a typical day: one month home

Typical routines: We’re working out the kinks, and I think we have a good plan until they start school… or Milo drops to one nap… or Dan’s schedule changes again. But a good plan!

They’re still waking up between 7 and 7:30a. They get dressed and eat breakfast, and we head out the door. Almost every single day. We find somewhere for them to burn energy — an outdoor park, if we can, or a few indoor playground options. They go hard for a while and usually start asking for a snack. We leave, eat a snack at home, and put Milo down for a nap. On the days Dan is working, I’m going to try to sneak in a shower while the boys watch a TV show from now on. I’ve attempted it three times, and it went well. I’m certain future attempts won’t always go as well, but mama gotta shower.

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We try to maximize time when Milo is sleeping with activities he may disrupt if awake and around. Doing puzzles, reading on the couch, or building delicate Magnatile structures. When he’s awake, we eat lunch. It’s still a bit tricky to find meals we can easily make and everyone will eat. There has been a fair amount of fast food purchased, because they do like it. After lunch, we sometimes stay home to play or sometimes leave the house again to go to the nature center, library and other places. This time between lunch and dinner is still a little tricky and unpredictable. We maybe need more structure here, but it’s nice to have some flexibility.

We’re hoping to more frequently do a walk with Oscar before dinner, but we haven’t quite stuck to that yet. We eat dinner as a family… Okay, sometimes Dan and I just sit with them and eat a nicer, quieter meal after they’re in bed. We have found that TV helps them wind down and easily transition upstairs to get ready for bed, so we do that between dinner and their bedtime routine.

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We’ve bumped up their bedtime a bit, and it works well. They really sleep 11.5 to 12 hours each night, and they need the sleep! We take turns doing different parts of their routines — getting ready for bed, reading books, laying with them until they fall asleep, as well as Milo’s pajamas and bottle. Bedtimes are tricky right now because Milo has been sick and/or teething for a while now, so he doesn’t go down too easily. The last time Dan was working during bedtime, I had a friend slip in to play with Milo until the older boys were asleep, and it worked really nicely. I had patience with them getting ready for bed without stressing about Milo.

Though Theo was waking up at night pretty often, he isn’t anymore. They sleep well all night long, and they frequently wake up and chat in bed until we get them. They also come pounding at our door some mornings, but Dan springs out of bed pretty quick to redirect them, if he’s home. He’s the sweetest.

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Language learning: Their English has really started developing more. They understand a lot! I can ask them questions or communicate things to them in all English, and I can tell they understand by their responses. They’re picking up words quickly — especially words they hear us say all the time. I noticed for the first time a few days ago that they were stringing two English words together: “Je like it.” “Papa pas fix it.” “Shoes on.”

Hard stuff: A lot of the immediate hard stuff that drove me up the wall is subsiding. Less aggression and much higher ability to follow our routines related to getting dressed, using the bathroom, eating at the table, and riding in the car. Little issues still pop up, but it’s much easier to do the regular day-to-day stuff. We haven’t thrown them for too many loops, though, and I can see hints that they won’t immediately handle big changes too easily. No out-of-town trips for us yet and minimal new places still.

We were having lots of struggles with one of our sons leaving fun places. He would run in the opposite direction or climb where he knew we couldn’t get him. We’d have to pick him up and carry him to the car kicking and yelling pretty often. I was afraid to take the three of them anywhere fun by myself, because I dreaded the inevitable wrangling. We tried minute warnings and choices and all that jazz. No luck. The use of a visual timer was recommended to us, and it’s worked really well! I took the three of them to the place I feared most recently, and they left easily. Hallelujah!

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We’re also having some food issues. We want to give them choices and show them that there is always enough food. I think we’re doing that well. By doing that, we are possibly creating some habits that will be harder to break later. One of our guys loves to try everything we’re eating. One prefers to eat popcorn, yogurt, Ritz crackers, and bananas only. He also gets anxious about when it will be time to eat and what we are eating. If we don’t communicate those things well, he really struggles.

They’re starting to talk about Congo more. They say they want to go to Congo on an airplane. Or they want to go to Congo to ride on a bus to school. (They really want to go to school.) It makes my heart a little sad, but I know where it’s coming from, and I understand.

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Easy stuff: It’s gotten easier to keep them entertained and happy. We have snacks and water on-hand almost all the time. We change activities often. We get out of the house to play and sometimes we just drive around. They’re often especially happy out and about or in the car. 

They’re learning pretty quickly. They’re picking up English, learning numbers and letters, learning animals, and getting comfortable with our routines. I can see ways they understand when we are frustrated or tired or worried. I would say their emotional intelligence is super sophisticated, but it feels like they know us more than they did. They frequently desire to obey and listen, and they’re always really proud when they do.

We’ve had an easy time being their sole caregivers so far. Dan has had abundant time off, and we’ve been able divide and conquer easily. Our house has been pretty clean and laundry has been completed. We haven’t quite mastered making lunch and dinner every day, but my guess is that’s very normal.

We’re seeing their attachments to us develop appropriately, too! It brings me great joy to see them run off at the playground after I give them permission, play for a bit, come back to check in, and ask that I come do something with them. It makes me happy to see our progress.

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  • I love that things are progressing! Ya’ll are rock stars!

  • Melissa Kroeker

    HI! Fellow mama of a newly adopted African cutie over here 🙂 Can you please elaborate on the use of a visual timer that you mentioned? We just brought our almost 3 year old son home from Guinea, West Africa 3 weeks ago and explaining transitions to him in french is a challenge. While we’ve trained our older children to understand phrases like “5 more minutes until we leave” etc, our little guy doesn’t get it. What do you use for a visual timer? Thanks!

    • I searched for “visual timer” in the App Store and found it. It’s on my phone which I almost always have with me, so it’s worked well!