home mommy sanity.

Megan said...

Yay for homeschooling! I'm excited too! I'd like to look at your new book.

We have a pretty good little routine in our house but the baby kind of messed it all up. Aiden doesn't always take a nap but we try to have quiet time every day where he stays in his room and reads or plays quietly until his music ends (about 45 min).

Also, in early childhood, routines or structure is important because children are able to expect what is going to happen next and it gives them a sense of security. I think that is why I've been having such a hard time with Aiden lately, because little Evie has re-structured our routine.


Theresa said...

You are the best kind of nerd. Good luck with everything!

Rissa said...

I can totally relate to the need for routine. Anytime I have a list of things I need to get done for the day, I try to just order them without any kind of timing in place! It's much less stressful that way :)