Weekday and weekend routines
A recent topic that’s come up in conversation with our friends and fellow working mothers – children of working parents appear to eat and sleep normally on weekdays when with the caregivers (usually grandparents) but everything goes pear-shaped on weekends in terms of naps and eating appetites.
Whilst agreeably it is a challenge to manage topsy-turvy naptimes on weekends because we are usually running errands, meeting friends, and all other sorts of engagements which require us to be out and about for a fair period of time…because I treasure order and method 😛 , I do think that there are steps that can be done to minimise the disruptions to try and keep the works room running smoothly throughout 7 days.
So I thought I would post five things DH and I do. This is not to say we have arrived in any way (and no, we don’t have a perfect life!) ; it’s just to share what we’ve found works for us and maybe it will help some. So here goes… 🙂
#1. Work out commute timings around nap times
As far as possible, we try and get the kids into our transport around the same time as their nap times. Although e.g. they may not get their full one hour (if that’s their usual), at least they can catch 20-45 minutes depending on the journey timing before reaching the destination and will be somewhat rested rather than not at all.
Caveat: This does not work all the time. We have had many experiences of the kids not sleeping and then starting to want to sleep when we have reached. In that case, it then comes down to making the best of a bad job and moving on to tip #2. 😉
#2. Bring a stroller or sling
We have a lightweight umbrella stroller that folds into a nice compact size to carry on the shoulder. It’s great to have someplace safe and mobile to put our little snoozer in while we carry on with our errands. We use it most for DS but sometimes DD wants to sit and then…
…I use the sling for DS. It’s great for places where it’s inconvenient to bring a stroller. I used to think it was so difficult to learn how to use a sling! But with some determination [and desperation thrown in], a parent can learn anything to get to what it takes. Yes, we can. 😉
If you have more than two kids…I assume you have a stroller built to accommodate or hopefully your eldest is by now past having to have scheduled regular naptimes! 🙂
#3. Keep to meal timings
Whilst the key factor in routines is the order of events and not necessarily the timing, when mealtimes go topsy-turvy, do be aware you are setting yourself up for the possibility of appetites going topsy-turvy too.
Try to keep the children’s meal timings on weekdays and weekends consistent. Agree on a routine that works for both the weekday caregiver and the parents on the weekend.
As DH’s mum looks after our kids and our nephew on the weekdays, she has built in a routine where our kids start lunch at around 11.30am and dinner at 5:30pm. So we keep to it.
We’re actually happier for it because starting meals early means we usually beat the crowd, find ample seats, clean tables, order and eat at a relaxed pace, which then leaves everyone in a happy mood to carry on with the rest of the plan.
Also, when we meet up with friends, regardless of where and when the adults want to eat, the kids have either already eaten or are provided for. It takes a weight off our shoulders needing to look for a combination of quick parking PLUS short queue PLUS less crowd PLUS kid-friendly eating establishments.
And don’t fall for the hypothesis that if you get them hungrier they will eat faster. You’ll just have a ticking meltdown timebomb waiting to happen, AND have to convince your little grenade to “eat properly”. If it doesn’t work for adults, there isn’t any call for thinking it should apply to children…
Bringing something from home for young children has been a lifesaver many times especially when we’re delayed because we couldn’t find parking, because we got lost on the directions to the place, because it took time to get a big group to meet up for a meal, because my handphone battery died and DH forgot to bring his (seriously, yes it happened! 😀 ) and so we had to wait in one place for a friend to arrive and hope she could spot us in the crowd before we could leave together for lunch.
I was able to give the kids their lunch and they were then able to explore the area happily and work off excess energy for a short while before she arrived.
Sure, it takes effort to wake up earlier and prepare something. If you don’t want to do that, yeah, you may have to compromise with jar food. But there is nothing, nothing like the peace that transcends all meltdowns when you are able to offer a hungry grizzling kid something to eat while you wait.
#5. Keep the bedtime hour sacred
If naptimes on weekends go berserk, at least the bedtime hour is always consistent. I know many who think we are anal sticklers who won’t budge on the “Cinderella hour”, and we have gotten an infinite number of “For goodness sake, it’s the weekend, can make an exception right?”.
But this honestly works for us.
We keep to a regular bedtime 7 days a week and work our social engagements around it. For a time we always had to fend off loud protests, attempts to “hold” the children for longer, and sometimes irritated scoldings (quite unbelievable but definitely true!). But given time, people adapt. Mostly I think because I’m so doggedly stubborn and unmovable, LOL!
It’s dependable predictability for the kids that at the usual hour it’s time to wind down and rest for the night.
It’s welcome respite for the parents to know that we’ll have a good three hours for our own time daily to reconnect as a couple before going to bed.
And everyone wakes up early, fresh, alert and ready for a new day of discovery and learning. I personally can’t think of a better way to start a day, any day of the week. 🙂