Spiral Notebooks and Threenagers

I always have ideas floating around in my head for blog posts, and many times they're very weighty subject matters, because I'm a very analytical person, and I think about everything. But sometimes, we just need good, practical or funny posts. This is one of those.

Trying to just 'do the basics' well can be difficult when you have one wild, rambunctious three year old and an extremely mobile and curious 9 month old. Trying to do them at all is more than one can accomplish some days. I by no means have all the answers to this, but I am trying to find ways to keep us all sane while accomplishing these goals. I also am trying to avoid being corrected, like when my son looks at me and says 'Mommy, you should not have spoken in anger. Do you need to count to 4?' There's nothing quite like being convicted by a preschooler.

The biggest thing that helps us? A written routine for the day - for GRAHAM. I have my own, because I love a good list, but what do you know?? So does he! (Be still my heart.) I got the idea from a podcast called The Simple ShowI believe it was episode 8. We tried it for a while about a month ago and loved it, then when things started getting busy we stopped, but oh my goodness, we started it back up again today, and it's like magic!! OK, not that awesome, but close.

I literally take a spiral notebook and write out Graham's day, starting with eating breakfast, then his morning chores, anywhere we're going for the day, etc. It helps me because I see what my expectations are of him and if they're too high or low, and it helps him because he feels so big and accomplished when he can check something off. All day today he was asking "what's next in my notebook?" or "NO!!! Jude got my checklist!!" (that was hysterical, not gonna lie. That would totally be my reaction if someone started trying to tear up, or eat in this case, my list.) It also helps him to know that certain things are in fact coming, like watching a TV show. I could remind him that yes, it was on the list, but not yet, we have these things first. And he's all 'OK!' After the defiance and disrespect of this last week, it was SO much better. We still had some of it for sure (rest time, anyone?! We're back to 'I can't do anything by myself including stay in my room alone' phase. Insert hands-over-eyes emoji here.) but overall, way better.

The list also helps me see am I blocking out time with him one on one?? I know this isn't possible every day, but most days, I can do 20 or 30 minutes during one of Jude's naps. And to my extrovert of a child, that is so important! It sometimes makes a small part of the introverted part of me die a slow death when I'm all 'But it's NAP TIME! Peace! Quiet! Maybe some Gilmore Girls!' time. But it's good for us both.

Another big one? Chores. Responsibility. Sometimes I think maybe I'm expecting too much, but often I find I'm not expecting enough. Sometimes it takes a LOT of encouragement, but he's capable of so much, and enjoys being able to do things for himself! These are his typical daily chores:

  • get dressed
  • help with the chickens
  • make bed (with assistance-he does his animals and pillows usually)
  • empty the dishwasher (except sharp knives and things on high shelves)
  • put any of his clean clothes away that I have folded
  • unpack his backpack after preschool/hang up backpack
  • set the dinner table
  • pick up toys (always, always this is the one that he fights. "But I made too big of a mess!" Exactly, son. Exactly.)

Other things he is learning/can do:

  • Pour his own water
  • fold cloth napkins
  • put laundry in the washer/dryer and help with the detergent
  • pick up sticks in the yard
  • dust the baseboards
  • vacuum (he actually is really good at it and enjoys it!)
  • clean the toilet
  • take the trash can from the curb
  • get his lunch ready (he totally did this today and I was so impressed!!)

Wow. Sometimes I forget how much little ones are capable of, and how much they just want to be a part of things! I guilt myself into thinking they should play more or I should play more...but those shoulds can suck it; kids will find time to play, and they make work into play...I think I can learn a little from them.

I told my husband I was coming to bed in 10 minutes 25 minutes ago...so I should go. I'm curious about any other ways you get the 'basics' accomplished with littles? How do you involve them?

Here's to threenagers, wine, and maybe a little extra wine. Because you can't have one without the other.