Routines and Resolutions for Toddlers
I have had these gorgeous photos of bronze baby skin and wispy hairs on sweaty heads from THE hottest, stillest, stickiest summer day back in September LAST year...Yowza! LAST year already... I knew I wanted to edit them and share them because they are just so beautiful, but wasn't sure what the accompanying text would be.
This was from a trip out to see my Dad last September on the Colorado western slope. I wanted to see the river, the Uncompahgre River. It runs through Olathe and in parts seems to go right through the back portion of property that belongs to friends of my dad across the way. We had visited the Ute Native American Museum in Montrose on one of our trips and learned a bit about this area. Turns out the Uncompahgre Peak is also in the area and the sixth highest peak in Colorado. The Uncompahgre National Forest is also a HUGE part of this gorgeous place we are lucky to call home and covers a large portion out west in Delta County.
Anyway, I think my dad misunderstood what I had wanted to do. I was thinking we would just drift across the road separating him and his neighbor, and with his permission, be able to go through is property and take a look down into the river cutting through his acreage. The river is not roaring at this point, but more like a creek. We ended up driving to Delta, just a ten minute drive, and parking by Confluence Park which does have a great path with these huge old Cottonwood trees everywhere and it runs along a river, but the Gunnison River. Just the same, Dad found us a picturesque backdrop to walk along in a bit of nature.
We got there around 3:30 or 4 pm and it was so incredibly nuclear out. I felt bed that I had insisted on finding water and doing a nature walk and then following Dad and ending up somewhere further than I had thought and right before dinner in prime, meltdown hour. I was nervous. Haha! The girls were more than happy and THRILLED be explore and walk along the path. They tumbled out of the car and we grabbed our big bag of strawberry licorice bits we had bought for Pa and forgotten in the car.
We were not too close to the actual running water, and we did not make it very far at all. It was just too darn hot. It seems like a gorgeous spot to run in the spring or fall! Have you ever had this grand plan to do an excursion, suited up, geared up, got amped up and then when you got there it was all just sort of a fizzle? Not a bust, not something you regretted, just something off. It was an off trip for everyone involved I think. We were all a bit hot and hungry. Can't tell from the faces on these two!
On the way back they found a fallen tree just like out of a scene from one of their favorite children's book series, Lady Bug Girl (thanks, Alex!) In one of the books, the main character has to occupy and entertain herself for the day. In the beginning she complains and grumbles but then she goes into the back yard and ends up losing track of time exploring, including walking across a large fallen tree and pretending there was hot lava below her.
So here are my own two little ladybug girls exploring and imagining and climbing in the hot sun in the Colorado summer heat wave along the Gunnison River. I wish I could be inside their tiny minds from this hour to see what they saw...how LARGE were those trees to them? How HOT did their little bodies feel as they walked along? Their sweaty feet inside their shoes shuffling in that pink dirt. We sat on a bench to rest when Remy grabbed a large stick and Arlo jumped up and found another from somewhere and they began a fake dual. My girls are still fascinated by ROCKS and STICKS. We have a no-sticks-in-the-car rule, but they still love finding a "good" stick.
Fast forward and I am sitting in slippers and sleeves under my down comforter in January of a new year. A NEW YEAR! Remy's Kinder year! Arlo's Pre-K year! I want to soak up quality time with them this year. We still have our rumbles, tantrums, arguments, our battles. There are still chunks of time filled with WASTE- crying, screaming, tears, coaxing, convincing, trying to empathize and understand. That time is swallowed up in a cloud of confusion, frustration, and a nil-nil score. BUT, I STILL insist on being home, I still turn down date nights because things are easier to just do when I am home. I still prefer them to be home.
I thought about resolutions and routines for the coming months ahead, and not just for myself, but for the family as a whole. Relationships between husband and I have their own energy and pulse, a certain rhythm and flow all unique to itself. When I step back and think about routines and resolutions as far as the dynamic I have with the girls, I thought I'd share a little bit about that.
Routines are important for us. Always have been. Sleep routines, Eating routines. Nap routines. We had them all, they all changed, we found new ones, those worked for awhile, then we tweaked and adjusted and have now entered a full on, full-day-phase. The no-nap day! LONG days...however, the trade off, they are in bed by 7 pm! We have not yet established SET unique morning keystones outside of milk, cartoons, breakfast, getting dressed, teeth, shoes, check the weather from the driveway after I get the garage door open and getting in the car for school. I WOULD like to do morning stretching or yoga with them, and hope to introduce that soon. I think it is coming down to me just taking it on and DOING it! Remy has asked to use my yoga mat, and I have found some cute toddler yoga on YouTube, our television is even equipped to show it, just a matter of ME changing MY routines I guess! I want to try. I want to stretch my bod and I think it is a super positive physical habit that would reap so many rewards. Ahhh to ring out that spine or open up the hips first thing in the morning, warm up the spine....okay...okay! Maybe tomorrow! But REALLY! (As I type in bed in a very hunched and crunched "C" spine which is now becoming incredibly uncomfortable...)
Another daily activity I wanted to sort of start sprinkling in their schedules is art. They BOTH love it so much and request to do something creatively very often. They are already coloring, drawing, painting several times a week, and the art supplies are somewhat available to them, but one goal I have is to really make it so they can grab any medium available at any time as they wish. If they feel like painting, I want it in their reach. Pastels, (we haven't used this yet), get it down at their level. I want to sort of make a "safe art space" available for them to create at their leisure. Paper, canvasses, pom poms, glue... I want to be less afraid! Haha! Less hesitant to provide the tools they need because I am already creating roadblocks in my mind of all the messes to clean up...You always wonder how people like Picasso were when they were 4. Was there just paint covering the floor boards? Were his fingernails and hands just stained black from charcoal pencils? Was it in his hair? His sheets? See! I'm doing it again... Who cares! He's MF Picasso!
We DO have a pretty well defined almost cookie cutter nightly routine. We eat dinner around 5:30/6:00 pm, which may even be getting a little late. Then they sometimes play for a few minutes while I clean up, if hubby is out of town, and then usually straight to bath, or up to get pajamas on if it's a no-bath-night. We have a cold water humidifier in each of their rooms and sound machines in both rooms as well. I make sure they are filled while dinner is cooking, and turn the light soft, get sound machines on, tidy rooms, turn down their beds, and find their babies! They both have loves they sleep with. They are CRUCIAL!
After bath, or after dinner if we skip bath, we go to Remy's room for story time where we have all the books and a big comfy chair. I let them each choose one. Sometimes we do just ONE if it is a crazy late night and I see them fading fast. Sometimes if its an easy going night and I can sense we can stretch out story time we can do three, but we always do at least one! ALWAYS! There has been like once or twice I can think of when we skipped story. Once was as a punishment, the other time I am pretty sure is when we were all ill, when I was ill and unavailable, but Baba read to them or they read to him. Some form of story sharing was had. I have had this routine with both of them since birth. I love to read out loud to them and it just was a natural thing. I didn't form a schedule or declare out loud that I was going to read aloud every night. I knew reading to them was important of course, but I just genuinely and truly LOVE reading stories to them!
After stories we have them tell each other goodnight, more of a mumble now, and then I tuck in Remy. Then I take Arlo to her room but first she has a little warm milk and banana. I am trying to cut that habit off as it is not good to have anything after brushing teeth, we do that before story, and I can see her little teeth getting some yellowing. Eek! So now we try to brush after the milk but I want to cut it off completely. Then I take Arlo to her room and tuck her in and sing her a song. Pretty much this every. Single. Night. And I love that. It can be tricky to do a date night though! Arlo does go to bed now with a sitter, because she is beyond exhausted. Remy however will wait up and up and up until we get home. Did I mention their stubborn streak? Ha!
As for resolutions, changes, goals, ideas about how the next trip around the sun would make us happy, I can't speak for them, but for me, and for us, as a family unit, I hope to encourage their independence and guide them towards being a little more self sufficient. If any of you have ideas or tips on this, I am all ears! I know I have heard about some kiddos coming downstairs and fixing themselves breakfast in the morning! I am still getting shrieked at to come in and find their baby in the wee hours of the morning!
There are things like making the beds or putting on their own shoes, but to be honest, they don't have a great example in the bed making department. I do try to make my bed, but sometimes it doesn't happen until the afternoon. Can you call it making a bed when it's just pulling a quilt straight and putting your pillows at the head? We don't have the tradition, flat sheet, undercover, dust ruffles, sham pillows, falderal....Are we modern or lazy? Haha!
Shoes....oh shoes...I just can't let go of helping guide them in the style department. I offer practical footwear options and a couple choices and they ultimately decide, but I am the one hunching over and pushing their heels in. They are able to put on their rain boots! Does that count for anything? No? Oh...We don't own any velcro shoes at this stage, and their lace up shoes have an inside zipper which sometimes they can do and sometimes they cannot...
I Am in the initial stages of brainstorming ideas and ways to help them gain confidence and independence and have more say in things. This seems to be the age of a child wanting more choices and having their opinions heard. My focus this year is to let go a little. SO. HARD. Not gonna lie. I know how controlling I can be, but I am trying to think about our sanity, their happiness and the FUTURE. I really want the to have the knowledge and power and inclination to do stuff on their own. Teaching them the right ways, the proper ways, the safe ways...it is such huge responsibility, but what's harder than knowing what a task it all is to raise humans, what's harder to me is seeing them change into separate little people from me. I wonder if there isn't some underlying denial of them growing from toddlerhood to childhood that prevents us from truly letting go.
Anyway, a super long post. Not even sure I shared anything useful, but this post sort of mirrors this transitional phase we are in. I want to be ready for the fall when they are BOTh off to school. I want THEM to be ready. How happy would I be if they got dressed BEFORE breakfast, grabbed their backpacks, filled their water bottles, helped pack their food for the day? Remy has showed an interest in helping. She has swept the floor, helped put flat wear away after the dishwasher, and she even took it upon herself to fold some hand towels one day when she saw them on the couch to be folded. See, I think it's me not her.... She is ready for more.
I guess the positive here is that I am aware of this shift, recognizing the changes we are going through, and somewhat ready.