Three weeks into the summer holiday and barely a post. Obviously, I've lost a good chunk of my free time, but I've also just been enjoying having fun with the kids, doing outings and activities. A change is as good as a rest, they say. (Actually, Ma Ingalls says it... Most of my life-platitudes seem to come from Little House on the Prairie.)
Still, this week it started getting to me a little bit--writing is a form of therapy to me, and I need the outlet, so I'm back to the blog. Un-coincidentally, the heat's also set in this week, making summer considerably less fun, and my daughter's been having nap struggles which have left her in a major sleep deficit.
One of the things that's been important to me this summer was an evaluation of our daily routine, since I wanted to keep it as much as possible through the summer. I've also never got round to doing a daily routine post, so let's write it out. Because our summer routine is a bit more flexible, I'm using the routine we followed during the past school term.
6:15am - I get up, give the cats their breakfast and make a pot of tea. The children are almost always awake by this point, but the rule is that they can't get up until they hear somebody go downstairs, and they have to be quiet! Once the tea is made, we take the mugs upstairs (the children share a quarter-full one) and have it in our bed.
6:45am - this is when the alarm-light in the children's room goes green, which means it's officially time to get up and dressed. I dress my daughter, and my son dresses himself, and once they're dressed they can go downstairs and watch one show on television. While they do this, I get dressed, put the laundry on and check my email/social media/news what-have-you. I'm trying to get more in the habit of showering at this time, now that the children won't hassle me, but I'm not a fast showerer and it tends to throw me off-schedule.
7:15am - Breakfast time. After breakfast, I do kitchen-based housework (dishwasher, counters, shopping list, etc). The children have a vitamin and are free to play.
7:50am - We wave goodbye to Daddy from the window on the stairs, and then we brush teeth and hair, wash faces etc. Afterwards, I hang out the laundry while the children play.
8:30 - 9am - Dropping the children off at school. They're usually there pretty promptly, but this very much depends on the day. If I have any errands to run, I will do them immediately after drop off.
Aside: This is very reflective of what a morning person I am. On a good day, I can have got the children up and to school, dishwasher emptied, laundry out to dry, and be home from doing the week's shopping by 9:30am, leaving me with two hours to do what I want before picking the children up. I have got this morning routine down to a fine art, because I know that, motivation-wise, the rest of the day is all downhill for me! The downside is that I tend to get stressed about keeping the pace going through these first three hours of the morning. That leads to impatience with the children, which never works out well.
9am - I do whatever the hell I want to do for the morning. I usually try to make the most of my high energy levels. I know that from around 11am, they'll start dropping.
11:45am - Pick the kids up from school. Lunch and play when we get home.
12:45am - My daughter's nap. My son joins us for her song before bed, but then he goes downstairs and watches two shows on television. Often, I will also have a lie-down at this point. My energy levels crash around 2pm, and I usually find that a ten-minute power nap works wonders, provided I make myself get up as soon as I wake. If I'm more alert, I may start dinner preparations or spend time on the computer. Once my son is done watching television, we do something together, an activity that we can't easily do when my daughter is up.
2pm-ish - Wake up my daughter. She can be tricky to get to sleep in the evenings, so we've resorted to waking her up more promptly from her naps. I regret to say that we've got into the habit of letting her watch television on wake-up, a hangover from when we went through those sick months.
3pm-ish - get our act together and go out. We go out most afternoons in term time, if only for fresh air and exercise (as much for me as for the children). We have gym one day a week and we have a standing playdate with another family, but otherwise, it's up to us. I find it easier to keep going when I'm out of the house too. At home, the temptation of lethargy and distraction is too present; if we do stay in, I usually have to have a specific activity to run with.
5pm-ish - Home again. Sometime after 4pm, I hit my second wind and become productive again, so usually this time of day I encourage the children to play by themselves while I clean up (hopefully remembering to bring in the laundry!) and get dinner ready.
6pm - dinner time. My husband occasionally is late back for dinner, but we are usually able to eat dinner as a family.
6:20pm - Clean up and another pot of tea. The living room rug, the usual toy repository, should be cleared before the television goes on (this rule is not always strictly enforced, but it's too useful for us to let it slide). It's 'Daddy's turn to choose' what goes on TV, but we generally watch something in the Edu-tainment category. Mythbusters, David Attenborough and How It's Made are all typical fare.
7pm - Children's bedtime. My husband and I alternate on putting the children to bed: brush teeth, change into pyjamas and one story before lights out.
10:30pm - Bedtime for grown-ups. Generally, I shut down the computer at 10 and then do a scout around for things to go in the dishwasher, and light tidying.
And that's it. Weekends are less routine heavy since we factor in a lie in for my husband or myself (I have Saturday and he has Sunday) until 8am. Since my son learned how to operate the Apple TV remote, the children get themselves up and watch television, so we both get a bit of extra sleep until they get hungry and demand breakfast. Then whoever's turn it is gets up and attends to them, though they're allowed to have breakfast in front of the television instead of at the table, because we are totally degenerate at weekends.
Much as I enjoy a couple of lazy mornings, it is very clear to me that without that scheduled burst of productiveness, the whole day tends to get thrown off, so I did not want to treat the vacation as one long weekend for the children and me. The only alteration I've made to the morning is that they are permitted to watch television as soon as they wake up and before getting dressed--mostly because they've been waking up at 5:45, and the last couple of weeks of school had been immensely frustrating when it came to putting them back to bed at that hour. They do have to switch the television off and get dressed at 6:45, but they can switch it back on for one final show afterwards.
Of course, with no school to go to, we're going out for our fresh air and exercise in the morning, giving me less impulse to go out in the afternoon. Logically, I should do housework then, but housework in the afternoon never works out for me. So I've been practicing being 'at home with the children', trying to use my low energy time to get down on the floor and play with them and their toys. (Reading books unfortunately isn't an option, because reading aloud makes me incredibly tired for some reason--I had to make a rule that Mummy can only read one book in the afternoons.)
This worked admirably for two and a half weeks and then the heat and the humidity hit and I have been drained of anything resembling motivation. I have just over three weeks until we do our UK trip and my goal is to keep going with the routine and not devolve into sitting in front of the television for six hours a day. This is not going to be easy.