I’d heard people say that schedules work for kids, but I didn’t believe it. I like to leave things open. I thought structure would kill the creative spirit within… until I realized that lack of structure and too much screen time were numbing my 9-year-old’s brain.
As a work-from-home parent, summers aren’t especially easy. Deadline don’t die down… in fact, they tend to pile on in the summer months. Add our upcoming move to the normal busyness of summer, and life moves from full to STRESSful.
We started out this summer by signing up for day camp. After about a month, we decided to take a break. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a plan for keeping my son busy while my husband and I work. We are in an apartment and I don’t feel comfortable sending him out to play without a buddy. Relegating him to his room works for a while, but he’s soon back by my side—bored, hungry for a snack, or just needing a little attention.
When I write or edit, constant distractions and interruptions really slow my progress; things that should take an hour end up taking three. So when he asked: “Can I play on your iPad?” or “Can I watch TV?” or “Can I play on your phone?”, my far-too-frequent, was “yes.”
Mid-week during the second week of having him home, guilt weighed heavy on me. The glazed-over look that comes from hours of screen time was too much to take. I needed a plan to keep him engaged, entertained and independent… without a screen.
Today we put the plan into action… and it worked! I fact, I am really shocked at how well it worked. (I can hear all my homeschooling, school teacher and/or super-organized mom friends laughing at me. Yes, yes, I know you told me so!)
Simplicity, for me, is super-important. I don’t need one more thing on my to-do list. With that in mind, this is what worked for us.
I found a schedule idea on Pinterest (re-pinned on my “Taming the TV” board) and adapted it to be really simple. The idea was to have mental, physical, creative, together and downtime activities planned
I wrote his schedule (in pencil) on the inside back cover of a notebook I’ve labeled “Summer Journal” so he could see what time he needed to switch activities.
I built in some time where I would have to be with him. Now, this step may sound weird to some people, but when I get into the writing or editing zone, it’s very easy for me to say “Give 20 more minutes” and three hours pass before I look up again. That’s something I’m working on because I do want to be present and active in my kids’ lives. To help me make my priorities a priority, I made sure we had together time planned. I started my day very early today so I could take a swim break mid-day without feeling like I was playing hooky.
We explained to him, “You’re going to have a schedule… here it is.”
And it worked.
Sure, he still watched some Netflix and played some video games , but far, far less than before—and only when it was on the schedule. Yes, he still interrupted me, but not nearly as many times.
Tomorrow will have to be different because we have Bible study in the morning across town. But that’s fine, I’ll figure out a plan for flexible structure as we go.
What works for you and your kids schedule-wise? Do you use a schedule?