Thursday, September 13, 2012

A New Rhythm to the Day

Henry has now officially started Montessori school as an 18 month old. I signed him up for the extended day program, which means he has class from 8:15am-12:15pm (including lunch that he and his classmates make every day) and then a nap until I pick him up at 2:45pm.

I was home with Henry all day for the first 14 months of his life, and then he started part-time daycare. We've always had a routine for our days together, even from the very beginning, although the exact rhythm is always changing and evolving as my little boy's needs change. 

I still remember those first three months when he would take 45 minutes to breastfeed. Then he would have about 15 minutes of awake time on his movement mat under his mobiles, and then I would put him in the Moby wrap and he would fall asleep. I would have to wear him through the entire nap (but at least I could multitask by typing on my computer or reading). He would sleep for about 1.5-2 hours before it was time to wake for another feeding (and the pattern would repeat). 

Although keeping to that kind of schedule was constricting in a lot of ways (e.g., I always tried to be home when it was time for Henry's nap), it was ultimately very freeing for me because I knew what to expect and when to expect it. I also think routine is good for children. If the core of their life is stable and predictable, then I think they are more comfortable to create and take risks beyond their core of security. 

Henry and I co-create the schedule. He tells me what he needs and I figure out a rhythm to the day that gets his needs and my needs met. Now that our days are changing, it's time for our schedule to change, too. Here's what I'm thinking:
  • 7am = Wake-up
  • 7:00-8:00am = Dad helps Henry get dressed, eat breakfast, and get his teeth brushed; if there's extra time, Henry can play with his toys
  • 8:15am-2:45pm = School + nap
  • 3:00-3:30pm = Prepare, eat, and clean-up snack with Mama
  • 3:30-3:45pm = Clean up around the house (Henry can help or play with his toys)
  • 3:45pm-4:30pm = Walk to the park for exploration and play
  • 4:30-5:00pm = Dinner Preparation
  • 5:00-5:15pm = Play with dad when he gets home
  • 5:15-5:45pm = Eat dinner
  • 5:45-6:30pm = Dancing and playing with both parents, bath time, books, bedtime
I also need to figure out some alternate activities to keep me sane (I need more adult interaction time!):
  • Playdates with friends and their children (this one is hard because most of my playdate friends live too far away to drive during rush hour to play)
  • Walks around the lake with friends
  • Figure out where other families spend time after school (by asking on the mom's list-serv I belong to)
I want to find the right balance between having things to do, so that the time doesn't feel like it stretches out indefinitely, but also providing a relaxing, rejuvenating environment for Henry. Perhaps we implement the above schedule on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays and then have some kind of alternate adventure on Tuesdays/Thursdays.

I'll let you know how it goes! (of course we'll have to rework this schedule as soon as it gets too cold to play outside comfortably...)

Share |


Carrie said...

Does Henry always wakeup AT 7AM? Seems to me like you'll need some leeway on wakeup time in your morning schedule. Also, I don't really think it gets cold enough in Texas to not play outside, or if it does, it's not very many times. My children go outside daily at day care in Maine, throughout winter, barring severe windchills. Buy a used pair of snowpants and a heavy coat for the few really cold days you have there! Fresh air and exercise are super important!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Good point about the cold, Carrie! I'm just such a wimp. I personally don't enjoy being outside when it's cold. We'll see how it goes this winter. I agree that fresh air and exercise are really important. Perhaps I need to better embody the Scandinavian mindset: There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

And, yes, Henry pretty much always wakes up at 7am. Today it was literally 7:00. Some days it's 6:58 and other days it's 7:04. If he's really tired he will sleep in until 7:30, but we still wake up at 7 and get started with breakfast while he sleeps in.

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I chuckled when I read "too cold outside to play comfortably." You live in Texas! :) The right layers should keep you both plenty warm in any Austin winter. It took 3 years of living in Buffalo, NY (where I moved to from Houston) to figure out that the way to keep my fingers warm was more layers on my core.

Anonymous said...

It is really helpful for kids to know pretty much what to expect and have that rhythm quality to the day. I had to chuckle when I visualized Henry saying "Mom, I need to have 30 minutes to prepare, eat, and clean up snack with you." Really, it's not making fun of you but just a smiling kind of funny. Anyway, he's apart from you guys a large part of the day, every week day? Or, does he only go a few days a week? If every day, I'd imagine he needs time and space to mellow out, let out tension from the day, and just reconnect with his parents. Play dates, not withstanding rush hour (yuck!), and events might be better saved for the weekends. From this schedule, Henry goes to bed early (nice!), why not you use a couple hours in the evening a week to meet a friend for tea or take some kind of class, or just do something for you in general a nice thing to look forward to as well perhaps :) Henry probably doesn't need playdates, etc, as much as you may need a break.

Mindy said...

I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award! (
Henry is getting so big, he looks like a little kid now (I bet you can't believe it!)

Carrie said...

I agree with Anonymous. I don't think you've been doing essentially full-time "school" long enough to realize how exhausting it will be for both you and Henry. It's seriously sometimes all I can do M-Th to get home, feed the kids, grab a quick walk or play time outside, bathe them (not every night--not good for kids' skin), get them to bed (staggered bedtimes), make lunches for the next day, make dinner for us, eat dinner, and get to bed by 10pm. I guess being home by 3 will open up some time for you (we get home more like 5:45).

violarulz/ducksandbooks said...

my almost 3 year-old "niece" and infant "nephew" and their parents (my good friends) often come over for a dinner playdate, we rotate adults through the kitchen and play with her at the same time. You could invite your mommy friends to come over for dinner and play time, especially if you have stuff prepped ahead of time and make something easy (crockpot meals and something based around something made in the rice cooker, like rice or beans, comes to mind)

Related Posts with Thumbnails