Our family is not one to stay home on the weekends. I don’t do well even staying home during the week. We are go, go, go and that’s the way we like it. We’ve put an impressive amount of miles on our car this past year. We traveled and hiked and biked and skied and vacationed and adventured and been thankful for that time.
But, sometimes it just doesn’t work, at least not if we all want to remain sane.
One of our kids NEEDS a schedule. He needs a time to wake up and a time to sleep and the ability to know ahead of time what will be expected of him. He doesn’t do well with “fitting it all in”. He doesn’t do well with late bed times and disturbed routine. He definitely doesn’t do well with the holidays – late parties, numerous ski days, increased amounts of sugar and an overwhelming (even for me) endless list of “fun things to do”.
To be honest, he’s downright unbearable. And no, not the kind of “unbearable” where you roll your eyes and discipline and try again the next day. The kind that makes you wish you didn’t have kids and wake up hating life, day after day. The kind of unbearable that is enough to unravel the most patient of people. The kind that empties an unbelievable amount of stress on the entire family.
For the first time, I realized that the kind of Adventure and continuous forward motion we are used to just isn’t working right now for our family.
I preach this stuff to 20,000+ of you on a weekly, if not daily basis. It’s a hard pill to swallow – to admit that what I am doing right now is not right for a fifth of our family.
So – we need to make some changes. And as we start a new year, it’s a perfect time to do so. We need to make our life work for our whole family – not just what our family was before we met the three youngest members. It’s hard. Really, really hard.
We’re backing up, simplifying, purging the unnecessary, focussing on the people that matter the most and building up from there. As a family, we need each other. We need our outside time and our travel and our adventure too – but right now we just need each other. It’s all about compromising and listening and being intentional.
Where we go from here
To clarify – this doesn’t mean that our outside time is gone. In fact, it’s even more important than ever. It just needs to fit into times of the day when it works a little better – before school, before lunch and before dinner. Consecutive all day adventures that lead into late bedtimes and no rests add up and end up in disaster right now, at least for some of us.
This “stage” may last longer than we want. Or we all may just need a hard reset for a couple of weeks before we can move forward a little more
aggressively enthusiastically again. We’ll take it a day at a time. We want our kids to be happy and share the passion for the outdoors that we have.
Here’s a bit of our plan (again, for kids aged 11 months, 3.5 and 5.5 years) for daily life:
- A walk (usually to school) or bike ride to get everyone breathing some fresh air right away
- School (homeschool and preschool) in morning followed by an hour or more (weather-dependant) of outside play before lunch.
- Lunch, rest, and then another hour outside before dark, dinner and to bed.
We also just need to be more intentional about our outside time, especially on the weekends. Leaving earlier in the day, packing a lunch and just being ready the night before. Not easy, but life ends up being so much better. We’re also doing the following:
- Packing pajamas to put kids in for our drive home if we think we will be missing bed time
- Choosing one “big” family adventure over the weekend and then smaller snippets of outside time
- Letting everyone give a little more input as to what they want to be doing (because we all have different preferences!)
- Planning trips together and being satisfied with just one activity in a day instead of 5
Finally, when that just isn’t enough for Mtn Papa and I (which, especially for him, it really isn’t) – it means taking turns and making sure we get out individually for some reset time. It does wonders for us personally, for our marriage, for how we handle the kids and therefore for our whole life.
I refuse to sit around our house until my kids are old enough to be done with naps and tantrums and all the fun that happens with toddlers (oh wait – that doesn’t end when they’re 7!!??). My husband and I won’t make it. We’ll be in the nut house before then. But, more important than anything else, we want our family to share a love for getting out and WANT to be skiing and biking and playing together. Sometimes it’s a fine line, especially when sleep deprivation is factored in.
And then one of these days, we hope that the “base” we have given our kids full of experiences will all come together. It’s why we bother and why we press on, even when we have some bad
What about you? Anyone else have kids that HAVE to be on a schedule? How do you handle the balance of play vs. sanity? Please tell us we are not alone in what sometimes seems like a constant uphill battle.
CHECK THIS OUT: Our guest blogger, Kristine, wrote a great post for those of us that maybe err on the opposite spectrum and need a little push to get out and be adventurous (and step away from that schedule for a bit).
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