Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tweaking the Daily Rhythms and Routines for a New Year

With the start of a new year, many people make resolutions, and for most, those begin on January 1st. I may seem a little "behind," then, in that I didn't tweak our routines a week ago, but, being Catholic and all, I have a nice excuse there, because we are only officially ending the Christmas season this evening. So, the celebrating will be slowing down now, and therefore it is a good time to revisit our old routines and tweak them a bit.

Here is our basic daily rhythm as it will be (or as I'd like it to be!) on weekdays:

7:00-7:30ish: Get up and start breakfast (Ideally, I would like this to be closer to 7. Practically, it doesn't work that way!)

7:30ish-8:00: I get dressed and ready for the day while Chris eats and the girls play.

8:00ish: Chris leaves for work and the girls and I eat breakfast. I would like to streamline our breakfast time somehow (oatmeal in the crock pot, perhaps?)... it does end up taking a long time, sometimes almost until 9:00 to finish breakfast. When I start breakfast around 7:30, this means oatmeal or oat bran on the stove. But I like to add a protein as well, so I scramble eggs usually on days we have oat meal, and I serve yogurt with the oat bran. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so i like to make it nutrient-dense; plus, my girls eat a lot for breakfast! So, I add peanut or almond butter, flaxseed meal, a banana, and a bit of honey to the oat bran, and I add toasted wheat germ and maybe some fruit to the plain oatmeal. When I scramble eggs, I grate in some cheese and defrost a cube of pureed spinach to mix in. This in and of itself takes several minutes to add and stir these various add-ins, plus cook time for the eggs. Then, in addition to serving the girls and myself, I pour water or juice, I get out my own vitamins, I get out the girls' vitamins (liquid D drops, gummy vitamins plus C if we are starting to feel sick at all, cod liver oil, and elderberry syrup. That is lots of dosing, administering, and carrying stuff to and from the table. Writing it all out makes it seem even more exhausting than it actually is, ha ha!

So, after breakfast, I do the dishes and the girls have a bit of free play time, or they have some water play in the other side of the sink.

After dishes, I get the girls dressed and ready for the day: teeth brushing, diaper changing, hair brushing, dressing. We make Caroline's bed and I brush my own teeth.

We used to take a morning walk after this, but it has been too cold and our mornings were too jam-packed with that, so I have recently readjusted. We have been going straight to Circle Time instead, during which we sing songs, do finger plays, and do the calendar. It takes about ten minutes.

After Circle Time comes morning chores and snack time... it used to be snack first, but that may need to change without the walk happening. My daily chores have a rotation: Monday is typically nothing big, but doing small chores around the house that just need to be done. Tuesday is cleaning toilets and doing laundry (that is then hung to dry, so it gets folded and put away later ion the week), Wednesday is vacuuming, Thursday is cleaning bathroom sinks, and Friday is changing out the towels and washing towels or sheets if necessary. We change sheets on the beds on the weekends, and additional loads of laundry are done as needed here and there. I sometimes do some dinner prep during this morning chore time.

After morning chores, we have a focused activity of some sort. Mondays are usually baking day, although that gets switched up if we have a special occasion later in the week for which we plan to bake, Tuesdays are for art/craft projects, Thursday is for playing a board game or something like that, and Fridays are for doing an organization project or for visiting friends. Ideally, I would like to visit with friends once a week and help with cleaning or organizing at each other's homes.

After this, it is usually noontime, so we have lunch. I would like to have a weekly lunch rotation (shows how anal I am, huh?), but with leftovers not being predictable, that isn't too feasible. So, we have some general recurring meals and pick which ones work best for the day: leftovers, mac n cheese, "cheesy grains" (cooked bulgar with cheese melted in and topped with sunflower seeds), peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese... those are our typical lunches.

As soon as lunch is done, Cecilia is taken for a nap while Caroline gets some free play time for about 20 minutes while I get Cecilia to sleep. Then we have rest time for an hour. I start Caroline's rest time by reading a book to her, and then I wash the lunch dishes. For my rest time, I generally read online and have a cup of tea. Caroline is in the den with me and does quiet play and activities. This has not been working well for us lately - she does not focus and ends up bugging me instead. So, she now has a weekly schedule for rest time that gives her some direction. She can read books or lie quietly on the couch for rest time any time she chooses, but otherwise, it will look like this (or be tweaked again after it doesn't work the first week!):
Monday: castle toy, "work activities" (various activities that I have compiled, like stringing beads, matching lids to various containers, and other manipulative-type activities)
Tuesday: puzzles, stuffed animals and dolls and their dress-up clothes
Wednesday: "special" rest time - watching a video
Thursday: Noah's ark toy, drawing/magnets at easel, "work activities"
Friday: castle toy, barn toy, drawing on paper
Saturday: dollhouse, Calico Critters playground toy, and maybe Play-doh or Model Magic
Sunday: listening to Glory Stories CD, puzzles, puppets
I plan to set these items out for her at the start of rest time and let her work through them at her own pace... and if she lacks direction, I may simplify it further to just having puzzles only one day, work activities another day, imaginative toys (castle, dollhouse) another day, etc. We will see how it pans out.

After rest time, and this is one place I need to get more organized myself and make sure that rest time is just an hour and that I don't get lazy on that ;) - we have our afternoon prayer time. We say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I don't require the girls to say it along with me, but I pray it out loud so they hear it (Caroline does know it and could probably lead it herself at this point!), but they must sit with me at the window seat, where we have a "holy box" full of books, rosaries, holy cards, etc, that they can look through. I also need to crack down on not letting them bring other toys up to the window seat at prayer time!

Next we have an afternoon snack, which I do have a loose schedule for... I am thinking I need to tweak this so that the morning snack is usually a fruit and the afternoon snack is the cheese and cracker, peanut butter on rice cake kind of thing.

Then is our outside time. If it is really cold, we just walk so that we can stay moving and warm, but otherwise, we go in the backyard. I typically take laundry out with me and fold it. We always check the chickens' food and water and refill if needed, and I gather the eggs. I also rake the chicken poop when needed (and when the ground is dry!). We try to stay outside an hour and a half, although that doesn't always happen if it is really cold.

When we come inside, we have reading time. I usually read the girls three books (sometimes four if Cecilia expresses an interest in a book herself).

Next is dinner prep and cooking time for me... often it is around 5:00 at this point, but sometimes it needs to be sooner depending on what I am making. I don't have a rotating menu, but plan the meals out weekly so that I can prepare in advance for what we will be having each evening. If the girls are getting wild and lacking indirection at this time, I often set them up with drawing or play-doh or rice, or I have them help me in the kitchen.

Then we have clean-up time while dinner is finishing... lately, Caroline does this really quickly if I pretend to be a dog catcher and all the toys are dogs. I scoop up any out-of-place toys and drop them into a laundry basket, and Caroline scurries around to gether up the "dogs" before I get to them, and she rescues them from the basket while my back is turned and returns them to their "homes." Any dogs left in the "cage" after clean-up time will be taken to the "pound" (up high in the closet). I also put away some toys here and there if there is a particularly big mess. I would like to have a few straightening up times throughout the day, but it doesn't happen now. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the mornings to do it once before lunch. When I have older childrn who can do it mostly unsupervised, they can do it while I get lunch ready, perhaps...

Sometime around now, Chris gets home. He often does some playing or reading with the girls for a bit while I finish up in the kitchen, or he gives them a bath when needed.

Caroline sets the table, and then we eat. We say our blessing and our prayer fro priests before we dig in.

After dinner, we immediately have our evening family prayer time. We say a decade of the rosary while Cecilia has her night-night nursing. Then it is off to brush teeth and put on pajamas, bedtime stories and lights out.

Then... I want to start having my own routine for the evenings. We wash the dishes and sweep the kitchen, and then... I would like to start using Mondays for craft projects (either my own or preparing them for the girls, things like making the saint magnets for the calendar), Tuesdays for planning (Circle Time, LLL meetings) or reading, Wednesdays for blogging, Thursdays for organizing (I really want to purge and re-organize all the closets and bookshelves, make craft supplies more accessible, prepare practical spaces for homeschooling supplies... before I actually begin "officially" homeschooling in the fall), and Fridays for planning my weekly meals and grocery list. Then maybe Saturday evening will be "date night" where Chris and I rent a movie or play a game or something... and Sunday can be just for puttering. Of course, other things will be filled in on these evenings too, like if I need to cook or prepare anything for the next day.

Our seasonal/yearly rhythm is set for us by the Liturgical Year of the Catholic Church, so that is easy! We go to Mass every Sunday, and often we do crafts or baking associated with the season or with feast days.

Off to bed with me!


Carrie said...

you are so organized! I am jealous!

mel said...

We have a lunch rotation! :)
For us, it has nothing to do with being anal, it has to do with the fact that I got tired of the whining and complaining from older kids about what we were having, what they wanted to have, etc.

Sounds like a busy day, and a good mix of activities! I'm personally jealous of the healthy meals and snacks. I've allowed too much junk to slip in over the years...another hazard as the kids get older I guess...