A Day in the Life: a snapshot of our daily routine


{Photo courtesy Fernando Tomás, Flickr CC}

Lately I’m asked how the transition has been from one to two children. Besides the lack of sleep and constant nursing, our home life and daily routines have pretty much remained the same: slow, simple, and rhythmic. I’m so thankful for the wisdom of RIE founder Magda Gerber when it comes to how to structure your day with infants and young children.

While our family is still slowly easing into a daily rhythm as a unit of four, and while newborns require you to be flexible, here is a look into a day in the life of the Kratovils:

You’ll notice two characteristics to our daily life, both inspired by the writings of RIE founder, Magda Gerber (pardon the long quotations, but they’re so good!):

(1) Slow, simple, and peaceful (and, boring to the adult eye)):

“I believe in slowing down and doing less. After giving birth, parents need time to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. Let go of extraneous and unimportant things. For the first two and a half years, keep your child home most of the time. Have a safe playroom and an outdoor play area. Lead a simple life. Some people might call it boring. It wouldn’t, however, be boring for your child. Children thrive on routine. In this way they develop inner rhythms of sleep, hunger, and satiation. Routines help them slowly settle into a schedule of mutual adaptation to the family.

I believe children need sleep, peace, and quiet. Rather than stimulate our babies, we should respect the enormous changes that occur as a child makes the transition from the womb to the world, and allow it to happen slowly. Doing less with and to your baby, in the way of scheduled activities and interruption of her play, also means doing less yourself. Parents may be scared at the thought of staying home with their child and worry that they’ll lose their drive to work or pursue other goals. I would advise you not to worry. When you have a young child, your whole being may want to stay with your child. As your child grows and becomes more independent, the pendulum usually swings the other way. Relax and enjoy your child. Let him adjust to his new world as you adjust to him.” (Magda, Gerber. Your Self-Confident Baby, pp. 55-56.)

(2) Like the ocean tide’s rhythmic coming and going, our days, too, have a rhythmic ebb and flow centered around the RIE principle of “time together, time apart”:

“When adults try to do their own work while trying to pay attention to their children, both parent and child end up feeling frustrated. This trap, I feel, is created by books and advisors who say that a baby needs to have his parent near him at all times….Children learn best through involvement, both with their environment and with others. If a child has a pleasant place to play, where he can move around on his own, exploring his environment, this, in turn, frees the parents to do their own work, and both their needs and their child’s needs can be met.

Many parents are concerned about not being ‘good parents’ when they are not with their child….A baby can learn to spend time by himself. It is important for him to discover satisfaction and joy in his own independence….Infants don’t need constant attention – what they need is to be safe and secure….An adult way of life is not a child’s way of life. Both parents and infants need time for themselves. Spending time apart helps make the together times all the more rich.” (Magda Gerber. Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect, pp. 17-18)

OUR DAILY (and, I mean every single day) ROUTINE:

7am: rise and shine!

{Time together} Breakfast as a family: I nurse baby J. while D. makes coffee for us both and serves E. her routine “cereales” (Cheerios). Or, if J. is still asleep, I sit and enjoy my coffee while E. finishes her breakfast.

7:30: Wash up & get dressed

{Time together} D. helps E. brush her teeth, comb her hair, use the toilet and get dressed while I do the same for myself and baby J.

8 – 10 am: Independent play time for E. in her “yes” space (her bedroom)

{Time apart} While E. plays by herself in her room, D. and I eat breakfast together, check our e-mail/social media, sometimes read, and get dressed/ready for the day. D. leaves for work around 8:30 and I clean up the kitchen. Also during this chunk of time, I’m able to nurse J. and help him sleep, or do a few loads of laundry, or clean the bathroom. I also want to emphasize that E. is NOT completely by herself the entire two hours: D. and I enjoy popping in and out of her bedroom to check in with her and connect. Sometimes that looks like us reading a few books with her (her FAVORITE activity!), or changing her diaper, or often just sitting and observing her play. (Magda Gerber called these moments “Wants Nothing Quality Time,” moments when we parents give her children nothing more or less than our undivided attention and presence.)

10 – 11am: Snack and play time outdoors

{Time together} I load up the stroller with a light snack (usually fruit and nuts) and we walk across the street to our beloved city park. We sit together on a bench and eat together, and then E. chooses how she wants to spend her time playing. If her neighborhood friends are there, then she’s often running around and climbing up and down the slides. If not, she enjoys just sitting on the bench with me observing others play, asking me questions, and watching me do my cross stitch. Now, however, that baby J. is in the mix and given the extreme summer heat, our outdoor time has lately been walking around the parking lot of our apartment complex, saying hello to neighbors, petting dogs, and picking up fallen leaves and flower petals. Occasionally, E. will walk her dolls in her toy stroller and I’ll carry J. in my baby carrier.

11am -12pm: Lunch and transition to nap/rest time

{Time together} We return home to make and eat lunch together, usually something simple like a sandwich, fruit, and yogurt. Eating lunch with E. and helping her transition to nap time has been more challenging lately now that I have J. to attend to. If I have to nurse him, I will help E. to her room to play, or sometimes I nurse J. while she and I eat. E. and I will read a few books and then I put her down for a nap. I’m still ironing on the “wrinkles” of this hour chunk of time; it’s hard with two now!

12-2/2:30pm: Nap

{Time apart} At 2.5 years old, E. still naps every day. If I’m able to do some mommy magic and help J. sleep at the same time, then I generally lie down to rest or sleep for a bit, then I spend time either reading for fun, checking e-mail/social media, or doing other activities I enjoy, NOT cooking or cleaning (I save those tasks for when the children are awake doing THEIR “work” – play).

2:30-4pm: More independent play time

{Time apart} Repeat from above. 🙂

4-5:30pm: Snack and outdoor time

{Time together} Some days we eat our snack at home; other days, if the weather is especially nice, we take it back to the park, where we spend more time enjoying the outdoors.

5:30-6pm: Make dinner

{Time apart} D. usually arrives home from work at 4:30 or 5pm, and will meet us at the park to play and relax. Then, we all head home for dinner. E. spends time in her “yes” space unwinding from the day while either D. or I prepare dinner. Now, it’s mostly D. doing the cooking so that I can nurse baby J.

6-7pm: Dinner and bedtime routine

{Time together} Since E. was about 12 months old, we’ve been having dinner together every night. We often light a candle and we always say a prayer to bless the meal. We cook one meal and E. is free to choose what parts of the meal to eat. There is always “postre” (dessert): fruit or yogurt. When we’re done, I do the dishes while D. helps E. wash up and put on her pijamas. I might nurse J. again, and then I join D. and E. in her room for story time. Her day ends with me praying and singing her favorite song “Pin Pon,” a Spanish lullaby. Then, it’s lights out and buenas noches!

{Time apart} D. and I are then free to relax and enjoy an evening to ourselves, reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet, or more realistically, snuggling with a newborn and passing out bone tired by 9pm!

Thanks for following along in “a day in the life of” the Kratovil family! What does your family’s daily routine look like?

3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life: a snapshot of our daily routine

  1. I totally agree about the yes space functionality, but I have a question: your kids never play together in someone’s space? I understand that everybody has his own space. I’m asking this because I have a 14 m old boy, and my newborn baby will arrive in July . We have a very small apartment, my boy’s yes space is his bedroom. Unfortunately we don’t have enough space to make for baby too a yes area. So my dilemma is if it’s ok to make a little space in my boy’s room for her? How? Of course I’m thinking to offer him enough time and space to be there alone.
    Thank you


    • Hi! So sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. Great question! (And, congratulations!)

      Ideally, each child would have his/her own play space since each child has different interests and needs (the needs of a newborn vs. a toddler are very different). So, my daughter’s yes space is her bedroom. My son’s play space is a gated portion of our living room. Yes, of course, they spend time playing together. So far, that has been in my son’s space b/c the toys are suitable/safe for him, the younger of the two. I follow my children’s leads as to when to play together (if daughter asks, if both children are rested and in good spirits).

      For a newborn (until a baby is mobile), the ideal yes/play space is actually just a bassinet and/or a “Pack and Play.” It’s cozy, small, just enough for them! Keep it in the same place each day to create predictability and keep it somewhere peaceful and quiet, as little babies are easily overstimulated. Then, once the baby is mobile, you’ll need a bigger space.

      I hope that clarifies your questions. Audrey


  2. Pingback: Naming the struggles: transition to life with a new baby | Españolita...¡sobre la marcha!

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