I’m going to be honest here. I had to create an official rhythm/routine/schedule after my precious third child blossomed into a preschooler in order to keep my sanity.
As hard as I tried, or maybe it was denial, I was not able to wing it like I did with my older two kids; a long time ago, which seems simpler in hindsight. But for this child, concrete adjustments had to be made for a more successful day, fewer tears (mine), and a happier family atmosphere.
I’ve read many beautifully written posts and or seen amazing breath-taking pictures of preschoolers happily occupied with their current tasks, but for all that to work, there has got to be some functioning framework to exist for this kind of success. Right? In my home, there definitely is.
What to Consider Before Hatching Out Your Plans
Most parents know that children thrive with a healthy and expected routine, but honestly, there are realistic factors that must be considered when creating a manageable rhythm for our day. As in,
- My morning alone time
- Kids’ wake-up time
- Food Times (multiple times – cause kids can eat!)
- Outside Time or Quiet time
- Evening Routines/Bedtimes
My, Much Needed, Morning Alone Time
Me, my coffee, and handy-dandy notebook time. Unfortunately, I do wake up well before sunrise. Honestly, I prefer not to, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s a necessary evil. After my shower, getting dressed, and while drinking my coffee, I look over my kids’ workload for the day, set out any needed materials, remind myself what is in the fridge (for meals), and if there are any outside errands to be done. Afterward, you may think I’d exercise, but that would be a lie. Haha! I’m listening to my True Crime Podcasts. All done in blissful quietness. Then, I’m ready to face the day.
Kids’ Wake-Up Time
At one point, I tried to follow my kids’ natural sleep patterns and base my day on that. Well, that grew tired fairly quickly. I wake up my oldest two by 7 am and let the little one sleep until he wakes up on his own. While the youngest sleeps, my older two have dressed, made their beds, eaten their first breakfast, and started on their school work.
My preschooler is usually up by 8:30 – 9 am. All my attention is on him for the next 2 hours. Two hours…..only? Well, I’m following his lead. After two hours, he is ready to do his own thing without his momma, for a bit.
These kids eat. There are three main eating times: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And a few sprinkled in snack times. Snacks being fruits, veggies with dips, nuts, and/or chips. Easy to grab things. Minimal work from me.
Here’s the thing, I anchor the homeschooling portion of my day around these feeding times. Hungry kids equate to cranky kids, which leads to sour behaviors. At least for my kids.
Morning: Breakfast may consist of yesterday’s overs (I have two pre-teens, enough said), eggs, toast, fruits, and/or yogurts. Any combinations. Easy stuff but filling.
Big Kids: Math and ELA is done before noon. Preschooler: With me (most of the time) filling his cup. Loads of morning kisses and cuddles, breakfast, reading books, playing with his monster trucks while learning to count (unbeknownst to him), coloring, and things like that.
Early Afternoon: In my home, lunch is our heaviest meal. Think soups, pasta, stews (chicken/beef), tacos, veggies, and/or rice. During lunch, we all reconnect and eat lunch together.
After lunch, loop studies and/or independent studies for the older kids are started and completed by 3pm.
During this time, my Preschoolers might be on the table “working” alongside them when he feels like it or, more realistically, he is playing with his toys, or we are playing together. Sometimes I’ll send him to watch TV. ie., Wild Kratts, Rescue Bots……while I help the older two with afternoon school work.
Early Evening: Dinner would be any leftovers from lunch (if any) and meals like quesadillas and salsa, salads, and grilled sandwiches. A lighter dinner means less cleaning up.
Outside or Quiet time is usually between the hours of 3-5pm. If it’s nice out, we will walk over to the neighborhood park. It helps get all those wiggles out.
If it’s bad weather or I need to catch up on things, it is quiet time. During quiet time, some independent reading will happen, playing together will occur, watching their own television program, and/or they work on their own little projects. Yes, sometimes, there are arguments between the kids, so it’s more of a quiet-ish time.
I’m doing mom things during this time. Quick home resets.
In my home, all electronics are off by 6:30 pm. Right now, at this age, they need a longer period between electronic times and bedtime to wind down for bed.
At this time, the kids will bathe, do their clean-up chores, play with their toys, read physical books, chill with their dad, or, when time permits, we will watch a family show episode together. For the older two, lights are off by 9:30 pm.
Bedtime for the preschooler is 8 pm; that’s his sweet spot. So, between the hours of 6:30 – 8 pm, I’ll give all my attention to the littlest one. Bathtime, picking out pjs, bedtime-specific lotions, bedtime-specific essential oils for the diffusers, and bedtime storytime (podcast or youtube story time). I know, TV for bedtime?? Moms, I’m shot for the day. He gets his story, and I get extra cuddle time.
Preschooler and Rhythm
Right now, during this season in life, when I purposely focus on my youngest’s natural rhythm and needs, it truly helps create a happier family atmosphere. Because I can anticipate certain behavior during certain times of the day, I can make healthy and appropriate adjustments to better serve him and my family as a whole.
Isn’t that what we want as parents? To better be attuned with our kid(s) and know what the appropriate action should be based on their own individuality while keeping our sanity? Yeah, I thought so.