How is it October already? This fall is flying by!
Now that summer weather has transitioned into autumn, let's face it, more of our time will be spent inside. So how do we schedule our days so that we don't go stir-crazy?
Most of what I have learned and put into practice over the past couple of years, I learned from one of my favourite speakers at our Mum's group, Natalie Huizenga. She is a mum of 5 kids and at one point had 4 kids 5 and under. Scheduling her day was necessary in order to keep a peaceful, sane house! And that's what I have found too. The more I'm able to stick to our schedule, the better the day goes.
Having a schedule also eliminates a lot of whining and arguing because I can say, "I'm sorry, but that's not on the schedule," or "what's next on the schedule?" Suddenly, my kids run to where we have our schedule and stop asking to watch something on TV.
But how do you structure a day with little ones? Here are some ideas!
- First, fill in meal times and nap times depending on the ages of your kids. If your kids are done with naps, they can have a quiet time instead.
- Then fill in the gaps with activities such as room time, blanket time, pack n' play time, book time, table time, playing outside, playing in the basement, snack time, and chore time.
- Naps/Quiet Time: Naps when your kids are little, and quiet time when they are older. For a quiet time they are to sit on their beds with a book, but no toys, no music, no talking. You get the point.
- Room Time: A set amount of time where each child is in his/her room or a room by themselves for independent play. You chose a couple of toys and books for them to have and can even play music for them. They can sing, talk, read, play in their rooms, but the idea is that they develop the ability to entertain themselves. One of my boys is great at this and the other one struggles, but still, a very valuable time. Oh, and like clockwork...during this time both of my boys will have to make trips to the potty!
- Blanket Time/Pack n' Play Time: Basically the same as Room Time but for babies. They either sit on their blanket or in the pack n' play with toys and play independently.
- Book Time: A time when kids sit quietly on the couch or at the table and read. If they are too young to read, then they simply look at picture books quietly. Mom, you can do the same to get a few minutes of reading for yourself and also show your kids by example the value of reading!
- Table Time: This time can include snacks at the table, games, colouring, tracing letters, play-doh, crafts, etc.
- Playing Outside or in the Basement: Switch up the scenery from time to time. However, make sure your kids understand what is on and off limits (ie: playing outside doesn't mean poking each other with sticks, boys!)
- Chore Time: A time set aside for kids to help mummy with age-appropriate chores.
When I first started to get serious about sticking to a schedule with my boys, I bought and then customized a calendar with different time slots. I personally did it in Spanish since we try to incorporate as much Spanish in our house as possible, but I also added pictures for each activity so that my kids could understand what the activity was before knowing how to read. They especially loved it when I included pictures of them on the slots!
Now this plan looks pretty on paper (or on the pantry door), but of course, hiccups happen and no day goes exactly as planned. However, the days that I implement the calendar go much more smoothly than when there is no plan!
Final tips! 1. When you start something new at home, make sure you are consistent for several days in a row. For example, it may not be a good idea to start the calendar a couple of days before going out of town or a week when you have lots of appointments. 2. When introducing a new activity like Room Time or Blanket Time start with setting a timer for 3 or 4 minutes. Once they get the hang of it you can increase the time little by little.
Good luck! And may you experience peace as you implement order :)