A couple of people have messaged me asking how I schedule my day to “fit it all in”. Most importantly, I want to make it clear that I struggle everyday to accomplish what I want to accomplish and many days I am unable to get it all done. It is busy being a mom, especially a mom of a special needs child whose day isn’t “typical”. Like many of you I have appointments either virtually or in person, Oscar has 19 people in his care team and I am in regular communication with most of them (which takes time) and outside of those appointments I have therapeutic activities that I need to do with Oscar. Then of course I also have “regular life stuff” like laundry, groceries, dinner, school pick up and drop off and extracurricular activities for my daughter.
The other thing that I want to make clear is that my lifestyle may be different from yours. For example I just started back to work 1 day/week, so I may have more time at home than you do. Also, I hear that many of you have to “fight for services”, I am fortunate that where I live services are provided and funding isn’t an issue, so this time that I am able to “save” and spend on something else. Another thing that saves me time is that we live in a small town so I can accomplish my errands fairly quickly because everything is so close.
I have never been great with time management, but I have come up with a few alterations to my day that helps to buy me some much needed time. I wanted to share my average day with you and maybe some of my shortcuts will work for you as well.
Grocery Pick Up- I used to go to the grocery store at least 5days/week. Do I prefer to pick out my own produce? Yes! But, I have gained a lot of time by shopping online and picking up my groceries at the store. I think that this may have also saved us money because I now have to plan meals in advance and I avoid purchasing random items that weren’t on the list.
Prioritize- I know I can’t do it all, so I need to prioritize. This may sound obvious but my first priority is always feeding Oscar. (Someone actually had to tell me this). Oscar has never been a great eater, especially if he is tired. Breakfast is usually okay, but I need to make sure that I am not pushing his lunch or dinner too late or else he won’t eat a good meal. My next priority is always his therapeutic activities. We do these everyday. I need to remember not to overdo it or else he will be too tired to eat. So I watch for his cues telling me when he is “done”. During his nap (when my daughter is at school) is when I will post on instagram, work on my blog and run around doing household chores. I have found it helpful to have “days” for certain tasks ex: I wash the sheets and towels every Sunday. This also helps keep me focussed on my priorities for that day.
Therapy-As far as Oscar’s therapies go, I do have to prioritize those exercises too. He is in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Each of those appointments are an hour long. It is impossible for me to do an hour of each everyday. So I have to prioritize our goals. For example, Oscar is now standing up on his own, for him to do this without supervision he needs to be able to lower himself safely to the ground independently, so this is one exercise that I make sure I do everyday if not multiple times a day. I will incorporate fine motor tasks when he is in standing. For example when he is standing at the sensory table I have some cups and demonstrate to him how to put one pasta at a time into the cup. Here we are working on playing in standing with a fine motor task. During mealtime and standing balance we are always singing songs (working on our speech goals) and I label everything for him. I need to figure out how to combine multiple therapies into each activity so that we are working towards our current short term goals.
Me Time- My husband and I have come up with a schedule that works for us. My husband works long days, but they start at 8:30/9:00am. So, we have dedicated 3 mornings/week to each of us. My husband gets Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings 7-8am to go to the gym and I get Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday morning 7-8am to run. We have made this a priority for each other because we know that it is important.
My Typical Day (A school day for Olivia and no appointments for Oscar)
7:30am- Oscar’s morning medications. Oscar usually wakes up around 6:45am and Olivia soon there after.
7:35-8:15am- My kids are sitting at the table ready to eat breakfast.
8:15am- Olivia will go upstairs and get dressed (into the clothes that were laid out for her the night before), brush her teeth and bring me down her hairbrush and hair elastics so that I can do her hair for school. Oscar is usually still in his highchair eating his breakfast.
8:30am- My husband is ready for work and will typically drop off Olivia at school on his way to the office.
9:00am- By this time Oscar and I are dressed and ready for the day. If we have an appointment that day, I like to try to book it for 9am. I like to “get it over with”. I find it easier to balance my day this way. If there are no appointments then this is when we do our therapy, typically for an hour.
10/10:30am- By this time I am eager to leave the house! Fresh air and outdoor time is good for everyone. I do not feel guilty putting Oscar in the stroller, it is okay for him to rest and enjoy a bit of fresh air too. This is when we will go for a walk with our dog, Sumatriptans and if it was not my turn to exercise that morning I might get in an extra, short run as well.
11:30am- Oscar is eating lunch. He is typically tired and because of this lunch isn’t usually his best meal. So I will often use one of his “meals I can count on” (see Entry Seventeen- “The Outliers”- Eat for more info).
Note: I do like to take the time 2-3days/week to make a large salad that I can keep in the fridge for myself. I do like to use kale as the green because I can have the salad prepped with even dressing and the kale won’t wilt. For recipe ideas check out the Self Care menu.
12:15pm- Hopefully Oscar is napping! I need to have him nap by the LATEST 12:30pm so that he is awake for us to go and pick up my daughter at school by 3:00pm.
12:15-2:30pm- This is a busy time! I try not to be on my phone around my kids, so I will catch up on any necessary communication. I usually will have started laundry earlier in the day so that it is ready to fold and put away during this time. I will do any necessary household chores and prep dinner.
2:50pm- Thankfully we live 3minutes from Olivia’s school so if Oscar isn’t awake, I will let him sleep until as late as 2:45pm and then I have to wake him up to get his sister.
3:00pm- I do try to conserve my time as best as I can. I mentioned that I now do grocery pick up. This saves me so much time and I believe that it also saves money too. Since I already have both kids packed up in the car I typically schedule grocery pick up between 3-4pm so that I can go straight from school pick up.
3:30pm- We are back home and both kids will have a snack. Olivia sits at the kitchen island and I pull Oscar’s highchair up to the island as well. I will give Oscar a snack that he can feed himself (granola bar, veggie sticks, cubed cheese…) and I can monitor both kids eating while I put the groceries away, or do some other clean up in the kitchen.
4/4:30pm- We will go outside again either playing in the backyard or we will head out for another walk. This is why I really like taking advantage of Oscar’s nap time to do a little bit of dinner prep because it allows me to enjoy some playtime with the kids before dinner.
5:15/5:30pm- I will usually start putting dinner together during this time. While I am doing this, Oscar will be in his walker and I might put on a TV show for Olivia.
7:00-7:15pm- OIivia is in bed.
7:30pm- Oscar gets his medication and then he goes to bed.
Another note: Oscar does get supplements in his milk everyday. To make life easier we (typically my husband) will prepare the bottles the night before so that they are ready for next day.
And that is it… our typical day with our kids. Obviously this changes a bit if Olivia has an activity or when Oscar has an appointment. Like I mentioned before, I do try to schedule local appointments for 9:00am, I find it less intrusive on the rest of the day. If we have a morning appointment I will do Oscar’s therapeutic activities after his nap.
I was not this regimented when Olivia was young, but now there is more to fit in and I have found that I do need to structure my day. I hope this helps. Please share any tips or shortcuts that have helped your family!