I initially started writing this post months ago in the fall. Every few months, I like to mark the season with a recap of our family’s routines and rhythms. Especially with young children, this pattern is every changing as they develop and have different needs. However, amidst the evolution, much remains the same as well.
C.S. Lewis said it well, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?”
That is how I feel about motherhood and life in general. In the midst of it, each day feels the same. It follows the same beat of meals and activity and naps. But looking back, everything is different.
And so, before we add a second child into the mix, here is my marker in the sand to remember these days with one child in our Pretty Little Portico.
Over the last few months, our daily rhythm went through a big change! We dropped down from two to one nap. That was a challenge for me at first. Friends told me how wonderful it would be, but I honestly doubted them because I so loved the morning break to breathe and take a minute.
On the other side of the change, it does feel good. The day is less segmented which is nice. And while I am very much a homebody, the flexibility in our morning has grown on me.
But as I worked through that change, I completed a short daily rhythm workbook to help me determine how to create a new rhythm and, let’s be honest, survive the transition into that new rhythm. It helped so much to sit down one afternoon and think through our days.
More than anything, the workbook helped me see that our routine was not hopeless. We actually had some anchors in place in our day. The anchors – meals and sleeping – weren’t the problem for me. The challenge came in the space between. I felt a bit like driftwood between meal times and rest times. But I created a template for our day that helps me remember what to do next in those times I feel especially out of step.
Even if I hear Benji before 7, I wait until then to get out of bed and get him out of his room. Perhaps one day, I will rise an hour or so before my children, but now is not that time.
Breakfast happens soon after we wake up. And I try to use that time while Benji eats to do my own Bible reading and quiet reflection. It is often interrupted and choppy, but it centers me and cultivates my own soul before I tend to another all day.
After breakfast, we get ready for the day and then I love to go on a walk. Our days are so much better when we get outside first thing in the morning! Some days, Benji walks and we stay close to home in a quiet square nearby. Other days (especially when I am wanting to get significant exercise), I push him in the stroller. The morning air makes everything better.
After our walk, depending on the day, we use this time to run errands. Some Tuesdays, we go to the library. Other days, we go visit Jesse at work and might stop by a playground on the way home. Most Fridays, we go grocery shopping. This little bit of rhythm and predictability has helped me accomplish tasks I need to get done as well as keep Benji happy. He’s my social boy. I would be happy to be at home for days on end, but he needs to be around people. Sometimes, we also go to a friend’s house during the morning. It’s extremely flexible!
Benji is an early lunch eater so we eat around 11. Sometimes I eat with him. Other times, I take the opportunity to wash dishes or work on dinner prep while he eats in his high chair. A quiet lunch by myself and productive time while he is contained works well!
After lunch lately, I’ve picked a quick household task to complete before nap time. I realized Benji slept better if he goes down closer to 1, so I squeeze in a little housework before he sleeps. He enjoys the activity as he “helps” me clean the bedroom or bathroom or wherever.
After our housework, we read a few books while snuggled on the twin bed in his room and then I lay him down. My goal is for him to rest until 3, though that doesn’t always happen.
Especially right now, I use this time to physically rest as well. The last few weeks, I had sustained energy and worked through his rest time. However, I find that when I don’t take time to physically rest, I can be a little grouchy in the afternoon. So, I really try to anticipate whether I’m gonna be able to be a kind version of myself which most of the time means I need to lay down and rest too.
Rest time is over by three most of the time. We have a little snack and then usually go back outside of the weather is nice. The kitchen has a good view of the backyard so a lot of times I release him into the yard while I prepare dinner. Other times, I go out with him and play or sit and read while he runs around. He absolutely loves the outside! Days when we have to stay inside are borderline miserable for all of us.
Lately, our dinner time has moved up so that we are sitting down to eat at 5:30. That is when Benji’s natural dinner alarm goes off so we try to keep the hungry guy happy! Also, it works nicely on nights we have somewhere to be at 6:30/7. That way we have plenty of time to eat and enjoy rather than rush!
Bath time and books follows dinner. We bathe Benji pretty much every night. It became our routine about a year ago. Bath time was one of the first routines we implemented with bedtime in desperation for some consistency. So we hold that one close. After a bath, we snuggle up on the bed again and read a few books.
Benji goes to bed by 7, and then Jesse and I clean the kitchen and reset the house from the day. I’m not fully able to enjoy the quiet stillness of the evening without a toddler running around until all is calm. Once toys and bags and coats and all the things are put away, then I relax into the evening.
Our life has more of a rhythm than it did when Benji was born. Well, it has a more child-focused rhythm rather than newlywed couple rhythm. So I imagine that will make the transition to adding a second baby easier in some ways. But I am readying myself for the experience of feeling like our normal has been taken hostage by an intruder!
It took time to adjust to life with a baby. Nothing about it felt normal or as life had been. But as everyone said, it eventually became our normal, and I know the same will be true as our family continues to grow.