I previously spoke on social media about how I have been splitting up my kids' day with a structured playtime schedule. In this schedule I have included playtimes like structured play, creative play, free play, and others. Since so many asked to see the schedule and how it came about, I have written this post with my process as well as a sample schedule.
I first started by laying out everything I wanted to include during our day. This included times to get myself ready, get the kids ready, breakfast, lunch, dinner, naps, etc. I then divided up the day in half hour segments and started to fill them in one at a time. After that, I filled in the extra times with the playtimes listed below.
Here is the list of different play times that I wrote down to include in our routine:
MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU:
Now, I know that things get busy and including all of these PLUS naps, lunches, etc. can be too much. So I would then scale it back and plan them out over a whole week if needed. You could do structured playtime on a Monday afternoon, creative play on a Tuesday afternoon, etc. This schedule needs to fit you and make it easy for you to follow.
CREATE MORE OF A GUIDELINE:
Below I have a sample schedule that is similar to what we follow. Now this is a schedule that we would follow if we had a perfect day. This schedule is more like a guideline and can be followed perfectly if we have no plans to leave the house and if all goes as planned... which every mom knows... things NEVER go quite as planned. I personally like to create a 'perfect schedule' then work my way back and realistically do only what we are able to do, then alter it as we go.
OUR IDEAL DAY:
7:00-8:00 : Preschool prep and breakfast for sister/Bus pickup
8:00-8:30 : Breakfast for brother/Get ready myself
8:30-9:00 : Get brother ready and dressed for the day
9:00-9:30 : Brother free play/Work time for myself (emails, etc.)
9:30-10:00 : Mommy and brother time
10:00-10:30 : Structured playtime with brother
10:30-11:00 : Sister off of the bus/Free play for everyone
11:00-11:30 : Lunch time
11:30-12:00 : Brother's nap prep/Sister's quite time
12:00-12:30 : Mommy and sister time/Brother's nap
12:30-1:00 : Structured play time with Sister
1:00-1:30 : Sister free play/Work time for myself
1:30-2:00 : Screen time/Afternoon snack
2:00-3:00 : Outside/Active Play
3:00-3:30 : Structured Playtime all together
3:30-4:00 : Creative Playtime all together
4:00-5:00 : Free play all together
5:00-6:00 : Quiet time/Mom prep dinner
6:00-6:30 : Family Dinner
6:30-7:30 : Free play with Daddy
7:30-8:00 : Bedtime prep
8:00-8:30 : Bedtime
WHAT I HAVE COME TO FIND:
As I stick to this schedule and try to keep my kids busy with planned play times, I have found there have been less fits, fussiness, neediness, etc. because they not only are staying busy, but because they know what is coming next. This process provides predicability where kids then feel more comfort and confidence thus creating more opportunity for them to thrive. They also seem to appreciate the screen time, free play, etc. more when the rest of the day has been so structured. I am finding more peace and time for myself during their free play and quiet moments now than I did before. Also, when time is set aside for each child to get my full attention, without any interruptions, this can build their confidence in me as well as providing a huge opportunity to build upon our relationship.
Seriously, the benefits are endless.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.
I’m wanting to be a little more open with you all.
On here I discuss yoga, being a mom, how to live a healthy lifestyle, and more. But I don’t talk a ton about the struggles I go through in my life.
That’s a lot harder to do. I don’t because I don’t want to focus on the negative and I don’t ever want to come off as a complainer. I also don’t because I am afraid that my reality won’t be accepted and won’t be liked as much as the ‘filtered version’ of myself would be.
BUT... let’s forget my fears here.... they aren’t worth the time or energy.
SO... I promise I am going to open up more. I’m going to become more vulnerable and show you that the grass isn’t as green over here as it may look and that it’s actually just as green on my side as it is on yours.
We have hard days and then we have ‘easier’ days. But frankly, we’ve been having more hard than easier. Having three kids under the age of four with the oldest having a mild form of autism is difficult. Very difficult.
What gets me through these hard days? Faith, chocolate, yoga, and YOU! You all have been a strength and light for me. Being able to connect with you has brought so much love and light into my life. And then being able to focus on the things I love and share them with you, helps remind me what is truly important in life and to keep at it and to not give up. So thank you!! The #momlife is hard. But you all have lifted a bit of the burden for me and I am forever in your debt.
Well, one morning, I glanced at one of the clocks and suddenly realized that we were running late for the bus to come pick her up for school! So I threw on some clothes, finished getting her ready, and we rushed outside.
Earlier that morning, it had been snowing so it was freezing outside. We were waiting for about ten minutes when I finally checked my phone and realized the mistake I made. The bus wouldn’t be coming for another hour. I then realized what would be coming next... my daughter was not going to understand that I made a mistake. She wasn't going to understand that the bus was not coming right now and that we would have to go back inside and wait for another hour until we could come back outside to meet it on the road. I knew that this change was going to rock her reality and that there would be a big fit to follow.
So I braced myself and tried to prepare her. But when the time came where we needed to go back inside, the world came crashing down on both of us.
Looking back on that moment after it had passed, I remember getting so frustrated with her that she was throwing such a fit. I knew she didn’t understand, but I also felt that she should know better and know to not throw a fit like that.
But later that night I read a quote from another parent who has a child with autism. It said something to the extent of... 'a meltdown from a child with autism is not the same as another child simply throwing a fit'.
That’s when I realized I had made an even bigger mistake than just misinterpreting the time of when the bus would arrive. I had gotten frustrated with her when I shouldn’t have. She didn’t understand what was going on and she couldn’t handle the change of going back inside when she was already outside ready for the bus to pick her up. It was different from our routine and from what she was used to. She simply could not understand and could not handle it emotionally. Then to make things worse, I didn't handle the situation well and I should have been more patient with her.
As parents we try our best, but we are still learning. As I step back and look at this experience now, I realize that I am still so oblivious to how things are seen from her point of view. There is still so much for me to learn. Not only do I need to be more patient with her but I also need to be more patient with myself. Whether we have a child with autism or we don’t, or we have a child with a condition more severe than autism or even if we are an empty nester dealing with children who are now adults, we are still learning and we still need to be patient with ourselves and each other.
This also goes along with forgiving ourselves when we make these mistakes. I have been so hard on myself because of what happened and I just feel so bad. But I need to remember to forgive myself and that the only thing I can do now is to learn from these mistakes.
The learning process is never ending. There is always something we can learn or someway we can be better. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a parent and to be able to learn from these little guys everyday. These little kids teach me so much and I am constantly changing and becoming a better person because of them.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.
My little girl just discovered her dancer's pose! I love seeing how she progresses through her own little practice and I am always amazed at how close she really pays attention. Now every time I go to take a picture of her she wants to strike a pose and show off her new trick!
Having a child on the autism spectrum is so hard. From the looks of my little girl, she seems totally normal. Yet she still sleeps in a crib, she still has a pacifier, is not potty trained, her vocabulary consists of maybe 40 clearly audible words, and really, that is only the beginning.
Every now and then, this all starts to weigh on me. I think, what am I doing wrong? Why can’t we pick up on the potty training thing, why can’t we just get rid of that nasty pacifier, and isn't it really time to get out of the crib? What would/does other moms think of me? Why am I such a failure? That's when the heavy #momguilt starts to set in.
Soon after the battle with myself has simmered down a bit, I realize (again) that she is different and that I need to be more patient with myself, her, and our situation. I need to remember that she is a sweet, delicate little human being that is growing at her own pace (and really every child is - autistic or not). Because my little girl is behind in her speech, she lacks communication skills and she also doesn't understand the concept of danger. Her crib is there to protect her at night so she doesn’t go wandering around without supervision. Her pacifier is there to help soothe her and minimize the sores that she creates in her mouth due to stress and anxiety. I could go on and on regarding each of these 'concerns'. One day we will get there, but today isn't the day.
But really, when it comes down to it, the reasons don’t matter. What matters is that I am doing what’s best for her just like we all should for our children. We are our children’s advocates. We are here to stand up and protect them and give them the peace and comfort they need in order to grow up and become the adults they need to become. We should do what we think is best for our children, regardless of what others say or what we may think they will/would say. We shouldn’t let others and their opinions get in the way of parenting to the best of our ability.
And last, but not least, we shouldn't let that #momguilt get in the way either. We can be so hard on ourselves. But we need to remember that we are doing our best and there is no 'handbook' that comes along with raising a child. No matter our situation, being a parent is hard! We can only learn from others, do the best we know how to do, and stick together to help each other out when we need it the most.
I am currently recovering from #momguilt, and striving to become a #guiltfreemom everyday.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, COMMENTS,