Ah, another restart of life here at the Zavalas. With Mark at home over the last month our daily routines have diminished to extinction! We are anything goes these days and it really shows.
I'm hoping with Mark's first week at work that we can slowly fall into a new set of routines. Hayden also begins school next Tuesday which will change things as well. It's amazing how "school", even 2 hours of preschool, can bring order and routine to your life. Having set times to drop off and pick up really limit the craziness you can insert into your day. We really do fall into a predictable routine after a few weeks in school.
Of course, I use the term "routine" loosely. I don't really have the personality that expects perfection in my day. In all honesty, I'm not that organized of a person or a mother to achieve anything close to it! I like to take advantage of opportunities or moods when they come up and for our family it works. If the kids are having a wonderful time in the backyard, I'll extend their play until they get ready to come in. If we get invited out for a play date or activity, if we're up for it it - we'll go! If a friend comes over who really needs to talk, I don't stress about having the kids watch an extra hour of TV that day even if that was technically their "outdoor" time. I control the routine - it doesn't control me.
With Corbin, therapy can rarely be planned. Most days I look for opportunities to interject therapy into his play. Very often, he is his own best therapist! He just needs a little direction. But, if I try to "schedule" therapy into his day, it's often a bust! He's not interested in whatever the activity was because he was already busy playing something else! This usually ends in whining and fighting him to "play" which is a waste of both our times.
One of the most important things I can do is "set up" his environment that day. If I want him to learn about farm animals than I need to have out farm toys. If all of his cars and trucks are out, then chances are he will be playing cars and trucks today.
Mostly, we work in themes each week based on the kids interest. If they express interest in a certain topic, then I try to work with that. This also works really well once Hayden starts school because they use the same concept of themes. Each week they send out a worksheet of what they will be working on so we can reinforce the vocabulary at home. Usually, the theme/vocab is based on a particular book.
This week is dinosaurs (Hayden) and farm animals (Corbin). This weekend we went to the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History and the kids were most interested in their dinosaur exhibit. So at the gift shop we picked up some dino crafts/toys for later in the week. And for Corbin, one of his speech goals is imitating animal sounds, hence the farm theme.
I pick morning PBS shows for them to watch (Dinosaur Train and Word World) based on their themes. And a movie for the week - The Land Before Time - this is on Watch Instantly on Netflix right now. **Warning: You may need to fast forward through a few "tense" scenes if you have a sensitive child, but it is rated G.
Their naptime/nighttime books for the week also include a few from the theme: How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and F is for Farm (Baby Touch and Feel). The front and back page of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight lists the names of about 10 dinosaurs, so Hayden is learning what each dinosaur looks like - and the story is really cute too. F is for Farm is a great sensory book with moving tabs and lots to touch, feel, and flaps to open. Corbin loves this book.
This year I was also hoping to do morning devotionals with Hayden out of My Utmost for His Highest: Jesus Wants All of Me, but unfortunately he is still to young to really understand most of these. Anyone have a good book for 2-3 year olds they recommend? I'm looking for something that teaches virtues and concepts from the bible, not just simplified stories (which is what most of our toddler bibles are - very often the meaning of the story is left out!!).
But this is a family routine, not a daycare! So often, I think we get caught up as mothers in what the kids are doing and forget about what we need to do. One of the most important things I can do is to make sure there is balance in our day. Yes, a lot of our day is focused on them - but there are also large chunks of "free play" where I can take care of our home and other responsibilities as well.
If they are interested, I encourage them to "help" me with dishes, laundry, pick up, etc. and they very often do. And there are also days where they just enjoying playing while I get things done quickly.
For myself, I generally like to write out a few "big goals" for the week and then work on them each day. This week is restore order after Mark being home last month and our trip which includes laundry, unpacking, deeper house cleaning, and getting ready for school. I'm also working on our office - we are planning on getting a new desk and reorganizing the office so I want to have things ready and cleaned when we finally start that. I hope to have posts on that as we create our new "workspace".
The challenge of having a household with kids is that they are always changing. The routines you have today will most certainly be gone in a few months - especially at this young age. Nap times shift or disappear (gasp!), abilities change, and new phases of craziness begin! And constantly, I must adjust to it.
**This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge