White Squirrel: Should I Stay or Should I Go ~ by TheNatureDude, aka Patrick Connolly, in Olney, Illinois
6:45: I make my bed before I leave my bedroom (before I even get dressed for the day). This has been a habit of mine and I promise you it just helps you to feel better & more “put together” the minute that you wake up. I get ready for the day before I go downstairs. PS- This is when I turn the shower water on to heat up.
6:50 Throw a load of laundry into the washing machine. A load a day keeps the chaos away. I do this every morning. It forces you to finish it later. 🙂 LOL!
6:55– QUICK shower (less than 5 min. I don’t wash my hair in the mornings.) Get dressed, do my makeup & brush my hair (Takes about 10 min. for this).
I’m downstairs by about 7:15 and immediately unload the dishwasher. (We usually have to do it twice a day, so I do the mornings & the kids do the afternoon).
Once the dishwasher is empty, I make breakfast for the kids (usually Pepperoni & eggs or oatmeal – those are the favorites in our house) If someone isn’t hungry, I’ll at least have them drink a Carnation Instant Breakfast before heading off, but that’s rare. Usually, they do pretty good about eating breakfast.
If the kids aren’t up by 7:30, we wake them up.
Now we just rush around & get ready for the day: breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed, hair fixed, backpacks ready to go). I have to be ready before this begins or we would never get out of the house on time.
If they finish early and have time to spare, they can watch TV until it’s time to leave the house (Use this chart as a reference).
8:20 Older Kids Leave For School
We used to have them ride the bus, but now we take them to school, which is about 2 minutes (no exaggeration) from our house. Either way is fine with me because it’s so close.
8:40 Younger kids to school
Once I have finished the school drop-off, I try to work out for 45 minutes and then come home to get some work done, clean, or use this time to run errands- like a trip to the grocery store.
Tip- I try to order my groceries online to Walmart or Harris Teeter so I can just swing by & pick them up in the morning.
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10:30: Make Dinner (yes, really)
This sounds crazy, but if you can make dinner now, it works out to your benefit. I can’t tell you how much it helps when that 5:00 time rolls around and I can say “Oh- yep… it’s in the crockpot.” Or “Tossing the casserole into the oven now”, instead of “Oh no! What should I make tonight? What’s thawed? Oh man- nothing. Who wants chicken nuggets?” 🙂
Once dinner is prepped, I check e-mails, FB, etc… during this time.
11:00: One morning a week, I try to volunteer in our kids’ classrooms. I taught at the school where they go to school, so it’s a joy to go back and see my old co-workers while I’m meeting my children’s friends & getting to see what our kids are doing. We have four kids so I’ll try to rotate which class I’m in each week. I also try to limit the time to an hour or two, because of preschool pickup time at noon. (Preschool is about two minutes from the elementary school.)
On days when we don’t have preschool:
We still do what we need to do – run errands, etc…
If we can, we will just stay at home and play! I am a play therapist and I was a teacher before I had our kids, so I completely understand the importance of playing and working with our young children. It makes a world of difference. I also know how important it is to teach them to entertain themselves, so she will go to her room for an hour at a time and just play with her toys while I get things done (clean, fold laundry, prepare dinner). I don’t have to say anything except “Go ahead and play for a little bit and then we’ll ____ later” (bake cookies, go on a walk, swing on the swings…) and she runs off to play with her princesses or dolls.
12:00 Pick Up Time
Once preschool is over, we have lunch at home and just play & have free-time for the afternoon. This is more free play since preschool just needed. I usually allow ONE 30-minute show after preschool. (Wild Kratts, Curious George and Peppa Pig are favorites for our younger kids) then I just say “no more electronics” and that’s that… off to find toys or draw or paint. This is when I get some housework done, make calls, schedule appointments, etc…
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Allie, our youngest, will help me with little things like matching socks or dusting with my thieves spray… although most days I’ll find her having a tea party with her dolls. She has always loved playing with her toys.
3:30 Kids Home From School
We have a snack (all 4 kids have one).
Snack tip: Have fresh fruit & veggies cut & on the table when they walk in the door. They will eat them because they will be so hungry from a long day at school. I allow ONE 30-minute show after school, to let the kids decompress a bit.
This is when I check emails, FB messages, etc… It’s 30 minutes, so enough time to do these things and not get sidetracked.
We work on sight words, math, reading and writing. If they don’t have homework, they just read for 20 minutes. I was a teacher & 20 minutes a night will help your kids SO MUCH.
As soon as they finish their homework, they can play before dinner (if they have time)
4:30 – 5:30 Dinner (4:30 if practice, 5:30 if nothing)
I am a big fan of easy dinners. I pin every meal that I make here. They are usually simple things like casseroles, crock-pot meals, pasta meals or baked chicken. After dinner, the kids help Mickey and I clean up the kitchen. Everyone does their part and takes their things to the dishwasher. No one leaves the kitchen until it is cleaned up and back to normal.
After dinner, I run the dishwasher. The kids will unload it an hour later.
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Sports practice usually happens after dinner, so if only a few of our kids have practice, they go with Mickey (he is an assistant coach for all of our kid’s teams) while I get the little ones ready for bed and start their reading.
Some nights, we have baseball & football on the same night, so we just divide & conquer. If it’s wrestling or lacrosse, the three boys all go together and I keep our daughter home. If it’s her dance night, they all come with me because it’s at 4:00. Just depends on the season & the sport. 🙂
Bedtime routine: We have a snack, then head up for bath time. Our kids get a bath or shower (almost) every night- it’s part of their routine. After bath time, I send each of the kids to their rooms to play or read until I come in. One at a time, I go into their rooms to tell them goodnight:
I spend about 20 minutes in each child’s room at night. I start with the youngest child because the older kids can be up later and should be reading longer. When I go in, I read one book (or they read one to me), we read the Bible or a devotional and talk about it. We pray. We talk about our days. Then, I sing them a song, kiss them goodnight and go to the next room. They no longer come out of their rooms (we dealt with this already)
While I’m with one of our kids, Mickey is with another, until we’ve each seen all four kids.
I put our younger kids to bed at 7:00. Once our kids turn 9, I move their bedtime to 8:00, but no later, unless it’s a night of sports. You can read that post here: Why I put my kids to bed at 7.
If it is a night of sports practice, our younger kids will be in bed before the older kids get home. Our older boys get home shortly after and I give them a snack (cereal, oatmeal, smoothie) and send them up for a shower and they can read in their rooms for 20 minutes until I come to tuck them in.