Keeping to Schedules & Routines

We were eleven days into our holiday break, and one thing continued to hold true: keeping routines and schedules is imperative to keeping the peace in our home (whether at home or traveling). However, we also found that mixing things up a bit can be a good thing too.

Through the course of the year, our children operate on the clock, and if we even move the needle an inch, much less an hour, we will face the “pain” the following day. Bed times, wake times, nap times, and meal times are the hub of our family. During the holiday breaks, however, those times can often give way for family fun, parties, presents, new toys and books, and ultimately, the excitement of the season.  There were only a few days when we really let the routine slip last month—and paid the price in tears.

Change in Routine

The holiday break meant the girls aren’t in school, and the general daytime routine was different nearly every day. We weren’t driving to school, and starting the day with our “work.”  The girls didn’t have circle time, play with friends at recess, nap in the nap room, or play in the gym during aftercare. Rather, we may have slept in (or awoken early), spent the morning playing, or going on adventures.

One observation that I had is how “work time” during school, which are those first few hours when the students arrive, translated to unstructured playtime at home.

Excerpt from Age of Montessori’s Professional Development Webinar: Freedom & Discipline: Excerpt from Age of Montessori’s Professional Development Webinar: Freedom & Discipline:

For example, one morning Chapin and I spent some time creating a sun and moon to hang in their bedroom that will help indicate when it’s time to wake up. This will ultimately, we hope, prevent those early-morning footsteps from little girls wandering around the house. We also spent time organizing their toys, decreasing the clutter and moving most of them from their bedroom into another closet in the house. The girls selected a few toys that would stay on the shelves in their bedroom, allowing for more liberty to access and choose which toys they want to play with. We can rotate them, which will ultimately mean they play with their toys more—and it seems to already be working.

After Christmas, we decided to pack up the truck and go for a road trip…the ultimate routine thrower.

A Family Road Trip: Mixing Things Up

Our first stop was Grandma’s house: playing with toys, eating dinner out, and sitting at the sewing machine cinching up new pants. Then, we drove further west to Coeur D’Alene, ID. Just being out of the house allowed for discovery— swimming in the hotel pool, walking through town, sitting on new chairs, and the big hit: phones with cords!

The ultimate reason for the trip: to see Santa at the North Pole (didn’t you know he lived on the lake?).  The thrown off routine, lack of naps, change in sleep, and the long drive were all worth it when the girls lit up as soon as Santa read their names, “Chapin and Parker,” from the “Nice List.”

So, the next extended break coming up will be Spring Break, and we will continue to strive to stick to our regularly-scheduled program. We'll also keep stirring the pot and providing new experiences and unstructured playtime for discovery together, something that is so precious for us as two working parents. Please help us when those clocks change again!

Do you keep to a schedule and routine when your children are out of school? Or, do you mix it up and wing it? Tell us below how you roll on days out of school.

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