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Old 10-06-2009, 04:25 PM   #1
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Structure - how much is enough??

I have two kiddos. My DD is 2 yrs and my DS is 8 months. I work full time, but off hours, so I am home all day and I work evenings when my Dh gets home. we are a busy family... my question is, how much structure is enough?

I believe in learning through play, but also that organized learning (scheduled reading etc) is important. Sometimes, I wonder if I do enough? I feel sometimes like I can barely keep up with tidying up let alone cleaning and organized learning time...but I know it's important. How much structure do you think is necessary? What does your average day look like?

Thanks Mamas!!

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Old 10-06-2009, 05:23 PM   #2
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

I'm a sahm, but we have a pretty structured household. Both of my kids moods are better that way because they know what to expect.
Here's a sample day of ours:

Everyone wakes up between 7-8. We eat breakfast and then I shower. If we have errands to run, I get the kids ready to go and we get our errands done before lunch.

10am is snack whether we're at home or out and about.

If we are home, the kids play and I play with them be it outside or in. We are outside A LOT weather permitting.

After snack, if we are at home, I use that time to clean up and let the kids entertain themselves/each other. I get laundry done and dishes done during that time, plus any other cleaning that needs to be done.

12 is lunch time. After lunch, I let the girls watch a 30 minute dvd. My 11 month old doesn't watch, she just plays on the floor. After the dvd is over, I read two small stories and then it's nap time at 1pm.

Typically the girls sleep till 2:30 or 3. Sometimes my 2 yo is up before my 11 month old. I sew while the girls are napping and do other things like pay bills, answer emails, etc..

At 3 we have a snack and then play some more. I start thinking about what's for dinner between 4 and 5.

The girls entertain themselves while I cook and we eat dinner about 6.

After dinner, the girls get a bath and then put on jammies. My 11 month old goes to bed between 7:15 and 7:30 and my 2 1/2 year old goes to bed at about 8. DH or I read to her before bed. DH lays down with my 2 1/2 year old until she goes to sleep.

That's our day just about every day. It's not super exciting, but it works for us.

I believe in learning through play, but also do read to the girls. I do not, however go overboard with 'learning toys'. We sing ABC's, we name colors and stuff like that, but I believe that kids just need to PLAY.
My 2 1/2 year old helps me wash dishes and she helps me cook dinner. Her favorite thing is if I'm making BBQ chicken (for example), I pour the BBQ in a bowl and give her a basting brush and she gets to 'paint' the chicken before it goes into the oven. She thinks it's a blast! I include the girls as much as I can in cleaning too. My 2 1/2 year old puts away all of her clothes after they've been washed and she helps me dust. I believe while it's huge for kids to learn, it's also important for my kids to learn that the housework is not mine and mine alone. DH helps a ton when he's home, but he works long hours so he helps more on the weekends. I feel that by having DD put away her clothes and dust, she's learning to take care of her things and *hopefully* will continue that as she gets older.

Gotta run and get dinner started!
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

We lean more towards being unstructured because it fits mine and DH's personality but we really just let the kids lead in letting us know who needs how much structure. Our girls really did not/do not need that much; our son needs a lot more than they do. Our nieces need a LOT of structure and expectations when they are here, but that might be because they are not at their own house, and when they are here that makes FIVE kids, which is a lot for me.

We do not really have any certain time that we do certain things, it's more of a routine and it gets done within a reasonable amount of time. We focus more on end results and getting things done, not the clock. I'm positive I'd go nuts if dinner was at 6 pm., bathtime at 6:30, reading at 7 p.m., lights out at 7:30 p.m., etc. Not knocking that if it works for other families because I know it does, but that would fly over like a lead balloon at this house.

We also have a lot of free play time where they either play individually or together. I think kids learn a whole lot more through just playing and being with their family and there is no need to force anything.

Well I guess I said all that to say just let your family and your kids let you know how much structure you need, and then go from there. It needs to fit your personality and the personalities of your children and feel right.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:08 AM   #4
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

Thanks! I am wondering though, does anyone else feel "lazy" or "unproductive" without structure? I sometimes do, but I am not sure it's a viable feeling...like maybe not everything NEEDS to be structured.
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:00 AM   #5
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

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Originally Posted by diaperangel View Post
Thanks! I am wondering though, does anyone else feel "lazy" or "unproductive" without structure? I sometimes do, but I am not sure it's a viable feeling...like maybe not everything NEEDS to be structured.
If you feel that way then it could be that you need more structure. Whatever you are doing needs to FEEL right to you. It also needs to WORK for you, make things easier (not harder) for you and it should help your kids be happier and feel better.

Also you might be going too hard on yourself to be "productive." Just take a deep breath and look at your beautiful children and your wonderful family. If they are happy you are doing something right. Don't be so hard on yourself. Everything doesn't have to be structured. It feels so good to just relax and let happiness happen. Children do not need to be poked and prodded every waking moment of the day. They need freedom and time to do whatever their little hearts want to do at the moment. They learn and grow so much that way. It just happens, you don't have to MAKE it happen. You can tell if they need more structure, so if it looks like they do, make adjustments.

Oh you could do an experiment of sorts. Try a schedule/structure, not a huge one where every minute is scheduled, but more than what you have right now. If it feels like too much, back off until it feels right. If it feels great and works for your family, keep doing it.
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:23 PM   #6
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

[QUOTE=michellemomx3;8586132]If you feel that way then it could be that you need more structure. Whatever you are doing needs to FEEL right to you. It also needs to WORK for you, make things easier (not harder) for you and it should help your kids be happier and feel better.

Also you might be going too hard on yourself to be "productive." Just take a deep breath and look at your beautiful children and your wonderful family. If they are happy you are doing something right. Don't be so hard on yourself. Everything doesn't have to be structured. It feels so good to just relax and let happiness happen. Children do not need to be poked and prodded every waking moment of the day. They need freedom and time to do whatever their little hearts want to do at the moment. They learn and grow so much that way. It just happens, you don't have to MAKE it happen. You can tell if they need more structure, so if it looks like they do, make adjustments.

That is very wise, thank you! You sound like my husband...I'm the "anal " one, trying to learn to lighten up, it's a tough learning curve!
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:47 PM   #7
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

I wanted to add that just because the hours in my days are structured that's mostly because of my kids. They just do better being on a firm nap/bedtime and eating schedule, but they guided me in that direction. I'm much more of a 'play it by ear' person, but they aren't so I was the one that adjusted and here we are now.
For the first 2 years of DD1's life you could set your watch to her sleep/awake schedule. She was just like that. She went to bed at 8, woke up at 8. She napped from 10-noon, then she napped from 2-4. She required A LOT of sleep. She was just happier that way. She was also one that wanted to be put in her crib with no lights on and some white noise. She's still like that. No light, white noise, leave me alone and let me sleep kind of kid. The only difference is that she's down to 1 nap a day. DD2 went down to 1 nap a day earlier than DD1 so now they are on the same nap schedule.

Even though I was able to type out what we do certain hours of the day, that doesn't mean they don't do their own thing. They are playing on the floor right now. I'm not doing a structured learning activity with them, they are just playing. I'm about to go do some laundry and they will play on their own.

I agree with Michelle that kids don't need to be poked and prodded. I don't feel that each and every thing they do needs to be some sort of vast and enlightening learning lesson. As I stated above, I feel that kids just need to play. They are learning all the time.

If my kids (my oldest especially) strays too far away from schedule she doesn't handle it well. She will have tantrums and melt downs and it will make my day very long and very hard. The evenings get even worse if our day has been 'off'. But again, I stress that she led us in that direction. The older she gets the more able she is to stray from the schedule as she becomes more able to handle the change. Still, I do what works best for me and the kids and our sanity as a whole.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:03 PM   #8
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

My son is kind of like Missy's DD#1. He needs to eat and sleep regularly, and pretty much from the moment he was born he had a discernible schedule. So he needs more planning. He wants oatmeal for breakfast and TV/movie/playtime every morning. He needs a midmorning snack and then a good filling lunch. After lunch he has to have his nap. Before he stopped his morning naps he went to sleep between 9-9:15 every single morning. I do a lot of my work over the phone and I set my phone interviews for 9:30 a.m., I knew he would be asleep.

Now my two girls, free spirits both, especially the older one. She never has needed much food or sleep, and can adapt to pretty much anything that is going on. The second doesn't need much food or sleep either, but needs more than her sister and she leans more towards needing just a tiny bit of structure. My husband and I just cannot do scheduling/rigid structure, it is totally against both of our natures.

So we just try to do what the kids need/follow their lead on structure requirements and balance all that with our own natural inclinations. We just try to let everyone be who they are and do what they do.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:24 PM   #9
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

Organized learning isn't so much important as BEING there in the moment with your kids at every available opportunity.

And by BEING there I mean totally focused on them, not "Oh, really? Mhhhm"ing your way through a conversation while you're thinking about groceries or bills or car pool. Listen to them, interact with them, observe them, learn WITH them. Allow them to open your eyes to the small things that we no longer SEE as adults. The small pleasures.

They'll grow and learn more from genuine interaction than they ever will from "organized learning" sessions. Not to say that reading isn't important, but HOW you read IS. If just getting through the story so you can say you read a book to them is the goal, you're missing out on the opportunity to BE with your kids. Maybe your LO wants to talk about one picture at length and then loses interest in the book and wants to look at another. There's just as much learning happening there (more!) than if you were to "finish" the story.

Plenty of good can come from structure, but there's much to be said about lack of structure as well.

We have --no-- structure whatsoever. We pursue interests and adventures as they present themselves. No organized learning happens in this house (if I can help it, lol!) but learning is happening by leaps and bounds every second of our waking hours. In order to appreciate this, though, you have to change the way you view and value learning. Good luck, Mama!
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:26 AM   #10
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Re: Structure - how much is enough??

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Organized learning isn't so much important as BEING there in the moment with your kids at every available opportunity.

And by BEING there I mean totally focused on them, not "Oh, really? Mhhhm"ing your way through a conversation while you're thinking about groceries or bills or car pool. Listen to them, interact with them, observe them, learn WITH them. Allow them to open your eyes to the small things that we no longer SEE as adults. The small pleasures.

They'll grow and learn more from genuine interaction than they ever will from "organized learning" sessions. Not to say that reading isn't important, but HOW you read IS. If just getting through the story so you can say you read a book to them is the goal, you're missing out on the opportunity to BE with your kids. Maybe your LO wants to talk about one picture at length and then loses interest in the book and wants to look at another. There's just as much learning happening there (more!) than if you were to "finish" the story.

Plenty of good can come from structure, but there's much to be said about lack of structure as well.

We have --no-- structure whatsoever. We pursue interests and adventures as they present themselves. No organized learning happens in this house (if I can help it, lol!) but learning is happening by leaps and bounds every second of our waking hours. In order to appreciate this, though, you have to change the way you view and value learning. Good luck, Mama!
Hmm, very interesting! It sounds like you are very good at inspiring intrinsic learning, lucky kids!! Thanks mama, I will think about this more. Do you have a time schedule, like wake, eat, outing, eat?? Or is everything more random?

Thanks!
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