Around the time your child starts talking your ear off, you feel the tectonic shift of parenting start to happen: you go from caring for your child to keeping up with your child. Of course you’re still busy tending to your child’s basic needs. You just have the added duty of keeping up with her. If you are frequently asking yourself, ‘Where is she getting all this energy?’— then it’s happening. The duty of keeping up has arrived.
Once your child has grasped the wonder of speech, everything becomes a topic of discussion, including your effort to manage simple situations. It becomes a chore just to try to make yourself understood, and this chore of quibbling over ‘what’ and ‘why’ can burden you throughout the day. It takes on even more toilsome proportions when your child is bored and restless.
An excellent tool to help you navigate the course of a day more efficiently is “the schedule.” Making a schedule is as much for your benefit as it is for your child’s. It allows you to introduce specific expectations and rewards to bring about greater cooperation from your child.
Making a schedule is different from having a schedule. Having a schedule means that meal times, nap time and bed time, for example, take place at the same interval every day. Having a schedule is an important step in establishing expectations and bringing order to the household. It usually snaps into place through a series of realizations. You realize that if your child does not eat by a certain time, she gets cranky. You realize that if she does not take a nap, she gets over tired. You know that if she’s not in bed by 9:00 at night, she won’t fall asleep for hours (and you won’t have any free time to yourself).
Making a schedule goes a step further than having a schedule. Making a schedule is aimed at restoring enthusiasm and cooperation. It’s written down. It lets your child know that every day is not a willy-nilly festival where anything and everything can happen. It also reassures your child that she can count on fun activities.
One of the most important aspects of a schedule is that it includes things that your child really enjoys. If your child loves to play starlight theater, for example, then put Starlight Theater on the schedule for Tuesday and Friday 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. What does this do for you?
- It takes away your child’s option of nagging you to play this game whenever she feels like it
- It elevates the status of the activity by honoring it with a dependable time slot
- It gives your child something to look forward to
- It increases your ability to ask for cooperation on the day of the activity
- It removes ambiguity about the duration of the activity
- It increases your child’s esteem of the schedule because it acknowledges her favorite activity
The fact that a schedule includes your child’s favorite activities gives you an opportunity to schedule things that are important to you. For instance, schedule in Quiet Time for ten minutes before lunch or after dinner, etc. Be sure to post the schedule in a visible place, such as on the refrigerator. Generate cooperation by referring to the schedule: ‘Ooh, tonight is Cotton Ball Spoon Race—8:00!’ The fact that your child sees a fun activity—in writing—on the schedule reassures her that your full participation is guaranteed. This is motivation for her to honor Quiet Time.
Making a schedule also enables you to establish regular, low key activities like card playing or board games. These activities give you a chance to conserve your energy while your child enjoys your companionship and is engaged in something worthwhile. Schedule these low key activities for times you generally need peace and calm.
You don’t need to map out every hour of every day. Just schedule enough activities to reassure your child that you are committed to fun.
One of the extraordinary benefits of making a schedule is that it has the effect of turning just about anything into a special occasion. From your child’s perspective these special occasions are a source of great motivation. From your perspective these occasions are an easy way to convert ordinary events into stimulating variety. The very fact that the activity is written down generates anticipation. Put down Big Bug Little Bug every third Saturday from 10:15 – 10:45 in the morning, for example. Arm yourselves with magnifying glasses and go observe bugs. Declare each time whether it’s a big bug or little bug you see. This ordinary event will attract your child’s full, enthusiastic participation. Schedule Counting Airplanes (in the sky), Hopscotch, Jacks, Jump Rope or Red Light Green Light and the result will be the same. Making a schedule gives you a powerful resource to create stimulating variety while improving your child’s overall cooperation.
Go to subscription details for subscriber information.