I’ve instituted a new weekly tradition in my house. It’s called Kiki Mondays.
I don’t schedule anything on Monday mornings. We have nowhere to be. Kiki can hang out in her pajamas all morning long. If I have things to do, I do them. I’ll tell Kiki I need to do the dishes, but when she asks me if I can play with her for a little bit first, I say yes. My daughter can be a reasonable person, for a 4 year-old, and she’ll let me do the dishes in peace (it’s the little things, you know) if I spend some quality time playing with her first. And if I have errands to run, we do them. But we take our time. So what I thought was going to be a 10-minute stop at the Dollar Tree to get some new stickers turns into a 45-minute stop because Kiki wants to play with the all the stuffed animals on display in the front of the store. And in the afternoons the only thing we have to do is make it to the gym so I can exercise. But I don’t have a class I’m trying to make it to, so we have 3 hours to make it to the gym. That way when my daughter asks me if she can have a few more minutes to play before we leave, I can say yes. The entire day is run at her pace.
It seems like every other morning I’m rushing around as soon as we’ve eaten breakfast trying to get my daughter dressed and both of us out the door. We’re off to preschool or the gym and we have to be there at a set time. Then after our morning out, we’re back at the house for lunch and some rest time (read: tv time). Then we’re back out running errands or hopping from playgrounds to playdates. I get antsy when we’re at home too long, so this schedule suits me. But I started asking myself more and more if it suited Kiki.
Kiki loves being outdoors and loves going to the playground. She also has a great time with her friends. But she also really loves playing at home. I realized that I wasn’t really allotting much time for her to do that. My daughter has a huge playroom with excessive amounts of amazing toys that she was rarely getting the chance to play with.
Kiki, like most 4 year-olds, moves through life at a whimsical pace. She doesn’t have any sort of timeline that she’s trying to stick to. She has no To-Do list running through her head. Most days my daughter’s day is run according to my timeline (granted the time commitments are for activities for her but she doesn’t really care if she’s five minutes late for gymnastics). I realized that I was telling Kiki to “hurry up” way too much.
I identified something I didn’t like in how I was running things and decided I needed to fix it. So I carved out Mondays as a time that I would fight against all of my “go-go-go” tendencies and allow my daughter to just relax without me pressuring her to stick to my timeline. It didn’t take long to see how much my daughter was enjoying our laid-back Mondays and I decided I should take my experiment to another level.
I started making a concerted effort to slow things down every day. Fewer “hurry ups” and more “no hurries”. I also allowed for more unscheduled time in our calendar. It used to be that if we had a few hours free in our day, I would immediately try to schedule a playdate. Now I try to view those free hours as “free play” for Kiki and I give her a choice of what she does with the time. I’ll actually ask her if she’d like to go over to a friend’s house or if she’d like to stay at home. About half the time, she chooses to stay home.
It’s not always easy to have my day run at a 4 year-old’s pace. It takes a lot of patience. And I have to consciously ignore the ants in my pants. But I feel really good about the affects of our new laid-back schedule. Kiki is truly enjoying her free time at home. And I’ve recognized that it is much easier to corral my daughter when I’m not facing a strict timeline as we move through the day. She and I are having fewer power struggles. It’s truly had a good impact on my relationship with my daughter.
Besides, I like the idea of letting my little girl skip through life as carefree as possible for as long as possible.