When my oldest child hit 2 ½ or 3, I started looking at online resources on toddler/preschool activities and routines for a stay-at-home mom. It really helped me to look at other mom’s daily schedules. The more detailed their descriptions, the more it helped me. I didn’t really want to mimic what they were doing, but it gave me ideas. I remember reading one mom saying she led her son through 30-minute increments through the day. His attention span wasn’t a lot longer than that and it helped structure their day. Looking at her schedule overwhelmed me having 10-12 different time slots to think through.
I took a few things away from her example. One was while that works for her, that’s not me. Another was it would probably serve me and my children to lead them through the day in intentional time rather than just saying “Go play.” between meals and naps. And isn’t that why I’m at home with them, to raise them, lead them, influence them and be with them, not just shoo them away so I can cook for them and clean up after them? Over the last couple of years, I have started implementing some of those intentional times through the day, but they don’t cover the entire day. We all need times when they can just play.
I have gone through different stages with this as my family has grown. I have had a rough daily schedule with just a few things planned between meals and naps and now I have a written schedule that takes us through every hour. I am always more detailed on paper than I actually am in experience. The details help me think through different options, but it also lets me know what I am saying yes or no to when I decide to veer away from what the schedule says.
With having four very young children home with me every day, I have found a need to have a more intentional plan. It feels somewhat like when I was teaching first grade. Children at that age don’t govern themselves, their time, their volume, or their interactions really well. So if I had more than a couple minutes of unplanned, undirected time, things would start getting out of control. In my home now, that equates to lots of screaming and pulling at Mommy’s pants leg. I have had to answer questions like
“What will they do when I’m cooking dinner?”
“When will I clean the house?”
“When do I get personal work done (paying bills, blogging, etc.)?”
“When do I spend time with each child?”
All of these questions have led me to think through every hour for each child. And again, I do not follow a detailed hourly schedule every day. Some things are pretty constant, but mostly, I have done most of the thinking and I can just use it as a guide each day. Sometimes I follow it almost exact. And sometimes, the only thing we do from that schedule is eat and sleep and I choose other things for the rest of the day. Or like one day last week, we all just stayed in our pajamas and rested and played together.
More coming next week about different examples of daily schedules.
Do you follow a daily schedule? What have you found that works for you and your family? If you have children or not, married or single, work or stay at home, how do you govern the time that you have?