Saturday, June 25, 2011

Daily rhythm

Carol Nasr could just be my most favourite person ever. I thought so after our first meeting, waaaaay back in December. But then life got in the way and I stopped remembering her words and following her advice and then the summer home with the boys was looming in front of me and I knew I had to come up with a game plan or we might not make it out alive.

She does home visits and came to check out our area and make suggestions regarding their toys and environment. Yes, I was nervous. She was coming to my germ factory. The place I want to firebomb and start over with on a daily basis. I figured there would be a stern talk about keeping a proper home with a place for everything and everything in it's place. Because yeah, that would never happen.

Instead, we had a relaxing and invigorating meeting. Neither of the boys had napped, which is apparently our new normal. Imma gonna roll with it. We chatted while they crawled over us and whined and cried and then we toured the house and the back yard. I thought I'd share her words, tips and suggestions with you. Some of them seem pretty obvious in retrospect, but often you need to hear the same thing phrased differently before it makes sense.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful in planning your own rhythm.... I'll let you know how successful ours is (or isn't) as the summer progresses....

Rhythm, repetition and ritual. Young children crave these three qualities in family life.

Trust that they will not get bored when you do things the same way. Change up little details to keep you interested.

Look to establish a daily rhythm (routine), and a weekly rhythm. An established daily rhythm is a mom's best friend because it saves you from oodles of negotiation. You just say "it's time to do..." instead of trying to convince the boys to do something you want them to. Eg. "It's time to get in the car, it's time to put on your backpacks, etc." Don't ask them if they want to do the daily outing. Just be their leader who knows that what you have chosen to do will be just fine, and go ahead and do it confidently. There is always another day to do something else if they complain about it.

Daily rhythm would mean having breakfast at the same time every day, leaving for outings at the same time every morning, and returning at the same time just before lunch, going to the playground every afternoon at the same time, having an art time. This will give everyone a good secure feeling of knowing what to expect. That is rhythm and repetition.

An example of a ritual that would bring delight to your boys during the day: a little verse just before meals, or the same song or blessing at every bedtime, or the same rhyme as you go out the door. These can be very short.

Think of the week's rhythm in major and minor outings.

Some of the major outings we talked about:
The Farm, the Beach, Wildlife Park

Some of the minor outings we talked about:
Public Gardens
The waterfront - the playground by the museum
The Farmer's Market on a Friday or a Sunday when no crowds.

Possible weekly rhythm for morning outings:
Monday: Park
Tuesday: Library
Wednesday: Downtown trip (waterfront, Gardens, glass elevator, Commons & Horses)
Thursday: Flex day (workday for me)
Friday & Saturday: Major outing 1x week (Farm, Lake, Beach etc.)

Aim to start your outings at 9 a.m. allowing 1/2 hour travel time each way. Pack up the backpacks the night before with the items you can pack early. e.g. water bottles, sunscreen, clothing supplies, hats, a few small toys, etc. Decide the night before what snacks you will add to the backpack in the morning.

After lunch, maybe that's a good time for art projects. Or after breakfast before you leave for the day.

We talked about the importance of work and using big muscles, especially for boys. Look for tree stumps, sand bags, heavy things that can be used in the yard. A half-barrel from Kent or Home Depot gardening sections, to be used for water play in the back yard. Can be filled with the hose or with buckets. Boys can use buckets or ice cream containers to haul water from this "well" to other parts of the yard. They can put sticks and leaves in the half-barrel and make soup, or they can sail boats, bark in it, etc. Empty it out every few days to keep it from getting yukky.

Consider getting a long plank they can move around the yard, especially to be used with the stumps, as balance beam, bridge, etc.. Stumps are also great for jumping off of and are not too high to be unsafe. Stumps (4 - 6 of them) can be lined up or put in semi circle or some other configuration in yard where they can be used in many kinds of play. Consider water painting outside using real (but cheap) paintbrushes from Canadian Tire. (We tried this after she left, using rags, and the boys loved it!!!)

Bales of hay can be fun for the yard too. Eventually they disintegrate and you can mulch with the hay.

Be sure to pursue the mother's helper idea for help on your outings. So much more fun for all when there is an extra pair of hands.

When you start to reduce toys and clutter, remember to keep it simple for yourself. Just attack one small area at a time. Or one category of toys. Put the toys you remove out of sight. Keep toys you know will be played with.

Book to read: Simplicity Parenting, by Kim Payne. Easy read, very helpful suggestions. from Amazon, or Chapters. (Note - we already have this book, it's a good one!!)


sweet & lovely crafts said...

Sounds like you had a good meeting and that you have lots of fun summer things lined up. Have you seen my summer list that I posted on my blog? You might find a few other things to do there too!

Rainyday said...

I did see that... and have been stealing ideas from it, too! Though Elliot wants to do pricey things like ride the double decker bus at $35/person!

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