Children need rules! And structure! And charts!

I have just about had my fill of snow days, holidays, three-day weekends, and the like. Judging from their behavior, I’m pretty sure the kids have, too. They’ve gone stir-crazy.

Fortunately, today is supposed to be pretty nice out (relatively speaking, that is), so they can run amok out-of-doors. A nice bonus is that, while it’s a three-day weekend for them, I still get to go to work! And I don’t have to walk, either!

So far, the day’s been pretty productive. Better than yesterday, when I had to stop every time I started a task because, “Mom? Mama. Moooommyyyyy!” was the phrase of the day.

Those parenting experts who tell you that if you give your child undivided attention for 10 minutes, they’ll leave you alone for 30 don’t know anything about long weekends.

It occurred to me yesterday that a big part of the reason why my kids are so crazy is because our schedule has been completely out of whack since about Christmas-time. Now that they’re here full-time, that helps a little bit because we don’t have those mid-week transitions from house to house, but it still shows. My kids like routine.

The night before last, B.R. asked me to make up a bedtime routine chart so that he could see reminders for tasks such as brushing teeth and brushing hair. We got to talking about it, and it came out that he really wanted a chart that showed the whole day’s schedule.

We used to do that a long time ago, when he was little. Then, as now, I had noticed that he did a lot better with structure and routines, and when things were lax and free-flowing, he got out-of-control hyper, like he was jumping out of his skin. The chart did wonders then.

So I told him that I would sit down and look at their schedules (if I’m doing his, why not do J.J.’s as well?) and see about making up some charts.

I noticed that they have tons of free time, both of them. And J.J. more so than her brother, as she’s in between schools right now. And while I value downtime very highly and believe most children don’t get enough, I suspect my children may actually have too much. B.R., for instance, has a huge three-hour block of time four days out of the week, and a fourth hour after dinner. On Wednesdays, that three-hour block becomes four-and-a-half hours, thanks to early out. Up to now, we’ve told him he could do whatever he wanted with his time as long as his chores and homework got done. As far as homework goes, that’s worked out nicely, except he tends to like to save it for right before bedtime, which makes me nervous, for obvious reasons. But chores don’t really get done. I also worry about the lack of structure not teaching adequate time management skills.

My goal for this week is to draw up a schedule chart for both kids, and work in some changes to their current schedule. For example, because J.J. actually has almost nothing but free-time, I will be scheduling homeschool-type activities for her. She has a thirst for knowledge and growth that is insatiable, and a strong drive to succeed. Her needs are not being met very well right now. And both children will be expected to do chores at about 4pm every afternoon – this still gives B.R. an hour after school to relax, have his snack, play video games or read, etc. After chores, B.R. will do his homework – this way he has that full hour before bedtime to relax and hang out.

I described the new schedule’s features to the kids yesterday. J.J. was excited, of course. B.R. was, by turns, enthusiastic and reluctant. Change is hard for him – transitions have always been something we’ve had to work hard at. He wants to play video games all day, but he also understands that it’s not good for him to do that. I really think that once the new schedule becomes routine, he’ll come to thank me for it.

And the beauty of it all? I’ve struggled with the amount of TV my kids watch – I hate it, but these huge blocks of time are hard to fill with other activities! Up until now, I’ve thrown my hands in the air in exasperation and said, “Fine, watch your stupid TV.” But, sitting down and actually looking at their schedules and seeing where those gaps are, and realizing that I could add structure here and there naturally lent itself towards solving the TV problem. The gaps of free-time in the day are much more reasonable and manageable. I expect the changes will be a cinch for the Missus to enact and enforce (sadly, I’ll be at work), and it’ll be a win for everyone!

Also, the kids love their chore wheels, which were meant to be done weekly. However, they want to spin them daily. So the chores will be modified. I will cut up a list of chores and put them in a hat or basket for the kids to draw from daily, and have chores that need to be done weekly on the wheels.

So, this week’s goals:

-Create charts featuring both children’s schedules.
-Create a new chore wheel for weekly chores
-Find a chore hat and cut up daily chores for drawing

Finally, the laundry beast has begun to be tamed. Bwahahaha… oh, I think the first load is done.

Seems like a good place to stop!

-Juana Bee

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About Juana Bee

I'm raising two beautiful and brilliant kiddos who inspire me everyday, with my life partner who likewise challenges and inspires me.
This entry was posted in Educatin the Chilluns, Mothering and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Children need rules! And structure! And charts!

  1. Mandi says:

    A few days without school usually makes me aware of just how much my kids thrive on structure, as well. Without it, they start to fall apart!

  2. Whitney says:

    You should talk to Taylor about charts. She is the queen of those! Her kids love routine and are really adaptive to the charts and schedules that they put in place for them.

    • Juana Bee says:

      Why does that not surprise me? Taylor’s always been so organized! I’ll be posting the charts I’ve made in tomorrow’s entry. Maybe she and I should compare notes 🙂

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