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Ok. I promised yesterday to share some of the tips that allow me to get some thinking, praying, planning time to myself. And keep in mind though I’m sharing some of my schedule, I don’t expect it to work for you. I am hoping that you can adapt some of these tips to integrate into your schedule.
1) My first tip can work if you have children old enough to tell time. My girls have a clock in their room, and they are required to stay in their room until 8:00 every morning. They usually wake up around 7 to use the bathroom and grab a library book, then they head back to their room to read for an hour. Since it is staying dark a little longer right now, we gave them each a “reading light” that clips to their book. They think that is the greatest thing ever! Sometimes once it has gotten light out, they drag out their Barbies and play away. I ask them to wait until the baby is awake before they get up and move around the room though.
Now Grant is only 3. He doesn’t really understand the concept of time just yet, and he is my earliest riser at 6:45 (he always hears daddy turn on the shower). Being the only boy, I like to allow him this time in the morning to spend with just daddy. So I serve breakfast twice. Breakfast 1 is for daddy, mommy and Grant. Then once daddy leaves for work, Grant and mommy have quiet time. He looks at books while I do my Bible study. When the girls get up at 8, I get breakfast 2 ready for Miranda, Clare and Elsie. This leads me to my next tip.
2) Find one job you can pass off to an older sibling. Since Elsie still needs help eating (without making extreme messes or choking herself by stuffing too much food in at once), I have Miranda and Clare take care of feeding her. Sometimes that just means breaking up her toast into little bite-sized pieces. So what do I do while the girls eat? I put in my dvd and work out. I have tried so many other time slots for working out, and none of them have ever worked for me. I am going 8 weeks strong now with at least 4 workouts a week. Once the girls finish their breakfast, Elsie comes down to me and “works out” with her 1 lb. weights, and the girls go on upstairs to complete their morning chores.
3) The last tip I have for getting some down time is to have “quiet time” in the afternoon. Even after the kids are finished taking naps in the afternoon (Grant still takes a short one for now, and Elsie sleeps a good 2 hours), they are required to have quiet time. This means that they don’t have to sleep, but they must remain still and quiet while reading a book or doing something quiet. When school is not in session, I use this time to get things done that are normally difficult to do with kids running around. Now that we’re back in school, I’m usually listening to one of the kids read or doing History with them. Although some days I finish with enough time to fit in some blogging or cleaning before starting dinner.
The concept of the kids staying where they are supposed to for quiet time, or staying in their rooms until the correct time in the morning might not come automatically. They may come out of their places several times, but the idea is that hopefully after a couple of weeks of training them to go back to their place, they will just realize that this is part of their day. My girls are a lot less reluctant to go for quiet time when we’ve just come back from the library with a huge stack of books they picked out. They are usually excited to go to quiet time then. So make sure you have good and interesting material for them to read. Since Grant is only 3 and can get bored with books pretty quickly, he picked out a Thomas the Train book on cd set (has 4 books on one cd). It came with a hardback copy of the books so he can follow along with the cd by looking at pictures. We picked that up at our local Borders going out of business sale for $5.
I hope you have found something useful in this post. This is simply what is working for me right now. I’m sure that I’ll have to change things up now and then, so I welcome your suggestions for fitting everything into the little “free” time we moms have! Leave a comment if you have something that will help other readers and myself!