Friday, July 26, 2013

Thoughts on Scheduling for a Toddler

When I found out I was expecting Jacob, I had no idea how much scheduling these little guys need.  I had a great childhood and grew up very spoiled well cared for, but I never really had a set nap time or bed time.  I pretty much followed my grandparents around throughout the day.  I was never the kid to want to go outside and play.  I was a nerd liked to read, hang out with the adults, pretend like I was a grown up and watch Little Women on pretty much a daily basis.  So, the idea of being a kid, playing around and doing messy things, all on a schedule, was completely foreign to me.  After about 6 months of Jacob not sleeping, I figured out that I needed to come up with a better way of scheduling his day so he knew what to expect and I wasn't pulling my hair out.  Though it was tough, I ended up following the Baby Wise method and it worked like a CHARM.  People still can't believe how easily Jacob goes to bed.

But, then he got older and it became a little more complicated.  I didn't just have to schedule nap time and feedings anymore.  I had to figure out how he was going to be entertained all day.  This is where my lack of play knowledge has really become an obstacle.  I'm not good at playing superheroes or going outside to play soccer.  I get bored out of my mind, and I'm terrified of the snakes in our yard.  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE watching Jacob play.  It's probably my favorite thing to do.  It warms my heart and makes me so thankful when I see him laugh, run around, act a little crazy and get all dirty in the mud.  But, I prefer the role of loving onlooker when it comes to these particular activities.  So, admittedly, I have tried to find things that we both enjoy to do during the day.  Superheroes are daddy's thing, though I do make a great damsel in distress (you really just have to sit there and say, "Save me, save me." I can handle that.).  But, when it's mommy's turn to play with Jacob, we do things like color, make crafts, read books, play music and bake cookies.  This list includes fun things for both mommies and kiddos!

Also, if you say that you can sit outside in the heat, running cars through the mud, making all the sound effects and rolling in the grass for more than fifteen minutes, I applaud you and question your sincerity all at the same time.

I'm probably sounding like a horrible mother...

Anyway, ONWARD...

I have been staying home with Jacob now for the past week.  It has been THE BEST (and has been the reason for my lack of posting this week)!!  It has honestly made me question why I didn't do it sooner.  The other night during dinner time prayer, Jacob said, "And, thank you, God, for my week with my mommy."  As much as I loved planning weddings, absolutely nothing beats that.  It has been so much fun, but also a time management challenge!  With all of the time during the day, I have been trying to figure out a loose schedule for us to follow.  This week, we had soccer camp in the morning, so our schedule looked something like this...

7:30: Wake up, make breakfast (usually waffles, cereal or fruit), get a few minutes of cuddle time with Jacob/catch up time with Pete, shower while Jacob finishes eating with his dad
8:00: Set out Jacob's clothes for him to get changed while I finish getting ready; Pete leaves for work
8:30: Snack making for soccer camp
8:45: Leave for Soccer Camp
9-10: Soccer Camp
10: Playground or errands
11:15 Snack/Free Independent Play Time (usually tv while playing); This is usually the time I drink a cup of half caff coffee, check my email, surf the web, clean up the dishes, start a load of laundry etc.
12: Lunch
1-3: Nap Time; I lay down and take it easy during this time unless I'm feeling especially energetic.  I'm exhausted by this point, hopefully mostly because I'm pregnant!!
3-4:30: Snack Time/Play Time with Mommy;  I try to keep the TV off at this point.  I may let him watch a short show while he wakes up and I switch another load of laundry over or so.  But, this is the time we usually go to his room to play, color together or go on a walk.
4:30: Independent Play while Mommy starts to get things prepped for dinner/does a deep cleaning project (i.e. yesterday, I cleaned the bathrooms; today, I'm going to clean the microwave and wipe down the fridge)
5:30: Another Snack, help Mommy with a couple of chores; I've been trying to incorporate him in doing a couple of things around the house!  I usually have him clean up toys while I start dinner at this point
6:30: Pete comes home/dinner
7:20: "Cuddle Time"  Jacob literally can't go to bed without a few minutes on the couch with me "cuddling".  He literally says, "Mommy, come cuddle with me," or "Mommy, come get cozy with me." It's PRECIOUS and will be one of my most treasured memories with Jacob.  Thinking of these times in ten years will most definitely make me cry.
7:45: Bath Time/Potty Time/Brush Teeth/Optional Story Time/Prayer Time/No Monsters Closet Check/Wiggles Song Time/"What are you gonna think about?" game/BED TIME (literally in this exact order.  The order cannot be messed with.)
10:30/11: Bed Time for Mommy & Daddy!!

I'll be interested to see how our schedule changes next week without soccer camp.  I'll probably switch up my cleaning from the afternoon to the morning and errands/activities to the afternoon after naptime since that's when I feel the most up for being out and about.  It's my goal to have one special activity for him a day, whether it's getting stuff out to paint, going to the park or the library, or going to an afternoon movie.  And, while meals and napping are pretty consistent, I think it's important to be flexible with the rest of your day.  I think too strict of a schedule can confine kids and can work against you when there are special occasions where the schedule has to be totally tossed for a period of time.  Just remember that they have thirteen years of being on a strict schedule at school to look forward to.  As long as an outline of a schedule is there and gives them the consistency they need, let them play and  enjoy the four short years of being school-less. Whatever your schedule, pick what works for you and your munchkin.  If you're so not a morning person (like me) and your kiddo needs some morning cartoons to get going, focus your activities in the afternoon.  If you'd rather get your housework done during naptime because you have a ton of errands to run in the afternoon, do that and then take it easy in the morning.  I think it's important to keep your kids engaged, but it's also important to take measures to keep yourself sane.  Being a parent is a tough job.  So, take a day every now and then and skip housework to watch movies and stay in your pjs all day.  No matter what, as long as you're with your little one and making memories that will help them become well rounded adults,
you're doing your job.

^^^ Chalking the driveway with Jacob this week.

^^^ My obviously well rounded child after a morning at soccer camp...athletic, funny and energetic to boot.

^^^ My 14 week baby bump!!!

Have a great weekend, lovelies!!

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