Before I started making any major changes I spent the week going about each day as I usually would, but simply being mindful and aware of our daily activities. It turns out we have more of a routine than I thought we did. We have bedtime routines and lunchtime routines, we go on outings in the morning and stay home in the afternoon. I almost always do the dishes at 3:30pm. I also discovered certain times of day where I can shift things around a little to get more of what I want in each day and less empty time frittered away on Twitter. (I love Twitter, I do, but it has an amazing ability to suck my time away and I feel like I need to keep a handle on it.)
As the week went on I started doing a few things differently:
- I made a list, either the night before or during breakfast, of the things I wanted to get done that day. I made a concerted effort to only put things on the list I really, truly intended to do and knew were possible to do in the day. There is nothing more discouraging than an unrealistic to-do list. I also tried to mix it up a little, with creative tasks like writing, one or two things to clean, a baking or cooking task and an errand or household administration type thing.
- I sat down and played together with the girls after breakfast but before we all got ready for the day. We pushed dollies around the house in the play stroller or did puzzles together. I didn’t spend ages doing this, maybe only 15-20 minutes or so, but it did seem to help the getting ready go more smoothly, presumably because both girls felt like I’d already done something they wanted me to do and were therefore more willing to do what I wanted them to do. Whatever the reason, it worked. Unfortunately, this is the part of the routine that is the easiest to let slip if we have slept in, have to rush out, spent too long dawdling over breakfast, etc.
I also noticed that certain times of day are harder to change:
- The afternoon is a mix of unstructured play, zoning out on the internet, cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, doling out snacks and breaking up sibling conflicts once Claire wakes up. My energy levels are the lowest in the afternoon, but I have the most chores on my list at this point in the day. I don’t know how to rearrange things to fix this, but I suspect putting the laptop away might help.
My next step in creating a routine that works for us is picking out some activities and crafts in advance for our morning playtime. I like to keep things fairly open, but planning ahead does make it easier to get around to more involved activities and projects. (Like making our own terrariums!) Also, having something prepared to look forward to means we’ll be more motivated to keep to the routine in the morning and not waste lots of time over breakfast. I’m also going to work on some kind of afternoon structure. Once we have a daily routine that works I’d like to fit in better record-keeping, like making notebooks with the kid’s crafts and drawings in them, instead of stuffing them all randomly into a box, which is the current strategy.
One small step at a time!