Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sanity Savers

Each summer, it takes us a little time to find our "normal". Of course, there isn't much normal during the summer. We are usually busy with things like camps, swim lessons, trips, etc. And that is part of the fun of summer. Not having a set schedule. But we still have to have a little order. Or for me, sanity savers.

So this year I am trying a few new things or at least new in a long while...

One problem we have had (or I have had) is that Joshua wakes up early. That is probably due to the sunlight that streams in his windows which have large open arches above them. And when Joshua wakes up, he thinks everyone should wake up. "Can I get up now?" we would hear as we tried to squeeze in a few more snores. I have taught the other children that unless we have somewhere to be, I should not see them before 8 a.m. The funny thing is I know when it is 8 because I hear doors opening. Until that point, they are to be in their room doing what they want QUIETLY.

While Joshua is a smart fellow, he hasn't figured out the whole time thing yet. I looked at some nightlights that would indicate when he could get up. There are some really neat ones out there. But I could not justify spending the money (did I mention I have at least three kids heading toward braces)? One day that light bulb popped into my head. A plan. And all it took was two pieces of paper and a sheet protector.

Green means go. If Joshua sees green paper peeking under his door, he can come out of his room. This applies in the morning and at nap time.

Red means stop. In the mornings, he can play in his room quietly but cannot come out if the paper is red. At naptime, it means he has to be on his bed. The funny thing is he stays in his bed in the morning even, though he may be singing or repeating lines from movies (word for word).
Believe it or not, it works. We did have to review the rules on the second day when he yelled (before time), "When is someone changing this paper?". But since then he has followed it to a T. I actually think he was distressed in Kansas because I DIDN'T take the paper! He is my routine kid. Oh, the nice thing is I can as eager siblings to turn the paper for me. They don't have to open the door (which will wake him up if he is sleeping), just slide it under. Who knew?

Another new thing for the summer that has been a sanity saver for me is the "daily schedule". Not really a schedule, but a highlight of the day. I realize it would be more "green" of me to write it out every day on a markerboard but it is SO much easier to type it and print. We do recycle though. :)

Anyway, each day I list the breakfast possibilities (they cannot have waffles every day...I cannot afford that), the lunch possibilities (I cannot endorse hotdogs daily which one child would eat), our dinner plans, and the chores of the day. When they ask what is for dinner, I simply say, "Have you read the schedule?" Another benefit I hadn't anticipated is that I list leftovers as a lunch possibility. For the first time, leftovers are getting eaten. One day they raced to the fridge for the leftovers from the meal the previous night. And Maria has become our leftover queen. It has also helped to have the chores listed. I used to forget whose turn it was to do what (empty the dishwasher, refill the dishwasher, take out recycles are the everyday chores). I have also started listing "additional chores" which is an extra chore, usually an organizational job (like find three stuffed animals you no longer want) or some household job to learn (like vacuuming). Something simple but it has freed up all of the times I used to answer, "What can I have for lunch again?" Oh, one thing I hope to add next week is a "Mom" time...each day a child will get thirty minutes of my time for whatever...reading a book, playing a game, etc. Not that I won't do some of those things otherwise, but this will be a little extra time, dedicated time. Hopefully it will help me ease some of the "Will you play with me?" requests I get all day long.

And finally, this isn't new but it has been a while since I have done it. Hunter and Lauren put away all of their own clothes and they choose their own clothes to wear each day. Maria puts away easy things like socks and pajamas, but I put away her clothes. I usually pair tops/shorts; we have a drawer for outfits I have created. That way, she can choose her outfit within reason. Well, the one child who had no plan was Joshua. Either Mark or I just went in and chose an outfit in the morning. The only problem is that sometimes he wants to get dressed when I don't feel like going in and putting together an outfit. But he wasn't ready for Maria's system because he wouldn't get that the clothes are folded TOGETHER. So, time to bring out the gallon ziplocks. I just put together outfits in there (leaving the nicer clothes in the other drawers to have for church and outings). Each day, he goes in, chooses a bag, and pulls out the outfit. He leaves the empty bag in the drawer so I can fill it later. It gives him some choice within reason and lets me have another minute or two reading the paper at breakfast...
So, thus far, these are my sanity savers for the summer.

What are yours?


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