Off the Clock: Raising Twins With No Schedule

Off the Clock: Raising Twins With No Schedule

My decision to stop wearing a watch changed my life. I didn’t know it at the time (pun intended), but it would change how I would handle some of my most difficult challenges. Managing my twins was at the top of the list of daunting tasks. I learned to become aware of what I had to accomplish and how much time it would take, without becoming overwhelmed. A healthy dose of planning always helps and I have drawn multi-tasking skills from my professional life.

watchBack in the olden days, circa 1997, I used to wear watches. I had college classes, three jobs and commuting back and forth into the city to contend with, so I needed to be aware of the time. Cell phones weren’t really popular yet and looking around for a clock was not always feasible. There was always somewhere to be and things to be done. Watches are so sublime, a great accessory (and they don’t discriminate if you fall off your diet so you can always have one fit, just like shoes….but I digress). I had a bunch of funky ones and I wasn’t ashamed to break out my old Swatch from the eighties. My favorite watch was an old, semi-broken rose gold art deco number. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and I wore it mostly because I thought it was so well-designed and chic. I bought it for around $10 at a Greenwich Village street fair while meandering around trying to kill time in between classes one day. The concept of having time to kill now escapes me. It was so delicate and pretty. I imagined that it had a storied history, maybe it belonged to someone really interesting, or was given as a gift and eventually lost. Needless to say, I love old things. Then, I uneventfully got mugged on the subway by what looked like a fellow college kid and of course, the guy stole my watch! I wanted to plead with him that it didn’t even work very consistently and wouldn’t you like the secret credit card hidden in my shoe instead, tucked away for just this type of emergency? But, I didn’t.  Sigh. So, I never wore a watch again and learned how to manage my time without one. I knew I could never replace the watch I had. I adapted to being aware of what I needed to do and when.

Fast forward a lifetime. I always have been and continue to be punctual, to a fault even. I just can’t take the thought of being late and missing out on something juicy, even if the juiciest stuff now is whose kid is acting out the worst and that they are re-airing Melrose Place on TV. Squee to the resurgence of all things nineties! I never wear a watch and I am never late. I never miss an important date! Even if that means planning my outing two weeks in advance. And never wearing a watch or being a clockwatcher. What’s my secret? No schedules! I give myself enough time which is spread out to do what I need to do and what I want to do.

boystwinspreschoolMy twins do not follow any schedule other than mealtime because I work from home and can juggle my work tasks. If they want to play, we play. Extra time at the park? Sure. Naptime is always after lunch, but the time varies. My twins aren’t great daytime sleepers even though they sleep through the night. During their one and only daytime nap, I’m lucky if I get 45 minutes out of them. So, you know what? I don’t force them. They still have to clean up and follow rules (I’m pretty strict). But, I have enough scheduling and deadlines to consider at my job, so I can’t be so regimented at home. If they are not tired, I let them play and run around until I think they are ready to nap.

Now, let me clarify. I have a routine, but not a schedule. Momma needs coffee. Daily. Everybody wakes up, eats breakfast, gets washed and dressed. That happens when it happens. Playtime, reading time, laundry, clean up and undoing all of mommy’s tidying happens daily. Lunch, naps, errands, park and play. Rinse, repeat.  Except for meals, we can do these things on a whim in varying order. All the while, I am calling clients, sending out contracts and updating my spreadsheets. So is it Wild Kingdom over here? No. Well, okay, sometimes.

twinsmischieffridge3Though this is an unpopular approach, it works for my kids because they are adaptable and because I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work from home. I think if I had to commute again, it would be Schedule City up in here. If naptime is later than usual, they don’t have a meltdown. Being out of the house can take extra time because we aren’t tied to doing things that are dictated by a clock. It brings variety to what would otherwise be a lot of monotony. We try new toys and games. The twins are almost two, so we do cards with colors and letters. They love play dough and pretending to cook. I spend as much time as they want until it’s not fun, then we do something else. They love putting away laundry!

So do I suggest that you try this at home? Yes and no. Every family has to do what is best for them and I know some kids who need to have a set schedule because they flourish and react better to having set times. Could this be a solution if your kids become inconsolable when they miss a nap or a meal is late? I’d say give it a try and mix it up. When kids are distracted with something new, it may keep them from having a full on meltdown.

And watches, I do miss you. I’m always on the lookout for my long lost missing one, but I’ll wait until the kids are older to buy myself a replacement (since you all know, all of a Mom’s things get ruined). Maybe one day I will have time to kill again. A girl can dream!

daniele parrisDaniele Parris is a work from home mom to an upbeat seven year old boy and one year old boy-girl twins. She lives in the suburbs of New York City and has degrees in Fine Arts and Philosophy from New York University. She makes her living in the Healthcare industry and spends most of her time with her boisterous Italian family, trying to get a word in edgewise. Her hobbies include cooking and baking, an unholy knowledge of 80’s hair-metal bands and trying, albeit almost always in vain, to guess the monetary value of the items on Antiques Roadshow. In addition to her full time job, she has an online shop at http://www.cafepress.com/littlebambinos that specializes in fun clothing for twins and multiples.

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