Adding Routine To The Day

Friday, April 7, 2017

As my girls are getting older, I'm finding it necessary to have more structure to our days, particularly in the morning hours. We will start officially start homeschooling in the fall, and I know that already having at the very least a morning routine in place will make the transition a lot less frustrating for all of us. My last five years with them have been so sweet and I've so enjoyed the freedom to do as we pleased each day, whether it was play dates, running errands, cleaning house, or just hanging out at home playing. But I realized that with my oldest getting close to six, it was time to start building in some structure slowly, and adding some additional expectations that were reasonable for her and my four-year-old to fulfill.

I've been amazed at how both the kids and I have thrived off of having a set routine (though we aren't so bound by it that we don't still occasionally stray from it if necessary). My oldest especially seems to love knowing what's expected and what is next on the agenda. And for me, who hates being bound to anything, I'm finding that it helps me start the day productively even when I'm feeling tired and unmotivated.

So what does a typical morning look like for me and the girls? I'll give you the rundown. The times are approximate. The beauty of being a stay-at-home-mom is that we can move at a slower pace if need be. We are rarely frantic, which in my opinion is a very good thing, and so counter-culture to the fast-paced world we live in. This means that if someone wakes up in a sour mood, I spend a few minutes longer than usual snuggling on the couch until they're feeling better. It means if I have a late night and feel exhausted, I might enjoy a second cup of coffee before really getting going. I love that staying home means tailoring each day to individual needs--yet still being diligent to get things done.

Okay, on to a typical day with my five, four, and two-year-old!

6 am: I try to be up by six or shortly after. I'd love to bump it up to 5:30, but I haven't been able to meet that goal as of yet. I get my coffee going and drink some water, then head to the couch to begin my day meeting with the Lord. It's a habit I've had for a decade now, and I'm pretty much a disaster of a human if I don't start my day with Him. I usually have a devotion or some sort of guide, so that I'm not just opening the Bible and aimlessly reading (though if you are able to just open the Book and read with no additional resources, I think that is own mind tends to wander if I don't have questions to answer, things to be looking for, etc.). Then I get out my prayer journal and use it as a rough guide for my prayer time.

7:15-7:30: The two big girls are usually meandering down the stairs about now and we snuggle on the couch for a few minutes, until Brad leaves for work and we all hug and kiss him goodbye for the day.

7:30: I let them watch TV! No judging please!!! This is a crucial part of the morning for me--though I suppose I'd survive without it, as mom's did centuries before me! I'm super selective about what they're allowed to watch, and they watch half an hour, generally. I try to find shows that serve a purpose in either reinforcing morals and values we are teaching them, teaching them something new and useful, or encouraging creativity and imagination. Their half hour in front of the television gives me time to grab a super fast shower and get breakfast started for them, as well as getting organized for the day. I used to think I'd be super anti-television for my kids, but this really works for us!

8:00: They eat breakfast and I clean up the kitchen.

8:30: They begin their chore chart, starting with clearing their places and wiping the table, and checking to see if there's anything they can help me with in the kitchen. Then they make beds, get dressed and put their jammies away or in the laundry hamper, and brush teeth. I realize that this doesn't sound like much, but this is just the every-single-morning, get it done without being asked "chores". There are other things they do throughout the day.

9:00: Now we are ready for the day, have full bellies (oh wait, my kids are never full), and we sit down for one of my favorite times of the day. I first do a devotion with them. We love the book Be Like Jesus by Stephen Elkins, and The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Carla Barnhill (though my girls have pretty much outgrown that one). Then we take turns praying for our day. We have encouraged them in praying aloud since they were little. Izzie, who just turned two, loves it when it's her turn and I love hearing her little baby prayers to Jesus! Sometimes it's obvious they're praying because I'm making them, sometimes it's full of giggling, but often, it's a time of sincere prayers from them and it's beautiful! Last, we get out our old hymn book and sing a hymn or two. I started this because they love singing, and I thought, why not teach them the rich, meaningful words of timeless hymns rather than only children's songs? They love picking a hymn out of the book, and every month or so, we add a new one to learn.

That's about it as far as structure goes right now. After everything I mentioned is complete, we either do some school work, go outside (weather permitting), or leave to go to they gym, run errands, or meet with friends.

Lunch is around noon, and at almost 1:00 sharp everyday, we have resting time. This means different things for each of us, but all of us rest. The two-year-old naps, the four-year-old naps or reads, the five-year-old turns my bed into a little nest full of blankets, books, puzzles, and random things and has an hour of quiet, and I write, read, listen to a podcast while folding laundry, or nap myself!

A few other things that we do daily are tea time, dinner as a family, and Bible reading before bed with their dad.  Tea time is something we just started recently and the girls really hold me to it! We did it one day just for fun, and I said without really thinking, "We should do this everyday!" And so now we do. After the littlest one wakes up from her nap, we make tea and a little snack and sit at the table or outside and chitchat about whatever! I love it!

As I write this all out, it sounds like our whole days are planned out and there isn't much room for play, but I assure you, the majority of their days are still full of playing, exploring outside, drawing pictures, and just being wild and free kids. Having these set things we do day-in and day-out are teaching them at a young age something of responsibility, time-management, diligence, and routine. As they get older and as we start school, we will gradually add more responsibilities and there will be more and more structure to our days. But for now, that's a typical day for us!

I'd love to hear what works and what doesn't work for adding structure and routine to your days! I'm certainly not an expert, but rather figuring out what works for us day by day, and praying that whatever we do and however we do it, we bring glory to God, as is our ultimate goal in this life!