Lately, Erik and I have been talking through this transition for me and the kids and asking the Lord essentially, "How did we (as a family of six) work again?!" and more seriously, "What things were we doing well?" and "How would You like to use this vacation as an opportunity to FRESHEN or CHANGE things in our lives?"
I feel the Lord has reminded us and refreshed us in several areas:
- you have three deadlines each day: refer to your menu
- for the sake of all of you: help Jude sleep through the night
- remember your routine
Today, I'd like use a magnifying glass over that last one.
In a family
with children this close together
and with children this young (preschoolers),
our routine is beneficial in offering our children constructive and meaningful days.
To be clear, our routine is not a schedule. It is unlike a European train on a defined track running to the minute. Rather, ours is like a kayak ride: moving down a river, at times being helped along by the current, at times stopping, at times changing direction. Our daily routine is filled destinations, if you will.
These destinations add structure, purpose, and fun to our day. Some are essentials that we do everyday - like reading time when I have to do morning chores and the kids sit on the couch and read. These times are mutually beneficial for mom and child. Other destinations are options to draw from ensuring variety, stimulation, and direction for our children. We don't do them all every day or even in this order.
For the free-spirited among us, I can appreciate that the thought of structure may look stifling. I personally don't like living in a black and white, set in stone world. What about when someone knocks at the door unexpectedly? There is room for the unknown, the unplanned, the unexpected. I want our family to live sensitively to the Lord's leading, rather than becoming too dependent on a schedule.
These destinations help me be both responsible and flexible to lead my children as the Lord is leading me. I find that if I have destinations and allow the Lord to lead me through them, by the end of the day my kids are overall more happy, more settled, and even inspired (albeit tired at the end of the day, for sure).
Destinations for the Snyder family as of April 2012
- Bible (Erik reads a section of Scripture during breakfast)
- daily helper (one kid alternates each morning help with morning dishes, making beds, tidying rooms)
- reading time (kids on couch while I do morning chores)
- mats (get out bags with quiet activities to do on individual mats - great for the older three when I need to feed Jude)
- lessons (continue to teach through the alphabet, etc.)
- dance (let the good times roll... and rock...)
- table time (craft, playdough, painting)
- together time (on the floor, playing games, hide and seek)
- play times (each child in their own room with some toys and a fun snack)
- (our favorite, used as much as possible) outdoor play!
- DVD (typically 1/2 hour while I make dinner)
My kids are going to think... something. Will it be meaningful and edifying?
How can I help ensure that their boundless energy is going to be moved along in a peaceful, purposeful way?
By allowing the Lord to lead me through destinations like these, I relax knowing that my children are being led through a variety of constructive, meaningful destinations throughout the day. This has helped as we've settled back into life as a family of six.
Are you in a similar boat (or kayak) with your family? You and the Lord know your family best. I'm praying for you!
Lord, thank you for the privilege of leading our little ones today.
May we lead our children well today as we follow Your lead.