All my Littles in 2011. L-R, Samantha (5), Kendra (9), Patricia (5), Christian (5), John (4), Jayna (7), Madelyn (2)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A quick LITTLE tip: Handling Littles in Crowds

Putting all your littles in the same color shirt when going to a crowded place makes it easy to keep track of them all.  The header pic on this blog is my kids at the Columbus Zoo, all wearing the same color shirts.  Unique colored shirts are often cheaper at sales.  All mine were $1 each at Walmart on clearance.  We use our yellow shirts at crowded playgrounds, on vacation, and on field trips.  I wash them when we are done and keep them in the van in a bag so they are handy if needed when out.  I believe it also deters someone from trying to kidnap one of my kids.  One look and anyone can easily can tell that they are with us.  I would think if someone were looking for a kid to take they would take a less noticeable child, but I can't prove this (and pray I am never able to!)

Simple Routine Scheduling

The word "scheduling" to a mom with a bunch of littles might send her into a nervous twitch.  Most moms see it as something they are chained to & must fully complete or they are complete failures.  That was me a few years ago.  But it becomes a little less scary when you change your point of view a little.  To me a schedule is just a list of goals with times attached.  They should go along with your natural routine.  You cannot schedule that really yucky dirty diaper, scraped knee, or your headache.  Take breaks when you need to.
Step 1 - Figure out your natural routine.
Watch yourself for a day or two.  When do you get up? Do you like to get dressed or get coffee first?  What time do you like to start on lunch?  When do you need your littles to take a nap?
Most all of us have some kind of natural routine. 
  1. Wake-up
  2. Coffee
  3. Devotional
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Brush Teeth
  6. Cook Breakfast
  7. etc...
Don't add anything to your natural routine yet.  It's coming.

Step 2 - Assign a routine to your kids.
I like to say "Kid's Bounce".  If you are around me long you will here these words come out of my mouth.  This means kids can adapt quickly to changes.  They recover from change easily.  However, they flourish once a routine has been established.   Decide on a routine that works best for you and assign it to them. Notice I said "best for you" and not "best for them."  They will bounce into your routine over time, don't let them call the shots on this.  Once I get them in a good routine, I try not to make any big changes.  *** See "Babies" at the bottom.

Step 3 - Write it down.
A mom of littles is often a little lot scatterbrained.  You need to get your routine on paper.  Divide a notebook page into columns.  Assign one to you and one column for each kid.  Write your routines down.  Don't assign times yet.  This has become just a list of goals in order.
Step 4 - Just do it!
Pause here for awhile.  A week or two maybe.  Some mommies may choose to stay right here, and not assign times.  Maybe you will pause here for 6+ months then be ready for assigning times.  You need a little time to get that routine running smoothly. Do what works best for you family!

Step 5 - Assigning times.
Figure out how long and when to do an item on you routine (eat lunch, get dressed) and assign a time to it.  You can tweek this as time goes by.  I often have to tweek a new schedule quite a few times before getting it right.  NOTE- This step is optional.  There is nothing wrong with having a routine (list of goals) with no times attached.  Some mommies just do not like being tied to a clock.  It's up to you, you know what works best for your family.

Here is a picture of our schedule.  I did it in excell.  You can just keep yours on notebook paper if that works best for you.  But I like putting mine on the computer for easy little changes. 

Step 6 - Add and Subtract as necessary. 
When I first introduced a schedule to my littles I allowed alot of time for getting dressed, brushing teeth & brushing hair in the mornings.  As time went on my kids got a good handle on this task and were able to complete it in half the time.  Because of this, I decided to add a exercise time in, where we had never had one before.  As time goes on you will hopefully descover the kids (and mom too) getting better at getting things done and be able to add in new things.  Likewise, during the beginning when my kids were struggling with their chores (yes, even the littlest little can have chores) we had a extra time of training in the afternoons.  This was time I set aside to teach them how to feed the dogs, or put their clothes away.  Over time we were able to do away with that time and turn it into a play time. 

***A few side notes about scheduling with "littles."
Be Realistic
Right now as I type I have dirty dishes in my sink.  At least 2 more loads of clothes to do before I caught up and that doesn't count blankets & towels. And I am running about 30 minutes behind getting lunch on the table (it's in the oven cooking.)  There are probably more days that I fall short of getting it all done than days that I get it all done.  But I am a firm believer of the saying "If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time."  Aim for goals, but enjoy your kids!

Abort, abort!
If it is a rough day, or was a rough night, skip the schedule for a day.  Don't be so rigid you with sacrifice family time to make it happen.  I know some of you are thinking: DUH!  But this was also me a few years ago.  I thought I was a big fat zero if I just spent a day in my pj's on the couch watching cartoons with my kids.  Trust me, you are NEVER a big fat zero when you are doing what is best for you & your kids, even if that means doing nothing at all! 

Babies shouldn't be scheduled.
I used to be a firm believer in scheduling babies.  But then I saw how very dangerous this can be.  Babies have a natural clock and will most of the time feed and sleep around the same time.  It might look something like this: feed in the early morning then nap, feed again at lunch then want some play time, feed again in afternoon then 2nd nap, etc.  However babies should NEVER be put on a clock!  Please do not deny your child food because it isn't time for them to eat yet.  This is VERY dangerous!  I will talk more about this another day but I felt like I couldn't close this blog without at least mentioning it.

Happy scheduling! 

PS- My very favorite book on scheduling in Managers of their Homes.  I highly recommend it!