One of the things that make me awfully guilty as a working mum is that I don’t even know how my daughter spends her day during the weekdays. Except for lunch, dinner, late morning and afternoon milk, afternoon nap, I don’t know how she spends the rest of her time. Most of the time is free play I guess – a nice name for a random, unstructured, aimlessly wandering around kind of activity.
I have been reading about the benefits of having a structure and flexible routine in a toddler’s day. It saddens me that there is very little I can implement because I spend a good eleven hours away from her from Monday to Friday. We try to work routine into our weekends but weekends are largely filled by outings and special events that are strangers to routine. Hence, I have always been dreaming if God graces me with a flexible work schedule and an extra day a week with my daughter, how will that be like? Dreams lead you to do things out of the ordinary sometimes. That’s what I did last Friday. I took a day off when I don’t have any doctor appointments or bank visits or shopping plans. Yes, a day with just me and my 20-month old toddler.
No. We did not have a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. We had an orderly day, a joyful day and a fulfilling day together. This is how our day looked like.
Good Morning (8 – 8:30am)
The most wonderful part of the day has to be when I was woken up by the giggle and babbling of Kah Yen rather than the alarm clock. Yes, I chose to sleep in to give the day a great start. We both woke up at about 8am and Daddy was already up and ready to have his breakfast before he goes to work. After a big morning kiss and hug, I gave her milk bottle and sneaked into the bathroom for a quick shower while Daddy was still at home. When I came out, she was sitting at the dining table accompanying Daddy for breakfast – a special father & daughter moment happens every weekday after I left the house.
She was so surprised to see me coming into the living room. She must think I have already left for work after giving her bottle, as I always did. She pointed at me and shouted “Mummy! Mummy Mummy!!” I looked at the smile on her face I know I have made the right choice to spend a day at home.
Shower & Breakfast (8:30 – 9:30am)
After seeing Daddy off at 830am, I gave her a long bath, then I left her to play with her toys while I quickly prepared us some French toast by frying bread soaked in egg and milk. It is not very often we have French toast for breakfast; most days she eats her baby cereal. So this is my special treat for her. Her appetite is not big though; she finishes most than half of the bread but not the whole piece. She sat and played on her highchair while I finished my breakfast and cleaned the plates.
Room Play (9:30 – 10am)
My original plan is to encourage her to spend half an hour play quietly in the room after breakfast while I prepare her lunch. It certainly needs more practice though. We have never had a chance to train her to play in the room on her own with us out of sight, because in weekends at least one of us is always available to play with her while the other person is busy. Every time I tried to leave the room she would stand up and follow after me. I decided to cut her some slack this round so I let her play freely near me while I get her porridge on the gas stove, so that we can go out to have our outdoor play.
Outdoor Play (10 – 11am)
This is one of my favorite parts of the day. Every child loves outdoor play, and I love the sun and fresh air too. So off we went to our neighborhood park. The sun is too bright we did not go to the playground, but settled in the gym area with more trees and shades. I planned to let Kah Yen play on her own for the first half before I join her. She happily wandered around, amazed by everything that’s near her sight, including the falling leaves, the snuggling cat, the cars coming in and out the carpark, the rubbish truck that’s making funny noises. She even caught two fighter jets passing by. She is obsessed with airplanes lately and I am glad we finally saw the real ones.
After about 20 minutes I joined her. I brought ball and bubble with us, both are her favorite activities and we played for as long as 30 minutes on them. When it is near 11am I pushed her back and bought some ingredients for my lunch along the way.
|Outdoor play time|
Mid morning milk & Quiet play (11-11:30am)
I love this part because she was capable of playing quietly with herself for as long as half an hour. After I gave her milk, I put her on the bed and told her to have some quiet time with herself. This quiet time is very important after she quits her morning nap at around 18-month old, because it ensures she gets some time to rest so she will not be cranky during lunch time. I practice quiet time on Saturdays too (if we are at home). I turned on some classic music and placed two picture books on her bed and left the room. She would lie down to listen to the music, sit up and flip the picture books, talk to herself and talk to her Baby Pooh. She never made any noise for the entire 30 minutes.
The magical part of the quiet play is Mummy is free to prepare her own lunch. In my case I managed to cook homemade noodle within that time. And her porridge was also ready by then.
Focus Play with Mummy (11:30 – 12:00pm)
After I prepared my own lunch, I went into the room to give her lots of praise for her self-control and then joined to play with her. I cuddled her on our bed and we went through the ABC book together briefly. We spent about 15 minutes on it before I let her down on her feet while I get lunch on the table.
Morning was gone and I was truly grateful that Kah Yen was so easy. Neither of us was tired or cranky. And I looked forward to the afternoon of more time spending together. A large part of the afternoon will be consumed by lunch and afternoon nap, but still I have plans to build more structure to the rest of it.