Random acts of parenting

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Are your days filled with purpose or do you feel like you muddle your way through? At the end of each day, do you feel like you spent quality time with your children teaching them important life lessons? Or do you feel completely exhausted, just happy to have made it through another day?

There’s a quote in On Becoming Preschoolwise that stood out to me. It’s on page 83:

“Nothing in itself is a huge hurdle–it’s the zillion little obstacles she faces every day that make her feel more like a prisoner of random chaos than like a mother on a beautiful mission of raising children.”

Not surprisingly, this is at the beginning of the chapter on structuring your child’s day. The chapter goes on to describe two mothers. After dealing with too many days of random chaos, Denise turns to parenting books. But eventually, “it’s back to old habits and discouraging days. For Denise, it seems, there is nothing to do but cling to the brink of her sanity,” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 84).

Contrast this with Sondra:

“She is not frazzled or fatigued and faces family dinnertime with creative enthusiasm. Baby Gregory is already sleeping through the night and taking naps like clockwork. As it is most days, two-year-old Katie plays contently with her dollhouse on a blanket in the family room while four-year-old Ben is trustworthy enough to play by himself in his room. If you drop in unexpectedly, you’ll find the house picked up and Sondra will welcome you with a calm, warm smile. Are we still on planet earth?” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 84).

Both moms face the same obstacles and have the same goals for their families. The difference lies in how much control each mom has over her children and her environment.

“Sondra has the clear advantage. She is not letting the rush of life manage her, but instead has learned how to manage life in her home with amazing results. What is it that Sondra knows? Simply this: young children not only need, but they also crave supervision, direction, and encouragement. Random acts of parenting just aren’t good enough to get through the day with one’s sanity intact,” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 85).

When I first rediscovered the Babywise series, I read On Becoming Childwise in about three days and felt like it was the answer to my prayers. Previously, my days were filled with random chaos. But I still didn’t fully get it. I was looking for a discipline fix. I remember skipping ahead to the chapters on discipline and correction, thinking that I just needed to get my kids in line with punitive measures.

It can be so easy to overlook these seemingly simple or unimportant methods of prevention. But there’s simply no need to wait until our kids need correction. Schedule their days. Send them to roomtime when you’re cooking dinner. Schedule blanket time or quiet reading time when you’re enjoying your morning cup of coffee. Don’t give them the freedom to create mischief.

And don’t fall for the idea that scheduling your child’s day is too restrictive. Yes, children need time for free play, but that is just one more thing that you’ll schedule in your day. Ultimately, our children want boundaries and direction. And not only is structure important for the children, but it’s important for us, too. A little bit of structure goes a long way toward preventing behavior problems in our children and stressed-out days for us.


  1. I could not agree more! Scheduling my kids days makes everything so much more sane. I find I have to give out far less discipline if I think ahead a little and get them into a routine.