Today was one of those days. You know, the one that starts off with the kids fighting before the alarm even goes off. I had double-booked the day and found out that I had fines at the Library. Yeah. Thankfully this does't happen often - I
So why bother? Because as much as I don't like organization I REALLY don't like all the fights that bored kids tend to get into.
The routine for a typical summer day at our house requires a lot of turn-taking and tweaking. Here are some tips for crafting a routine that works for our family:
Stick to a basic routine every day
The "bare bones" of a schedule are sleeping and eating times. When these remain consistent then the kids know what to expect and are more compliant. During the summer we may make occasional exceptions but they still keep a pretty early bed time but then the older children are allowed to read in their beds. I'd also add to this that TV times are a good thing to consider part of your bare bones so that the TV is only on during the scheduled time of day and you don't have to constantly fight the battle of when and how much TV the kids can watch.
Know your kids trouble spots and plan your daily routine accordingly
Knowing my kids trouble spots or "triggers" are an essential part of helping me avoid bad behavior. For example one of my daughter's "triggers" is hunger - so for example if I take her out to the Library before lunch time without a snack I'm just asking for trouble. Another one of my children's trigger is tiredness so we make sure we have time in our day to be quiet and rest every day. Bad behavior is going to happen. If I can avoid a little of it by thoughtful planning and a routine that is considerate of their trouble spots it is worth it.
Group activities together
We have clusters of activities in our daily routine that we do pretty much every day. Our morning routine will get expanded to include a summer bridge skills review worksheet and journaling over the summer. Our evening routine will be a little more relaxed. I also try to group fun activities with the ones my kids try to avoid. For example, my four year old LOVES to play video games. He would play video games all day if I would let him. He only gets to play his video game after he has done a page in his reading book. He is much more willing to sit down with me and work on his school work when he knows that the next thing is one of his favorite activities. My oldest gets to play on the computer after she has emptied the dishwasher. By grouping activities together (and being consistent about it) reduces some forms of fighting to almost nothing.
Balance is all about rhythm
I get freaked out by this idea of balance - I want my kids to have a balanced home life. I want them to be challenged academically, I want them to develop good social skills, I want them to be responsible at home, I also want them to have down time. I'm tempted to try to plan out a carefully crafted schedule that has a little bit of everything and feel a ton of pressure to do it all but balance isn't about every day being perfectly even, it's about weeks and months having a rhythm to them. One day is a do-nothing beach bumming day and another is a field trip to the Egypt museum at the University. Right before my kids started school for the first time I took all day to play with them. I didn't worry about anything else. We played dress-up and I let them wear the glitter make-up that I kept on the very top shelf of the closet. We had tea parties and painted and I remember that day as being a perfect day with my girls. I also remember the next day. I thought "that was perfect. let's do it again" but we couldn't. My kids were all like "we did that yesterday - go check your email" I was mystified, but that's what balance is all about. Some days you spend all day (or week) doing something - balance is taking a break from it the next. Routine keeps you grounded.
I don't really have any photos of our daily routine - so here are some that I found on my camera from earlier this month!