However, I realized about a month ago that I would need to plan *something* for our days. We don't do well just lolling around in the house. T can play on her own a bit, but quickly gets bored and wants to play *with* me. While I love being home with the kids, I don't want to be drafted into the role of being their playmate and entertaining them all day long either.
We needed a plan. I've always been intrigued by homeschooling, partly just due to the structure and organization it requires to plan educational, interesting activities.
When T was a baby, I made up a schedule to hang on the fridge that outlined our activities for the week including my work days, our Toddler Group, and various meals and naps. It helped a lot by taking some of the "hmm, what's next" processing out of my brain, and also got us on a more regular eating schedule. (Coordinating 3 meals and 2 baby snacks was driving me bonkers until I picked times and followed them.)
My imaginary Internet friend J (who I've actually met a few times in real life) posted a quick sample summer schedule on Facebook and it was *brilliant*. The key items I hadn't thought about were having a couple of "activity blocks" like "art project" or "outside fun" or "game" where you could change it up each day, but still have an idea of what to fill that time with.
So I ran with it. Since we have T (age 3.5) and M's (age 8 months) schedules to contend with, ours is a bit tricky. It was like a fun logic puzzle to fit in all the pieces.
Once everyone is up and has gotten dressed and eaten breakfast, we do a bit of reading time. I noticed that lately we've gotten out of the habit of reading during the day as T is *so busy* with her own playtime. Consequently M isn't hearing as many books as T did when she was a baby. Sigh, poor neglected second child.
As much as I can, I try to be hardcore about making sure we're home at the appropriate times for naps and not scheduling over them. M still takes a morning nap, so we're typically home until she wakes from that, which is around 10:30am. While she sleeps, T and I do either an art project or work on some of her workbooks. (She loves them- I swear I'm not running an academic sweatshop here.)
|The *actual* schedule|
We then have a morning "Get Out of the House" activity, which on nice days would be a trip to the park to burn off some preschooler beans, or running errands. (Can I say how in love I am with places that have double shopping carts?!)
Next is lunch and both girls napping (or T having Quiet Time) until about 3pm. (Divine, I know.) After that we have a quick snack, then our Afternoon Activity, which is T's swimming lesson twice a week, a park trip if we didn't go in the morning, or maybe some sidewalk chalk or playing in the rice bin on the deck. When it's nicer out, we'll get out the Crab Pool and play in there.
Then we get into the home stretch - T watches some Spanish or educational TV while I cook dinner, then we have Cleanup Time (I have J to thank for this!). By this time TJ is usually home, so we eat then everyone gets ready for bed. On a good day, the girls are in bed, lights out at 7:30pm. We don't always have Good Days, though. Such is life with 2 under 4, I guess.
But just a few days into Summer Break, this schedule is making me a lot less stressed out. I don't have to scramble and plan for each afternoon while the girls are napping - I just need to pick one activity for the days we don't have swimming. If we get off track due to late naps or sleeping in, no worries - we just pick up where we left off and skip stuff as needed (except for naps. We try not to skip naps because that causes 2am BADNESS).
I printed a copy of the schedule to hang on the fridge (with cute fonts, of course). T likes me to read it to her each day, and has already taken to asking "what's next on the Mama School Schedule?". Definitely my kid.
That's it - very simple, but super effective. I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the next couple of months!