Tuesday, October 07, 2014

What I Do All Day ~ Schedule and Routines for a Large Family

Somehow, once again, I overestimated how much time I'd have this fall to get things done.  Surely, with *just* two kids at home during the day, I should be majorly productive, right?  And if I were willing to park them in front of the TV more, I probably would be.  But still, I am making progress on some much-neglected projects, cleaning out some areas of my home, doing more with photography, and keeping up with this blog, so I guess I am finding enough personal project time.  I even caught up on all the mending yesterday and made four pillows for our front room.  So yeah, I think I'm just wired to notice only what I'm not doing, not what I am.

Fall Routine
And I am enjoying my fall routine, even if I don't accomplish as much as I want to.  My basic schedule right now is as follows:

Exercise
Exercise happens every day but Sunday for me.  During the summer, I was doing weights and cross training three days a week and running the other days.  This fall, I'm tired of weights.  I've been going to a late yoga class on Monday nights, and a PiYo class on Tuesday and/or Thursday.  I'm really enjoying the movement and I tell myself that I'm still doing strength training, even if I'm not doing as many squats and lunges.  I run in the early mornings with Marci three days a week.  One day a week, while Lillian has her violin lesson, I've been hiking in the mountains near the Provo Temple.  But I've been getting so sweaty just walking that I figured I might as well run, since I've needed to change or shower afterwards anyway.  So yesterday, I ran the Bonneville Shoreline Trail for the first time, from Rock Canyon to the Y Trailhead and back.  It was a lot more up and down than I expected, and some of those ups were pretty steep.  My app says I climbed 700 feet total in those three miles.  I hated a lot of it, but felt great afterwards.

Morning Rush
We start the day with scriptures at 6:45.  Then we do a 5-minute clean-up of the family room and toys and put away any folded laundry.  From 7-8, Michael, Allison, Sarah, and Eliza take turns on the piano in 15 minute increments.  Michael's first, and he's in charge of getting Eliza on the piano after him and setting the buzzer for her.  Then Eliza gets Sarah and so forth.

Meanwhile, kids are showering, eating breakfast (cereal, oatmeal, and toast at our house), and getting ready for school.  My husband drives the older two to school and then the younger ones leave a half hour later.

Around 8:00, after the kids are off to school, I will clean the kitchen while Katie does her preschool program on the computer (she's involved in a Utah online program designed to teach reading).  Katie occasionally needs my help with the program, and I'm close by but still being productive. I've been using morning clean-up time to listen to uplifting podcasts and programs.  I like to get up before my kids and study the scriptures on my own before our family study, but on days that hasn't happened, I will first listen to the scriptures or a general conference talk before anything else.

After the kitchen is clean, I clean and pick up in other areas of our home until 9, which gives me a chance to do a little bit of cleaning out or organizing.  I'm slowly making my way through cleaning drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, and my mudroom needs some attention.

From 9-11, in between doing whatever Katie and Cami need for me, I have got a different project outlined for each day. Monday, I sort the mail, deal with any bills and phone calls, read through my to-dos, plan the week and go through my in-box.  Typically, I put things like field trip forms, sports schedules, and the like in my in-box and this is the time I take to add things to my calendar, follow up on emails, etc.. If I have extra time, Monday is also a home project day.

Tuesday, I blog.  Aren't you grateful?

The next three days consist of a playgroup with my neighbor (I've was able to go to the temple twice last month!), an errand and grocery day, and a photography project day.

Some days, Katie and Cami play nicely together and it all runs smoothly.  Other days, they really need my attention and I have to put aside my projects in favor of the real reason I'm home all day: their needs.
Katie can be a challenge -- she's stubborn and strong-willed, but also very sweet.


Quiet Afternoons
In the afternoon is quiet time. Cami, who used to take long, glorious two-hour naps, started climbing out of her crib six weeks ago.  Now, some days she will nap and others she won't.  On the days she naps, her naps are extra-long and she has trouble falling asleep at night.  On the days she doesn't, she's a crabby, demanding toddler, which is actually out of character for her.  But I've been through this before, so I know it will be a rough six months or so but that eventually, she'll give up naps altogether, go to sleep earlier at night and adapt.

Don't let that cute smile fool you -- she can be a terror!
Quiet time is usually the only time I allow television for my younger girls, though I do make exceptions for when I'm trying to blog.  Katie and sometimes Cami will watch a show while I nap. Katie has preschool some of the afternoons, so it's just me and Cami home and quiet on those days.

I learned long ago that I need the quiet, lazier afternoons to have the patience and energy for the rest of the day.

Afternoon rush
Come 2:45, it's time for the rush.  Joey and Lillian arrive about that time, then at 3:00, I pick up Katie from preschool.  The other kids come home between 3:30 and 4:00 and we start on homework, zones and other after-school activities.

The kids have new zones after school. Joey has the downstairs kitchen and family room. Michael empties the dishwashers.  Allison cleans the great room.  Sarah clears off the kitchen tables after all the homework and snacking has been done, and Eliza cleans the entryway and mudroom.  Lillian doesn't have a zone, since she babysits once a week for our date night instead.

We also have several activities going on after school.  Lillian takes violin lessons one day, Allison and Sarah have Lego League at their school another day, and we have piano lessons at our house still another day.  To save time and money, our teacher is teaching two children each week, so each of my four who are taking gets a lesson every other week.  Allison, Sarah, Eliza, and Harmony are also doing an art class once a week.

Dinner and Evening Activities
Each child has a night when they are assigned to dinner and final clean-up.  Lillian and Joey will make dinner by themselves.  Joey makes great chicken curry, burritos, and tortilla soup, while Lillian makes a huge variety of meals depending on her mood.  The others help me on their assigned night. I'm trying to help the younger kids feel more confident in independent cooking, so I've been trying to make easy dinners that they can do mostly on their own, with a little help.  Michael has made his favorite dish, lasagne, so many times that he can now do it by himself.  I'd like to add to his repertoire, though, and I'd like Allison and Sarah to have more meals they can make alone.  Frankly, sometimes it's just easier to throw something together myself, so I have to give this more thought and effort.

After dinner, we all do five minutes of clean-up, then the person who made the dinner does the final clean-up.  I've been doing it that way for several years and it works well because it gives an incentive for cleaning up while you cook.

In the evenings, we have still more activities and events.  Allison and Sarah have cross country meets and practices two nights a week, the older five have Church events once a week, and my husband and I have a regular date night.  We also go swimming as a family one night a week.

Getting Ice Cream at the Creamery after a successful cross country meet

Bedtimes are not set in stone, but usually between 7 and 7:30 for Harmony, Katie and Cami (6,4,2), 7:30 and 8 for Eliza, 7, 8:15 or 8:30 for Michael, Allison, and Sarah, and 9ish for Joey and Lillian. My husband or I will read two stories to the youngest little girls and the other kids will read to themselves.  I almost always rock Cami, who insists that "Mommy do it" every night I'm there.  I'll read her stories or we will sometimes watch beautiful songs on my phone, like "Danny Boy" or "Shanendoah," and sometimes I will calm her down to muppet or minion videos.  About half the time, I won't use the phone at all and I'll just sing to her.

My husband goes to the gym most nights for an hour after we get the kids off to bed, and half the time, I will join him.

Then we're home and decompressing.  I like to read blogs or check Facebook in the late evenings, then go to bed and read a book for a bit before falling asleep -- usually around 11, though I really try to make it more like 10:00.

**
What do you do all day?

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