Yes, old non-conformist habits die hard, but the intention for a daily rhythm is in writing and posted on our wall so that has to count for something right?
I am not the type of person who enjoys any formality or structure to my time, however that has led to wasting a lot of it. After nearly 4 years of floating from this to that with no real plan, I finally had to accept that we had a problem. I realized that many of the days Ian and I spent together at home consisted of a lot of pulling and pushing. He was always pulling me to do something with him and I was spending too much time pushing him away because I had to finish just "one more thing." I spent a lot of time stressed out and trying to find outings because I didn't think we knew how to enjoy long stretches of time at home. He had trouble playing alone. I was distracted from building with blocks when I just knew the dishwasher was full and laundry had to be folded. More often than not, in the evening when I put Ian to bed, I was left with feelings of failure. I didn't accomplish enough around the house and I didn't spend enough time really being present with my beautiful, creative, intelligent and funny son. Both of us were frustrated. This was not the way I wanted to be a mom.
So one evening a few weeks ago, I drafted a very loose daily plan to fall back on whenever we were at home. Which means, when we have a morning adventure, we can come home, check the time and jump right back into the routine. I also designed it so that many things can overlap, as you'll see. We created the wall hanging together. He cut out and pasted photos next to each activity so he can easily know what is next. It helps that Ian can't tell time yet so I can manage it by starting some periods early and rushing through others to accommodate outings later in the day. He loves to check the schedule. On the first day he was very quick to remind Evan that the schedule said it was now time for him to play. (The schedule is posted at the bottom of this post. )
There is a lot of wiggle room in this as my favorite craft is creating in the kitchen so this can be done during my time, together play time or craft time if it is something fun for us to do together. I purposely put 2 outdoor sessions because this is the area I lack in the most. Sometimes I get so caught up with cleaning or cooking I miss most of a beautiful day. Plus he needs and I need to make myself get more exercise and fresh air daily. This also helps to break me out of my "I only function well in bright sunshine between 70-80 degrees" rut, which, as it turns out, is a very narrow window in New England. The outside hours have been one of the highlights of having a daily rhythm. Getting us out in all weather to do SOMETHING. So far we have enjoyed rousing games at the playground, several walks and hikes, bike rides, tree climbing, and leaf raking. We also have sublet some of our land and the faerie real estate market is booming with several new constructions.
The bonus in all of this is I have never enjoyed Ian more than I have since putting this time-management protocol in place. I am now free to put aside my to-do list and fully engage with him because I know my chores have a place in the daily routine too. I had forgotten how much fun it is to run through the rain, ride on a swing, and play hide and seek. He is also much better able to play alone after an hour of playing with me. Daily life here is so much more productive and definitely more peaceful.
The TV time? I've made my peace with TV time. I was an only child for 9 years. I watched a lot of, sometimes questionably appropriate, TV. Some could argue that I turned out ok. There is always room for improvement though. I've found that 1 hour in the late afternoon works well for us. By that time, this introvert has had enough of interacting and just needs some no-talking time. I have also found that TV in the morning sort of ruins the day for us because it sets a tone of wanting more TV and less imaginative play. On some days, like weekends, we have family movie time but most days its either some Curious George or Sesame Street for an hour.
How has this worked out you may wonder? Perfectly. With one happy, tired, attention-satiated boy and a mom who feels like she got it all done.
Our Daily Rhythm
So in the morning my daily plan starts at 8 am (meaning before 8 am if we are awake anything goes).
8 am - Feed and let dogs out.
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Playtime with Mom
9:45 - Mom does chores/Ian Plays alone
11:00 - OUTSIDE TIME/Physical activity
12:00 - Lunch
12:30 - Craft/Workbook/Homeschool Quiet time with Mom
1:30 - Mom does chores/Ian plays alone
3:00 - OUTSIDE TIME/Physical activity
4:00 - Quiet Time/TV Hour
5:00 - Mom makes dinner/Ian plays
6:00 - Dinner
6:30 - Play with Dad time
7:30 - Get ready for bed
8:00- Bed time