Last week I finally grew up and wrote out a daily schedule for our family. Why have I dreaded that for so long? I felt the same way about meal planning, and now I love it.
Every morning after we are dressed and the beds are made and breakfast dishes are done and Jack is back in bed for his first nap comes one of my favorite parts of the day--Help Mommy Time! I set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how much stuff is laying around, and Owen and Helen drop their toys and devote their time to running mini-errands for me--taking out recycling, emptying trash cans, returning magazines to the reading rack in the bathroom, emptying the dishwasher, paying bills (ha!). Because of their ages, 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, I continually direct traffic, giving out one task at a time and offering a lot of encouragement. I use this time as a chance to help out their piggy banks, too, if I remember.
Now my kids are by no means angels who jump cheerfully and beneficently into Help Mommy Time. In fact, this morning, Helen just couldn't put away the plastic lid for my crock pot, even though Saturday, she pulled the whole honkin' thing out of the cupboard for me; I mean, that lid was so heavy, it knocked her onto the floor! I hope by continual repetition, they will understand that Help Mommy Time isn't going away, and they'll make the best of it. They may as well start learning now that life isn't all about what they want!
A few weeks ago, Owen found the toddler gate tucked away in a dusty corner, and wanted me to put it up somewhere. I put it in the entry way, and suddenly that room was the place to be. We had a new game for an hour that day and the next! What would you call that, Monkeys at the Zoo?