“I can’t let her out of my sight for a single solitary second!”
“He has an utter meltdown during every possible transition, no matter what!”
If any of these sound familiar, rest assured you are not alone. Sometimes, just getting through the day can be so mind-numbingly exasperating that it leaves you feeling frazzled, fried, OVER IT!
So, do we just grin and bear it and watch our gray hairs sprout up, helplessly? Is there any way to really set the de-frazzling process into motion? Believe it or not, the answer is yes, yes, YES there are many effective strategies that can de-frazzle your life. The one that may be the easiest (and possibly most critical) is actually right under your nose.
So, what is it? Drum roll please…
It’s a daily schedule. Yes, I am talking about a calendar. Of course this idea isn’t new and novel and research-journal worthy…it’s just a silly daily schedule, after all. So, what’s all the fuss about when it is so common sensical and something you probably already use every single day to manage your family life? We use them to manage sports schedules, ballet recitals and birthday parties. Many of us have our icalendars glued to the palm of our hands. You may even be the type of person who has her day planned down to the millisecond! Every therapy session, after school lesson, snack, meal and even bathroom break is perfectly mapped out. But here is the question: Do you share your elaborate master plans with your child and other members of the family?
If not, it may be time to create a family schedule and here is what that might look like:
* A visual schedule with photographs or clip art icons displayed in a pocket chart or on a magnetic board
* A weekly plan written on a dry erase board created each Sunday night after dinner with the whole family and placed in the entry hall
* An uber-detailed google calendar print-out posted on the bulletin board in the kitchen
* A google document mapping out the week shared between each parent’s house if your children divide time between homes
There are endless ways to display this type of schedule and it’s up to you to experiment to find out which one works best for YOUR family. Let’s face it, households without structure and order tend to be households full of kids with behavior problems and those behavior problems can result in parents who are frazzled, fried, OVER IT!
The fact of the matter is that your child needs (and, in fact, is likely craving) more structure. This structure is essential if you want to bring more order and organization into your home and if you truly want to walk the road less frazzled.
We see this order and routine inside of classrooms and in our work environments but don’t always know how to bring this type of structure into our homes. So, here are some things you should consider when beginning to craft your family schedule:
* Divide the schedule up by time increments (even though some learners won’t be able to access the duration component yet, it will provide YOU, as the parent, a sense of when things begin and end and help you to plan for transitions between activities)
* Consider how you want to manage the time…do you want to use timers? It is a good idea to have them stashed around the house and consider using a Time-Timer or other visual cue such as an iPad timer app.
* Designate areas in your home where certain activities will occur (where will homework consistently be done? Where will art projects happen?)
* Use visuals such as photos or icons for learners who need that support. Don’t underestimate the power of a visual reminder!
* Create the schedule with your children. Make sure they understand the plan (I advise revisiting the schedule frequently, especially when negotiation attempts occur).
* Model how to use and follow the schedule. Give gestural reminders (point to or touch schedule) when questions arise about what activity is next. Try and stick to the schedule as consistently as possible and give as much warning as possible should the schedule need to change.
* USE THE SCHEDULE. If you need to create a schedule that is portable and can be carried around the house, do it. Do not post it in the laundry room if will never be seen in there. Keep it simple if you need to but make sure it doesn’t end up under a pile of dirty laundry!
Households with increased structure tend to have: Fewer compliance and transitioning issues, less negotiating and bickering and less MESS!
Creating a schedule for the home will bring increased structure into your household. With increased structure comes greater predictability. With increased predictability comes greater order. With greater order, comes a life less frazzled!