How Do You Structure Your Day?

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2368x_bBy: Sue Downey of Nannypalooza.com.
Originally posted this article here.

As nannies we have some unique challenges and some very exciting benefits to being in the home. We have a great deal of control over how things go- the pace, the activity and the schedule. We also have to juggle a lot of elements – the age ranges of the children, the other adults (parents, grandparents, other workers) in the home and the running of the household.

How do you set up your days?There are a few different approaches but it warrants some thought.Most children have periods of the day where they are more open to certain activities. For instance, very kinesthetic (lots of movement) kids may need to move around a lot during or after periods where they are exposed to new information. Younger kids may need to follow a period of stimulation with sleep. All kids need to have basic needs met to be able to fully engage. This means they need to be comfortable in temperature, not be hungry and not be too tired. Perhaps you consider all these things for your kids and set up times when you introduce materials, plan crafts or games and outings.

Or maybe you follow the child’s lead and each day is a bit more unique. There is a rhythm to this but it does not necessarily have a pattern that is easy to see. These days are more free flowing and able to change on a dime. You may introduce materials only to have a child see a butterfly and follow him on a nature walk instead of the puzzles or blocks you had laid out. You may not have a snack time per se but instead feed the child when they ask for the snack.

I find for me that it is better to think of a rhythm to the days instead of a true schedule. I like to have routines at the outset of the day- getting dressed, self care, eating breakfast. Then flow into a period of directed activity, setting out an art project, science experiment or sensory play. When the interest wains with this I open it up to free play which is often independent as I start a load of laundry or do the breakfast dishes. I observe the child and offer guidance as necessary. None of this is done on the clock (with specific times or starting and ending times) more just with the interest level of the child and my patience and interest as well. As it nears time for lunch there is more routines of clean up, any responsibilities the child may have and then stories before rest time. In the afternoon I like to get outside if possible and also allow time for revisiting the mornings activities.

What ever structure you choose, it is important to give it some thought and to have a plan. As always when working with kids (and nanny families!) the plan may go out the window more days than not. But starting with a plan means that you will make sure you are intentional in your caregiving, which is a big step to quality care.

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