Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Than Making it Through the Day

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Several months ago, I had a request to write a post for ideas on more than making it through the day. That was at the beginning of my first trimester, so I forgot about it for a while. Since then, I have had many more requests and have seen much need for such a post. Without further adieu, here it is!

There will be this post to introduce the overall concept, then we will break things down into age groups in separate posts so we can focus on age-appropriate goals.

Making it Through the Day
What do I mean when I say "making it through the day"? To merely make it through your day is to make it from waking up to bedtime without much incident. It is a matter of survival. This really should not be your goal in parenthood. Yes, there will be days when you go into survival mode. Maybe you are sick. Whatever the reason, we all have survival-mode days. However, if you can be in the habit of doing more than making it through your day, your survival-mode days can hopefully still be productive and beneficial days for your child.

This is really a lot easier than it might sound. As you implement these things, take them slowly. Add one item at a time. There is no need to overwhelm yourself or your child.

Babywise Classics
First, we apply the classics of Babywise activities to our day. We have our mealtimes, our naptimes, independent playtime alone (independent play/roomtime/or as I call it, solo playtime), structured playtime, free playtime, sibling playtime (if appropriate), and time with family. Let's take a closer look at each of these items:
  • Mealtimes: This is something all of us are going to be doing. How can we optimize it so that we don't just "make it through" mealtime unscathed? Our exact steps will vary based on the age of the child. Ideas include teaching manners to teaching morals. We can also make an effort to make mealtime as nutritious as possible. We can work to make mealtime a time everyone enjoys and is a bonding experience for the family.
  • Naptimes: Naptimes are an excellent chance for mom and baby/child to get a chance to rest. The children will experience rejuvenation and the growing of synapses in the brain. While approaching naptime, we can see the willingness of the child to submit to the will of the parent--does she fight you when it is time for a nap? Does she stay in bed as told at naptime? For the baby, you might be in sleep training.
  • Independent Playtime: Any age can benefit from independent playtime. Making this a consistent, important part of each day will bring you great rewards. The time following each playtime provides you with opportunities to teach about cleanliness and cleaning up after yourself.
  • Structured Playtime: This is an excellent chance to continue work on focusing skills and self-control.
  • Sibling Playtime: Sibling playtime (if there are at least two children in your home) is a fun time for the children to play and learn to cooperate with other people. The ages of your children will determine how involved you are in sibling playtime.
  • Family Time: There is bathtime, time spent grooming (brushing teeth, clipping finger nails, doing hair, getting dressed, etc.), individual time with parents, fun family activities, reading, etc.

Additional -Wise Suggestions
There are other activities listed in some of the -wise books you might consider for your child as he gets older. These include TV time, playtime with friends, and structured learning time. You might also start to include activities like sports or music lessons. All of these activities are covered in other "More Than Making it Through the Day" posts as age-appropriate.

Getting Started
No matter the age of your child, you might feel overwhelmed at implementing more activities in your day. You might wonder how you will get things done and worry if you will be successful at directing these activities. You can do it!

  • Baby Steps: Take things one item at a time. If you currently have a baby younger than 6 months, this will be an easier task to take on. You can slowly add these activities as your child becomes age-ready for them. If your child is older than 6 months, you might start to feel that sense of urgency and panic that comes with realizing you are "behind." Don't worry. You can get things going. Give everyone time to adjust.
  • Goals: Always have a goal. Start your day off with a goal for the day. This helps you to have something to reach for rather than just drift aimlessly from activity to activity. What does your child need to learn? Are there moral training issues she could use some help on? Could she use some extra tummy time to work up her neck or arm muscles? Is she really close to having the alphabet memorized? Have an attainable goal for each day. As you get more used to goal-setting and reaching, you can add more goals to the day. Having goals gives you purpose to your day. Have patience if you are new to goal-setting. If you find that you aren't meeting your goals, reevaluate and make more realistic goals. Break your goals down into smaller goals. Don't set yourself up for failure.
  • Age-appropriate: Consult the post for the appropriate age of your child (if you are reading this the first day this post is posted, the other posts are not yet posted, but will be soon). If you are starting "late," I would encourage you to look at the posts for the ages leading up to the age of your child first to just be sure you have the basics of those covered. Then move on to the actual age range your child fits in.


Janelle said...

Thank you so much for starting this post! I have a question about the difference between independent playtime, room time, and free play time. I've read the descriptions in Babywise II and they sound a lot alike to me, especially the room time and free play time. I'm hoping you might be able to clear this up for me. Thanks! Oh, and I hope both Brayden and Kaitlyn are feeling better.

Jenny said...

I can't wait to read more on this. There are days I go through the day and get tired of not knowing what to do. My LO is 5 months old and I know each day she is learning. I just don't know what do during waketime anymore. HELP!

The Nilsen's Journey said...

Appreciated your post & am looking forward to the age appropriate ones!

Maureen said...

This is great. I needed to read it today. It's been one of those days. Not huge behavior issues or anything. I'm just tired of him not listening to me. I definitely need to direct his time more. And I need to get myself motivated too. Thanks!

C-lee said...

My 5month 1 week old LO is eating her solids, when she blows raspberries I tap her on her nose or cheek and firmly say “Roxy-lee NO”. And when she doesn’t want me to hold her hands or stick her hand in her mouth while eating I squeeze her and hand and also firmly say “Roxy-lee NO” it seems like I’m waisting my time. Does this still have to do with the credit card method, where I will see the results later on. Is what I’m doing okay? Bare in mind she is a real extrovert, comes from the family. So she is really, really busy etc. C-lee

Christie said...

Maureen, I am in your boat!! Looking forward to continuation of this topic!!

Rachel Stella said...

Maureen, I'm tired of him (but my son) not listening to me either! :)

Thanks as always Val for the post.

kevnjacks said...

Hi there - I just started to read your blog and it's been very helpful! Thanks! I have a quick q about how to implement independent playtime when you have 2 kiddies - I have a 2.5 y.o. and a 4.5 y.o.. I assume you would do it at the same time but have them play separately? Do you have any tips on how to start implementing the independent playtime with them? Thanks a bunch!

Plowmanators said...

Janelle, they are really similar in the BW II book. In Toddlerwise, there is more. I will describe things in appropriate categories for the age group. The next post will be tomorrow (ages 0-6 months). You can also see the independent playtime, free playtime, and structured playtime labels for further information on each. Roomtime and independent playtime are the same thing.

Brayden and Kaitlyn are both well, thanks so much!

Plowmanators said...

Jenny, watch for tomorrow's post. Hopefully it will help. It is a hard age range.

Plowmanators said...

Maureen, Those preschool ages are hard--you really do have to direct or they do things that are of little value (like too much TV) or start getting into mischief!

Plowmanators said...


You definitely want to let her know it isn't okay and be consistent with it. You will see results in the future; it takes time to get things going. Babies (and children) really like to test to see if things are always a no or just sometimes...they are trying to figure things out.

The hand-squeeze listed in BW II is recommended for ages 10 months and older, so keep that in mind as you do it. You are the parent and ultimately decide what is and isn't right for her.

See this post for more:

Baby Highchair Manners: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/baby-highchair-manners.html

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Rachel. Keep in mind that it seems the earlier they test their limits, the easier they are as toddlers (so long as you are consistent now) :)

Plowmanators said...

Nilsen's Journey, Thanks! I am glad you liked it.

Plowmanators said...

Kevnjacks, Thanks! I am glad you have found it helpful.

For independent playtime, I have mine play at the same time but definitely separately. If that isn't possible, you can do one at one time and the other at another time.

See this post for ideas on starting this:

Independent Playtime: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/independent-playtime.html

and this might help:

Resistance to Independent Playtime : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/06/resistance-to-independent-playtime.html

and this:

Independent Playtime Lengths : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/03/independent-playtime-lengths.html

my3sons said...

Hi Valerie,
Congratulations on your new little one! I wanted to recommend a few books that help me to more than make it through the day. They are all available at Amazon, and some might be available at the library. 365 Things Every New Mom Should Know has a short idea, activity, tip or encouragement for every day of baby's first year. It is divided by weeks and days. It's not necessarily for first-time moms; I still use it with my third! The second book is Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready. This book has activities for every week of a child's life from birth to age 5. The third book is The Well-Trained Mind. This book is about homeschooling, but there is a chapter on birth to age 5 learning that is worth reading. That book could be checked out from the library.
I hope you're doing well with three! It's busy, isn't it?!?

Plowmanators said...

my3sons, it is busy! But not as difficult as I have heard it will be. Of course, that wasn't from BW moms :)

Thanks for the book tips! I am always interested in good books :)


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