Figuring out rhythms for our days and weeks

| life, parenting

It rained almost all weekend. W- focused on cleaning the house. I felt a little guilty and unproductive, pulled this way and that by A-‘s requests: “I want to play playdough!” “I want to go outside!” “No Mama go upstairs!” “I want to read books!” “I want to play with letters!” All the while, W- was bustling around, getting stuff done. But W- was patient with us, and we did manage to help a little with folding laundry, tidying up, and cleaning the carpet.

I was thinking about what a better weekend routine could be like. Then I realized something: of course, A- won’t have weekends until she has weekdays. She doesn’t care about the calendar. She goes by our daily routine, modified slightly on the days we have classes. Our daily rhythm has some time for self-care, some time for tidying up, and lots of time for play inside and outside. There’s no space yet for the kind of focused project work that W- can do, unless A- is asleep (and even then, she still wakes up from time to time). That’s okay. That will come in time.

What can I do about weekends now? I’d like to free up more time for W- to work on projects. It would help to move more household chores to the week, especially if I can make them playful.

  • Laundry: It’s cheaper to do during the weekend, but maybe I can bring down and sort things more frequently, and I can start a load every now and then. A- has gotten interested in answering questions about laundry (“Is this A-‘s or Mama’s?” “Mama’s!”), a good prelude to sorting. She’s also interested in folding, although she’s probably still pretty far from being able to do it. Practice time!
  • Cooking: We’ve been able to cook a few times, so we’ll keep trying. If I time it for when W- will be home, then he can take over during the final stages just in case.
  • Tidying: We do a small tidy-up before eating, but maybe we can expand it, especially if I turn it into a game of spotting what’s out of place. If I donate some of the children’s books that are too advanced for A-, I can free up a basket that I can then use to carry things around.
  • Vacuuming: I don’t like doing this when A- is with me, because she usually insists on being close and the vacuum is quite loud. She started getting interested in hearing protection, though, so maybe she can wear hearing protectors while I vacuum.
  • Groceries: I can usually pick up staples, but I don’t like buying lots of ingredients without confirming with W-. It’s easy for W- to pick up groceries on the way home, too.
  • Hanging out with A-: This is an important part of the weekend. Figuring out ways that we can involve A- in projects and in household chores means W- gets to spend time with A-, too.

I wonder if I can increase my playfulness so that I can engage her in more household chores, and I can think about scaffolding her so that she can gradually build skills. She’s got built-in drives toward helpfulness and mastery, so I can take advantage of that.

A-‘s indoor play tends to focus on playdough, letters, scissors, drawing, and pretend. She loves being read to. She can spend hours at the playground, too. All of those are wonderful things. I want to be fully there when we’re playing, not trying to pull her towards chores. I think it will be more about gently insisting that we need to do something as a small part of our daily routine, and then perhaps enthusiastically suggesting things when she’s undecided.

We’ve considered hiring help. So far, it’s been good for A- to see us involved in taking care of the house, and for her to get involved as well. It’s pretty manageable, actually. We aren’t at the point of being stressed by it, so we’re going to keep playing it by ear.

It would be neat if we can shift enough from the weekend so that chores generally feel evenly distributed throughout the week. Then W- can choose whether he needs to spend the time working on projects, he can spend time hanging out with us, or he can slow down project work so that A- and I can join. It’ll be fun figuring this out.

As for me, I can accept that I won’t be able to work as fast or as effectively as W- does. Even if A- switched over to hanging out with him, I probably wouldn’t even think of half the things he does, so that’s okay. Instead, I’ll focus on helping A- learn as much as she can, and I’ll try to learn as much as I can as well: what he notices, what he knows, what he does about stuff, and so on. There’s plenty for me to learn even when I’m playing with A-. We can do this!

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