There are times when I tuck in my older girls at night that they remind me of something we were supposed to do that day. Some book to have read. Some project to have started, some activity they've been asking about for some time. Although I'm so totally aware that I'm not superwoman, I still close their door at night frustrated that I forgot again and didn't plan four little girls' plans, hopes, desires and needs better.
Late one night I began to gather supplies of things they have asked about or I've wanted to do with each girl. I put them all in a pile on the table and then remembered the little buckets I picked up at the beginning of the summer for eating outdoors. (And s'mores.)
I wrote everyone's names on the buckets, including mine, and began to excitedly fill each bucket. (More details below on what to fill them with.)
The daily buckets are there to 1) remind me or my child of something important that needs to be done that day. 2) to set aside specific activities I want to do with each child or that they would be excited to do on their own at a specific time. And 3) act like a personal mailbox for each child to check each morning for lists, reminders, surprises and such.
So here's the approach to filling our Daily Buckets:
1. Assign each child a bucket. Keep it in the same place so they can check it daily.
2. Every night or early morning, fill each bucket with:
- Activities that child has been asking to do (i.e. special activity books, crafts, play things that only come out every once in a while.) Since these are "daily" buckets, one thing is all that is necessary. This is a great time to pull out the activities that are usually forgotten and actually highlight them.
- Projects, assignments, and important things that have due dates for you or your child. If it is in their bucket that day, they will understand it has a deadline. This could be an unfinished birthday card your child needs to finish, filling out a form (like my hospital registration), returning a movie to the library, or even a list of household jobs for that specific child that day.
- Specific experiences/activities you want to personally have with each child that day. Putting special, short projects in each bucket per child acts as a reminder for the most important things you want to do with each child that day. It might be a book to read to them, a cookbook, something you want to teach them (tying shoelaces), or something you want to sit down and help them with.
- Something important you don't want to forget about. For my younger girls, their buckets are more simple. For example, Ainsleigh's bucket held a few puppets and coloring pages from her church nursery class that I wanted her to share with the family before I recycled them. It is a way to celebrate the child and their works without shuffling the papers around on the counter. It really cuts down on counter clutter by distributing the responsibilities.
Here are some examples from the photo above of our buckets one random day:
Johanna-- Her colonial paper dolls that require my cutting them out for her to play with them. Alphabet flashcards to read to her little sisters.
Ainsleigh-- Her church nursery colored handouts and puppets to share at family night.
Caroline-- Her loom that she has forgotten about and will be a happy to be reminded of. Dry erase boards to practice some left-handed handwriting skills with mama. A nature book for her to plan out a summer nature project.
Annabelle-- Our perpetual calendar that the girls take turns setting. She and I would get to do it together and set it up on the bookcase for the day.
Mommy-- Hospital registration and baby onesies. A reminder of a little project the girls and I wanted to do for an afternoon.
Because this is a daily ritual, I don't stress out over perfectly even buckets, the perfectly filled bucket, and such. Some days a child will just have one item, other days, a few more. The whole idea is that it keeps the ideas, projects, needs, fun, and learning in a reachable place that I can prepare before the start of a new day instead of forgetting and regretting.
As for my girls, it has become a special and exciting daily ritual. The bucket activities sometimes fill up a free moment in the day, other times their contents are assigned by me, like Ainsleigh sharing her works in her bucket at family night. There definitely is something exciting about them. The girls come downstairs in the morning and peek in them, anticipating something new and different that day. Sometimes they find a treat in their bucket, like little acorn faces for each of them.
The possibilities are endless. I'd like to start using the buckets for personal little reminders for my older girls, like packing for a day trip, so they can own it and take some responsibility for it. And I'd like to leave reminders for family birthdays so that the bucket acts like a personal mailbox for them to check each morning, love notes included.
What would you put in your child's daily bucket today??
the sleepy time gal