Structure is something many of us need and may thrive off of. Nowadays, however, our routine and structure have been thrown out of whack. This disruption can leave parents and children feeling frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed. Creating a schedule, as mentioned in my previous blog, can help reduce our stress by making things more manageable. Knowing where to begin, however, can be a challenge. Below are tips that can help you get started.
1) Get Your Child(ren)'s Input - A key factor in getting kids to adhere to a schedule is getting their feedback about what they would like included in the schedule. Ask your child(ren) for one to three things they would like to do each day or during the week. Once they make suggestions, have a discussion on whether they can be included and when to include them. Based on their age, the depth and length of discussion you have will vary but ultimately the goal is to give your child(ren) a chance to voice their opinions and desires.
2) Include the Basis and Must-Haves - all schedules should have the basics like mealtimes (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner). Snack time and nap time can also be included, depending on your child's age. Must-have activities/tasks will also vary but essentially can include things like school work, reading, playing, gaming and/or screen time.
I'm also a big advocate for family time. Even though most of us are home with each other all day, that does not equate to us spending quality time with each other. Family time, whereby every one is doing the same thing and interacting with each other (not their devices), can either be done with mealtimes or separately in an activity like movie night.
3) Try to Align All Schedules - When trying to determine the times for each activity/task, aim to match them up to what you have going on. In other words, are you in meetings most of the morning while your child(ren) are learning at school? Is your younger one not in school but you still have meetings to attend? Choose activities/tasks your child(ren) can do without your need for assistance or that keep them distracted enough so that you can accomplish what you need. When you are free, perhaps that is when you can schedule activities/tasks that require your involvement.
4) Be Realistic & Flexible - creating a schedule is meant to serve as a guide, not the end all be all. Given our current circumstances, it is unrealistic to believe everyday will go as planned. Being flexible can entail switching activities/tasks around. For example, if screen time is usually in the afternoon but you are having a stressful morning or have an important meeting, then change it. Let your child(ren) know that the change is occurring for a particular reason so that they know it is not permanent.
5) Make it fun - creating a schedule by hand, on poster board, construction paper, computer paper, or whatever you have around the house can be a fun way to get everyone involved. Painting the background, adding stickers, using crayons and/or markers can be a great way of enhancing the experience and increasing the chance of your child(ren)'s adherence.
Do you have other questions about creating a schedule for your child? Having a hard time getting your child(ren) to adhere to the schedule? Feel free to email me directly for some recommendations. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include age of child(ren).