Tag Archives: chaos

Life’s Routine or My Routine?

Ah, routine. It happens. Sometimes it’s a routine that we fall into and it works, so we run with it. Sometimes it’s a routine that we try to set up and it doesn’t work, so we scrap it.

Either way, routine happens.

Take, for example, our current morning routine. I get up before the kids, do what I need to do, then I wake them up. I always allow time for snuggles before they get out of bed (and if I’m lucky and one of them has snuck into bed with the other at some point through the night, I can snuggle both of them at the same time and make sure that no one is left out or that one doesn’t get more time than the other). They are close enough in age that their sleep requirements are about the same and they go to bed within a half hour of each other and wake up around the same time together. This simplifies things. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it has worked out nicely and I’ll take it with a giant dollop of gratitude.

Then we all head to the kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast, we tidy up the kitchen and head back upstairs to get dressed and ready for school. This can sometimes take half an hour. There will inevitably be fights over who gets to use the bathroom first, how much time there is for play before getting dressed, whether or not we’re walking or driving to the bus stop, etc. But generally, if I plan right and allow enough time for them to move themselves through their morning routine, they manage themselves fairly well. (And isn’t it all about teaching them those executive function skills so that they can manage themselves and won’t always expect me to do it for them?)

Our morning routine is something that just kind of happened. Obviously, I had to originally do some planning to get them up and out the door for school (and in my current, somewhat disabled state, the help of my parents is mostly what gets us through our morning routine), but this is the routine that we have fallen into and the one that works (right now):

  1. Mom gets up first and completes basic morning prep (mostly sitting for five minutes in a mindful state, splashing cold water on face to wake up, brushing hair, getting dressed)
  2. Wake kids up and have a morning snuggle (this reconnects us after a night apart in our own beds)
  3. Head down for breakfast, eat and tidy up together
  4. Head back upstairs to dress and get ready for school
  5. Head back downstairs to pack lunches and school bags
  6. Head out the door

The thing about routine, though, is that sometimes it needs to change. I had to let go of our old way of doing things when I realized (after way too long) that it wasn’t working for us.

I used to get up at the same time as the kids and insist that they get dressed before they ate breakfast. After breakfast, I would send them upstairs to brush their teeth and wash up while I packed lunches and school bags. That turned out to be a stressful routine for us. I was constantly yelling up the stairs for them to hurry up. They weren’t taking responsibility for their school bags (and really, they are the best ones for that because how do I know what books are supposed to go back to school and which ones can stay home on any given day?) So I let go.

And we floated for a bit, without a routine. It was a bit chaotic, and my condition and the extra adult or two in the house were also contributing factors to the floating, but the extra help made it easy to float and to slowly, intentionally drift toward another routine that could work.

We ended up landing in a nice, comfortable routine that is working…for now. It’s comfortable, safe and works well for everyone.

I remember when Little Brother was about five months old. I caught him napping in his baby rocking chair a few mornings in a row at around the same time each day. I remember being surprised that he seemed to dose off at precisely 10am morning after morning and wondered how I could have missed this napping routine that he had created for himself. So I started taking him out of his chair just before 10am and putting him in his crib in his bedroom. And sure enough, he’d fall asleep in his crib at precisely 10am and he would sleep until about 11:30am every morning.

Of course, that napping routine didn’t last forever (and I was very sad when he gave up his morning nap), but it was a routine that we enjoyed for many months and was one that I didn’t force or try to create to suit me. It just worked.

And that’s the point, I think, with routines. Routines are necessary, especially for children. They create a sense of knowing what’s coming next. But in order for them to be effective, they have to be kind of natural. Forcing a routine has never worked in our house. All it has done is forced me to re-evaluate the reason and need for that particular routine.

So now, we let routines show themselves and then we intentionally and lovingly slip into them until they no longer fit. We’re trying hard not to hang onto old routines once they are worn out and no longer useful and we are all happier because of it.

2 kids being helpful

Because Helping Should Come Naturally

Before I had surgery that took me off my feet, I wondered sometimes how my kids would survive in the world. It was evident that they were capable of doing many things, but do those things they did not.

I’ll jump in and take almost full responsibility here.

To move things along in the morning (and in the evening, and throughout the day), I made their breakfast, packed their lunches, packed their school bags, practically dressed them, guided them through with repeated instruction the process of brushing their teeth, washing their faces, and going to the bathroom.

I would talk to my husband constantly about how capable the kids were but how they just wouldn’t do it themselves.

And then there were those golden times when I had some miraculously unending stream of patience and a bright and cheery disposition to go along with it. I would step back and watch my kids blossom into their permitted independence.

Then life would take over and we’d be back to me following them around and hounding reminding them about getting ready for school, their chores, picking up after themselves, helping out around the house, etc.

But all that had to change. And we were facing a deadline for that change: My late summer surgery date.

Having that deadline changed things for me. I wasn’t going to be able to do half of what I usually could for myself, let alone for my kids. So, I needed to figure it out. And the impending surgery gave my kids something to shoot for.

So we began summer training. I did my best to keep my comments to myself when I saw one of my kids doing something their way instead of mine. And I made sure to build in lots of time for everything I was asking them to do. That way, there was less chance that I would get frustrated with their slower pace because time was not bearing down on us.

I created space for my kids to grow their independence; like planting a seed, watering it and watching it develop into a beautiful flower.

And they grew. They did chores, they got themselves ready, they prepared basic meals. (Cereal and sandwiches, mostly.) By the end of the summer, we had reached what I had hoped for most but had not dared to set as an achievable goal: my kids recognized when help was needed and they stepped in to provide that help.

Of course you want your kids to help and to be able to take care of themselves doing age-appropriate chores and tasks, but I think, ultimately, you want them to learn more from doing chores than just how to do the chores. You want them to recognize and anticipate needs and to do their best to help fulfill those needs.

I’ve been off my feet now for six weeks. Though sometimes my kids still fight me on getting dressed in the morning or getting ready for bed at night (hey, let’s not hold our kids to impossible standards; even adults don’t always want to do chores), in that summer of training with a patient mother (even when she didn’t want to be), they learned how to help with anything. And they learned that they mattered because their abilities were valued.

Sometimes we still slip, though, so tell me, how do you get your kids to take responsibility and help around the house?

A fresh mind

I’ve covered this topic before. D.E.L.E.T.I.N.G.

It feels good to clean out. I admit, I don’t do it often enough. For some reason lately, I have been on a rampage to clear the clutter.

I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the epiphany I had in the shower? (Ever notice how most epiphanies occur near water? E.g., in the shower, while washing dishes, in the bath, while scrubbing the floor, Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the season of Epiphany. Just saying.)

So, I went hog-wild and cleaned out my Inbox again. I got rid of emails that I have been saving since 2009 (and the odd straggler from 2007).

I didn’t just hit DELETE as I have done in the past (and then panicked later when I discovered that I had tossed an email that I actually still needed). Continue reading

Snakes Alive!

A friend of mine threw a fantastic birthday party for her son this past Canada Day weekend. As a mother, I know what it takes to pull a kid’s birthday party together. You want it to be a success on every level, for adults and kids alike. But it’s often hard to pull that off when dealing with the younger set because you have to navigate nap times and melt downs and various other toddler/preschooler hurdles. And I’ve never seen anyone do it better than my friend. She is a super mom among super moms. Continue reading

Five Minute Friday – Dance

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

The word is dance. The deal is to write for five minutes, without using the Backspace key, without worrying about spelling or grammar; no do-overs, editing or over thinking. Then link back to Lisa-Jo and invite others to join in. Oh, and you must visit the person who linked up before you and comment on their post! This is about community and connecting people! Let’s jump in!

GO Continue reading

Practice what you preach

I’m not one to follow celebrity stories (although I admit that there are times when I’m looking to “relax” my brain from the daily rush, and reading a bit of fluff helps me unwind. (Kind of like in the old days when I would pick up a Harlequin Romance novel in between reading more intensive literature.)

Today, over on People–Celebrity Babies, I read Kimberly Van Der Beek’s Spiritual Family Tips. (She’s married to James Van Der Beek of Dawson’s Creek fame.) Continue reading

Boo boo Boo hoo

Waaaaaaa! Waaaaaaaaaa!

That’s me crying behind a locked bathroom door. It was the kids who had boo boos. But I was the one crying. How does that work? Continue reading