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co-sleepingOne of the most popular questions from moms is about how I structure my days with my children.

When I was the mama of my first child I remember a love-hate relationship with my days and with motherhood.  I adored sleeping in with my baby; those cozy mornings snoozing and nursing together were so heavenly.  I was one of those moms who had to shower before I could do anything else.  I would have her sit in her exercise saucer or bouncy seat in the bathroom.  I had a clear shower curtain so I could watch her.  After breakfast we would putter around cleaning up and much of the time I would wear her in a back pack carrier or in a sling.  The days felt so long and they involved nursing and sleeping, cooking and cleaning.  There was a beautiful quietness to those days and I remember trying to accept them and cherish them.

There were weeks of complete indulgence when Isabel loved to nurse and sleep during the day for a few hours and we would just snuggle on the bed and I watched Dawson’s Creek reruns.  It was a guilty pleasure.  But I also felt like it was this unique time with this little being who was growing up before my eyes.

Life with a toddler became more challenging for me. She had her own opinions, likes, and dislikes.  She was different than me.  I had to learn her toddler-ease to communicate.  When I pulled, she pushed.  For awhile I felt lost as a mom.  I had no interest in playing on the floor or running at the park.  I realized that I had to find a way to enjoy spending time with a young child.  Fortunately, I came to see that I was the center of her universe, not the other way around.

sweet_siblingsWhen I became the mom of two young children, a 3 year old and a newborn, I felt like the world had fallen on my shoulders.  It had taken me 3 years to adjust to being Isabel’s mom.  I remember trying to figure out how I would nurture them both?  Thankfully, at that time, I had the flexibility to focus my energies on mothering and home life; I had few distractions.  I took it one day at a time.  Three mornings each week, Isabel went to a Waldorf home nursery and that provided me with time with the baby by ourselves.  Again, a heavenly time of sleepy nursing together.

And now, things have evolved again. I have an elementary school student and preschooler.  Life has fallen more into place for me and I’m adjusting to working from home and meeting the needs of my family.

Finding predictable routines has been my saving grace.  A sample daily rhythm…

School Morning
6:20am Snuggle time with mommy upon waking, drifting back to sleep.
6:35am Quiet play – the kids create games or read books while I get ready.
6:45am Simple breakfasts of  their favorite protein meal shake, or egg and toast, or oatmeal, or cold cereal.  Warm tea with honey.  I make their lunches for school.
Morning prayers with daddy.
7:10am Getting dressed, brushing hair, shoes on, using the bathroom, more play.
7:55am Leave for school

Home Morning If your child isn’t in school yet…
7am Wake up, dressing, breakfast, clean-up.
8am Household chores – sweeping, windows, laundry, etc.
9am Outdoor walk, sand or water play, swinging.
10:30am Snack – fruit, granola bar, crackers, or raisins.
11:00am Indoor play and clean up
12:30pm Lunch

Afternoon
12:30pm Pick up preschooler. For those with school
1:00pm Nap time.
3:15pm Pick up 1st grader.
3:45pm Home snack – apples with peanut butter, yogurt w/granola, or an egg with cheese.  I try to make sure this snack includes protein.
4:00pm Outdoor play or creative indoor play (this is usually on their own).

DSCF0007Evening
5:00pm Dinner prep and household clean-up.  I try to include the kids as much as possible in the cutting of veggies or mixing ingredients.  I want them to set the table more often.  They’ve put together puppet shows and other creative productions during this time, or they listen to music and jump on the mini trampoline.
6:00pm Dinner together.
6:30pm Bath time.
6:50pm Out of the bath, pajamas, brush teeth.
7:00pm 1-2 stories, candles, prayers/songs.
7:30pm Hugs & Kisses, Lights Out.

The more predictable and consistent I am in holding them with this rhythm, the easier and more simple our days are together and the more I enjoy their company.  Because they know what to expect, and especially since we no longer have television as an option in their day, I find that things are slower, more peaceful, and even fun!