To say that my transition to Stay at Home Mom was a difficult one for me would be a gross understatement.
It actually rocked me.
A lot of it had to do with my not knowing what the heck I was doing. (I figured I’d figure it out on the fly. After all, that’s how I passed Biophysics; how hard could this really be?)
Two and a half years later I feel like I’m just now figuring this whole staying-at-home thing out. A lot of it has to do, in part, with developing a routine.
Now–in my attempt at being a “cool mom”– I had resisted routines because who wants to be a slave to a schedule, right?
What I have learned about myself and my children is that we all benefit from a regular schedule and press along better when we’re following a routine. Much, much better.
I feel more accomplished at the end of the day. Joy throws less tantrums. She likes knowing what comes next and what’s expected of her. I think it’s a control thing. (I can only wonder where she gets that from).
Below is the routine that we follow most days of the week. I only share it with you now because: 1). It might offer some ideas for your own routine. 2). You may have never tried a routine with your family and are wondering what it might look like to have one. 3). You hate routines but are nerdy enough to read on about what we actually do with our lives. (Spoiler alert: it’s hardly reality-TV-show-worthy, but it’s the most significant work I have done in my life thus far–shaping and molding and training up the next generation in the ways of the Lord. While keeping them alive).
And with that, let’s get right to it:
Daily Routine with a Baby (7 months) and Toddler (2.5 years)
6:00AM – I snooze my alarm at least once, (okay, twice), then head to the patio with my Bible and journal for some time with the Lord. And tea.
7:00AM – Baby wakes up around this time; I nurse.
7:15AM – Joy is usually up before 7, but stays in her bed and reads books until her alarm goes off at 7:15. (This took some training using a “sleep rules” poster that we made and a sticker chart, but she got the hang of it in less than three days. I can share more details on how we put an end to the “early morning wake creep” if you want).
-Joy helps Mama empty the dishwasher and cook breakfast (making toast is her jam… pun intended, baha).
-Joy helps Mama clean up and load the dishwasher (so nice for preventing the dishes from piling up for the end of the day, or having the breakfast food mess dry on the chair/table/floor for Mama to scrape off late that evening… Sounds obvious, but that’s seriously how I rolled the last two years!)
-We sit on the couch and do a devotional. (This is currently a page or two from a toddler Bible, but I’m looking to evolve this time into more of a lesson complete with correlating coloring pages or the like).
8:45AM – I get Joy set up for independent play while I put the baby down for her AM nap. We’re working on stretching independent play longer so that I can get more stuff done while the baby’s asleep… Any tips on this? She’s 2.5, so her attention span on any one activity doesn’t last long… If I have any urgent items to take care of, I usually resort to an episode of Veggie Tales or Daniel Tiger.
-Purposeful play. This is usually a learning game or activity together (Joy has already learned numbers 1 thru 5 this way… We’ve only been doing number activities for a week!) I have a designated spot for this, which helps her focus. I can send links to blogs I reference when planning this time, if you’re interested.
-Then it’s free play, and Mama and Joy spend some quality time together. This is probably my favorite part of the day. Among others. Like naptime. ;)
-Baby wakes up around 10:30, I nurse and we’re out the door! Playdate, library, errands, the like. I make sure Joy has a snack around 10:30. (I used to NEVER schedule snacks, or even mealtimes for that matter. But after reading about how scheduled eating times help young kids sleep and eat better, I’ve started… and it’s definitely been true for us! Getting Joy to eat substantial foods was always a battle, but now she eats almost everything on her plate! I truly believe the before and after routines around eating (helping set the table, sitting in the same place, eating at around the same time each day, helping clean up) has helped with this).
-We’re home in time for lunch around 12:30PM.
1:00PM – Both girls go down for their nap. OH GLORIOUS NAPTIME.
3ish to 5:30PM is whatever. The natives seem to get restless during this time frame, so we usually end up outside on a walk to the park or pool. Snack is around 3:30. (Another sidenote on my newfound concept of scheduling snacks: this has unexpectedly been a great way to get more veggies in Joy’s diet. At mealtimes there are options, and she usually picks around the stuff she’d rather eat less. But at snacktime she’s only offered one food item (said veggies) and she eats it without a fuss since there are no competing foods on her plate!)
5:30PM or 6PM – I always try to have dinner around this time, but I generally suck at this. Dinnertime is still a thorn in my motherhood side. I would seriously pay someone to meal plan, shop for, and cook healthy meals for my family. Any takers? ;)
6:30PM – Start the bedtime routine. (Pick up toys, do the dishes, calmer playtime). Get Joy set up with an activity or show while I put the baby down.
6:45PM – Put baby down (nurse, cuddle, then lay her down and walk away. Now that we’re on a regular sleep schedule there is little to no crying, and she falls asleep on her own!)
7:00PM – Put Joy down. (pj’s, books, brush teeth, more books, review “sleep rules,” “one more book!!”, lights out with a goodnight song).
Both girls are asleep by 7:30PM.
And that’s it! Our daily routine. It’s still being tweaked as we figure out what works best for our family, but so far it has served us very well. I already know that I want to incorporate more family time and prayer.
What does your routine look like? How has it served you and your family? I’m always up for suggestions and learning new ways to serve my family, so please, do share!