Tweaking the "Arrive Home" Routine | Giftie Etcetera: Tweaking the "Arrive Home" Routine

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tweaking the "Arrive Home" Routine

Arrival at home used to be a real problem. Both boys were starving half the time. Both wanted attention. The stuff in my car (for example, dirty lunch containers, milk on ice, and wet towels) HAD to be brought into the house. It was chaos.

(Aside for credit - a quick thank you shoutout to my friend Misty for her ideas regarding workboxes.)

As part of my night time routine, I've been preparing stuff to LEAVE the house. But now, I also prep stuff for when we get home. I make three workboxes (more on those below) for Ander and leave them out on the kitchen table.

Being self-employed and picking up my kids up from my mom seems to suck up afternoon time. I've made it a goal, despite those challenges, to get home an hour before supper time. When I get home now, Ander has to 1) potty, 2) do any chores that are needed, like clear out toys from the living room, 3) do the three workboxes, and 4) eat supper, before he gets to either go on a walk with Mommy or play with Daddy. If Mommy is home alone and it's too hot to walk, THEN he gets a movie. All three are really fun for him, so it motivates him (and forces me to workout).

Meanwhile, Loki watches a Baby Einsteins DVD while playing with toys and then eats supper (while Ander eats, so we are all visiting together). I still eat after that, because it's too hard to eat all together and still feed Loki.

Mommy clears out the car, supervises the boys, and makes supper while Ander completes the workboxes. It works out MUCH better than before, when I tried to entertain the boys the whole time.

As an added bonus, the workbox idea is fabulous. I put out three activities. I try to do an easy, totally self-directed activity, then an activity that takes Mommy's help, and a third activity that is really exciting. Ander can see all three and wants to do them, so he works them pretty cooperatively.

Yesterday, we first colored a picture and added Color Wonder glitter paint. We worked on writing the letter A to show it was by Ander. Then, he had a fine motor skills activity where he put stickers on a picture and colored within the raised lines the stickers left over. Finally, we made play-dough cookies.

Today, we colored a page and worked on the letter A and spelling Andersen outloud as Mommy wrote it. (We color a lot in the first activity, both because that is when I'm most busy with Loki and because he needs the practice holding pens and crayons.) Then, we took a free hurricane map I got at Subway and used pennies to track hurricane routes (from the water to the boot-shaped Louisiana) and our evacuation route to Grandma's house. (We've been talking about hurricanes on our way to and from work everyday.) Finally, we took a puzzle with animals on it and wrote a story about animals. I would write a sentence, like, "The cow mooed at the..." and he would pick a puzzle piece, like the chicken, and finish the sentence. I would write chicken. He would put a period at the end of the sentence and then out the piece in the puzzle. The task works on listening, story-telling, learning the direction of written English words, ending sentences with periods, and holding a pencil correctly. Plus, he LOVED it. He thought it was great fun!

I haven't done a theme because I really have to vary the activities based on what is easily available and how much time I have to work with him. (For example, if Loki did not cooperate, Ander could have just done the animal puzzle without the story.) Plus, I only want to do about 20 to 30 minutes of activity. It's enough that he can focus as long as the activities are interesting.

This one-on-one interaction leaves me time to get supper ready, clean out the car, and make supper. But it really is one-on-one interaction, from Ander's prospective, because Mommy helps him get his colors, tells him stories about hurricanes (while warming leftover frozen pizza...that's fine parenting), and makes cool animal noises while he plays with his favorite puzzle. Loki thinks it's pretty funny, too, and loves that he gets to play with his toys WITHOUT Ander stealing them away and Mommy fussing at Ander for stealing them away.

I'm glad I did this.



Misty said...

You're welcome! Not all our activities in a day are theme related. E gets bored after about three days of the theme anyway.

I saw a cute idea online today. It's preparing all you need for an activity in a lunchbox (the old fashioned metal kind). I love it cause it's portable. If we do an outdoor activity, like watercolor painting or nature sketching, I might try packing our workbox in these.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I actually use crawfish trays. How Cajun is that? ;)

learn-2-walk said...

I know it seems ridiculously obvious, or at least it did to me once I started doing it...I have a lot of the same difficulty here, coming home at different times, picking Mason up from Mom's and coming home with a hungry kid...then having to unpack the car which includes my work bag, my lunch bag, my shower after work bag, his day bag, his wet clothes bag and both of our cups from the car, eesh that's a lot....but I found out if I packed a healthy snack (that otherwise might be included with supper - like a soy cheese slice and a cup of milk, or fruit and milk) for him to eat in the car on the way home, it made a huge difference in his transition and didn't "ruin" his supper, but was more of an appetizer. If you aren't already doing that, it might help - unless of course you have rules about eating in the car. :-)

Anonymous said...

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