Daily Routines: Rut in the Road or Road Map to a Balanced Life?

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According to Catherine Pulsifer, “We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have.”

Have you found a way to do that? 

For me, it’s simple.  I set up a schedule and try to follow it.  Of course there are times when the schedule goes out the window.  Someone is sick or you have company visiting for a few days or you win free tickets to vacation in paradise.  Barring those unforeseen events though, life becomes so much less stressful and so much more harmonious when we have routines that we follow on a daily basis.

 At least, that’s how it is for me.

When my children were small, it seemed even more important to have a plan for each day.  Life can get really chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place. 

IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU ARE PLANNING TO FAIL

Within the framework of the routine, you can be flexible.  Take a look at the schedule I created when my children were growing up and I operated a home daycare for the infants and preschoolers of local teachers.  These routines can be applied to a family with one or more toddlers, as well as a home daycare.  Perhaps with some modifications for your unique situation, it can provide the framework for a balanced and fun-filled day for you and your children.  This supposes, of course, that you are home with your children.  And that you have children. 🙂

6:30am to 7:30am: Greet the Day: Wash, brush teeth, get dressed

7:30am to 8:30am: Breakfast

8:30am to 9:15am: Story-time

9:15am to 9:30am: Music and Rhythms

9:30am to 10:15am: Arts and Crafts

10:15am to 10:30am: Morning Snack

10:30am to 11:30am: Free Play (not free-for-all)

11:30am to 12:00pm: Cooking Experience

12:00pm to 12:45pm: Lunch

12:45pm to 2:00pm: Naptime

2:00pm to 3:00pm: Free Play

3:00pm to 3:15pm: Afternoon Snack

3:15pm to 5:00pm: Another round of story-time, music and rhythms and arts and crafts

5:00pm: Dinner preparation: young children love to help…they can pour and mix or color placemats or help set the table with napkins and silverware (no knives, please).

6:00pm to 7:00pm: Family dinner

7:00pm: Bedtime preparations…each family will have their own traditions (washing up, brushing teeth, story-time, song, prayer, etc.).

REMEMBER, THIS IS JUST THE FRAMEWORK FOR A DAILY PLAN.  IT’S THE ONE THAT WORKED FOR ME.  YOUR SITUATION IS UNIQUE TO YOU AND YOUR PLAN MAY LOOK QUITE DIFFERENT.

Perhaps your child still takes two good naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Perhaps your child is in pre-school or daycare for part of the day.

Perhaps dinner can be earlier because the family is home and ready to eat, or perhaps it needs to be later because parents work later.  As I said, each of you can take the schedule and play with it until it suits your family’s situation and unique needs.  The important thing is to have some kind of schedule and be consistent with it, as much as possible.  This consistency helps children relax because they know what to expect and when to expect it.

If you are interested in learning more about the activities that are a large part of the routine, please check out my book for parents of preschoolers, SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  In it, you’ll find story summaries for 100 picture books every young child should hear and an easy eco-friendly craft project and a healthful child-friendly cooking activity for each of those recommended stories.  The simple format and fun-filled self-esteem building activities are a perfect shortcut for today’s busy parents. 

Library Journal says, “The layout and tri-fold format of reading, crafting and cooking are commendable.”

Katherine Holabird, author of the Angelina Ballerina series says, “What a lovely book!  Parents and caretakers will find inspiration in this delightful guide to reading and planning activities with young children.”

Norman Bridwell, author of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series says, “SHOW ME HOW! is a wonderful resource for people who care for their children and hope to better their reading and learning experience.”

The book is in several libraries already…if it’s not in yours, perhaps you can request that your local library purchase it for their shelves.  If you can’t wait and want to get started building your child’s self-esteem, developing pre-literacy skills and creating a life-long parent-child bond right away, you can go to my website or to Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please tune in tomorrow for a look at the nemesis of many parents: Bedtime…Routines, Rituals and Can I Have One More Drink of Water, Please!  There will be a story suggestion and craft activity as well.

WE ALL NEED A CHEEERING COMMITTEE AND PARENTS ARE A CHILD’S MOST IMPORTANT FANS!

BALANCE: How Do I Find It?

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“Be aware of wonder.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum

We all need balance in our lives.   All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – this old saying definitely holds true today. 

But what is balance?

The dictionary defines balance as harmony, a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.

There is no standard “one size fits all” spreadsheet for balance because we are all unique individuals with different needs and different situations.  However, to optimize the quality of our lives, we can take a look at how we spend our days (and nights).  Are you working too many hours?  Do you tend to let certain activities slide due to lack of time?  How much TV is watched in your home?  Please don’t get me wrong…I enjoy watching TV…but I also realize that if we don’t put the TV on in the evening, I get so much done.  And when I look at my watch, it is only 9PM.  But I do have to admit that my time spent on the computer these days often occupies an unbalanced proportion of my day…so much so that it becomes the wee hours of the morning when I finally feel I am done.   SO NOT GOOD!  This weekend I plan to sit down to evaluate how I am utilizing that time and hopefully I can produce a more BALANCED schedule that will be better for me AND my family.

I guess we can go back to the dictionary definition of balance: a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.  So, if your family enjoys watching a show on TV, that is great…but perhaps when the show is over, you can participate in other activities…maybe a read-aloud story-time.  If there are older children, perhaps they can take turns with the adults reading to the younger children, although studies show that older children really enjoy being read to.  Or maybe have a family board game night?

According to Catherine Pulsifer in “We Never Seem to Have Enough Time”,

“We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have.”

So here are a few simple ways to keep track of how you are allocating your time.

1.     Use a notebook to list your long-term and short-term goals.

2.     Make a to-do list each night for the next day…you will sleep better each night and you won’t realize late in the next day that you’ve forgotten to do something important.  For me, writing down what I need to do gives me peace of mind.

3.     Set up a daily routine or schedule, especially if you have children.  Life can get really chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place.

Do you have a daily routine or schedule in place?  Stop by tomorrow for a look at the successful routine I used with my daycare group and my own family when my children were small.

Never Too Busy For Your Child

Sometimes it’s really hard to juggle all we have to do as parents…home, family, work, social and/or athletic pursuits.  Yesterday I offered a few simple suggestions that will save time.

So what should you do with that extra time?  If you have a young child, why not read a story with him or her and do a little eco-friendly craft project and a child-friendly healthful cooking activity?  The time we spend participating positively with a child leave a lasting impression on him and help build self-esteem and a life-long parent-child bond.

THE BOOK: The Very Busy Day written by Diana Hendry and illustrated by Jane Chapman

            Big Mouse is busy working hard in the garden and constantly grumbles that Little Mouse should help him instead of continuing his seemingly useless daydreaming.  Little Mouse, however, has not been wasting his time, and has actually prepared a picnic for Big Mouse. 

            The story stresses the importance of spending time with your loved ones.  Perhaps you and your child can tackle the task of simplifying and organizing together. 

THE CRAFT: HOMEMADE STORAGE BOXES

You will need: Shoeboxes and/or boot boxes (with lids) or other size cardboard boxes, self-adhesive shelf paper (or gift wrap…you will have to glue this on), labels made from a blank piece of paper.

1.    Decide what toys or supplies will go in each box.

2.    Cut the shelf paper to wrap around the outside of the box and lid and press in place.

3.    Write the name on the label (and draw a picture) of the toys or supplies that will be stored in the box and attach to the box.

THE RECIPE: NO-BAKE PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

You will need: 1 cup peanut butter (health food stores often grind various nuts fresh daily and the cost is comparable to the leading brand peanut butters…for a little more money you could request cashew or almond butter for a different taste sensation), 1 cup honey, 2 cups non-fat dry milk powder, 1 ½ cups crushed cornflakes or shredded coconut for rolling the balls in, 1 large bowl, 1 cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

1.    Mix the nut butter, honey and 2 cups of non-fat dry milk powder in a large bowl till well blended.

2.    Roll mixture into small balls…about the size of a walnut.

3.    Roll the balls in the crushed cornflakes or shredded coconut.

4.    Place on waxed-papered cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

5.    ENJOY!!!!!

6.    Place uneaten balls in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.

7.    This recipe makes about 18-24 pieces, 150-175 calories each…the more you make per batch, the smaller they will be and fewer calories each, of course.

How to Avoid the “Last Minute” Blues

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Mary glanced at the clock and felt her heart start racing…the doctor’s appointment was in 15 minutes and the doctor’s office was 10 minutes away.  The breakfast she had set out on the table was still uneaten and her 4-year old son was running around upstairs, searching for a missing shoe.  Hurrying up the stairs, she shouted, “We are going to be late because of you!”

Are you shaking your head up and down because you recognize this scenario?  I can replay in my mind several similar episodes that occurred when my children were young.  Anyone who says that keeping a family running smoothly (and on time) has obviously not been a parent. 

But, there are solutions to this problem!  Lack of planning and organization are the root causes…there is a saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.  If you sometimes (or often) find yourself searching for that missing shoe or you would like to put in place a few simple routines for the New Year that will help de-stress your life, perhaps the following simple suggestions will help.

  1. Put a calendar near the phone for logging in appointments and other important dates and times.  You can even set up a calendar for your child to keep in his room (free ones are usually available at pharmacies and other stores at this time of year).  He will enjoy marking his own calendar with his own very important dates (his birthday, his friends’ birthdays, special outings, etc.).
  2. Before going to bed (maybe as part of his special bed-time ritual), help your child choose his clothes for the next day (or let him choose his own…just make sure that if it is winter, you have put the bathing suits away).  In addition, check the calendar to see what is scheduled for the next day and get ready any other items needed (i.e. library books that are due at the library).
  3. Attach a short clothesline (about 12 inches long and equipped with clothespins) or a store-bought or homemade rack with hooks or pegs on a wall near your exit door (front, back or side, wherever the family goes in and out) and have your child hang up his gloves, hat, scarf, etc. when he comes in.  If the items are damp, they will dry out much better this way than if left in coat pockets or stuffed in a book bag.  In addition, they will be ready at a moment’s notice when your child needs them and you will immediately be aware if one of the mittens or gloves is missing.
  4. Hang a key rack in a convenient place so that all family members who have keys (house, car, etc.) will automatically hang them up when they come in.  This will save many precious minutes (or hours) of time because no one will have to look for the keys when it is time to go out.  I can’t tell you how many times we searched our home looking for a set of keys that turned up to be “hiding” under a pile of papers on the dining room table.  How stressful….and what a waste of precious time!
  5. Try to avoid the pitfall of too much activity…although it is important for our children to be offered many different types of activities (karate class, dance class, nursery school, etc.), one-on-one quality time with YOU is the most important, whether it is reading a story or participating in a craft project or cooking activity or just sitting together watching cloud formations roll by.

For more great tips and tactics to help you simplify your family life, check out the blog carnival starting on January 8th at http://babyproducts.about.com/b/2010/12/28/join-the-january-blog-carnival-simplify-your-life.htm?nl=1