Schedules are a good thing, just ask any mother, especially if she has more than one child. When we can not only teach our children that every day has a rhythm and an order to it, we can also save our sanity by keeping the kids on track. In addition to understanding the rhythm of the day, our children need organization and responsibilities. The benefit that our children see is that when the not so fun stuff is done (chores, school, homework) they likely have time to invest in what they like to do (Legos, free play, screen time). Therefore save the day with schedules.
Save the Day with Schedules
Keep them on track in the morning.
Have a specific time that your children wake to start the day. Teach little ones to use a digital clock, buy a speaking alarm or for some, simply make it clear that morning routines begin at a certain time.
Have first things first.
If you plan ahead and lay clothing out the night before, children as young as 3 can get themselves dressed in the morning. Teach them where you want the pajamas placed (under a pillow, back in the drawer, in a dirty hamper) and expect them to do what you have asked. If your child comes and gets you while still wearing pajamas, send them back to the pile of clothing and tell them to do what their schedule says.
Stick to a meal schedule with a meal chore.
Have a specific time that you eat your meals and help your child identify that time either on the clock or with verbal keys that it is coming next. In addition to meals, assign a meal task to your child. This could be simply putting napkins on the table, taking their plates to the dishwasher after eating or setting spoons and forks on the table. A rule of thumb is that a typical 3 year old can do this and older ones are quite capable and expected to do this.
Build in time for play.
Try to schedule in free play time for your children. This is not time where you are responsible for entertaining them. Think of this as more of a quiet time where they have certain things to choose from. From looking at books and playing with play dough to coloring or painting, choose options that don’t require too much adult intervention.
Have a bedtime routine.
I cannot stress enough how important a bedtime routine is. A good solid bedtime routine can often alleviate temper tantrums and be the glue that holds your sanity together. The best routine has a warning that it is nearing bedtime (maybe a 15-minute verbal cue) followed by a routine like putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, using the restroom, and reading a story.
Reward your children’s good behavior when they are able to stay on schedule without too much parental intervention. A good reward system does not have to cost money, simply tap into your creativity. Have rewards that benefit you both–alone time with mom for an extra late bedtime, a favorite read-aloud of 3 extra books, and even a colorful bubble bath (just add food coloring and soap). Schedules are a help and not a hindrance, with good solid planning you can save today, and all the days, with a good schedule.
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