I am about to tell you the craziest thing ever.
So I’m sure that if you’re a new parent, you’re struggling to figure out how to get your toddler, small child, tween, or teen to do the things you want them to do. I remember. I was there.
One minute you’ve got something on LOCK… only for the next minute, hour, or DAY to show you that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. UGH!!! It’s so infuriating!!! Yeah, I know.
I’m also sure that you’ve probably gone down rabbit holes on video streaming sites to look for the best parenting tips. Maybe you’ve even gone on Reddit. (You’ll find plenty of parental rants there. Lemme tell ya. Whoo!)
So how about I give you a one-stop read-it-all right here, right now? Let’s jump right in!
For toddlers, it’s easy. They’re learning numbers, right? So just hop on Canva and create a very simple schedule that they’ll understand. Just remember to number what needs to be done.
My tween will occasionally refuse to use his checklist until he realizes that some things have not been done or have been forgotten. Instead of notifying me, he shames himself into using the checklist on his own. It’s really fun stuff when parenting just happens on its own with the older kids.
My husband calls those natural consequences. (I just call it karma.)
KEEP A FOLDER!!!
So I have a folder (with pockets and brads) for each child. It’s great for organization and it teaches them both to be independent.
Here’s what I mean. Each folder has a morning routine, a daily routine, and a bedtime routine.
There is only ONE morning routine per child because on the weekends I honestly couldn’t care less if they wake up late. Unless we have somewhere to be, we all deserve some R&R.
As far as daily routines go, my preschooler is currently homeschooled. So we have a MWF routine and a TTh routine. One routine includes sensory play, the other includes socialization.
However, for my tween, he has an afterschool checklist, a MTThF routine, and a W (half-day) routine.
Each child has only ONE bedtime routine to follow EVERY EVENING!
So, one night, while watching Ms. Rachel’s Pre-school for Littles: Bedtime Routine with my threenager, I realized that she was giving me the answer to how to get my kids to bed on time! Throughout that 30-minute video, she sings a routine song:
We take a nice warm bath, we put our P.J.s on, we brush our teeth, we read a story, sing songs. Then it’s time to sleep.
TELL ME THAT’S NOT GENIUS!!!
So I created that schedule for my little one. Guys… it ACTUALLY worked!!!
So because it worked so well on my little one, I figured: Hey, why not do the same for my older one. I’ll just tweek it a bit to suit his needs!
All I do is let him know when it’s time. THAT’S IT.
Okay, so we have a Google Mini, right? Get a load of this. I set Family Bells through the Google Home app for different things throughout the day like breakfast, outside time, etc, BUT I also set two specific Family Bells. One is for my threenager’s bedtime routine and one is for my tween’s bedtime routine. So when it calls out one of their names, all I have to do is grab their folder and say in a sing-song voice, “Okay! You know what to do!”
It’s gotten to the point where I’ll make a surprised face for my little one only for him to make the same face back at me then laugh and say, “I WANT BATH!” For my tween, all I have to do now is look at him while Google tells him, by name, that it’s time for his bedtime routine. Then he rolls his eyes, gets his folder, then trudges off to shower.
My tween only has to worry about two things:
- Don’t take too long.
- Be sure to check off each task as he completes them.
My threenager only has to worry about having enough time to play in the bath before I finish scrubbing him down and rinsing him off. Although, I will admit having him listen to an episode of the Super Simple Podcast and a few 5-minute episodes of the Storytime with Josh & Blue really help him keep his mind off of wanting to continue playtime and start winding down.
Why Are Schedules & Routines the Big Secret?
I’ve actually learned a little something about us humanoids. We THRIVE on routines. Sure a bit of spontaneity is healthy, too, but how else do we get ready in the mornings for work even when we’re half asleep? Routine.
A way to not forget what I need before heading out the door is actually two things:
- Prepping my purse the night before.
- Singing “Keys, Glasses, Wallet, Phone” to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes”. (It really does help.)
How do I remember what time to wake my little one from his nap and pick up my tween on time? I start a routine an hour before I take off.
Do I have a schedule? ABSOLUTELY! I schedule what things NEED to be done in the morning, what things CAN be done in the afternoon, and what things can be left for the late afternoon/evening.
Do I get things done? Every single weekday!
Does it help with meal prepping? Yep!
Does it help with cleaning? Definitely!
By building routines, your children are learning healthy habits that they’ll carry with them well beyond their young lives. By teaching them to schedule their chores, they no longer have any excuse to NOT do them or FORGET them. The same goes for us, and this is important! WE MUST MODEL THE BEHAVIOR AND LIFESTYLE WE WANT FOR OUR KIDS TO HAVE. We are our children’s primary example of what kind of people they should be, after all.
So if you want independent children who don’t need to be reminded about homework, hygiene, or chores, model that by doing your things as a routine and scheduling the things that you know you’ll forget.
This article was originally published at Medium. Republished with permission from the author.