Tuesday, 27 September 2011

"Mummy, when are you going to...?" (routines)

I am a planner. I like to know what we are going to do each day and generally have a plan for the upcoming week. I spend time thinking about activities to do with the kids, people that I would like to catch up with, jobs that need to be done, Playtime activities to prepare, etc.  I book things in on the calendar & write to-do lists.

Mummy's calendar & Mr Sociable's weekly plan
It shouldn't have been a great surprise to me to discover that Mr Sociable also likes to know what is going to happen. He likes to know where we are going to go each day, who we are going to see, what we are going to do and when it will all happen. A few months ago, I started to notice the constant drone of "Mummy, when are you going to play with me?" I realised that our days were unpredictable for Mr Sociable - a seemingly endless stream of activities, meals, jobs, outings, and rest-periods. Although I had a plan in my head, he (obviously) didn't know what that was! I also realised that without a planned routine for the day, I tend to focus on getting things done (being quite organised and task-oriented by nature). Without scheduled "play with kids" time, it was easy to keep saying "I'll just finish this washing..., I'll just finish vacuuming..., I'll just finish writing this email...".

Playing with Mummy
I chatted with one of my friends who has walked this road before, and then started thinking through changes that needed to happen to our days/weeks. I introduced "room time", followed by "playing with Mummy time". As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr Sociable found room time hard at first. Knowing that he would get Mummy's attention straight after room time really helped him to adjust. Now, he loves room time (and so do I!)

A lego creation Mr Sociable made in Room Time
Next, we started "learning with Mummy time" (which we do while Mr Fun is asleep). Mr Sociable loves the one-on-one attention! We learn about numbers and letters - usually through games and songs. I am teaching him to write his name and to complete mazes. The purpose of "learning with Mummy time" is to teach Mr Sociable to sit and focus his attention on one task. He has a lot of choice in play activities that he does at other times in the day - so this is one time that he needs to sit and complete games and activities that I choose.

This may all sound a bit rigid, but it's actually pretty flexible!! Although I do have a set sequence of activities, we don't have a set time (eg. Mr Fun goes to bed somewhere between 10am and 11:30am, depending on how the morning is going). I have just finished making a set of timetable cards that I can display. Today, we used them for the first time & it was helpful for Mr Sociable to be able to see where we were up to & what was coming next. The nice thing about using cards is that they can be changed during the day if necessary (eg. swap out "park" for "inside play" if it starts to rain), or you can add them as the day goes on (eg. only plan until lunchtime, then decide what you will do in the afternoon). 

Today's day plan
Here was our routine today (which is a pretty normal non-preschool day):
* Wake up
* TV (usually while Daddy gets ready for work & Mummy gets a caffeine hit)
* Breakfast
* Room-time
* Play with Mummy (both boys together)
* Morning tea
* Learning Time with Mummy (Mr Sociable), Mr Fun to bed
* Mr Sociable to bed
* Lunch
* Walk to library
* Outside play
* TV (while Mummy cooks dinner)
* Dinner
* Bath
* Bedtime routine

I have made other cards too:
* swimming
* park
* inside play
* craft
* cooking
* jobs
* preschool
* Playtime
* church
* reading
* as well as some blank ones to write on with whiteboard marker for other activities

Now that we have a functioning morning routine, my next plan is to make a regular "jobs" time in the day (when the kids can "help" with tasks like sweeping). I think that may be a couple of weeks away yet... :)

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