(4 min read)
Man, every damn day feels like an ass-kicking in our home.
From the morning routine to several appointments super far away, to pick-ups and drop-offs and colds & potty training & deciding who's gonna make dinner, who will do baths. Gah!
We try to divide & conquer, but...we really like each other. And mostly, we really like being around each other. Big sis is in school 5 days a week. Sweet is in preschool 3 days a week. Tiny's in speech twice a week. We have 2 dogs, 2 cars and no childcare. *grabs megaphone* NO CHILDCARE. We commute into and out of the city at least 10 times a week, an hour each way (which is actually about 11 miles away. RUSH HOUR. That's a minimum of 10 hours in the car with 2 littles M-F. We're talkin snacks, books in the car, getting out the door on time, having enough to eat, bathroom breaks, and COFFEEomgCOFFEE.
We've just been plugging along in a bit of a rushed daze prioritizing the night before and, since I lost my job a few weeks back (18 days ago - but who's counting) I've been desperate for structure. So we came up with this.
Step 1: Prioritize
We sat down for no less than 3.5 hours last weekend (no joke) and mapped out the next 4 weeks with 4 pieces of paper and each day of the week on the paper. Hour by hour. We outlined all the nuances and decided who would do what. From this discussion we prioritized the following as most important to get organized around:
- Pick ups and drop offs and what time do you need to leave
- Picking out clothes and packing lunches (the night before)
- Appointments, appointments, oh my!
- Dinner Day-to-Day: who's doing it? Meal planning? Grocery shopping?
- Kids' activities and appointments throughout the week
- When does therapist/actually working mom need to be at meetings or grading papers or training or whatever
- When does artist mom/launching career in a new direction need isolated work time
- Weekends - how to keep them fun, have some routine so we don't all unravel and focus on family
- Give the kids some autonomy and opportunities to work on executive functioning skills and imagining their week
Step 2: Design user-friendly, simple, dry-erase, Tiny-can't-reach-and-destroy location for Command Center
We had a large-ish space of wall that's off to the side but still within the spaces we enjoy, so I got to work with a simple design that was easy to use and easy to manipulate.
- Upper left: Aerial view of the overall week for grown-ups. M-F is separate from the weekend bc I couldn't find an alternate clearance Michael's frame that we could fit M-Su in.
- Right corner: A detailed, hour-by hour of our scheduling needs 4 weeks out, for reference. And an area where we can plan meals. With templates.
- The kids' calendars. Our Bigs listed out all the things they think they do on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis, as well as special activities like going to the beach, visiting family, adoption parties, doctor visits, show & tell, etc. After brainstorming a list (with excessive help), Kiddos created art cards. These are basically 2/5"x3.5" cards designed in photoshop or word, laid out on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper with 9 cards per sheet. I laminate them so they last and let them decorate with stickers and markers. All of this is really for fun and buy-in. I think if they create the coolness, they'll be more likely to use it. you can also just cut out pieces of paper about the size of baseball cards and you're good.
- Storage of kids' art cards. Obviously their initials aren't G and S but if they were, this is where their cards would be stored. On any given day, when we are trying to plan ahead and imagine the future (dinner, soccer, feeding dogs, shower) they pick out the cards and put them on the corresponding day in about the same order they would play out IRL.
- Parking lot. This week, the types of things that landed here were setting up a hair appointment at a beauty salon for big sis, grocery items we didn't want to forget and car-related stuff that got overlooked. There's an extra container for dry erase markers.
- Not shown: the $2 IKEA clock, which we use for helping the Bigs gain a sense of time passing. How much is 5 minutes? 15? If they have a half hour to play, we use a dry erase marker to note the start and stop of that time, so they can begin to internalize when they should clean up and what the passing of time feels like when you're eating, getting ready for school, playing outside, building with legos, etc.
Step 3: Use it, refer to it, move shit around as necessary, take a pic and set it as your home screen
* All frames were bought on clearance at Michael's Craft store. Kids' calendars are plastic with velcro attached to cards and plastic to move cards around. Grown-ups calendar, parking lot and clear clipboards (Staples) are all dry-erase marker friendly. You could scrap ALL OF THIS and purchase Idea Paint to create one giant dry erase wall, if you wanted to. You know, like the fancy startups do.