Friday, January 4, 2008

Looks Okay On Paper

So, I've sat down and pencilled out what a day in my house might look like if I were following a specific routine. I don't want to be tied to the clock, but I had to have some idea of how much time each thing might take. It is amazing how lovely things look on paper. Wry grin. Why is it so much different in reality?

This post is insanely long, but I am the type of person who has to get her thoughts together in writing. I also work best with accountability. I'm pretending that you all will care if I get my act together. So, this is more for myself than my readers. Sorry about that. Feel free to ignore!!

Heidi's Attempt at a Weekday Routine:

7:00 Wake up, Shower, Read Bible
7:30 Boys watch video if they’re awake
Me: finish getting ready/put in a load of laundry/check email
8:00 Chores (Levi and Luke empty dishwasher), Breakfast prep
8:30 Breakfast
Circle Time notebook review, Devotions, or CD
9:00 Breakfast clean-up
Brush teeth, get dressed, straighten beds…
9:30 Read-aloud and/or ‘group lessons’ (Spanish, history, art, geography, Bible, etc.)
10:30 Playtime for boys (upstairs, porch, or outside) (listen to CDs if inside)
Me: Chores (or go for walk outside)
[OR appointments on Thursdays]
11:30 Lunch prep. Boys clean up toys and wash hands.
12:00 Lunch. Listen to CD.
12:30 Lunch clean-up
12:45 Read to Leif. Put him down for nap.
1:00 Levi—quiet time. (Read independently or listen to CD.)
Luke—lessons (phonics and writing) and picture books. Set him up for quiet time.
1:45 Levi—phonics, math, writing, grammar, other lessons or read-aloud.
(W, F)
3:30 Snack then Playtime
Me: Chores
5:00 Dinner prep, straighten up house, wash hands, set table…
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Clean-up
7:00 W—Swimming (Or other evening 'stuff')
F—Family time
8:00 Make sure house is straightened up, pajamas, brush teeth
8:30 Read aloud time
9:00 Luke and Leif to bed, Levi quiet reading time
Me: Chores
10:00 Me: Bed, reading
11:00 (Lights out. Up with whichever boy decides to not sleep this particular night…)
(M, TU, TH)
3:30 Playtime
Me: Dinner prep, chores
4:00 Big snack, straighten up house, get ready for Tae Kwon Do
4:45 Leave house
5:30 Home, dinner prep OR errands in town (groceries, bank, etc.)
(6:15 Pick up Levi, home at 7)
7:00 (or later) Dinner
7:30 Clean-up
7:45 Science with Dad or Family game if we have time
8:00ish Bed Routine

It seems as if I should have more than enough time for some things (lunch, for example), but I have found that completing lunch from start to finish takes forever with three little boys! I really want to say that lunch should take only a half hour at most, but that would be completely unrealistic.

The other thing is that I've scheduled 2-3 1/2 hours for my 'chores.' Unfortunately, the bulk of that is during playtime for my 3 little boys. I am sure many of you have an idea how fun it is to attempt 'real work' while a 1 year old, 3 1/2 year old, and 6 year old are playing together. Quite honestly, I really struggle with focusing on my own tasks when I am constantly interrupted, disrupted, and erupted (smile) with smelly diapers, bonked heads, complaints, and whatever else is needed by three little boys. I also want to have them play outside as much as possible, but that requires supervision from me--and no chores accomplished.

On my chores list are: all household cleaning/organizing, bookkeeping/household management, homeschool planning/record keeping/etc., laundry, meal planning... I do all the shopping, errands, kids' doctor and dentist appointments.

I know that the boys need to be responsible for as much as possible. I am at the stage, however, that having the boys do something (emptying the dishwasher, for example) takes more time and effort than doing it myself. My eldest child is imaginative, intelligent, and talkative--but focused, on task, methodical, systematic, and responsible he is not. It requires me being completely focused and consistent to teach him and expect these things of him. It certainly doesn't lighten my load any at this point.

I am also trying to figure out where to find time for my own creative or relaxing projects. Burn out is a real possibility if I don't leave time for myself. There is also nothing on my schedule for sustained exercise. I may have to try fitting something in with the kids such as a walk (not necessarily very aerobic with littles along) or a video (in our living room with the boys in the small space with me) rather than trying to do my chores during playtime.

Every time I read about or hear about someone who skates through life on 5 hours of sleep, I start feeling insanely jealous. Why, oh why, can't I survive on 5 hours of sleep? 3 more hours of time to myself! I get sick, cranky, lethargic, and unproductive when I don't get good sleep. And let me tell you, I've spent much of the last 6 years getting poor sleep. And it's not because I'm getting stuff accomplished. Nooooo. It is because the universe played a dirty trick on me and gave me 3 little boys who don't sleep much or well. Or maybe God has been trying to teach me something. I should hurry up and learn the lesson so I can get some sleep.

So, I've scheduled in 8 hours of sleep, but it will be a rare night that all 3 boys sleep straight through. And the hardest part of this schedule will be getting myself out of bed in the morning. Because I cherish my sleep. And I hate getting out of a warm bed.

Ack! I've just realized that I didn't plan time for baths. Right now, we don't have a specific schedule other than throwing one of the kids in the tub when they need some time alone or when they are really smelly or on Saturdays. I'll have to think about that one.

I'll try to follow this routine as much as possible this next week and let you know how it goes. It might need a great deal of tweaking.


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading a book by Jordan Rubin and he says that you doing correctly by sleeping 8 hours! It will keep you healthy and strong. I am on the other side of the coin. I longingly look at others that can sleep 8 hours and wish that I could as well. I average about 6 hours at night.

carole said...

I've jotted similar plans for our routine more times than I can count! I had to laugh at your exercise dilemma. Exercising with a DVD in a small room with three young boys is a recipe for disaster - at least it is at my house!
We are exactly the same with baths as well. It's nice to find a "kindred spirit" in that area with so many moms nowadays who bathe their kids every night! (sometimes we do do that - because we have to, not because it's Mom's routine)

carole said...

Oh - and on the sleep problem I have to say I am RIGHT WITH YOU!

Anonymous said...

I also require 8 hours of sleep...uninterupted if possible! Good luck with the schedule!It does look great on paper. I'm anxious to hear how it goes!

Heidi said...

Thanks, Jessie. Now if only I can get the boys to sleep, I'll be set! :)

Carole~ I knew you'd understand. :) Why is it that I've never gotten into the evening bath routine? When my boys were babies, they hated getting out of the tub. It was just a hassle at night. Now, evenings are so busy, and the boys want to spend time with Dad. Plus it takes toooooo long to bathe all three boys. It's way too crazy to do them all at once. :)

Today, we did baths during quiet times for Luke and Levi and that worked well. Levi especially enjoys listening to CDs in the bathroom. I think we'll just do that every other day or so. Not sure when to do Leif's bath yet.

Amy~ I need all the luck I can get. :) Will keep you posted!

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi,
I have 5 boys... My first 4 came in less than 5 years so I know how busy life can be. My 2nd and 3rd are twins. Anyway, I just recently found your blog (TWTM)and thought I'd share my experience with you... My boys are now 13, 11, 11, 9, and 18 mo. Anyway, about planning, try to have general plans. Don't stress yourself out with too much planning when they are so little. I started homeschooling when my oldest was 7, my twins were 5 and my 4th was 3. I tried to have it all organized and everyday something blew up and destroyed my plans. Talk about frustrating. Your boys will learn. Your house will get clean eventually. Enjoy your boys! Don't let any plan make your life more stressful. And about the sleep and time for yourself... that too will come. As you can imagine, I didn't get a good night sleep for YEARS! It was hard but I survived and I'm doing it again! The time for myself I find by getting up early. I really don't like getting up at 6 am but it is the ONLY time I have the house to myself. I read my bible lesson, do a walking video, and journal if I have time. But my time often gets put aside if I have to take care of the baby. But I know that it will only be a few years and I'll have more time to myself. But I won't have more time with my baby... they grow up too fast! Anyway, hope my experience can be of some help.

Heidi said...

Heidi in CA~ Thank you so much for commenting today! I can. not. imagine. having four boys under five. You are my hero. (Or would that be heroine? :))

I appreciate the advice from someone who has 'been there, done that.' I think the thing that I am up against is thinking that a routine is absolutely necessary to *simplify* our life. I'm tired of either being in the overwhelmed, paralyzed state where I can't figure out what to do next, OR thinking I have a break, getting distracted, and then struggling to get back on task. It seems like knowing what comes next might help with those two things.

I really don't want to be watching the clock. I mostly put in the hours to give myself an idea of where we might be at certain times.

There is no way my house is (or will be) in the running for cleanest, most organized house. I gave that up long ago. But I have so many *other* things on the priority/non-negotiable list, and I don't know how to pare that down.

Laundry must be done (and the further I get behind, the more difficult it becomes)--same with dishes. Hubby needs something to eat besides dinosaur chicken nuggets, and I really want the kids eating healthy and regularly.

Bills must be paid. Groceries must be purchased. Kids must be parented.

Reading aloud to my kids is *really* important. My 6 yo loves stories and content related school. He is a total sponge right now. His reading has taken off in the last couple of months, and I don't want to slack off on core lessons (writing, math, reading, and grammar), although we don't spend much time on each thing.

My 3 1/2 yo has been *begging* to 'do school' and miraculously has a decent attention span when we are one on one. He wants to sound out words and anything else I come up with.

I also think I've been making excuses for myself. And I don't know what is reasonable in that department. :)

So, we'll try to do this routine thing (while attempting to maintain flexability at the same time). If I feel more stressed, and not much more is getting accomplished, we'll throw it out the window and go with the flow. :) I do know that this is a season, and that the boys will grow up way too fast. I want to enjoy every minute possible!!

The Nester said...

Hi, I'm looking forward to reading more about you and your boy, homeschool, house decorating adventures. Were we separated at birth?

Renee said...

Do you mind if I respectfully suggest a few things? If so, please delete and move on! If not, here are a few humble suggestions (coming from a fellow mom of three who needs her 7-8 hours a night as well). Would you be willing to set new boundaries about the boys' sleeping habits? The oldest are probably capable of staying in their beds all night. If it is a bathroom issue, which we had when we first potty trained, you might consider being really purposeful about not drinking a drop after dinner. I let my boys rip and roar all afternoon, chugging water. And milk with dinner (at 5:30), and then no other liquids at all. That solved the potty breaks. And for any other reason we tried to nip it. Our oldest used to even have night terrors, but we found that not being overly tired prevented them. And when he was overly tired we would jossle him just enough for him to roll over about 30 minutes after bed. We talk to them a lot about the importance of everyone's sleep and it is very, very rare that anyone gets out of bed. I probably sound like a monster mommy, but it would be worse if I was not rested. Also, with morning chores, I have found the oven timer works really well. If you set it for 10 minutes they can physically see the timing wasting away. If they are not done with the chore, they suffer a consequence (cleaning up everyone's dishes after the meal or another appropriate one). The first few days or so I would stand in another room and if I heard them getting off track I would say, "Remember the timer!" I had to do this with our morning chores. The boys had 5 things to do up in their rooms after breakfast and they were distracted by toys and bunk beds. But this worked well and after a week I seldomed had to remind them. Now that I've written a book for you, hoping for sweet rest and peace for your home...can you tell me how to cure a 15 month old whiner???

laura {who planned this} said...


I know that I am new to your blog, but I have a thought or two about your schedule... I did not try to home school with littles ones, I can only imagine how hard that would be, but I did have 4 children in less then 2 years. Hopefully, my thoughts will be helpful to you.

First, Mom time- I remember when my kids were younger, once a month I met a group of friends for dessert night. 1 person hosted or we went to a restaurant, it was a nice evening out and not too hard on the Dads and kids left behind. We scheduled the year out, because life gets too busy and months would pass by otherwise. Another thought would be a girls weekend get away, even once a year would be helpful. I am not sure if you could make either of these happen, but I know that if Mommy isn't happy, no ones happy!

Second- Can you simplify your schedule at all? Would 1 outside activity work for now, or could you simplify school work (ie. handwriting and grammar together or even on hold until 2nd grade?).

Only you know your family and your wishes for them, I just remember with longing the simplier days when the kids were young and thought that might help you as well.

Warmly, Laura

Heidi said...

The Good...~ Thanks for the suggestions!! Our sleep issues are a 3 yo with insomniac (can be *wide* awake for 3 hours in the middle of the night) and a teething 15 mo. :)

The 3 yo has been a terrible sleeper since birth, and I've tried everything. It is getting a little easier and maybe less frequent. We tell him to go back to bed. He will lie there quietly for 45 minutes (an eternity for a kid who is rarely still and always wants company) and then come back in our room. He seems to have restless leg syndrom or something as well. It is tough for me to make him stay on his bed by himself for hours on end in the middle of the night, ya know? It's been a tough transition from naps to no naps. Makes it hard for consistent sleeping times. Hopefully getting him to bed at a consistent, decent hour will help.

The 15 mo just cut four molars. Ugh. He sleeps okay unless something is bothering him... and then, watch out!

I will really have to try the timer idea! That just might help out. Thank you.

Oh, those whiners. :) And when they are so little, they don't really understand when you tell them you don't speak 'whinese.' :) Makes it really tough to get anything done, doesn't it? Wish I had some great suggestion, but...

Laura~ *Four* kids in *two* years! Wow! I can't imagine how tough that would be. I'm not sure I would make it... but then, it is amazing what we do when we have to, isn't it? I'm impressed.

I do get out for a ladies' book club monthly. It is an amazing source of sanity. I love the girl's weekend away. My husband takes the boys on a father/son camping trip, but he only takes boys 4 and up, so I'll be left with the 1 yo. In a couple years I'll be footloose and fancy free for a long weekend. I can't wait! Until then, I might try to schedule myself out of the house for a couple days. Lovely idea!

I put swimming on our schedule because my husband wants to get back to the pool regularly as a family (he swims on his lunch break regularly). He really wants Levi to be swimming well this year. But it won't happen every week... even if we want it to. :) I wanted to add piano lessons this month, but decided to hold off a little while.

The school schedule is actually pretty flexible. I have an idea of what I want to cover, but I try to go with the flow depending on what everyone is up for. Our desk work doesn't take up much time. It is the other fun stuff that helps keep the kids occupied a bit. :) The hard part is getting them to all want the same book/activity, but it isn't any easier when they have a lot of free time on their hands. :)

Thank you so much, everyone for the feedback and suggestions. (Keep them coming.) I appreciate it! The truth is that I *love* my life and *love* being home with my kids. I know that I will be sad that time goes so quickly. I just need to be more aware of where our time is going!

Renee said...

one more thing, Heidi. Isn't it funny how you post a schedule and next thing you know strangers like me are making parenting suggestions. I wanted to say that my suggestions were sincerely out of an understanding of trying to parent three with little sleep. It pains me to think about our first 10 months with Lydie!!! Insomnia and teething, yikes! Also, I can tell you love your life. Every post oozes love and gratitude. I would imagine you inspire many people, as I know I am inspired by your creative, upbeat attitude towards your home and the little souls inside. Thanks for your graciousness with all of the suggestions, including mine!

Heidi said...

The Good...~ I wouldn't have posted if I didn't want comments and suggestions! Everyone gave thoughtful and caring comments and they were appreciated. It is wonderful to have the support and ideas from moms who have been there. :) Thanks for the compliments!

Anonymous said...

You are incredible, Heidi, with your schedule. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in real life. I know the struggle you have had with Luke and his lack of being able to sleep. I do hope he will outgrow that or that you can find a solution. Maybe when he gets so he can read by himself, he will be able to do that and let you sleep. Good motivation to work on reading!! I know your mom found that problem when she stayed with them. And I love reading all the comments you get from your various entries. Grandpa says he has never "tuned into" the comments. I do agree kids grow up too quickly and need to be enjoyed at each stage of life. Grandma

Heidi said...

Thanks, Grandma. I've already told you, but your traveling by ship to Portugal with three babies in diapers (and all of you sick, at that!) has my daily life beat by miles. :)