Daily Plan of Attack – With a Toddler

Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics)When our son was about 13 months old, I finally hit on a plan that worked very well for us.  I had been home with my baby since his birth, and was loving it.  But things were still too chaotic for my taste.  Even though I felt I was doing well, I wanted things to be drastically better.  I finally came to the realization that even if I stayed up all night cleaning, it wasn’t going to be enough.  There was still too much stuff.

But I wanted 2007 to be so much better than 2006.  I wanted this house to become a home.  So I drew up a month-by-month plan (click here).  I also needed a daily plan, so that I wouldn’t be cleaning all day long, and would have time to cherish, hug and play with my child, while getting the meals cooked, diapers changed, teeth brushed, house cleaned, myself dressed, etc.

I had become a big grump because I couldn’t stand my falling apart house – and I don’t mean that it was just messy, but all the broken down items, unpainted walls, too much furniture, etc.  My house was 67 years old and showed it.

This is what worked for me.  You’ll need to tweak it for you, based on your lifestyle.  You’ll choose your own days of when to accomplish things based on your activities and how many family members you have, etc.  (Please note that I wrote this several years ago for another group, and I’m re-posting it now.  I’ve mentioned before that my son is now 5.  However, my schedule hasn't changed much.)

Daily Plan of Attack:

Breastfeeding is first on my agenda.  When we hear “Mommeeee…Daddeeeee” my DH gets the little buggar, cuddles him and hands him over to me.  Once breastfeeding is taken care of, off he trots to be with daddy. 

1)     I make the bed (unless it is Wednesday, then I strip the bed).
2)     I get myself ready for the day.  Daddy and baby “do the chores” (feed the cats). 
3)     I make a very simple breakfast for me and baby (oatmeal).  While I’m doing this, they are showering.
4)     We kiss daddy good-bye.
5)     I get baby fed (sometimes with only a diaper & bib on for easier clean-up), then wash his face/hands and get him dressed.

Then our morning cleaning routine begins.  I like to keep my child very close to me.  This is called “tomato staking” (see www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com) and he thrives on it.  I involve him in most everything I do, though he occasionally will watch a video he can dance to if he gets too bored with what I need to do.

1)     The bed is made, but I usually have to straighten the bedspread, then pick up my DH’s pj’s and the morning towels.  This used to really upset me, but then I realized that it is more important to me than to him, and it really isn’t that big a deal, once I included it as a “step” of keeping my home.  It takes about 30 seconds, plus, it blesses my husband.  If it is Wednesday then I put new sheets on the bed.  Of course, my babe wants to “help” by hiding under the blankets, and I oblige.  Five minutes of fun while trying to make the bed will be a lifetime of good memories for us both. (Don't forget to video these moments at least once!)
2)     I take a look around our bedroom and always notice that I’ve got my pj’s lying on the chair instead of put away, and usually last night’s clothes, too.  Oops!  I guess I’m no better than he is about putting things away, right away.  I take out any toys, dishes, etc.  I empty the trash if it needs it.  If the weather permits, I open the windows to air out the room.
3)     I check the baby’s room.  I put books away, close drawers, pick-up toys.  If it is Wednesday then I strip the crib and changing table, and make it up fresh.  During the morning’s chores I will sometimes put on a video so that I can move more quickly.  The baby comes in and out, wanting to be near me, but not enough to mess things up that I’m picking up.  We have a small home, so he is not on another floor or even really out of my sight, and definitely always within hearing.
4)     I check the bathrooms.  Hang up towels, empty trash, spray mirror, clean up water on sink.  I keep a small table with just a few large legos, or another toy, in there so he can be with me whenever I'm in there.  If it is Wednesday, I put out fresh towels and gather up all of the used towels from both bathrooms.
5)     I sort the laundry and start the first of two loads.  My DH will toss most of his clothes into a container, but he won’t sort them.  This absolutely drove me crazy when I worked, because I felt he was taking advantage of me and that I was wasting time sorting his laundry.  After all, he used up three times as many clothes as I did – he should be doing the laundry!  And he did, for awhile….   Once I was home full-time, I realized it wasn’t worth getting upset over – that by sorting the laundry, running the washer and dryer, folding his clothes, and even putting them away – I was blessing him, showering my love on him.  When I worked before baby there were days at the office when I would think, “I’d rather be at home doing laundry.”  And do you know what?  I really would rather be home doing the laundry and caring for my family, than being at a job that really doesn’t matter in the long run.  The laundry has to get done no matter what, and this way I can do it at my leisure, AND, even though I don’t have a beautiful laundry room, I do get to see the beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds when I walk out to the garage to get to the washer and dryer.  And I’m thankful.  My child adores playing in the laundry, “helping” me sort, and playing in his pen outside while I’m rebooting.  Sometimes when I’ve got laundry to fold we will stay out there and I’ll fold it outside.  Much nicer than running the copier machine while eating lunch at work.
6)     Time to unload the dishwasher!  Another of my child’s favorites.  It takes longer than the 3 minutes I used to take, but who cares?  My kid thinks it is fun and he is learning new words, “fork, spoon…,” and is learning to help.
7)     Reload the dishwasher.  I have to tell my child, “Dirty, icky” and usually send him into the front room to get this chore done.  Or he plays with clean pots and pans from "his" drawer.  Wipe down the counters.
8)     Straighten up the front room & dining room.
9)     PLAY!  I intensely play with him for at least 20 minutes, without getting sidetracked.  Outside, in his room, the front room, wherever.  If it is 10:30 or earlier, I may even take him to the park for 45 minutes.
10)  If there is time we may go for a walk.

Afternoon Routine
Noon is lunchtime for us.  If lunch isn’t leftovers and will take me awhile to make, I put on an audio book for us (our favorite is Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics with Peter Dennis acting out all voices.  Note there are 2 Volumes.)
Clean him up.
Naptime for 1.5 to 2 hours.  I usually use naptime to read and relax myself, though I may write, or declutter.  It is whatever I want to do. 
Wake-up time and a snack of fruit.
If it is not too hot we may go for a walk.

Evening Routine

4:30 – I begin to prepare for dinner.  If I need it, I put on an encouraging CD from AboveRubies.Org.  Nancy Campbell’s soothing voice calms my child and her encouragement keeps me going when I’m tired.  I may also put on her “Family Meal Table” DVD to help inspire me.  The Family Meal table(dvd)

6:00 – Dinner time.  If we are lucky, daddy will be home to eat with us, but usually he is late and eats way past our dinner time.

Many parents put their kids to bed at 8:00, because the entire family gets up early.  We are blessed to be able to sleep in until 7:30 am (or later if no one wakes up!).  We do not set alarms.  So our child doesn’t go to bed until 9:00 pm (IN BED asleep).  We get him ready around 8:00 and begin the routine of teeth, story, prayer and rocking at 8:30 p.m.

9:15 – I usually check my e-mail, do some work, pay bills, read about child-rearing from others.  If I can get to this earlier in the evening, I do.
10:00 – Clean up kitchen from DH’s meal, start dishwasher, pick-up toys in front room.
10:20 – If I’m cold, I take a shower to warm me up and make me sleepy.
10:30 – I like to read in bed.
11:00 – Lights out. 

What is missing from my day that many women do?  Phone calls, constant play dates, classes, and sports.  I really don’t think I’m depriving my child.  I do take phone calls, but I find that the phone takes me away from my child, so I often let the answering machine take the call.  I try not to turn on the computer until he goes to bed at night, or at least until dad is home and playing with him.  Otherwise, it is very easy for my time to get eaten up.  We do take different classes several times a year (tumbling, dance, music, nature, creative play), but we have plenty of time OFF between sessions.  If we have 4 weeks of ONE class, then we take 2 to 3 months off before we begin a new one.  And we do have short playdates occasionally, just not constantly.

My child NEEDS meMy time in my home.  He doesn’t NEED to play soccer or piano, or take tumbling or dance.  These things are the occasional fun class.  These things really do not matter in life, in the end scheme.  My child loves to dance, and classes are fun, but they are not what is most important.  I want my child to play piano, but not at the expense of our family time, sanity, nutrition, rest, and state of the house.  If it fits into our relaxed schedule, we do it.  If it doesn't, we don't.  This is the only way I can keep my home running smoothly.  I realize that if you have older children, so much time at home may not be realistic, but it sure does make life easier to take care of people and the home when you are AT HOME .


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