At our house, wherever I am, the children usually are as well. If I’m downstairs working on laundry, they come down and play in their basement toy room. If I’m outside doing yard work, they come outside and play in our fenced backyard, or they ride bikes on the driveway. Bee loves to help with housework–she folds her own laundry, and she really likes to dust (with WAY too much Pledge!) I find that they just like to be near me, so I include them in pretty much everything I do.
Except for meal and sleep times, the children don’t have a rigid schedule. I believe that preschool-aged children need plenty of free time to just play and explore, because that’s how they learn about the world. In the morning, they like to watch “Super Why” on PBS, and then they help with morning chores. Bee makes her bed, and Cakes “helps” me make ours. After that, they have play time, usually in one of their bedrooms. They have a whole imaginary world that makes no sense to me! We eat lunch around 11:30, and then we read books. While Cakes naps, Bee has quiet time in her room. She can sleep, read books, or play quietly, but she must do this for a minimum of one hour. When Cakie wakes up, around 2:00, we have a snack, and then we usually go outside to play, or we go on an outing to the park or library. When I go inside to make supper, the kids usually do table activities, such as play dough, crayons and paper, or puzzles. Because Cakes goes to bed by 7:00, we bathe her and do her bedtime routine right after supper. She generally sleeps straight through from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t entertain my children all day, and they’re quite self-sufficient. I rarely hear the “I’m BORED!” complaint from them. I do try to have play time with them every afternoon, and they often help me with projects, and accompany me on errands. When they’re at a loss for something to do, I suggest activities for them. For example, if they want to play outside, I might give them sidewalk chalk or bubbles. If they want to play inside, I put out a selection of toys that they can play safely with together, such as the farm set or puzzles. I find that with Cakes it’s particularly important to provide structured activities, because if left to her own devices, she will get into mischief. This morning, I found 3 magnetic letters, and a washcloth in the toilet. You see what I mean.
I want to stress that I don’t let my kids direct my daily activities. As I always point out to Bee when she gets too big for her britches, I’m the Mom, so I’m in control, and I decide what we will do, and when. For example, if I need to work in the kitchen, they must play inside until I’m finished, whether they like it or not. Then, I’ll go outside and do yard work or hang laundry while they play. I basically fit their activities around my schedule, and it works out fine.
I’m fortunate, because my children play very well together. They will often go into one of their bedrooms, and play independently for a half hour or so. I wish that I could videotape some of their antics, but if they see me watching, they always stop what they’re doing! When Bee was a baby, she had no siblings to play with, so I did the majority of my daily work during her nap, or after she was in bed. This wasn’t a problem, because she usually napped for 2 hours, and went to bed by 7:00 every night. I’m a big believer in early bedtimes. Well rested children are happier, healthier, and much easier to manage!
This is a typical day in our home:
Cakes is my alarm clock. She wakes me up at the same time every morning by yelling, “Mom Mom Mama! Hey!”
After a diaper change, we climb into our big bed to nurse. Bee usually comes in and snuggles with us during this time.
Now it’s breakfast time. This morning we’re having fruit and cinnamon toast or muffins (kids’ choice):
Next, it’s my daily blog time. After I finish blogging, I get to work on my daily cleaning chores. Today we’re dusting:
While Cakes naps, I do my daily Bible reading, then head downstairs to walk on the treadmill for 25 minutes (long enough to watch an entire episode of “Friends” on DVD). Afterwards, I take a quick shower, and rest until Cakes wakes up. After nap, I change her diaper and give her a snack. Then we get bundled up and head into town to pick Bee up from school:
When we get home, Bee has a snack, and then we have some free play time. Bee loves dress-up, so she changes into her Sleeping Beauty dress and plays with her dress-up lacing bears, while Cakes looks at books, and I get started on supper. Chicken with homemade noodles is delicious comfort food on a cold winter evening.
After supper, I clean up the kitchen while my husband gets the kids in the bathtub. It’s Monday night, so he soon leaves for his men’s Bible study group. The kids get pajamas on and teeth brushed, and I rock and nurse Cakes before bed. I read a book to Bee, and then she’s off to bed too:
We’re exhausted, so we’re off to bed now. My husband will immediately fall asleep (a skill I have often envied), but I’ll read for a half hour, until I start dozing off. When the book falls on my face, I know it’s time for lights out!