Thinking about the rhythms of my days with A-

| parenting

It helps to look at the balance over a week, I think, instead of focusing on a single day. It also helps to think of rhythms and options, so that I can adapt to whatever A- wants to do.

I usually wake up after seven hours of sleep. It's hard to go back to sleep afterwards. Sometimes A- wakes up when I do, so then we do our morning routines. Usually she wants another hour or so of nursing in bed, which I can use to write. Sometimes she'll let me unlatch while she continues sleeping. Then I prioritize coding, since that's hard to find time for otherwise. She can get a bit anxious if she wakes up without me right there, so I try not to go far.

It's good to have plenty of outdoor time, especially playground time. If we don't have anything else planned, I take her to one of the neighborhood playgrounds.

A- has some playtime inside, too. We usually do that after we get back from the playground, late in the evening, or in the wee hours of the morning. I let her take the lead. She likes playdough, Duplo, scissors, singing, bubbles, pretend groceries, tumbling, and pretend playgrounds. She also likes being read to a lot.

I like to meet up with other people once or twice a week, generally in the afternoon. We like going to the Science Centre and Riverdale Farm. Playgrounds are also good for hanging out.

A- has music classes once a week. They're mostly for my benefit, actually. She doesn't participate in them much, but they seem to make a good impression on her since she happily imitates them at home. t's fun learning new songs. I'm not too worried about making it to this one if we need to sleep in or she feels like doing something else. We often pair this with a trip to the museum for a quick look at animals and a leisurely lunch.

I like involving A- in household chores. She likes playing with water and soap when we wash dishes. She can help put away dishes and sweep the floor. She likes preparing food: smoothies, pizza, breadsticks, pasta. She can help load our washing machine and transfer clothes to the dryer. She is interested in shelving books, although her version of sorting them is still randomly shuffling them around and then pulling out more books for me to read.

She usually has an afternoon nap, although sometimes this becomes an early evening nap. I've started experimenting with limiting nursing then, so she can get used to dealing with strong emotions at a time when people aren't trying to sleep.

Evening routines are a bit smoother when W- gets home from work early, but they're still manageable even when he doesn't. After dinner, W- and A- catch up with each other while I clean the kitchen and scoop the litter boxes. A- feeds the cats.

More playtime once the chores are done, followed by an evening snack and bathroom routines. Then it's playtime again. W- usually goes to bed before we do. A- has lots of energy late at night, and loves jumping on the bed and twirling round and round. I keep things fairly quiet and sedate on my part so that I can nudge her towards sleep and conserve my energy.

She occasionally wanders off for a few minutes of independent play. She also sometimes plays nearby while I scribble down thoughts, so I've stashed paper and pens all over the house. She can also play independently while I tidy up in the same room, although we tend to balance each other out.

My day feels more satisfying with a little journaling, continuous improvement, self-care, and time with W-. It's good to mix those in, too.

I'd like to shift our schedule a little earlier. It's difficult to do so because I feel a little short on sleep myself, even though I've deprioritized discretionary time for now. If I wake her up early, she can catch up by napping, but I can't always nap when she does. Then it's pretty hard staying up with her at the end of the day. I tell her she can stay up and play a bit more if she likes, but she wants to play with me. Sometimes she accepts that I have to go to bed, and sometimes she's upset for a little while. Maybe I can experiment with catching a quick nap while W- is home, although sometimes that leads to awkward sleep on my part. Maybe this will be the thing that nudges me to explore getting a babysitter. We'll figure this out.

It might be interesting to involve A- in more cooking, too. She's generally interested in watching and participating. If she wanders off, I can continue cooking. If she insists on playing with me, I can try to get the recipe to a good breakpoint, and then try to resume afterwards. She's usually good at letting me take a break for a few minutes when a timer goes off. Many recipes are forgiving. Many also have inexpensive ingredients, so it's not much of a waste even if I end up not being able to complete the recipe. I feel a little guilty about leaving a messy kitchen when A- decides to go for a nap, but W- said he's okay with that, and we can always clean up afterwards. Cooking is good for us long-term anyway.

I'm pretty happy with the overall balance of our days. More sleep and more grown-up time would be nice, although I'm not yet sure I want to invest the money, time, and energy needed for setting up babysitting. Sleep and discretionary time will probably come as we deal with this sleep regression, so no worries. We're making good use of neighbourhood resources, and we have a few reasons to range further afield. I'm still curious about other things that would be fun for a toddler to explore in Toronto. Those can wait for more predictable days, though. Anyway, I've got a few things to try. Tweaking our days…

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