When Mac was born, nearly five years ago, I was very much a first time mom. So much so that I didn’t know any of the proper abbreviations, especially that FTM translated to anything other than female-to-male. A million and more people will tell you that you just don’t know what to expect, and as annoying as it is, you just don’t. It’s like googling directions to a party. You can know the neighborhood and even get a decent street view, but the feeling you get when you walk through that door can never be predicted. Parenting seems to follow that same logic.
To add to the stress of being first time parents, Michael and I constantly were handing the kid back and forth so one could work while the other was home. I’m sure you can already see a big problem here, but it in case you needed confirmation, yes, it was horrible. There was never any time to think of routine. We let Mac live the cat lifestyle where we provided all the basics, but let him play and sleep whenever he wanted. At least from what I can remember, that’s a pretty accurate portrayal.
Fast forward 4 years and 13 days from Mac’s first day and Theo is here! The planner in me can feel the potential. I’ve learned so much in the last 1,474 days and one of the biggest ones is that Mac is better off with a routine and therefore Theo will be too, whether he’s agreed to it or not. If a routine makes your kids happy, despite you never getting through a whole week remembering to wash your face at night, you will try you damnedest to simplify and organize the day.
So I thought that maybe sharing the basic template of our days will allow for even better understanding with these summer activities. There will of course be special occasions and exceptions sprinkled in there, but typically that only deviates the afternoon nap location to the car. Happy, well-rested kids make for happy, well-rested parents.
My children are definitely “morning people” while I, on the other hand, am definitely not. Even though my career requires me to be up at 4:00 am most days, it’s just something I will never actually be accustomed to. Good thing I have the best jobs in the world, at home and out in the real world, or I’d probably run away. You can take away my alcohol and nicotine, but you will never take away my caffeine source. It’s a vital component to my survival.
So to make my living hell manageable, I take on chores around the house. Usually it’s one or two things every day that can get done, and ideally won’t need to be done until next week. Because I’m a big time procrastinator, I need to do it first thing, or at least within the first three hours of the morning, or else I lose any push. Typically if I get it done super early, my eyes will have opened up by the time I’m done. If the place is a wreck by the end of the day, I employ the kids (read: Mac) for a ten minute tidy. Pick a song or two, set a timer, and clean as much as you can in ten minutes. After the timer goes off, walk away.
Another necessary part of the day is activity. Ya’ll know kids are active, but these kids thrive outdoors. If you’ve got one pissed off baby and a 4 year old that continually crashes into your butt while whining, throw them outside (gently!) and go for a walk. My partner recently told me he really doesn’t like walks, but they go all the time because it’s probably the only time the kids aren’t touching him. And he’s totally right. So anything to get these runners out and looking at things. If it’s a rainy day, we’ll do yoga, maybe have a dance party in the kitchen. Anything to get the crazies out.
And the final thing we must all stick to is quiet time. Quiet time is just what it is. Theo will nap an hour to an hour and a half, so in that time, Malcolm has to play quietly or watch a show, and I can sit and write or play a dumb game on my phone. Even I must adhere to quiet time. No cleaning, organizing, or real excursion is allowed. As much as I hate sitting still, it’s very much needed.
So this is the gist of our summer plan. Let me clarify a little though, I do not have it all together. This schedule is a desperate attempt to keep all it somewhat, mostly together. I am very much a broken mom type. Nearly all the other parts of our lives are lax. There’s plenty of screen time and awful food choices thrown in there. I give my kids the option to play whatever is within reason. Our house gets pretty messy and sometimes we skip a few days of chores. We get crabby with each other and the tantrums are just horrible. But we try. And most days we kind of like each other.