I think (read: I hope) that it is common knowledge these days that staying at home with your kids is a lot more than just relaxing in your pajamas and catching up on your favorite tv shows. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen every once in awhile, but in all honesty being a stay-at-home mom is a lot harder than it looks.
I recently read one of Sara Dear’s blog posts where she wrote out her daily routine by the hour so she could be intentional with her time and her kids’ time on a daily basis (you can read it HERE). What a great idea! I mean, I feel like this could be implemented whether or not you have kids. How many of us say “I don’t have the time,” or “I’m too busy!” Unless you are incredibly gifted with your time management already (if you are, please give me a call), chances are you have struggled at some point with balancing all of the different commitments on your plate.
Research has shown that giving your children structure during the day is beneficial. Children tend to thrive on consistency and predictability. I do believe that introducing spontaneity is also important to help them develop the skills to adapt to changing circumstances; however, I have found with my own girls that when we stick to our schedule there are less tantrums and frustrating stand offs. Everything in moderation! (Read more about the importance of routines and young children HERE)
The sneaky thing is that babies and young children are growing and changing ALL THE TIME. One week you might think that you’ve finally moved into a groove, and then the next week their naptimes will shift by an hour. Or in my case, they’ll stop napping all together. Wah-wah.
A year or two ago I heard the term “seasons” when referring to different stages in life. What a lovely way to describe the ever-changing whirlwind that is being a parent, am I right? In that spirit, I’ll be totally honest here and say that about a month ago we entered an entirely new season in our house and I pretty much had to drop everything else just to get a grip on it. Business, friendships, personal care (to an extent). It all fell to the wayside because I had the blaring realization that my kids were growing way too fast and they were leaving me in the dust.
My B has transitioned into being a full-on toddler who one day just up and decided to sleep in a big girl’s bed, refuses to nap, has lengthy conversations with her stuffed animals and solves puzzles in lightening speed. I am constantly worried that I’m not challenging her brain enough. On the other hand, our sweet little M went from slowly army crawling across the floor to full on sprint crawling whenever she sees her sister, sitting up completely on her own, using her own language to communicate, working on doubling the number of teeth in her mouth within a matter of weeks and devouring helpings of pureed sweet potatoes and cinnamon oatmeal like it’s going out of style. I can’t even have my favorite peanut butter and date smoothie without her looking wildly at me with those wide blue eyes, asking for a bite. P.S. This smoothie is AWESOME and I will definitely share the recipe with you soon.
Anyway, it literally took me two weeks just to feel like I had my head above water again. Have you ever had that feeling? Where you feel like God just threw you overboard and you’re like WHAT IS GOING ON!??! Yup, that happened. Good news is, that wasn’t the first time I had felt that way so there wasn’t a lot of panic. However, I had to have a bit of a “come to Jesus” moment with myself to realize that we were experiencing some growing pains (literally and figuratively) and a few things needed to change around here.
Now that we’ve had hit somewhat of a groove, I spent some time yesterday morning writing out our own daily schedule and WOW. What an eye opener. None of it was new or groundbreaking information…yes, having two kids on different schedules is nuts and no, M is not sleeping through the night yet so I am definitely not getting enough sleep. However, it was so interesting to see it all written out on paper. I was able to see trends and little pockets of time where I can start to add in more educational play for both girls.
Here’s what my schedule looks like on a daily basis:
5:00-5:30am: Wake up + breakfast (which is Shakeology these days and I LOVE IT)
5:30-6:30: Personal time (read, journal, answer emails, to-do lists, etc)
6:30-7:15: M wakes up, get her ready for the day, prep food for the day + tidy up downstairs
7:15-8:30: B wakes up, eats breakfast, light play
8:30-8:45: Get B ready for the day, nurse M and put her down for first nap
8:45-9:15: Take shower, dress, business emails/social media
9:15-10:00: Play with B (or work if under a time crunch)
10:00-11:30: M wakes up, snack for everyone (10am), play time
11:30-12:30pm: Prep lunch and eat
12:30-12:45: Nurse M, down for second nap
12:45-2:30: Quiet time with B (reading stories, quiet play) this is new
2:30-4:30: M wakes up from nap, free play and snack (3pm)
4:30-5:00: Dinner prep
6:15-6:45: M bath
6:45-7:00: Nurse M, put her down for the night
7:00-7:45: Work while B plays with Reece
7:45-8:15: B’s bath (usually just Reece will be there, gives me a little extra time to work)
8:15-9:00: Bedtime routine for B, asleep by 9
9:00-9:30: Workout with Reece (this is new but so worth it)
9:30-10:00: Cool down/chat with Reece/ready for bed
10:00-11:00: Work (unless I’m exhausted, then I sleep)
11:00-11:15: Nurse M for first feeding
3:15-3:30: Nurse M for second feeding
It’s funny, I actually feel more vulnerable sharing my schedule than I do some other things on the blog. It’s like throwing the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz and realizing that he’s not nearly as cool as you thought he’d be.
I wanted to be transparent with you not because I want you to model your schedule after mine. Actually, I would prefer you didn’t. ;) Everyone has a different routine, whether you work full time or stay at home, whether you have kids or dogs or none of the above. Regardless of your current circumstances, I highly encourage you to go through this same activity, because the lessons you can learn from it are quite valuable.
For example, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am not a morning person. No matter how hard I try, I cannot bring myself to expect to do anything productive before 7am. This includes working out, unfortunately. I used to fight this for so long, forcing myself to wake up early and then feeling crazy guilty and frustrated when I either slept in or wasn’t able to get as much done as I needed to before the girls woke up. The one caveat to my not being a morning person observation is I do find I am in a lot better of a place emotionally if I have a little time to myself in the morning. Since M wakes up so early, I made a commitment to Reece and myself that I would wake up at 5 everyday (most days it’s 5:30). Now, instead of trying to be something I know I am not, I allow myself the grace of some “free time” between breakfast and M waking up. Lately, I’ve been taking the time to read Wild and Free, which has been so good for my heart.
The second thing I learned from writing out my schedule is that if you make it a priority, you CAN find time to work out. Taking care of myself physically was never a top priority for me because I always used the “my kids are my cardio” line and considered myself a healthy “enough” eater to get by. During those intense two weeks of figuring out the changes my kids were going through, I realized that those excuses weren’t cutting it for me anymore. I was easily agitated with the girls and with myself most days, downing multiple cups of coffee and shoving into my mouth whatever extra toddler snacks were laying around when I was hungry. Definitely not sustainable. And so, with a huge leap of faith and a healthy dose of nerves, I reached out to a friend from high school who runs exercise and clean eating accountability groups and decided to make a change. Now Reece and I work out for 30-40 minutes every night, which is a great way for us to spend time together while also investing time in our individual selves. I’m also having Shakeology for breakfast, which is so nice because (a) I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat every morning, (b) I know that the breakfast is nutritional and will be enough to get me through the morning and (c) I’m not drinking as much coffee which was a biggie for me. Additionally, having an accountability group has been such a positive blessing for me personally. I needed that extra boost of optimism and encouragement every day! I am super excited to have the opportunity to start one of my own soon and will share more on that later. Moral of this story is that if Reece and I can find time in our crazy lives to exercise, I guarantee you can find time as well. It’s definitely not time wasted.
The third revelation from this schedule-setting activity is very recent, actually (like, as of yesterday). Now that B is in her big girl’s bed, we are having the hardest time getting her to take a nap during the day. She was already starting to nap strike when she was in her crib, but now there isn’t a way for me to contain her. As much as I need the quiet time during the day, her lack of napping in the afternoon has made her bedtime routine infinitely easier and more consistent. And so, as of yesterday, I’m calling it. No more planned naptime, just quiet time for her and I. We’re in totally new territory here, folks. I’ve heard all sorts of suggestions for quiet time, including audio books which I think would be a great idea. I also like the idea of having dedicated learning play since we have a good two hour chunk in the afternoon where B is now awake and M is sleeping. It will be interesting to see how this adjustment in our schedule changes the overall outlook of the day. I’ll keep you guys posted. :)
While I’ve learned many things from being a stay-at-home mom, I think one of the more significant lessons for me has been that we are in charge of our own destiny. If something isn’t working in the routine, with our attitudes, our eating habits, whatever, only we have the power to change it. Similarly, friend, you have the power to change your circumstances. If you know there is something that isn’t working in your life, I encourage you to take the time to sit down and map out what your day looks like. Chances are, it will help you identify those extra patches of time where you could adjust your schedule to start moving towards the direction you want to go.
If you do go through this schedule activity, I would love to hear how it goes! Please drop us a note or leave us a comment and let us know what you learned.
Wishing you the very best this week,