A new school year is on the horizon for us already since the boys go back in late July! Our school calendar will now be a modified year-round calendar with school starting in late July, a two-week fall break in October, two-week holiday break, two-week spring break in March, and school letting out just before Memorial Day. I think it'll be a good rhythm for us. Plus it gives the boys more time off during the times of the year when we can be outside.
I always look forward to the start of a new school year. I love the fresh start feeling and knowing that we're beginning to move towards less hot weather (...eventually). The routine, engagement, and social aspect of school has always been great for both of the boys. I enjoy the balance of having work time during the week plus morning, afternoon, and weekend family time. With a mid-year fresh start of sorts ahead of us, I'm thinking about our weekly and day to day routines, what we need, and what might work best right now.
Currently, Maeve goes to daycare on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. The boys get home an hour early from school on Wednesdays. For now none of the kids are signed up for extracurriculars although Dash will likely want to continuing playing soccer when the season gets underway (usually late August or September...ugh it's so hot!). A soccer team would mean one evening practice each week and a Saturday game. Cedric hasn't been interested in playing a sport lately but I'd love to find him something to nurture one of his interests. I don't have any plans to sign Maeve up for anything until swim lessons in the spring after she turns three.
Other weekly routines include Chris's and my workout schedules. Chris does an early morning work out on Monday and Friday mornings. I do an early morning work out on Wednesday and usually Saturday morning. I also do evening work outs on Monday and Thursday, although it sounds like the instructors might be adjusting their schedules.
During the school year I typically go grocery shopping on Thursday mornings so a grocery list has to be done before then. I like to make the dinner before a grocery shopping day an easy breakfast-y meal since we always have those ingredients on hand: eggs in some form, or Instant Pot oatmeal, or pancakes. Oh and I'd also love to take the boys to the library every week or so. Or even if I don't take them then grab some fresh books for them at least every other week. I've fallen out of that routine.
All the kids can get up as early as 6 a.m. On daycare days, if I'm doing drop off, I like to leave the house between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. The boys can leave for school as early at 7:40 a.m. They always want to leave as early as possible so for now getting them to leave on time hasn't been a challenge. Cedric and Maeve are usually up by 6 a.m. but Dash often sleeps in a bit. For anyone who's been following for a long time you'll know that as a baby and toddler Dash was such a challenging sleeper and woke up painfully early. So for anyone going through that I hope this gives you encouragement that they will sleep eventually!
Between 6 and 7 a.m. is when Chris and I are making breakfast for everyone, including ourselves, and making lunches for anyone who needs one. Maeve needs a lunch on her daycare days, and I also prefer to pack her a lunch when she's at home to make it easier on myself. Last year the boys ate the provided school lunch every day since it was free. Lunches will no longer be free although I know the boys would like to eat at school sometimes. We need to come up with a routine for when they'll buy and what we'll pack for lunch. Cedric is easy to pack a lunch for: peanut butter and jelly, fruit, chips. Dash is a different story and rarely eats anything that we pack.
Every morning the boys are responsible for the following: get dressed, eat breakfast (which we usually make for them but sometimes they make themselves), brush their teeth, and make their bed. During the school year they also need to make sure they've completed all homework and packed their backpack. Although we've had these same expectations for a long time we've found that we're reminding them many times to get these things done. This means I'm nagging and I hate nagging. I'd like to create some kind of chart or system that allows them to check off when they've completed all their tasks for the morning by 7:30 a.m. This will remove Chris and myself from being the enforcers. We probably need a reward system tied to this. Like a week's worth of getting everything done on time earns you...additional screen time? Money? I'm not sure what would motivate them the most but I want to implement something.
Daycare days / my work days
I have three work days each week while Maeve is in daycare. To plan my weeks and days I think about the work I want to get done and the different types of energy required for the various tasks. My Monday morning weekly intentions ritual helps me plan my weeks as well.
Focused writing time is my top priority, followed by co-hosting and producing The Girl Next Door Podcast. Both types of work need larger chunks of time with focused, creative energy. For that reason I try to make Mondays my writing days. Ideally I finish a blog post and schedule it to publish plus work on another draft post. Sometimes we record a Girl Next Door Podcast episode on Monday afternoons.
Other tasks that come up related to my writing and podcast work that are a second-tier priorities include editing photos for the blog and show notes, responding to emails and comments on both my blog and the podcast, and creating content for sharing on both my personal and Girl Next Door Instagram accounts. I can often do that kind of work in shorter stretches if I need to and I don't have to be as focused. These tasks are good Wednesday tasks. There are other fun creative projects I want to work on as well like our annual family photo book and the family cookbook I'm working on with my cousin and sister. To keep making progress on those I need to block out time for them.
Additionally I need to time each week to take care of personal and home admin tasks which includes making the grocery list and grocery shopping, folding laundry, and so many other tasks that are always coming up when you have three kids and are co-managing a household. Oh plus there might be tasks related to our Eau Claire house or tenant from time to time. Those tasks don't take as much focused energy but they do take time. By Friday I don't have as much focused energy momentum and mentally I'm turning towards the weekend. So Fridays are good catch-all days for these tasks. However, I can also feel like I was very busy all day on a Friday but didn't get a lot done but also didn't relax. Little tasks are like that. So I should do something like make a list of the top three or five things to get done on a Friday that will make me feel like I had a productive day. And I should remember my 2022 goal of taking intentional rest!
A few other notes about my work weeks...A change I made to open up more of my time was to let go of my school PTSO volunteer commitment. Although it wasn't a lot of work it was persistent and took away from writing time. Also, I'd like to set up occasional calls with other writers and creators who I know online. I've had a few recently and they have been so energizing and inspiring. I loved chatting with Annette of the Thanks for Visiting podcast about short term rentals; to Lauren about intentional living and creating, and had a wonderful in-person day with Rachel and would love to keep in touch.
Days at home with Maeve
Maeve will be home with me two days a week, currently on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays I want to have a planned morning outing. I have a friend I've enjoyed doing play dates with who I could make plans with. I also have a membership to the I.D.E.A. Museum in Mesa which has a great area for toddlers that Maeve loves. Maybe I should plan out my Tuesday mornings a month at a time with play dates, museum outings, and anything else. Splash pads will also be a great activity for another three months (ugh).
After Maeve's nap (she currently naps once a day around 12 or 12:30 and sleeps between 1.5 and 2 hours) I'd like to have a couple of prepped activities, like ideas from the books I bought (150+ Screen-Free Activities For Kids and 101 Kid Activities).
Afternoons through bedtime
The boys get home from school around 3 p.m. or 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. We'll need to get back into the routine of having them unpack their backpacks and get out any homework. They're also hungry for a snack and I'd like to come up with a few snack options for them. My kids are often changing their snack preferences so I need to check in and see what they're into lately.
We like to eat dinner between 5:30 and 6 p.m. so by 4 p.m. I'm thinking about starting dinner. I also love to have prepped whatever I can for dinner earlier in the day, even if it's just getting out the pots, pans, and needed pantry ingredients. Chris is usually done with work by 5 p.m. or earlier so we're all together but often needing different things: the kids have lots of energy and want our attention; Chris and I are most likely trying to have an uninterrupted conversation and craving a little down time. But that's how it goes right now!
Right now Maeve's bedtime is by 7 p.m. or a bit earlier. The boys get in bed between 7 and 7:30 p.m. and can read until 8 p.m. I'd like to get back into a habit of reading aloud to them so that is something to work towards. We got out of the habit with the addition of Maeve's bedtime when she came along plus they often read to themselves, which is great too!
Reviewing what I wrote, here are the action items I identified for myself:
+ Decide our schedule for how often we'll pack lunches for the boys.
+ Decide on some packed lunch options for the boys, especially for Dash.
+ Figure out a system that incentivizes the boys to complete their morning tasks without us reminding them.
+ Plan my weeks including Fridays so that I feel productive but take rest too.
+ Plan a month's worth of Tuesday morning outings with Maeve.
+ Plan ahead for the post-nap activities I'll do with Maeve.
+ Figure out some after school snack options the boys will be into.
Okay, I had a lot to say about our schedule and routines!