Is it cheating if I start of this series with something that we have been desperately trying to work at over the last 2 months?
If you knew me in my past life (you know – the one I had before I had 4 little girls running it), you would know that I wasn’t the most scheduled person. I arrived late to things, forgot appointments, procrastinated most of my college homework and some nights barely managed to get 3 hours of sleep. I have always been a high energy person and I loved being spontaneous…
Well, spontaneity with 4 kids breeds chaos. I used to think it was fun being the mom who just came up with what we were doing that day, or who maybe made breakfast at 8, maybe at 10 and who never really knew what was for dinner. I was the “relaxed” mom, and I thought that some of friends who had “schedules” were just being uptight.
Well, want to know what my day looks like now without a schedule?
Sometime between 530 and 7 – woken up by either a screaming/crying toddler wanting to get out of their bed, or being woken up by a child who has gotten out of their bed and immediately demands water, milk, TV, food, and all of my energy to be used up in the first 20 minutes of by day…
Then there is breakfast one, two, and three – all different foods at all different times and none of them were for me. Multiple breakfast times are followed by half hearted attempts at cleaning the kitchen while trying to keep my children off of the counter. Fights over TV, fights over toys, and probably one or two children running around naked, possibly peeing on the furniture will all happen before 11.
11 am – the golden hour….usually will be my very first cup of coffee, my breakfast and time to change while for some reason the kids always seem to be able to settle down and watch TV at this time….
11:22 – the minute said show is over, more chaos in the form of children demanding I make food for them again, only this time its worse because they are hungry and tired……
Naps will happen some where between 1230 and 130 – until about 330, but since they were not planned out, children are sleeping at all different times, meaning no break for me.
3:30 – 4:30 – a combination of kids begging to be entertained and fed all at the same time. “I’m bored”, “Come play with me,” and “There is never anything to do” can be heard countless times. Boredom eventually turns into destroying the house with some incredibly imaginative game that involves removing ALL the toys (and blankets, pillows, clothes and bandaids – why do they always use all the freaking bandaids!!??) and cleaning up none of them.
Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30 – me screaming at kids to pick up and stop playing with things that are not meant to be played with and locking myself in the bathroom (which actually doesn’t lock anymore from the many successful attempts at children breaking into the bathroom to get to me) for 5 minutes at an attempt to gather myself enough to make it to bedtime.
5:30 – crap, dinner, what’s for dinner??? EVERYTHING is frozen because I forgot that you actually have to take meat out of the freezer before you want to eat it. So its cereal, or peanut butter sandwiches, or maybe if I am feeling REALLY calm, its eggs (because I have convinced myself that they are healthier than peanut butter sandwiches) and all the girls whine because when you give them eggs for dinner they SUDDENLY HATE EGGS.
TV time, unstructured playing, more mess making until bedtime is announced and everyone either yells, cries or, in Scarlet’s case, just continues to keep running away from you . If I am lucky they will wear pajamas and brush their teeth but if its really bad and I am just trying to get them into their beds without losing my mind they might just go in naked.
Yelling at, warning and threatening kids will all take place for about an hour until they are FINALLY in their beds and fall asleep.
And then I will shut off the lights, pretend I don’t see the mess in the kitchen, the living room and the bathroom and I will crawl into bed and fall asleep swearing it will be different tomorrow….
It would literally get so crazy some days that I would leave the house with them for the day just because THAT seemed easier than being at home all day with them. I was anxious, stressed and drowning in an ocean of undone chores. I couldn’t seem to get ahead, I felt like I was always yelling and the girls weren’t learning anything good from it.
Awhile ago we adjusted the girls bedtime routines so that at least that part of the day had become less stressful, but even with that the rest of the day still felt chaotic.
So a month ago we created two daily schedules; one for me, and one for the girls. And then we stuck to them for about a week. They worked great, but I started planning a lot of activities that didn’t fit within “our schedule”, so it seemed like every other day I was back to the unorganized chaos. I needed a schedule, but more than anything we needed the routine. I realized that as long as we followed the same structure for the day, the time frames for certain things didn’t really matter. We could still do things around the times they were scheduled, but by adding in some flexibility, we have found a schedule that works for us.
And let me tell you… I noticed the difference the very first day. Sure the girls fought be some (especially Gabbi) when I ended something and moved them on to what we were going to do be doing next, but they behaved better on a whole throughout the day. I yelled A LOT less, and managed to get A LOT more done during the day.
The first major change we made to our schedules was what time we were getting up in the morning. I have come to realize that in order to be the best mom I can be that day that I desperately need to start the day off with things that I need to do for myself. I need to wake up on my own, have coffee, get in my bible time, make my bed, workout, shower and get dressed. I know that it sounds like a lot in the morning, but none of these things will get done during the day if I don’t do them first thing and they set me up to be in a much better mood all day. So I have been getting up at 530 (I know its so early!!) and even though when the alarm goes off and I don’t want to get up, within 20 minutes I am so glad I did.
The girls are usually up on their own between 7 and 730, but instead of reveling in the quiet when they unexpectedly sleep in, I have started to make sure they are all out of their beds by 745 so that they can all eat breakfast at the same time. One meal, one mess and I usually get to eat too!
The rest of the morning for the girls goes as follows:
Clean up from breakfast
Get ready for the day (get dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed – even Scarlet does it too with help!)
Bible Time/A more structured morning activity
Whatever fun activity that we are doing for the day while its still summer vacation – visiting friends, the zoo, even just playing outside for a few hours
Clean up/TV Time
Free Play after naps
Jurisdictions (this is the time that we take to teach the kids how to do different chores – more about this in another post!)
Get Ready for Dinner
Dinner and then clean up the table
Family Free Time (I had to schedule this so that I remembered not to make the whole evening me cleaning up from dinner and the day and then jumping right into bedtime routines!)
Bed Time Show/Snack
Teeth and Pajamas
Stories and Prayer
7:30 – Little girl’s bedtime
8:30 – Gabbi’s bedtime
For my own schedule, I use the three 30 minute TV and snack times to squeeze in the cleaning that needs to be done on a daily basis (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, general picking up). My goal is to get all of my writing done during resting time, but with all of the busy summer things we have had going on nap time has been a little unpredictable and there are some things that end up taking precedent over my blogging, pushing it to when after the girls go to bed. I do attempt to rest during that time too, even if its just for 20 minutes. Its hard for me and I have to force it, but I know that I will be better off around dinner time if I do. Free time and jurisdictions I use for prepping and cooking dinner. After the girls go to bed, I finish cleaning up the kitchen and try to get one of the bigger things done that I don’t usually have time for during the day right now (I will be doing a follow up post on weekly and monthly cleaning schedules – so make sure to check back!!).
I do have specific time frames set that I aim for in our daily schedule, but, unlike the first week, I am allowing myself some flexibility in changing time frames, or cutting certain things out altogether if we just don’t have time. The best part is though is that the girls notice if we have to skip something. It only took the consistency of one week for them to start to anticipate what was coming next, and it has brought the level of chaos down dramatically.
I am planning to alter our schedule once school starts up again – Gabbi will be needing her own so that she can fit in homework, chores and cheerleading all while still having some free time outside of school. I am really hoping that this whole scheduling thing will begin to teach my girls how to prioritize their time and get the best use out of it. I am finding so much peace in knowing that I have time scheduled for the things that I know need to be done, the things that I want to do and, most importantly, ensuring that I always have quality time available for my girls.
Do you have a daily schedule at home? Or do you take the more spontaneous route?
I am really interested in knowing what is working best for all of you moms out there!!