As a working mom of two young kids, a preschooler and an infant, I’ve dealt with my share of chaotic weekday mornings. Waking up late, getting the kids dressed, rushing the kids out of the house, speeding to make it to work. Sounds familiar?
I knew my kids desperately needed more structure to their day and I needed the mental clarity. One day, I researched a bunch of time management resources and sat down to create a daily schedule that would actually work for our family. And not only do our days run smoother, but my husband and kids seem to be thriving with the added structure and free time!
I’m super excited to share the top 7 secrets I discovered on my OWN path to creating a family schedule that would actually work for my family.
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Why Family Routines and Schedules are Important
There are many benefits to creating schedules and routines for your children including:
- Helps your child feel safe and secure- your child will be able to anticipate what comes next, which creates a feeling of stability and safety.
- Eliminates power struggles- because your child knows what’s coming next, they are less likely to have a meltdown when you turn off the TV for bedtime.
- Encourages independence- because your child is doing the same routines every day, it gives them a chance to perfect completing the routines themselves, such as making their bed or brushing their teeth.
- Establishes healthy habits- having structure and organization are skills that will benefit your child well into adulthood.
- Encourages family bonding- family schedules allow you to set aside time that the whole family can spend without distractions.
Even if you only plan on following a schedule during your kids’ school year, it’s definitely worthwhile to do one.
7 Secrets to Creating a Family Schedule
Here are the top secrets to creating a family schedule that your whole family will stick to:
Secret #1: Incorporate Your Current Routines As Best You Can
The more you incorporate your family’s existing daily routines, the less the new schedule will feel like a “disruption.” This will make it more likely your family will stick to the schedule you create.
Even if you’ve never written down your family’s current routines and habits, every family has to- do lists or things they do in a certain order or time of day. For example, around 6:00 p.m., your family might eat dinner together, then kids get a bath and go to bed, in that exact order. If it’s a routine that is working for your family, no need to scrap it!
Closely observe your family members for a day and pay attention to existing routines. Write down what each person is doing at each time of the day.
Secret # 2:Discover the Problem Times That Lead to Disorganization and Stress
Before creating a schedule that will fix current issues in your family life, it’s important to discover not just when the problems are occurring, but why.
The problem times are the moments where everyone is rushing and annoyed. For my family, I found that weekday mornings were without a doubt the most stressful. Due to our work schedule, my husband and I were always rushing to get the kids clothed, fed, and out the door to be able to make it to our morning meetings on time.
Write down the problems you see, the time of day, and the events that led there. Pay attention to everyone’s moods during those hectic moments. Review those list items and start to think about ways your schedule can address those problems and create a more stress-free environment.
Secret #3:Get the Family Involved In Creating the Schedule
One of the best ways to get your family to stick to a schedule is to get them involved in creating it. Have a family meeting and ask for the input of your spouse and older children and incorporate some of their ideas.
Even if you have young children, you could make it a fun family event. Get them involved by making it into an art project, like creating a colorful, visual chart together.
Think of some ways in which each family member can give their input and get involved in creating the schedule.
Secret #4:Set Clear Goals
Think about what each member of your family needs and come up with clear measurable goals that your schedule will achieve.Your family is more likely to stick to a schedule that makes them feel happier and more accomplished.
What are you looking to gain out of creating a family schedule? Is it making time for exercise and having a full 8 hours of sleep every night? Sometimes just by better organizing your day, you can find plenty of space to do what you want.
Think about clear goals you want to set for yourself and your family. Brainstorm ways that your schedule could achieve those goals.
Secret #5: Be Realistic
While you’re creating your schedule, be realistic about what each member of your family will actually do. Set your family up for success with a practical schedule based on reasonable time frames.
Pay attention to the time it takes for certain things to happen, like getting your kids dressed. Be reasonable about how much you can fit into a certain time frame.
Also, notice your child’s moods. If you know your child is generally tired and cranky during a certain time of day, that might not be a good time to introduce chores. Add new routines only during the times of day that makes sense for that person and will be easy for them to adhere to.
Secret #6: Put the Schedule in Writing and Post It
If you want your family to follow the schedule for longer than week, then you need to document it.
Whether it’s a giant family calendar on your wall, a planner, or a printed schedule on your fridge, the schedule should serve as a reminder. A Google calendar and calendar apps work fine as well, but in addition, make a paper calendar. The family schedule should be in writing and posted where the whole family can see it.
If your child is too young to read, you can add color codes, stickers, or pictures to give them clues about what comes next. Once you’ve written out your schedule, post it somewhere where your family spends time often, like the kitchen or TV room.
Secret #7: Be Accountable But Flexible
For the best results, have a system of accountability in place so that everyone knows what’s expected.
Be flexible too. There will be days that following the schedule is not possible and that’s okay.
You can use positive accountability strategies such as offering stickers or praise for following the schedule. If they’re having trouble following the routine, explain very clearly and consistently what’s expected and offer them support.
If after a few days you see something in the schedule that is not working, it’s okay to be flexible. Go back to your schedule and tweak it as needed to make it work for your family.
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