Monday, June 8, 2009

Getting My Sea Legs

Actually, this post should be called getting my summer legs, but that sounds weird, like I'm trying to have great legs for the summer. Which I wish I was, but that's not my point here.

My point is that even though I had nine months to prepare for the start of summer, suddenly it's HERE, the boys are HERE and I'm trying to figure out how to work, keep the house in order (as if I did before or something), entertain them, Google things to eat for dinner, do errands, and entertain them in some fashion that does not involve excessive amounts of time with the Wii, the computer or the television. It's hard. Because I'm also finding it difficult to blog. My friend Beth sent me a funny e-mail this morning about people who don't update their blogs. I hear 'ya, girlfriend.

Because don't you hate that when people don't update their blogs? SO annoying. I know. I don't want to be one of THOSE people. Yikes!

So the whole thing with the legs is that I'm trying to figure out how to balance everything for summer. We do follow a "schedule." It's really designed for homeschooling families, but my sister told me about it, I thought it was cool, and we've been using it for the past three years or so. I dig it. I dig structure. And so, as it turns out, do the boys.

The whole theory behind The Schedule is that the kids move from activity to activity during the day. You change things up every half hour or so and they don't get bored and start picking at each other. At least that's my interpretation. It works for us. I started using it because I needed to block out time for me to work during the day and not leave the kids to their own devices, which usually involves irritating each other in some way, shape or form.

Some days we follow the schedule, some days we don't. Like if we're out and about somewhere all day, we don't follow it. But it's great for the days we're at home to keep everything running smoothly. They love to look at what's coming next and remind me, "Hey, it's time to. . .go outside, go to the park, read a book. . ." Whatever.

The schedule is this big grid divided in 30 minute increments. Each person has a column. My column looks like this:

6 - 7am: Exercise
7 - 8am: Shower, get dressed
8 - 9am: Breakfast & kitchen clean up
9 - 9:30am: Chores (we alternate a chore each day--dust, Swiffer floor, vacuum, trash, etc.)
9:30 - 10am: Free time (the boys also have free time at this time--this is a chance for me to get my computer running and answer any critical work e-mails)
10am - Noon: Outdoor adventure (park, hike, scavenger hunt, bikes--whatever. If it's nice, we go outside. We need to get our outdoor activity done in the AM because it gets crazy hot in the PM. Or it storms. One or the other.)
Noon - 1pm: Lunch and clean up
1 - 1:30pm: Work
1:30 - 2pm: Read aloud to the boys
2 - 3pm: Quiet time (The boys don't nap, but everyone goes to their rooms for reading or quiet play.)
3 - 4pm: Crafts/games/project (example--this summer I'm going to do an ettiquette lunch for the boys. One of their chores before dinner is to set the table. They pretty much just throw the stuff down on the table in a haphazard fashion. So my plan is to get some books about setting the table, manners, etc. from the library. We'll read about the right way to do it and then I'll treat them to a fun "formal" lunch where we put all of these things to use. This mostly because I'm sick of looking at haphazard place settings.)
4 - 4:30pm: Summer learning (helping the boys with summer worksheets/workbooks from school)
4:30 - 5pm: Outside play/outside chores
5 - 6pm: Dinner prep & dinner
6 - 7pm: Dinner & clean up
7 - 7:30pm: Catch up time (the boys are usually playing with each other or Eamonn during this time)
7:30 - 8:30pm: Bedtime routines. Sadly, bedtime gets stretched out until about 8:30pm during the summer, if not later. Even with blackout curtains, it's hard to get their little internal clocks to shut down in the evening. Bummer. So then at 8:30pm, I'm sitting down to really get the bulk of my work finished.

The boys' schedules are similar, obviously. Theirs look something like this. . .

8 - 9am: Breakfast, room clean up, get dressed (I wish they actually slept in until 8am. If they're up early--which is every day of the summer until the last week before school starts and then they suddenly start sleeping in--they play while I exercise.)
9 - 9:30am: Chores
9:30 - 10am: Free time (this is where they usually choose to do the Wii or a computer game)
10 - Noon: Outdoor adventure
Noon - 1pm: Lunch and clean up
1 - 1:30pm: Declan & Finn play together so I can get some work done. In theory. Declan chooses what they do for 15 minutes and then they switch. They can sometimes play together for this length of time without causing each other bodily harm. Sometimes.
1:30 - 2pm: Reading with me. They're working on their summer reading program through the library. They love all of that cheap crap they get for filling in the times on their reading sheets. I can't wait until the end of summer when they forget about it and I can throw it all away.
2 - 3pm: Quiet time.
3 - 4pm: Crafts/games/project.
4 - 4:30pm: Summer learning (the workbook/worksheet thing). In the past we've also done Spanish videos during this time, especially when Declan was in the dual-language program at his old school. Maybe we'll do Chinese this summer. Kidding. We're doing Swahili.
4:30 - 5pm: Outside play
5 - 5:30pm: Free time
5:30 - 6pm: Set table/help with dinner prep
6 - 6:30: Dinner and clean up
6:30 - 7:30pm: Free time (when the weather is nice, they like to go out and ride bikes with Eamonn. If the weather isn't nice, they all play hockey in the basement.)
7:30 - 8:30pm: Bedtime routines--Clean up, baths, brush teeth, books.

We follow the schedule to the letter about once each summer. Because stuff comes up, we might follow it in the morning, but not the afternoon. Or vice versa. But what I found with the schedule is: there isn't as much bickering, they're not as reliant on me for the "what's next" aspect, they don't get bored (or if they do, thy don't tell me about it, but that might be because I told them if they were bored we didn't need all of these toys around here and could I just throw them away?), they actually like the schedule and move from time to time without input from me. Dusting is their favorite chore. Very impressive Lego structures have been built during quiet time.

Truly, many days we're not even here to follow the schedule. We go out for a hike and a picnic, or to the pool, or wherever and we're gone all day and maybe we only follow it at the end of the day or in the morning. So, while I do like the schedule, it's definitely not ironclad, and I find I stress less because I know there are times built into the day where I can at least get SOME work (blogging, Facebook) time in.

My favorite time of the day? 2 - 3pm: Quiet time.


Oh Laurie of Big Hair:) said...

Natalie, I love the schedule! I am totally going to copy cat! I was really not looking forward to this summer expecting a lot of bickering. I was going to institute the job jar, but I like the idea of a routine. I was going to sit down and have a heart to heart with the kids once school is out, but now I will sit down and present them with the "Rooney Summer Schedule". Thanks for the inspiration!

P.S. When you come to Ohio, any chance you are going to build in some "visiting with friends time"?

Robin said...

I love it too! I'm definitely a structure-sort-of-gal.

Anonymous said...

Great schedule! I am all about structure.....I think kids do great with a schedule and a good routine.