I love routines and schedules. Organizing things is my jam. Color coding, labels, the whole 9 yards — even as a kid, I loved it all. But at the same time, I’m also a VERY go with the flow type of person. I normally share quite a bit about crafts/activities/outings or talk about how I juggle my work projects as a work from home mom on my pages. So when I recently had someone ask me what MY routine with Kinsley was like and how I juggle working from home with her, I had to kind of laugh. Because though we definitely have a daily routine, our daily schedule does not neccessarily match up with the schedules you see floating around — and I’m 100% okay with that. So I thought what the heck, why not just share our REAL “daily routine/schedule,” broken down with our relative time frame.
6:30-8:00 — Kinsley wakes up sometime in this time frame. On average, it’s usually 7:30. Wake up time-9:00 — When she wakes, I get up with her. We go to the living room, I give her a bowl of Cheerios/homemade muffin/pop a frozen waffle in/yogurt + fruit (something quick, you get the point) and turn a cartoon on (our regular rotation of Daniel Tiger, Bubble Guppies or of course, Frozen), and then I roll back over on the couch and sleep until 9 — because pregnant. ;) Does she watch cartoons that whole hour? Sometimes. Sometimes she watches half an episode and then goes and plays with her dolls/toys while I lay down/sleep.
9:00-9:30 — I wake up, have breakfast/coffee, sit down to watch an episode of one of my shows or catch up on the news. Kinsley free plays. Normally her free play at this time is play dough or kinetic sand.
9:30-10:30 — We do a few daily chores, I say "we" because she usually helps in some way, (helps unload the clean dishes), I reload. We gather all the dirty laundry (she helps carry + throw in), start folding/sorting the clean laundry and then she goes back to free play, while I try to respond to emails/check to make sure all my clients are taken care of and that there are no emergencies. Free play at this point is almost always turning on music, her picking out a princess dress to wear (most likely Elsa) and dancing/singing for the next half hour. 10:30-11:30 — Kinsley has a snack and depending on weather, we go outside/take a walk/do more free play. Before COVID-19, this is when we’d usually go run errands or just get out of the house (grocery store, thrift store, Atwood’s to play with bunnies, library, etc.) Lately, we just play out back, do garden work or go on “lion hunts” in the backyard, if the weather is nice. If it's rainy and cold, then she usually will do her “school work” at this point or we go play in her bedroom.
11:30 - 1:00 — Wes comes home for lunch at noon and depending on what time Kinsley woke up that morning, she will either eat her lunch at 11:30 before he gets there or have lunch with us around noon-12:30. While I prep lunch, Kinsley either plays at her sensory table, watches a cartoon or is outside.
1:00 - 1:30 — I clean up lunch, she watches a cartoon/plays, goes potty, then we head to the bedroom for naptime.
Nap Time — 1:30 - 3:30.
Some days she sleeps the full 2 hours, other days it's only an hour to an hour and a half.
Regardless, when she wakes up, we have a snack and one cartoon if she wants it, then head outside/free play. During her nap time is when I do the bulk of my work for clients and have my bible study time.
If it's a short nap and I still have work to do, then I continue until 3:30-4:00 and she plays or listens to music/watches cosmic yoga/interactive story (shoutout to Youtube, I am not above the use of technology when it comes to me having to complete a work project).
4:00 - 5:00 — Free play/music/outside, unless she's being needy that day, then we pop on Frozen while I prep dinner.
5:00 - 7:30 — Dad's home! YAY! In this block, I finish prepping dinner/we eat, either go back outside and play/go for a walk after, my husband does dinner cleanup, then he plays with Kinsley so I can have a break for the day.
*Now, my husband and I are much more lax than most when it comes to the bedtime routine. I realize most people have their kids in bed by 7-7:30. We do what works for us and aren't looking for advice - unless we ask, then please help. ;)
Bedtime for Kinsley most nights is between 8:00 - 8:30, depending on how late her nap was that day or if we have things going on outside of the house that evening. By 9:00, I'm usually back to the living room. Wes and I spend the rest of the evening together, binging our shows, playing video games, etc. We're kind of night owls so we're usually up anywhere from 10:30-midnight. Whoops.
So, there's our "schedule/daily routine." Loose, yet expected every day so that both Kinsley and I can get the most out of the day and time spent with each other. It's taken a lot of time and trial + error to find a routine that works for both of us, to maintain a healthy balance of making sure I won't lose my job, and that I won't miss out on memories made with my daughter.
Now, let me back up to a comment I made about Kinsley's "school work."
If you were thinking, “Wow, you do school work with her at 2.5?” L O L let me clarify “school work.” Though we definitely do practice educational activities/skills, we only do hard core school-like "work" about 2 days out of the week for very short periods of time (30 minutes - hour total for those days). When I say “schoolwork” in this sense though, this simply means, she gets dressed (changes from Elsa or Little Mermaid to regular clothes), goes and finds her backpack, then tells me she’s “going to school to do her work,” then heads to her sensory table, where she has a dry erase alphabet letter board and she does “school work,” as she likes to call it — basically just colors and draws over the letters on the board. Or just simply colors/paints at her easel. If she doesn’t do “schoolwork,” then we go hang out in her room to read books, do puzzles or play dollhouse/build with blocks. Now, on the days we do actual school-like learning skills, I do very simple things. I have some dry erase and paper workbooks that I pull a lot of information/worksheets from, and then most everything else I use are free resources I’ve found on Pinterest (you can follow my boards for those here and here).
Typically these lessons include basic things like:
Singing our ABC’s multiple times in different ways/Looking up fun Spotify ABC songs
Pick a letter of the week and focus on doing 1-2 crafts or activities that focus on that letter.
Practice counting (either with specific worksheets/printable games I’ve found, or read specific books that are meant to teach counting).
Practice learning shapes with her shape box — saying what they are, putting them into their holes/Pinterest matching games (You can make your own using paper/cardboard/tape, etc.
Play matching card games (Again, Dollar Tree/Pinterest Free downloads/Or make your own).
Though I definitely encourage basic learning concepts with school like lessons (colors, shapes, counting, ABC’s), I also know that there is plenty of time for learning those types of things when she turns 4 and goes to school. On another note, I’m a big lover of sensory bins and hands on every day skills — helping me cook/bake, picking up or putting up a toy when we’re done with one before moving on to the next, imaginative play, manners, how to handle our emotions, reading together, building towers and seeing how tall we can make it before it falls, creating things with play dough, etc., learning about nature by being in it (how plants grow fro example), so most of our days consist of just doing normal every day things that I did before I had a baby/toddler. The cool thing about just letting kids play and do their own thing is that often times, they learn those same educational school like concepts while also just practicing and enjoying free play.
When we bake, she learns how to pour/mix things on her own AND about the measuring cups - how the different numbers mean different sizes, etc.
When she helps me garden, she asks how the seeds will grow, what worms do, etc.
When she helps me with laundry, we talk about colors and sorting, how soap makes them clean once they're in and how heat dries.
When we build with blocks, we have challenges - use only the blocks that are blue, use only 12 blocks to make ____, etc.
Never underestimate the simplicity of just living life and letting your little one(s) live it with you.
My favorite and must have item for any mom with tiny ones - sensory bins.
Whether you make your own or build/buy a sensory table, sensory bins have been saving my sanity from even the baby days.
For a long time, I just made our own.
Dollar Tree is great for this - all you need:
A couple of plastic bins
A few scooping tools
A sensory base (rice, water, beans, corn, kinetic sand, etc.)
Sensory items (pom poms, plastic animals, tiny dolls, holiday themed items, basically whatever your heart desires).
If you aren't sure where to start, I have a Pinterest board that I pull a lot of my sensory bin ideas from.
Also, if you don't follow @busytoddler on IG - Go. Now.
You can also follow her on Pinterest, too.
She has the BEST, easy to do ideas for everything! Sensory bins, educational games, activities - she's got it all for a range of ages, the best part is, most of it involves things you already have at home.
In the end, schedule and routine is all about what works best for YOU and your family.
Browse around online, check out those pre-made schedules, talk to your friends who worked from home on a regular basis prior to the craziness, ask them what tips + tricks they have, what advice, do's + don'ts that they've learned, but ultimately, just remember, as long as you're doing the best you can, you're doing just fine.
Maybe your schedule doesn't look like all the ones floating around. Maybe you don't have the time to do multiple educational activities for 4+ hours/5 days a week. Maybe your kids watch more cartoons than what that schedule recommended. Maybe they don't eat organic, star cut shaped fruits and veggies.
Remember, this is a season. A season that will pass.
You know your kids better than the recommended schedules, find what works for you and go with it. If some days are filled with chicken nuggets, lots of cartoons, maybe some tantrums and tears, (and I'm not talking about the kids), no worries. There's always tomorrow.
Show yourself the same grace that you do to those around you.
This season is just as hard for you, as it is for them.
Now, go get your work done, make some memories with your kid(s) and don't worry about what social media is showing you.
We're all just trying to survive and figure out this new normal.
So enjoy the good days, and admit when it's hard on the tough days.
You've got this.