From Breakfast to Dinner // My Routine for the Kids
I like to say that I run a tight ship here. I’m more of a rule follower and I like order. If you know me personally you know this to be true. With three little kids I find this kind of organization essential for our days to function.
Since Valentina was born and we moved here to Connecticut there are a lot of days during the week that I am here alone with the kids for twelve or more hours. That is a damn long day. T.J. is working in New York so he leaves around 6AM to get there and beat some of the disaster that is traffic. The days he is in N.Y. he never makes it home for dinner and bedtime.
Solo parenting for long hours is certainly doable, but you could easily and often lose your mind. When I had three kids four and under some days I never got dressed. Leisure wear to bed was then leisure wear out the door. I barely managed to get my face washed and teeth brushed to get Gabriella to preschool. That in itself was a feat. To drive the 1.5 miles to the school was easy. Getting all three of them fed, dressed and in the car was like running a marathon.
I often wished for them to be a bit older and more self-reliant. Eh, but now that they are I often wish for them to be teeny tiny.
I had to find a groove. I had to make a plan. I had to get to a place where I wasn’t barking out orders at them and rushing around just wishing for bedtime to come so I could collapse. I felt pulled in too many directions and when I feel like that I can’t settle down. I started to feel super angry. I felt ALONE.
I should add that we are without any help here from family. So, calling in reinforcements wasn’t an option unless we had overnight visitors.
So, here is how our day looks.
Kids get up EARLY! Does not matter when they go to bed. This is especially true for my seven year old who like to rise with the sun. She could go to bed at midnight and get up before 7AM. Gasp! My other two like to sleep, but once they hear their sister roaming they start to perk up and emerge from their rooms.
I’ve tried a wake up clock. Nope. Wishful thinking.
So, by 6:30AM here we are up. When it is DARK, this is brutal. I don’t mind so much when it is Spring and Summer and daylight. LOL
I push the button on my Keurig and let the dog out. The kids usually hang out for a good half an hour in the playroom or living room while I unload the dishwasher and feed the dog.
Usually after I get those odds and ends done they are asking for breakfast. So, I get them all their breakfast and while they eat I make the lunches. Both Valentina and Gabriella take a lunch so depending on what day it is I’ll have one lunch to make or two.
Once breakfast is over and tidy I head upstairs to make the beds and lay out their clothes for the day. They usually are all right behind me because now they’ve eaten and are ready to go!
Gabriella makes her own bed, brushes her teeth and hair and sometimes picks out her clothes. Valentina and Anthony obviously need help at 3 and 4 years old. Val is starting to learn to make her bed and she can dress herself. Sometimes if we are running a bit late because they SLEEP IN (7AM) the sisters help Anthony getting his clothes on and brushing his teeth.
Once the kids are dressed, it is usually around 8AM I send them down to watch TV. Gabriella and I have to be at the bus stop for 8:20AM and it is at the corner of our yard. So, they have a good 20 minutes to chill while I have 20 minutes to get myself ready for the day.
Damn, I use to think I needed a lot of time to get ready, but you be amazed at what I can accomplish in 20 minutes! I’m talking wash my face, brush my teeth, hair and makeup plus a decent outfit! Remember I edited down my closet to make this process of getting dressed seamless? It works!
I take the kids all out to the bus stop and turn my car on (if it’s winter). Valentina and Anthony go to preschool on opposite days so one of them always has to be dropped off for 9AM. That leaves me from the time Gabriella gets on the bus until 8:45AM to make a quick sweep of the house, grab anything that I need to take along, and check emails etc. (20 minutes).
Preschool drop-off is easy. And, after 9AM is when I have one kid and can spend the next chunk of the morning 9-noon or 9-1PM depending on who is at preschool. This time I usually like to get Valentina or Anthony outside for a bit depending on the weather. This morning time is also for grocery shopping or random appointments, laundry, light cleaning, or meal prep for dinner.
I like to plan and prep for dinner in the morning because once I have all the kids home at the end of the day is where it starts to get tricky.
So, preschool pickup is either at noon or 1PM. When it is noon I come back home and serve lunches then put Anthony down for a nap around 1/1:30PM. If preschool pickup is at 1PM, then the kids have already eaten and it is just time for naps/quiet time. Valentina takes a rare nap, but Anthony is still regularly napping daily. Valentina will have quiet playtime or rest next to me while I work on the computer.
This nap/quiet time is when I try to get a lot done on the computer. Checking emails, writing a post, social media, AND doing any of my Girl Scout cookie mom or PTO treasurer duties.
Anthony usually naps for an hour to two hours. So, it is a decent amount of time for me to get admin stuff done. Once he is up it is closer to 3PM. Usually Valentina and him want an afternoon snack so we do that quick and then get ready to get Gabriella off the bus. The bus comes anytime between 3:40PM and 4PM so we wait outside and get some more fresh air.
In the Spring I keep the kids outside for an hour after the bus comes. This is critical for the moods in the afternoon before dinner. This is also why I like to get a head start on dinner in the morning so we have this bonus time. If the weather sucks and we can’t be outside I put on a TV show which gives me 30-60 minutes to get dinner finished up. We eat between 5PM and 6PM. If I’m home with them alone for dinner I like to aim for an earlier dinner closer to 5PM because I’m also doing baths and story time for all three. And, that takes time.
Bedtime is at 7PM. I usually have everyone cleaned up, teeth brushed and into PJ’s by 6:45PM so I can clean up the kitchen a bit while they chill in their rooms with books before I read and we say goodnight.
I really think that if I didn’t keep this structure and timely routine I would not be able to manage very well on my own. My kids are use to the routine of it just being me and they know what to expect and at what times. I think this really helps keep us all level headed for the most part too.
I don’t allow electronics much and definitely not before bedtime. They don’t all fall right to sleep, but I getting them in bed by 7PM gives them time to wind-down and get the rest they most definitely need.