In holding to the promise from my last post, I have returned to share more of our daily routine. As I previously explained, my husband and I are often asked how we function from day-to-day with four children three and under. I can certainly understand why people assume it is difficult and that is why I decided to share a more detailed look at how we create rhythm in our day. Before reading further please note that this post is a continuation of my most recent post. To give you more context for what you are about to read, you can find the previous post here.
I previously mentioned the importance of coming together as a family for breakfast, and lunch is no different, although it usually doesn’t include Adam. I’ve always loved the timing of lunch and the way it seems to reset us for the rest of the day. Aside from a simple meal, I try to use lunch time to fill the curious minds of our children through reading. At this point in our family’s life – with three toddlers and a baby – I expect interruptions, and try to help my little ones stay engaged by keeping it short and sweet. I usually read them a story from their children’s Bible and finish with some children’s poems, nursery rhymes, or a good children’s book.
Throughout the day there are pockets of time that are not dedicated to any one thing. The time following lunch is one of those pockets. The only part of it that remains consistent is that we always spend it together. While trudging through the rainy months, we have spent the short time leading up to naps in many different ways. Some days we spend curled up under blankets reading more books together. Some days we stay at the table and experiment with finger paints or with glue sticks and magazine cutouts. Some days I block off our living room, turn on a record, and we dance and sing or play with a small basket of toys. It really does vary.
Recently; however, with less rainy days we have spent as much time as possible playing outside. On the particularly nice days this includes “The Time In-Between” (see previous post) and “Lunch.” I love the freedom of outside play. Aside from a few basic rules, the children are given full access to every part of their outdoor kingdom. This often includes them getting very dirty, so we always have a collection of play clothes stashed in our mud room.
The beauty of consistency and structure in our home is clearly seen and felt at nap time. All four of our children nap at the same time in the afternoon for a solid two hours every day. This of course took work to establish, but we were very determined that the benefits of good rest for little ones outweighed any difficulties during the process of getting there. Some days it meant me lying a child down and covering her with a blanket and a gentle reminder that it was time for sleep. Some days found me removing a child to a Pack N’ Play in another room to allow her sisters (who share a bedroom) a better chance at sleep. Some days it meant that the child who woke up unusually early learned that mommy would come to get her when nap time was over, not before. Ultimately, we reached our goal. And because it has been a daily occurrence for their whole lives, they simply expect it, and even greet it with a tolerable “hello!”
It hardly needs to be stated how valuable this time is to me for housework, reading, and rest. Nap time is is a gift to my children, to me, and to the peace of our home.
One of the first things Adeline asks me when she wakes up is, “What’s for snack?” The twins are just as excited to know. In order to prepare for their eagerness in advance I have their snacks all ready for them before taking them out of bed. They enjoy their snack with some books and a basket of toys in their quiet play places. It is similar to their “Quiet Play Time” earlier in the day, which was touched on in my previous blog post, except that they are all switched to different areas of the home, and therefore have fresh toys and books once again. Also, it does not last quite so long as their quiet hour earlier in the day.
Furthermore, several days a week my mom comes over at this time in the day to switch things up by doing an early learning program with each of the children one-on-one. The children love this special time with grandma.
I will end here for now, with a plan to share the conclusion to our daily schedule in about a week. Thank you for following along!