It happens to everyone. You are going along with life, things are going well, kids are happy in your routine. Then something comes up that forces you to change up what you are doing. This happened to us this fall when Ben started preschool and speech sessions. Suddenly we went from my getting to structure our day anyway I wanted to having set times we had to be places every single day. Talk about a change from the last year! But with a few adjustments, we were able to still get everyone’s needs met even within the new parameters. Here is how to handle schedule shake ups.
Write out what can’t change
The first step is to get out your calendar or just some paper and a pen and write out your week. Put every non-negotiable activity in there. These are the events that you must go to, but you have no control over the times. Things like preschool, sports practices, and club meetings. These are the events you are going to have to work around. You can’t change them, so they are set.
Make a list
Make a list of everything else you need to fit into your schedule that you can’t just not do. These are things like naps and meals. See if you can fit them in without changing your current times. We were fortunate that our afternoon nap time didn’t need to change. But see what you can keep the same.
Inevitably there will be things that don’t fit quite right. Maybe a meal doesn’t line up or a nap time overlaps a pickup time. This is where you have to prioritize a bit. What is most important? Do you have children that need their nap times no matter what? Are you still nursing and have to get those important feeding sessions in? If there is something important that overlaps is it a major overlap or can you scootch a little? One overlap for us was picking up Ben after preschool. Ali and Sammy still take a long time to eat, and they would normally be eating lunch when we need to leave for pickup. I was able to move lunchtime up a bit to give them enough time to eat and still let us leave on time. Can a nap start a few minutes later? Do you need to add a small snack so lunch can be a little later? These are the kinds of decisions you need to make.
Adjust your expectations
I want every day to run like clockwork. It should be predictable and run smoothly. The only problem with this is that it rarely happens. One of the things we had to play with and be more flexible about was independent playtime. I think it is so important for my children to get this time. But it is not as vital as meals and naps. As a result, it gets fit in when we can. Five days a week Ali and Sammy get the full time for independent play. Two days they get a shorter version. Ben used to skip independent play on Saturdays, but now that he misses it for preschool we added back in that Saturday time. And there are times when it just doesn’t happen. I try not to dwell on it and just move on. If we have a day when nap time gets shifted a little, well, that is what happens. I had to let go of that perfectionist mindset and accept that I was doing my best.
I hate asking others for help, even my husband! But there are going to be times when you just can’t do it all. If your baby is napping during pickup, see if a classmate’s parent can pick up your child too. Ask your family for help. Ben’s grandparents all adore getting one on one time with him. I know if I needed someone to take him to school so I could take care of Ali and Sammy they would do whatever they could to help out. Do not be afraid to see if your husband can tweak his schedule too. I hate asking Pat to do things for us. My main job is the kids right now, I should be able to handle it all. The thing is we are a lot busier now, so I can’t run every little errand myself. Guess what? He doesn’t mind taking on more. He was happy to do it. So reach out and ask for help if you need it.
Give your family time to adjust
So you have everything down on paper, you have prioritized and asked for help, and you are ready to embrace the shake up. Now give your family time to settle into the new routine. The first few days or weeks might be a bit crazy. You might find that what you thought would work just doesn’t. That’s fine. Tweak the plan and keep trying. In time you will find your new normal.
Today is a Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! The ladies are talking about how to handle the different times that schedules can get off. Be sure to check them out!
Mama’s Organized Chaos: Toddler Sleep Disruptions During a Family Crisis
The Journey of Parenthood: Babywise Disruption: Handling the Wonder Weeks
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Sleep Disruptions You Will Face as a Babywise Mom (and how to handle them)
Christine Keys: 3 Ways To Keep Your Baby Happy in Church
Wiley Adventures: Grammy Detox: Recovering Your Schedule After Spoiling
Let’s Be Brave: Tips For Traveling with a Baby