This school year everything is different. The author of this post, a happy and tired mom, decided to bring strict schedule into action. Later in this post you’ll be able to get acquainted with the main rules of behavior, sleeping and waking up times and so on. To say that the kids were happy about this sort of dictatorship would be an exaggeration, but they were positively surprised and intrigued.
What does strict schedule means?
Strict schedule means they go to brush their teeth at 20.30 no matter what. It means there are no excuses, no “mom-please-let-me-finish-this” thing (I can be flexible too, I’m not a monster, but will get to that later). Strict schedule means there are no late dinners (“mom-I’m-hungry-so-what-if-it’s-22.00?). It also means kids wake up early, fresh and
hungry ready to have their breakfast (no late dinners, remember?) and set off to a new school day.
So far, I’ve seen so many benefits of strict schedule, that I decided to dedicate a blog post and explain how I organize my strict schedule and why I’m not a monster and do allow things to happen outside of the routine, too.
How to organize strict schedule?
Outline the most important practical topics, the most problematic topics and things you remember were difficult in the past. For example: some kids have a hard time going into the bathtub: they claim to hate the water. And then they really don’t want to get out because they actually enjoy the water. Other kids are never hungry until 22.00 and then they are starving in bed, asking their softhearted mom for “just a bit” of yesterday’s bread (they shed tears and you see their chest bones stick out from immense hunger, and, of course, you let them have the “small” night feast).
So, as I see it, each family has its own curves and irregular situations. In my case, it was the bedtime. There are so many things to do: school homework, after-school activities, book-reading, doll-playing, dinner, bath, questions-and-answers (for example: “mommy-who-was-the-first-man-to-go-to-space-tell-me-all-about-him?” at 21:55). It’s quite perplexing and I’m asking myself perpetually: to let them play a bit more? (They are children after all, their childhood will be gone one day, forever) To answer all their questions till it’s midnight (kids want to know stuff, what’s wrong with curiosity?) Or to cut the games (sleeping is more important for growing organisms, how can I deprive them of rest because of games and questions?)
Five elements of strict schedule
Write down the five elements you want to keep your hands on (yes, use a pen and a paper like in the old times. It’s not enough to keep it in your head, and I’m not sure smartphone is a good idea. In my opinion, pen and paper work best) For example:
At 20.30? At 20.00? (include the exact time when to finish the games (for example, at 19.30 games are over), when they start brushing their pajamas and wear their teeth… (oops, I meant the opposite, but they can also brush their pajamas if they really want to).
Wake up time
Is it 6 a.m.? 6.30 a.m.? Set the optimal time for them to get up and write it down. Kids need about an hour for everything including teeth-hair-toilet-breakfast-dressing-asking-questions-grabbing-their-snack-bag-coats-gloves-hats etc., etc.
After school activities time
Write down varieties of what they are allowed to do during school days and what they are allowed to do during weekends and vacations only. Watch cartoons, play digital games, stay up late and so on. All these should be written down clearly – the more explicit you will be, the less arguments and counterarguments it will create in the future.
Weekends and vacations
School year is not only about studying and getting up with the birds. When kids feel they are remunerated for their suffering, they are motivated to give more. For example, something “unlimited” can be allowed during the weekend: unlimited cartoon watching, unlimited fun in terms of ice-cream, cookie-making, endless pajamas party. Another example is: wish-making – kids can make wishes during the week and parents will fulfill the wishes during the weekend (of course these should be limited in some sense). These are just examples of my wild fantasy. There can be other ways to make kids happy and keep them energized for the week to come. Family trips, hiking, mountain climbing, shows, cinema movies – anything special will do.
The fifth element, in my case, was:
The “penalty” for not following the rules.
It is an important element since kids must feel their own responsibility and consequences of right behavior versus wrong behavior. In my case it works splendidly. The punishments are not vicious, not really bad and harmful but more of a restricting nature (“you’re not allowed to watch cartoons during one day of the weekend”, for example). Being symbolic, these penalties, nonetheless, magically work.
It may seem like a lot of work – writing all these timetables, writing the rules and the penalties for breaking the rules. It may sound heartless or cruel, but, take my word – kids love frames, rules and regulations if you compensated them with bonuses and wishes. It’s like a game – if you follow certain rules, you move up to the next level. If you fail – you get another chance but you also get some sort of penalty.
Go into the details, don’t be afraid of letters and numbers. After some time the excessive letters and numbers will fall off and boil down to essence and only the important things will remain in your head. You cannot pretend what’s important and what’s not, the important things will stay, the less important will go away naturally.