Benefits of Babywise When Bringing Home a New Baby

newbabybabywise

By Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

I am a proud mother of THREE children. A 5-year-old, a 2.5-year-old, and a 14-day-old. Yes. You read that right. I have a new baby who is currently 2 weeks old and I’m able to sit here and write a blog post. :)

I started Babywise with my first child at a young age and saw the benefits of it right away. I then continued to used the techniques with my second child and am now currently implementing Babywise strategies with my newborn. I have always said that I’d rather work hard in the beginning and reap the rewards of that hard work early on with my children (hello, who doesn’t want to have a baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible?!?!) than take an easier route in the beginning and have to do a lot of re-parenting later on.

One aspect of Babywise that I never fully appreciated was how much easier it makes life when adding a new baby to the family. Since coming home from the hospital our days have flowed very smoothly. Here are some of the ways in which Babywise has benefited our family during this time of transition:

1. Sleep: My husband and I only have to be concerned with ONE child’s sleep. The newborn’s! Both of our older children go to bed easily and smoothly each night and for each nap. They take only a few minutes each to tuck in and we have no night issues or nap issues with either of them. If they wake up early they know to stay in their beds quietly until it’s time to get up. We are able to focus on helping the baby get the best sleep she needs and are able to get good rest ourselves since our older children sleep so well.

2. Flexibility: Because both of our older children have been on set routines their entire lives, they know what to expect each and every day. It makes it easier for them to be a little more flexible as needed. If bath has to be a little earlier in order to have them out and dried off for when the baby needs to nurse, they do fine with that change. If they have to stay up a little later for bedtime to allow me to finish nursing the baby before tucking them in, they also do fine and have no issues when small bumps in the schedule occur.

3. Quality Time: As a mama I naturally feel guilt that so much of my time is spent either with the new baby or trying to rest and recover from delivery. It’s a huge blessing to have my older children on a set routine so I can know when there will be time for me to spend with them. We are also able to make plans for them to spend quality time with others and know they will be at their personal best for those fun events because they will be well rested!

4.  Time for ME: It is so, so important during the early days of postpartum to take good care of yourself. I know I need to soak in the tub. I know I need to take naps. My rest and recovery is essential in order for me to be the best mom possible for my children! By having a solid routine in place for our family I’m able to have that time I need for myself. I know when my children will be sleeping, I know what activities they will have at certain times, and I can work around those times in order to have my “me time” too!

5. Setting Baby up for Success: I am a firm believer in starting as you mean to go on and I start implementing some of the Babywise strategies from birth with my children (you can read about that here). As I continue to add children to my home I have SO many people tell me that I will “throw the schedule out the window.” Instead, I have found that with each additional child, the routine of life gets easier and easier and even more consistent than the child before. My two-week-old baby is already sleeping better, nursing better, and thriving more at an earlier age than either of my older children did. I know that is because I have the confidence that Babywise has allowed me to have and that I do have such a simple routine to my day that it makes it easy to give the baby the very best!

I know my days as a mother of three are just beginning and that there will be bumps in the road along the way. But I also know that Babywise has allowed me a great start to this new phase of life!

Tips for Starting Babywise

 By Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

I have had several new mommy friends come to me recently asking how to actually get started with establishing a schedule with their newborns. Babywise recommends feeding on demand until 2-3 weeks old. I totally agree with this, but I also started from birth (yes, while at the hospital!) with introducing Babywise techniques with my daughter. You can read my tips for starting from birth in this post. 

Once the baby turns that magical 2-3 weeks old…then what? 

Here is how I always recommend starting to set up the baby on a schedule:

  1. Pick a start time. It’s crucial to have a start time to each day. I like to go by the book so I chose 7 am for my children since it is what all the Babywise books use in the sample schedules. It can be any time you choose, but your entire schedule revolves around this time. If your baby wakes before the awake time then it is considered a “middle of the night” feeding. Mine would often wake at 5:30. I’d feed, put back to bed, and re-wake at 7 to start my day.
  2. Wake to eat. It is okay to let the baby sleep an extra 15 min, when needed, but if it’s time to eat then you need to wake the baby! I know how hard it is but it’s important in order to establish the routine! Same with feeding early. It’s okay to feed early if you think your baby is hungry but then adjust your schedule accordingly. I always tried to hold my babies off to eat until I was within the 15 min time window of their next scheduled feeding time. Remember that with nursing you need to have 8-10 feedings a day!
  3. Eat-Wake-Sleep cycle. When the baby wakes feed him or her then keep the baby awake for some awake time. In the early days it can often be only just a few minutes but still have some awake time before putting them back to sleep. The only time you don’t do this is in the middle of the night. After the last scheduled feeding for the day then put the baby to bed for the night and cross fingers they let you sleep! When the baby wakes for the night feeding keep it dark and quiet and try to keep them in sleepy mode as much as possible. Don’t do any awake time before putting them back to their nighttime sleep!
  4. Continue to focus on full feedings. During the first few weeks I always encourage new moms just to work hard to get the baby to take a full feeding. Do whatever you have to in order to keep him or her awake while they eat!!! It’s important to continue to do this once the schedule is in place. It will help make sure the baby will stay nice and full (and happy!) until the next feeding time! By this age most babies fall into a natural 2 1/2 – 3 hours between feedings (you calculate that time from the start of the first feeding to the start of the next one).
  5. Keep the sleep hierarchy in mind. This is a big thing for me! Reading this post from Valerie’s blog was truly a life saver. The most important goal is for the baby to SLEEP during sleep times. Ideally you want the baby to be in their crib to sleep but if you have to use the swing, help hold the baby to go back to sleep, etc. then do it at this age in order to make sure sleep happens! My goal was to always keep the baby in the crib if I could so if they woke early I’d go in and simply touch them or make a quiet sound (“shhh”). If that didn’t work then I’d pick up and comfort and put back down once they stopped crying. If that didn’t work then I’d try the swing. If that didn’t work then I’d try me holding them until they went to sleep. I tried to “interfere” as little as possible but kept the ultimate goal of sleep in mind!
  6. Know the “sleepy cues.” My daughter was a slow nurser and would, literally, only have a few brief minutes of awake time after nursing before she went back to sleep. If your baby yawns, gets fussy, rubs eyes, etc. (here is a great post on sleep cues!) then it means get them to the bed and fast! If you miss the sleepy window then you have a baby who is overtired and overstimulated and who probably won’t sleep.
  7. Have a good sleep environment. Make the place where the baby sleeps for naps as much like the night sleep conditions as you can. Get black out curtains to keep the room dark. Use a swaddle if you use one at night. Do the same routine before each nap (such as sing a short song, etc.). Have a form of white noise that you use every time the baby is sleeping. By keeping the pre-sleep ritual consistent at all sleep times the baby will learn when they get swaddled and you start singing that song then it’s time for them to sleep!
  8. Stay home. I know for many people it’s a big sacrifice not to be out and about. I tell family and friends to get their fill of our new babies during the first couple weeks because once it’s time to set up the schedule, we get strict about it! Just like with anything else in life, the more consistent you are with keeping the routine for your baby, the more successful you will be. At this stage the goal is sleeping through the night and it will happen sooner if you work hard these early days to get the schedule in place!
  9. Don’t cry it out. I think often Babywise gets a bad rap about cry it out but at this age it’s not something you need to be concerned with at all. If your baby is crying at the start of nap then 90% of the time it’s probably because the baby is overtired/overstimulated. Help the baby get to sleep (although it’s fine to let them fuss a bit and see if they will fall asleep on their own too!) and know that next nap to make sure to put them to bed earlier! I like to write down when my baby shows sleep cues and try to actually start the bedtime routine process prior to the time when they start to show signs of being tired. That way they are ready to get in the bed exactly at the right time! You also don’t need to do cry it out mid-nap yet. Again, the sleep hierarchy! If the baby wakes mid-nap then go in and soothe to get them back to sleep!
  10. Know the Wonder Weeks. If you’ve never heard of Wonder Weeks then you will be SO glad I just told you about them! It’s so, so accurate! It is times when your baby is going through developmental leaps and knowing when they occur helps to know when your baby might struggle with sleep and be fussier than normal. During Wonder Weeks I did a lot more comforting than usual and just helped my babies get through the stage, once it passed things went back to normal with no issues.
  11. Cluster feed and dream feed. I do a combo of Babywise schedule along with the scheduling recommended in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I have my feeding times in the evenings closer together. This is typically a fussy time of the day any way for little ones so why not just keep them happy and fed? Plus by “stocking up” on eating close to bedtime, it helps the baby stay full longer in the night. The sample schedule in Babywise has a “late evening” feeding. This is also known as the “dream feed.” You wake the baby to eat, but you don’t have any awake time following this scheduled feeding. While I do a dream feed when first starting to schedule, I do think at a certain point it can cause issues with solid sleep. Both of my children, so far, slept through the night at 8-9 weeks old and it happened for the first time on nights I accidentally slept through the dream feed. Therefore, I typically stop doing them around that age!

Here is a sample schedule from when my daughter was two-three weeks old:

  • 7:00: start of the day, eat
  • 8:00-8:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 10:00: eat
  • 11:00-11:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 1:00: eat
  • 2:00-2:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 4:00: eat
  • 5:00-5:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 6:00: eat (this is a cluster feed, I would feed her close together in the evenings to help her load up on food and stay full for the night time. The evenings are also THE fussiest time of the day at this age so it makes sense to feed her and keep her happy!)
  • 7:00-7:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 8:00: do bedtime ritual (massage or bath) then eat. Put her straight to bed after this feeding
  • 10:30: wake her up for her “dream feed” (this is one extra feeding before we go to bed to, again, help her stock up and hopefully sleep through the night).
  • Feed whenever wakes during the night (typically around 3:30ish)

When I first started Babywise with my first baby I had such a hard time because I felt like the book didn’t go into enough detail. I didn’t have a lot of people I knew personally who used Babywise principals to help me so I’m very thankful I found resources online. My main resources was Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. There is also a great Google Group set up where you can ask questions and a panel of fellow Babywise moms will help answer them! It’s a wonderful tool! Of course any of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network bloggers are fabulous resources as well and I know I personally love to help whenever I can!

Here are some other blog posts that may also help you get started:

Does School Inhibit Healthy Sleep?

Source: oprah.com

Is your child in school yet? If so, you know how easily our lives change when they start school. Starting school typically means waking early, rushed mornings, a little playtime after school, and then homework that can potentially run late into the night. The older they are, the faster the pace becomes.

This is the way of the world. The issue is further compounded by all of the activities that our children participate in. I know of a couple families who have an activity every day of the week. Just the idea of it exhausts me!

One concern with this fast-paced world is that our kids simply don’t get enough sleep. More than this, their lack of sleep affects their ability to learn.

“More and more studies are confirming what our grandmothers knew intuitively just a generation ago. Preschool and school-aged children who suffer from a deficiency of healthy sleep have a pervasive fatigue that affects alertness. Such a child becomes inattentive, unable to concentrate, easily distracted, and physically hyperactive,” (On Becoming Childwise).

It’s no wonder kids are being diagnosed with ADHD in record numbers! They are simply being run ragged and aren’t getting the healthy sleep they need to stay alert and attentive.

The Ezzos go on to discuss this idea of healthy sleep:

“Researchers have found a clear relationship between poor sleep habits and misbehavior. One significant report found that children who sleep less than ten hours in a twenty-four hour period may be more likely to throw temper tantrums than those who get more sleep,” (On Becoming Childwise).

Then we parents become the lucky ones to deal with this misbehavior in the late afternoons and evenings!

So what can we do about it? Well, everyone can homeschool! I’m kidding, but in all seriousness, homeschooling has alleviated this problem for us. We get our schoolwork done in a few hours in the morning and early afternoon, so homework isn’t an issue (unless we’re having a focus and attention issue in the morning). And except for co-op day, my boys can sleep as late as they need to in the morning.

But if homeschooling isn’t for you, I think it’s wise to limit their extracurricular activities. Don’t get guilted into signing them up for every sport and musical instrument offered to you.

Another good way to ensure healthy sleep for our kids is to do our best to cut out device/TV time during the week. I know it offers us a break, but when we consider that our kids’ time is so limited, there are many other things that they can do with their time. And if it seems like they need time to zone out in front of the TV, it’s entirely possible that they’re not getting enough sleep. Let them relax for a few minutes with a book, then get homework and playtime done so you don’t run the risk of putting the kids to bed late. Better yet, put them to bed early if they “need” time to zone out.

Consider this:

“Children whose parents help them develop healthy sleep habits are optimally awake and optimally alert to interact with their environment. They are more self-assured, happier, and demonstrate longer attention spans. As a result, they are better learners,” (On Becoming Childwise).

So if you want to make sure your child learns well in school, do your best to make sleep a priority!

5 Ways to Stay Motivated

Source: kareywhite.blogspot.com

by Valerie Plowman

It isn’t always easy to be “on” as a mom. We have a lot of tasks and goals we want to meet for our children daily as well as in the “big picture,” and sometimes it gets exhausting! Sometimes we wonder if it is worth it to worry about independent play, first time obedience, learning time, and all of the other items on our list. So how do we keep up the motivation to go on and stick with our goals in the face of the craziness life throws at us? Here are five ideas to keep us going.

1. Look to Examples

Look to the examples around you. I always like to observe people with children older than my own to see what they do and what I like and what I don’t. I don’t mean this in a judging way–I don’t like the “mommy wars” of whose way is better than whose way. We all have our own priorities and goals. I like to observe what efforts produce the results I am looking for, and what efforts do not. I am looking for what I want for my family and trying to emulate those actions. I tweak them for our family and make them work for us. This idea of observation is discussed in On Becoming Childwise. See this post for more on that: Instilling Qualities: Observation.

2. Believe That You Will Miss It Some Day and Live in the Moment

Sometimes when the older women approach you in the store or at church and tell you how much you will miss these years so you better enjoy it, you really just want to punch them in the face hand off your kids and walk away and see how much they really do miss it. However, this is the comment I get most often from older women, so I really try to heed that advice to enjoy the moments. When something gets ruined, I try to think about how that mark on that book will always remind me of when so-and-so was young. When my freshly washed window has fingerprints and has been licked (WHY?!?!?), I try to remind myself that I will miss those prints and licks (so they say!). I try to enjoy it for what it is because apparently, someday I will miss it. See also Enjoy the Moment.

Along those same lines, I try to live in the moment. I don’t like to think, “I can’t wait until…[so-and-so is older, so-and-so masters this skill, etc.]. I just try to enjoy where everyone is for what they are at that moment. There will always been things you love and things you don’t love about each stage, so you have to just focus on what you enjoy rather than pining away for what you believe will surely be better in the future. See also It’s A Journey, Not A Destination

3. Simplify Where Possible

Simplify your life so you have the time and energy needed to do what is necessary. We can’t do it all, and when we try to do more than we can handle, we start to let important things slide. When we are too busy,we get tired, and when we get tired, we find it easier to let the child get her way than to correct her and require obedience. For more on this, see Days of Motherhood.  See also Good Sacrifice vs. Foolish Sacrifice. See also  Slow the Pace

4. Have Faith the Hard Work Will Pay Off

Day in and day out, you are taking small steps and working hard to make sure your child is being raised in the best way for your child. You remind your child over and over again to do a certain thing (say yes mommy, put shoes away, clean up after self…) and sometimes you wonder why you even bother. And is this much attention to the schedule that important? And why bother with bedtime and naps because life could be a bit less complicated if you weren’t worried about those things…

Have faith that your hard work will pay off. This brings us back to number one. Who are your positive examples? Their hard work paid off! This is something that gets easier with perspective. This is why having a fourth baby is less stressful than the first; you know the hard work pays off at some point. When you need a pep talk, look through my pep talks: Word to the Weary/Pep Talks Index

5. Take Breaks At Times

Sometimes, you need a change in the schedule. Sometimes, you as a mom need a girls’ night out. You need to take a break from the sharp focus of being a mom so you can see the big wide world, gain some perspective, and realize that everything will be okay. The world keeps spinning and your child refusing to sign at the end of the meal is not the end of the world.

Have time for yourself to develop your talents and to be you as an individual. See Developing Talents.

Sometimes you also need a break from the routine. Take a pajama day. Take a day to watch a movie as a family. Take the day off from your regular routine every once in a while. It will be a fun break, and when you return, everyone will be glad for it.

For more ideas in this area, see 10 Ways to Save Your Sanity.

Conclusion

Remember as you go along and things are hard, these hard times are what make us grow. Just like when you exercise, your muscles strengthen, when you practice managing time and efforts, you get better at it. See Increasing Our Capacity for more on that.

Valerie is a wife and mother of four, ages 7, 6, 4, and 9 months. She blogs at www.babywisemom.com.

Random acts of parenting

Source: recipesdb.net

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.

Create your schedule

In my last post, I discussed the many benefits of structuring your day. Here I will walk you through the steps of creating a schedule to establish peace and harmony in your home.

Look at my schedule
The following explanation will make more sense if you look at my schedule first. Got it? Now, back to reading.

Start with a blank document
Find a quiet time and sit down in front of the computer. Create a table in Word or Excel. If you’re comfortable with Word, use this document that I have created for you. (I use Excel, but WordPress wouldn’t let me upload a spreadsheet, so this should do.) If you’re using Excel or a piece of paper and pen, make three columns, one for the times of day, one for your child and one for you. Having a column for yourself is key to making your schedule work for you and keeping you on task. Add another column for any additional kids.

On the far left, write down the times of the day in 15-minute increments starting with the time you wake up and ending with the time you go to bed. Take heart, not every minute of your day will be scheduled, but starting with 15-minute increments will make it easier to create your schedule. If there is an activity that lasts an hour, for example, you can delete three of those 15-minute rows.

When filling in your schedule, you won’t go row by row. You will go activity by activity. Fill in your schedule in the following order.

Fixed activities
Start with any activities that have a fixed time, like school. Include the times your child starts school and the time he gets home.

Waking and sleeping
Your fixed activities might affect the time you need to wake up. So fill in the time you and your child wake up. Whether you need to be up at a certain time or not, waking up at the same time every day is key to making your schedule work. Be realistic. If you’re not a morning person, don’t set your wake-up time to 6:00 am. Wake your child at the same time every day if his wake time is inconsistent. Now fill in times for naps and bed. Allow your child enough time to get a full night’s sleep (9-12 hours depending on age). Make yourself go to bed at the same time, too. Again, keep these consistent.

Self care
Allow enough time in your day to shower and get your child bathed and dressed. You can either create separate rows for these activities, or just include them in your wake up time.

Meals and snacks
Next, fill in meals and snacks. Be realistic about the amount of time it actually takes you to eat. If you need to feed a baby, don’t schedule your own lunch at the same time. Also think about the 10-15 minutes it takes to make breakfast and lunch. Create a separate row (30-60 minutes) for cooking dinner.

Independent play
Independent play is key to creating quiet time for you and your child. Older toddlers and preschoolers will have roomtime and quiet sit time. Babies and younger toddlers will have playpen time and blanket time. Use these activities to your advantage. Make them happen when you need a shower, time alone on the computer, or if you want to make dinner without a toddler hanging on your legs. (I’ll write separate posts for independent play soon.)

Enrichment activities
This is where your proactive parenting comes into play. Fill in times to read to your child, teach him ABCs and 123s, music play and other enrichment activities. Schedule some one-on-one time for each child. And allow for some scheduled sibling playtime. Without a schedule it’s unlikely you would have enough time to fit all this in. Don’t let your child miss out on these activities.

Chores
Fill in when you and your child will do your various chores. You may have your child clean up after every play activity or schedule just one or two clean up times. Think about scheduling clean up time before TV time as an incentive to get it done.

Free play and TV time
Schedule time for free play and TV time. Without a schedule, your entire day might be filled with these two activities. Make them planned events in your day. Keep TV time to 30-60 minutes and plan it for when you need it most. For free play, encourage your child to play on his own.

Exercise
Whether you work out at home before your child wakes up, take him to the gym or go for a walk with the stroller, include exercise in your day.

Mommy time
In your column, be sure to include activities simply for your own pleasure. Whether you enjoy reading, talking to friends on the phone, scrapbooking, blogging or any other activity, be sure to schedule at least 30 minutes. If you can allow more time, then great! Your child will benefit when he sees that you take some time for yourself every day and that you don’t spend all day every day catering to his desires.

Couch time
Schedule some time to connect with your spouse when he gets home from work. Couch time is a technique the Ezzos recommend to enrich your marriage and to show your child that your marriage is secure and that it comes first above all else.

Review
Your schedule should now be complete. Delete any blank rows. Read through it to be sure that it will all actually work for you and your child. Make any adjustments.

Let your schedule serve you
For the first two or three days, do your best to stick to your schedule as it is. But have your schedule and a pen nearby to jot down any changes you’ll need to make. Make sure your schedule serves you, not the other way around. Don’t become a slave to it. And don’t follow it because I’m telling you to. Follow it because it will make your life so much more fulfilling. You’ll start seeing the benefits in just a day or two.

Schedule variations
You’ll notice at the bottom of my schedule, I included an alternate activity for when the weather is nice. When it’s nice, I’d much rather get my exercise by walking with the kids in the stroller and going to the park than going to the gym. This is also the time that I use for occasional activities like running errands and scheduling play dates. Also, if William went to preschool on just Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would have a variation for that. Think through any similar variations you’ll want to make.

Lazy days and weekends
I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t follow our complete schedule every day. Sometimes, we’re just feeling a little lazy. Weekends are also invariably a little lazy. But you don’t want to toss your schedule out the window entirely. Meals and naps still need to happen at the same time or you’ll all pay for it. Either create a new schedule for lazy days or bold the items in your daily schedule that you’ll stick with on your lazy days or weekends. Here is my lazy day schedule. (You’ll see that I’m not much of a morning person, but the rest of our day is pretty much the same.) My only caution is to not fall into making every day a lazy day. Encourage yourself to do all you can with your days.

Free play activities
At the bottom of your schedule, jot down ideas for your child’s free play. It will be nice to have them in a handy place so you can get your child started on one when he comes to you for entertainment. Play with him for 5 minutes to get him started and encourage him to finish on his own.

Post your schedule
Print out your schedule and post it in the kitchen. The refrigerator is a great place, or tape it to the wall or a cabinet. Make it visible. Think about printing a second copy for your bathroom or other spot in the house. Show it to babysitters when they come.

Make your schedule a living document
Allow yourself to change your schedule whenever you need to. Revise it when your child drops a nap, when school is out for the summer, etc.

It will all be worth it
If this all seems like a lot of work to you, go back to my post on structuring your day to remind yourself of the benefits. Remember that not only will it reduce the opportunities for your child to misbehave, but it will also allow you and your child to have quiet time and quality time. Your child will have a greater respect for authority and improved focus and concentration skills. And you can be more proactive with your parenting and more easily accept new members to the family. Trust me, it will all be worth it.

Structure your day

Structuring your day is one of the most effective yet simple techniques you can use to prevent behavior problems in your child.

“Young children not only need, but they also crave supervision, direction, and encouragement. Random acts of parenting aren’t good enough to get through the day with one’s sanity intact,” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 85).

Here are some signs that you might need more structure in your day:

  • Your child whines and complains constantly and you’re never quite sure if it’s because he’s hungry, tired or bored.
  • Your child wanders aimlessly throughout the house.
  • Your child plays with anything and everything in the house.
  • Your child has very little attention span, flitting from one toy to the next.
  • You feel like all you do is chase your child around the house.
  • Your child hasn’t learned how to entertain himself. You are his personal entertainer.
  • You’re never quite sure when you will fit in a shower or do the dishes.
  • Your toddler hangs on your legs when you’re trying to cook dinner or do laundry.
  • Exercise? What’s that?
  • You feel guilty about the amount of TV your child watches. But how else are you going to get anything done?
  • You feel like you never get anything accomplished even though you’re home all day.
  • You never have enough time for yourself or your spouse.

Reduced opportunities for misbehavior
Something as simple as adding more structure to your day can resolve these issues. Huge, isn’t it? Many people (myself included) don’t like to live by a schedule. But when you realize the peace it will bring to your home, you will be motivated to stick with it.

“To have routine, order, and structure is to think ahead and plan. Structuring your preschooler’s day will eliminate a big chunk of stress on Mom because it reduces random opportunities for misbehavior. With thoughtful planning, Mom is proactive instead of reactive, meaning she can plan the day rather than react to each situation as it arises,” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 86).

When your child is scheduled to spend 30 minutes in his room every day for roomtime, that’s 30 minutes that he won’t be getting himself into trouble. When you eat meals at the same time every day, you’ll ward off meltdowns due to low blood sugar levels. And when you schedule time every night for couch time, your child will take comfort in the security of your marriage. All of this leads to fewer behavior problems and a reduced need for discipline. That alone is reason enough to add more structure to your day. But there’s more…

Respect for authority
When you decide how your child will fill his day, an important attitude shift takes place. Your child will respect your authority. He will be less likely to develop a “wise in his own eyes” attitude where he has too many freedoms and too much control.

Focus and concentration
With structured play, your child will develop better focus and concentration skills. Whether he is asked to sit and read books for 30 minutes a day or simply stay in his room and play with a toy chosen for him, he will learn self-control. He will also learn that sometimes he must do something he doesn’t want to do, a skill that will serve him well in school.

Quality time for your child
You likely spend plenty of time with your child, but how much of that is good quality time? If you followed Babywise with your infant, you established a routine because it allowed him to get good quality sleep. You could have let him sleep anywhere any time, but you would have ended up with a demanding, sleep-deprived baby. The quality of a baby’s sleep is important. The same is true with the time we spend with our kids. Quality time should be your goal. Even if your new routine has you spending less time with your child overall, making sure it is good quality time is what’s important.

Quality time for yourself
By structuring your day, you’ll be able to set aside some quiet time for yourself. Not only will you get to shower every day (what a concept!), but you will have a chance to exercise, read a book for pleasure, cook dinner at a leisurely pace, or whatever else satisfies your personal desires. Realize that your child will be happier and better adjusted if he sees that mom devotes time to herself every day, even if it’s at his own expense.

Managing multiple children
Some parents shudder at the thought of having more than one or two kids because they can’t imagine how they would juggle the needs of every child. When your day is structured, welcoming a baby to the family can be as simple as shifting your daily routine around to make room for everyone.

Proactive parenting
Think of all the time you waste chasing after your child or watching him wander throughout the house aimlessly. Realize that by having more structure in your day, you can accomplish a lot more with your time.

“Managing your preschooler’s day enhances good organization, time-management skills, and provides an orderly environment for your children to optimize their learning experiences. It also helps Mom achieve personal and parenting goals while reducing the need for corrective discipline,” (On Becoming Preschoolwise, p. 86).

When you structure your day, you do more than just make it through the day. You schedule learning time for your preschooler. You schedule time to read books to your toddler. You schedule time for the gym. And you can do it all stress-free with minimal behavior problems.

Start thinking through how these ideas can affect your family. In my next post I’ll walk you through the steps of creating a schedule that will allow you to create a peaceful, structured environment in your home.