I've thought for a while that it would be fun to do a post that shows what our at-home days are like. I know I've gathered tips or benefited from seeing how other moms structure their days or manage life with little ones at home so this is my attempt to document what is working well for us at this stage (with a 2 year old and 12 month old). Plus, I enjoy keeping a record of these little things to remember later and if it doesn't get written here it will probably be forgotten (as I don't tend to record lists or little details like these in my journal)!
So welcome to a peek inside our home - this is a typical day if we don't have guests or an outing or errands planned.
6:30am - Miriam wakes up and nurses and then goes back to bed - she is almost one and since she wants to go back to sleep I know she doesn't need this nurse but for now it's working. I normally go back to sleep for a few minutes afterwards too.
7:15 Up for the day - breakfast with my husband and I try to pack his lunch and he's off to work by 7:40. Joshua normally is up for breakfast by 7:30 and he eats his oatmeal while I putter around or look at facebook. (Hmm, perhaps I should stop ignoring my child first thing in the morning and actually sit with him at the table?)
8 - 8:30 Miriam is awake or if she's still sleeping I wake her up and feed her breakfast. I normally change both kids for the day at this point but to be honest if I know we're staying in they might get fresh diapers but stay in their p.j's. The next hour and a half is spent as playtime - Joshua picks out a bucket or two of toys to bring out from his room and they play in the dining area or living room together (I sometimes have to play referee) as I wash up the breakfast and snack-from-the-night-before dishes and try to do a general tidy-up. If I'm ambitious I try to tackle one thing like cleaning a bathroom or vacuuming.
A note on cleaning: Some days I am busy or preoccupied with other things and our house quickly becomes cluttered and messy with laundry and dishes and toys and mail and books and who knows what else. This is normal when you're at home with kids right? Everyone is different in their approach and preference to this, but I try to make it a priority to keep on top of things since having constant mess or clutter around me (in our own home) can stress me out after a while! I enjoy having a peaceful and lovely environment as much as possible so I'm slowly learning how to be more organized and minimalistic as well as forming habits of routinely doing chores so procrastination doesn't cause everything to build up!So continuing on with our day - we normally have some time reading on the couch or if Joshua wants to we might do an art activity or look at some flashcards. I don't believe in pushing academics too early on kids and my main goal educationally at this age is to encourage creativity and curiosity and hopefully to foster a love of books!
10:00 Independent play-time/nap-time/my break time! Miriam goes down for a nap and Joshua goes to his room for play time on his own. I started this a few months back since Joshua hadn't been going for a morning nap in quite a while. I felt like we both needed a reset mid-morning and it occurred to me to try to encourage him to play quietly on his own. Good for him, good for me! I put the baby-gate up in his doorway so he knows he has to stay in but I can still hear him. The first few times he resisted a bit and we kept it short, maybe ten to fifteen minutes? Now he actually looks forward to this time and happily plays by himself for an hour, talking away to his stuffed animals as he builds towers with blocks or pulls books into his bed to look at or plays with legos. A word of caution - if toddlers are going to be put in a room alone to entertain themselves you must first survey the room and think like a toddler! In Joshua's room we have a high shelf where I keep all his art supplies. One day I thought he was being so quiet he must have fallen asleep...no, he hadn't. He had climbed up onto a small table and pulled markers down and decorated the entire back of his door as well as a ton of wall space!
During this time I make coffee and try to resist other distractions so I can sit and have some time in the Word and to pray. With a newborn or with older children I know this scheduled quiet hour won't necessarily be feasible so I am grateful for the season we're currently in and am trying to be faithful in seeking the Lord when He provides the time.
11:15 Joshua is allowed out after tidying up what he's played with. We go wake Miriam and I take a minute to make our bed and pick up a few things upstairs. I also shower or get ready for the day while they play in the hallway (it's almost a small room so I keep a few toys there for this purpose).
12:00 Lunch. I often put on a podcast or radio program while I make our lunch and then we sit at the table and eat together. They play some more afterwards and I might go on the computer for a bit to read some blogs or browse pinterest. Once the weather is warmer (this has been the snowiest and coldest winter on record for a while) we will probably try and do a walk or outside time after lunch but for now we just mill about indoors! Sometime before nap we usually find our way to the couch for a library book or two.
1:30 Naptime for both kids. Joshua only seems to fall asleep during this time a few days out of the week but it's still a rest for him at least. I pull the curtains in his room so it's darker and if he doesn't sleep I normally find him in his bed with books or just talking to his stuffed dog. Sometimes I hear a crash as he's brought the lego box from the shelf and emptied it into his bed but as long as he's playing quietly I leave him alone. If he complained I would let him out earlier but he seems to like this second quiet time so I'm happy to leave it in the schedule for the time being!
I used to nap a bit during the first trimester of this pregnancy - I could barely keep my eyes open to do anything else and would often be hit with queasiness as well. Thankfully now that I'm nearly 20 weeks along I'm feeling pretty great and try to use my afternoon free time productively. Well - after a brief unproductive part where I aimlessly browse things online! The internet is good but also offers easy temptation to waste too much time! Normally after this I'll settle in with some reading or listen to a podcast. I might catch up a bit on the kids in their "Letters to ___" that I keep for them in a computer document. Sometimes I'm working on a decor project or I'll go through receipts or bills and update our budget program. There is always something to be done! I also start thinking about what to make for dinner. I've loved having a menu plan in the past but lately that hasn't happened so I'm usually scrambling for ideas!
3-:3:30 Both kids are up. Joshua is sometimes in a mood and I find this is a great time to offer specific activities - playdough at the table or playing with a set I keep in bins out of reach (like a small wooden train track set). Eventually I start dinner and both kids seem to find their way to my feet to play and I try not to trip or step on someone as I move about our small kitchen. (Why do kids do this!)
4:35 Loris is home (unless he's had to work a bit later)! He works only five minutes away which I love since no commute time means our days alone feel like just the right length. He plays with the kids while I finish dinner and we usually sit down to eat pretty early, by 5:00.
And that's our day!
Everyone has a preference when it comes to the topic of scheduling or routines. Personally I can't imagine not having a basic plan in mind for the majority of days that we are at home. If we want to go out or do something different then we do, throwing regular naptimes or planning to the wind. But when we are at home I find that having several set things in our schedule guides us through the day nicely.