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April 11, 2012

A Day in the Life

JZ - 4.5
JM - 3  (I can't believe he is THREE!)
KO and KJ - 9 months

I've had many e-mails, comments, Facebook posts, etc. asking about our daily routine. As you can imagine it varies quite a bit since babies aren't exactly predictable.  Still, we maintain a general rhythm, so I thought I'd capture a day in photos and post about it.  Well, partway through the day I forgot about taking photos.  I'll post what I have.  These were taken last Monday, and the day was a fairly accurate example of our average day.

6:00 AM
I wake up sometime between six and seven, make my coffee, read my Bible, and enjoy quiet time.  Six is the goal, but some days it ends up being 6:30 or later.  Later is not good, because then my time is cut short.

7:00 AM
JZ and JM come downstairs and find me at the table.  We have this:  My Tot Clock.  It's awesome.  When JZ was two he started waking up earlier and earlier and earlier.  Once he started waking up at five I put my foot down.  I taught him to look for "seven, zero, zero" on his clock, and he learned to stay in his room until seven.

JM used to sleep until eight every morning until we put them in a room together in anticipation of the birth of the twins.  Then he inherited JZ's early bird ways.  We bought the clock, so they know when it's quiet time, both first thing in the morning and also at nap time.  At seven o'clock the clock turns yellow, signaling that they can wake up.  (You can set it for whatever time you want the day to start.)  They are allowed to play quietly in their room before seven if they wake up early, but they leave their bedroom door shut.  This was especially helpful during the newborn stage with the little guys when I was waking to nurse every 2-3 hours.  Most mornings I think they wake up around 6:30.

KJ and KO wake up anytime between seven and eight.  Lately it has been closer to eight, which gives me time to get breakfast going for the big boys.  On Monday, however, they woke up right at seven.  JZ and JM played independently while I nursed.

I put the babies in the family room with some toys and brought JZ and JM in the kitchen with me where we made Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Scones together.  Yum!

While the scones were baking we gathered around the piano for JZ's music practice.  This is typically a family event.  JM loves to sing and dance and take a turn playing the piano.  I either feed the little guys breakfast during music practice, or I put them on the floor in front of the piano where they can listen and watch.

JZ is in the Yamaha Junior Music Course.  He started mid January, and he is already playing and reading simple songs and even using his left hand to play a bit.  He looks forward to his weekly class, and he enjoys practicing.  He is great at reminding me when I forget to have him practice.  And if he forgets, JM remembers!

KJ loves feeding himself.  They mostly eat finger foods like bananas, butternut squash, green beans, etc.

KO prefers help, and JM and JZ are more than happy to put little bites in his mouth for him.

Here is our set up:

Some of JZ's workbook involves stamping.  On this particular morning, JM asked if he could use JZ's stamp.  I gave him a piece of paper.

Hmm, I'm not sure how this happened:

Just as we were wrapping up music practice, the scones were ready!

While we eat I read our morning devotions to the boys.  We use several resources for our reading time.  We leave our copy of God's Mighty Warrior Devotional Bible on our dining room table for use most mornings.  On Wednesdays we often read the home training lesson from BSF the day before.  On Thursday mornings I read JZ's Cubbie Bear Hug for his AWANA lesson for the week, so we can start memorizing his Bible verse.

While I cleaned up from breakfast, JZ and JM set up a tunnel in the family room.

JZ propped it on the couch then grabbed our ball bin to roll the balls down the tunnel.

Depending on what time KO and KJ start their day, they go down for a nap shortly after breakfast.  They are usually awake for about two and a half hours before their morning nap.  I put them down right at nine this day, and then I started a load of laundry.  The big boys got dressed.

Typically this is when we begin school time.  We start in the family room with music then head upstairs to the studio.  With Mike out of town last week I took a break from school time.  I knew I wouldn't have time in the evenings to prepare and set up JM's Tot Trays.  We usually end school time with Motor Development, so I planned a Color and Movement Game for them while their brothers napped.

After our game, they had free play until KO and KJ woke up.

The babies woke up, and we loaded up the car for the YMCA where I work out.  I often shower after my work out, especially if we are going somewhere.  It's the only place I get a peaceful shower, LOL.  (As you can tell from the next photo I didn't shower that day.)

There is a really nice playground at the Y.  Usually Mike takes them there after his work out Saturday mornings.  I hardly ever take them to it, because we are often on our way to run errands, playgroup, etc. after the gym.  Since it had rained all weekend, and we didn't have any plans, I knew fresh air would be a great plan.  When we run errands or go for a short walk I usually wear one baby on my back and put the other in the stroller.

Here is KJ on my back in a Zara woven wrap. 
*Please never put your child on your back in a stretchy wrap (Moby, Sleepy Wrap, etc.), because it isn't safe.*

The big boys love taking turns pushing the stroller.

They played for a good half hour on the equipment.

KO had a blast swinging.

Then JZ saw the infamous mud puddle which you can read about HERE.

When we got back to the car I stripped JZ and JM to their underwear/diaper for the drive home.  I changed the babies' diapers in case they fell asleep on the ride, which they did not.  Some days they do.

We arrived home and went straight into the tub.  Since KO and KJ were still awake I put them in the tub as well.  Even though the little guys sit independently we still still use the Bumbos to avoid them slipping all over.  I hope it goes without saying, but please never ever leave your child unattended in a Bumbo in the tub.  (Or for any reason in the tub.)  I snapped a quick photo, but I was right there with them the entire time.  The Bumbo is not a secure seat, and it wouldn't be worth turning my back even for a second.  Okay, stepping off soapbox...

I put the babies down for their afternoon nap.  Typically JM and JZ go down as well, but since they hadn't eaten lunch yet I fixed something for them.  After eating we read a few books, then they went to sleep.  We use the Tot Clock for naps as well.  Both JM and JZ still take naps most days.  They really need it.  I'm a firm believer in routines and the need for rest.  You can't make a child sleep, but you can provide the right environment for good sleep habits.  Even if they don't sleep, the boys have to stay in their beds while the Tot Clock is blue.  It turns yellow after two hours.  Most days they are asleep and wake up on their own, regardless of the time on the clock.  They can only read so many books to themselves and look around their bed for so long, right?  By expecting them to remain quiet in bed, they are set up to get the sleep their bodies need.

The babies took a surprisingly short nap, especially considering the stimulation in the child care at the Y, the fresh air, and a bath!  I was pretty tired, but I guess they weren't.  I nursed them both then we played on the floor downstairs.

JZ and JM napped until almost FIVE.  See, they were tired.  The rest of our day was not typical at all.  Since Mike was out of town, we went over to my parents' house for dinner.  For the purpose of this post I'm going to describe how the remainder of a typical day would be in our house.

Mike arrives home by four each day, and the big boys usually wake up around the same time.  Mike plays with them, usually outside, while I pick up, do laundry, etc.  

We take turns cooking.  JZ and JM love to help in the kitchen, so we involve them as much as possible.  KJ and KO are usually ready for dinner around five, so while one of us is cooking, the other feeds them dinner.

The babies stay in their seats or in our arms while the rest of us eat and talk about our day.

Many nights we do bath time after dinner.  Mike helps me get everyone started in the tub, then I finish up while he cleans the kitchen.

The babies go to bed.  JZ and JM either ask to watch a show after bath time, or they ask Mike to wrestle with them.

The bed time routine begins for the big boys.  They get jammies on, brush teeth, and pick out books.  At 8:00 their clock turns blue, and we kiss them good night and leave the room.  Bed time has never been a hassle in our house, because we started good sleep habits young.  Sleep is important to me, in case you haven't noticed, LOL.  I love my kids more than anything, and I love being hands on with them.  I can keep up with them all day, because Mike and I get quiet time at night.  Without that and a little down time in the afternoons I might go crazy.  Of course, with four kids I don't get the predictable afternoon down time.  Many days the babies' naps line up with the big boys', but not always.  Even once my kids give up naps I will probably have quiet time every afternoon, so we can all regroup.

Before I go to bed I feed KO and KJ one more time, so they make it through the night without eating.  This works...most of the time.

A few things...

Even though we follow the same general routine, our days are not hyper scheduled.  I am a firm believer in the need for free play for kids, so I don't micromanage every moment of the day.  I almost always have an idea in my back pocket for down time, but I also follow JZ and JM's cues.  If they are really into what they are playing with, I don't drag them away for an art project or school time.  They are young, and the most important thing they need to focus on right now is playing.  Given that my attention is split, they generally participate eagerly when I set something up, because they know they get my undivided time and attention.  On the rare days they don't want to join me in an activity, I don't push.

Television is not a big part of our day.  Yes my kids watch TV, but it's in moderation.  When we are in our usual routine they maybe watch one show in the afternoons, or some days not at all.  Sometimes (like when I was pregnant, when the babies were newborn, when we are out of our element) they watch more.  I like to keep the television off, and I notice a big difference in all of our moods when I do.

Before you start thinking I'm incredibly awesome (I mean, I am, right?) you should know my dirty little secrets.  Laundry is never put away until the weekends when Mike is home.  I wash almost every day, and I try to stay on top of folding.  (Try being the key word.)  By the end of the week we have giant stacks of clean laundry in baskets all over the house.  

Mike does all of the dishes.  That's right, I said all.  I try to keep things tidy throughout the day, but I don't clean.  I (usually) clear the table after breakfast and lunch and put dishes directly into the dishwasher when possible.  After dinner Mike cleans all of the pots and pans and everything that needs hand washing.  He wipes the counters and the table.

I get out of the house on a regular basis.  Shortly after the twins were born Mike and I agreed that both of us need kid free time.  His job doesn't count as kid free time, and neither do things like grocery shopping or other necessary errands.  We make a conscious effort to let each other go out weekly or every other week.  I get pedicures with my best friend, go out for coffee with my playgroup friends, sneak away to Starbucks with my laptop like I am right now, see movies, etc.  We both recognize each other's hard work, and we do our best to let one another get breaks.

Every Saturday Mike takes all four boys out of the house for a few hours, so I can clean.  It's important to me to parent intentionally.  I don't want to just "occupy" our days or count down the hours until bed time.  I love spending time with my four blessings, and I choose to focus most of my time with them.  Being an involved mom is much more important to me than keeping a Martha Stewart house.  Still, we can't live in filth.  I need that time each week to keep up, otherwise we'd live in a pig pen.

So there you have it.  Some days are different.  Tuesday mornings we have BSF.  Wednesday afternoons JZ has music, so he skips his nap.  Thursdays are open gym at the Y where the boys can play on all of the gymnastics equipment.  Some days I aim to be at the Y early for my workout to get it out of the way.  I try to keep our days fairly predictable, because I know children thrive on routine.  At the same time, how predictable can you be with four adorable, energetic, messy, playful, hilarious boys? 

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  1. Hi Alison. Thanks for sharing your daily routine. Just wondering the ages of your boys? I am following your blog and look forward to seeing and hearing all that your lovely family gets up to.

    1. Jax is 4.5, Jett just turned three TODAY, and the twins are nine months as of yesterday. Thank you for following our adventure Amie. :)

  2. Hi Alison. Thanks for sharing your daily routine. Just wondering the ages of your boys? I am following your blog and look forward to seeing and hearing all that your lovely family gets up to.


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