Impromptu roomtime

Source: karenika.com

Are you home with preschoolers who seem to get into everything? Do you have school-aged kids who complain of summer boredom? We all know that structuring our day can limit boredom and keep little ones out of mischief. And roomtime is a crucial component of any child’s day. That small amount of alone time that can be had through roomtime can do wonders for you and your child. It helps us all recharge our batteries.

But what about those times when we all need roomtime but it’s not yet scheduled for another 3 hours? Is it okay to send the kids to their rooms for an impromptu roomtime? Yes! There are days in every child’s (or adult’s) life when we need more solitude than we’re getting. This is particularly important for the introverts in your family. Say you spent the entire morning at the local children’s museum. Your introverted child will crave roomtime to recover from the morning. It’s okay if roomtime isn’t scheduled until after snack. Let the child have an extra roomtime session after lunch.

Or maybe you’re having 6 of your closest friends (and their children) over for an hours-long play date. This can be overwhelming to an introverted child. Let him have a little bit of roomtime during the play date. Allowing your child to disappear for 20-30 minutes is much better than the attitude issues you’ll have to deal with if you don’t let him have that alone time.

I’ve also found that roomtime can help keep my boys from getting too rowdy. I’m all for letting my boys get on the floor and wrestle, but it needs to be in a somewhat controlled environment with parents watching closely. If my boys are in the playroom and their free play has turned into wrestle-mania, I’ll send them to their rooms for roomtime. I make it clear that it’s not a punishment. They just need that time to calm down and have some time apart. Besides, when they start up with the physical play, it usually means they’re bored. If I don’t have some other activity at the ready, roomtime works wonders.

So no matter what you’re doing with your day or where you are in your schedule, let your kids have an impromptu roomtime whenever it’s needed. And always be on the lookout for attitude problems that could easily be solved with an extra session of roomtime. Whether you’re at the museum, have a play date or even spend the afternoon running errands, let your little ones recharge their batteries in roomtime.

Kids crave boundaries

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Are you ever reluctant to enforce boundaries with your child? Do you feel like a daily schedule is too rigid and restrictive? Do you want to be the “fun” parent and strip all forms of boundaries from your child’s day?

Let me tell you that your kids WANT you to give them boundaries. Our kids crave the security that boundaries give them. And they need security among all else. When a child lacks security, some of the most fundamental things in their lives are affected. Without boundaries and security, the child:

  • Lacks confidence in himself
  • Loses sleep
  • Has difficulty making friends
  • Does poorly in school

Some people think that children cannot be free to express themselves when they are forced to live within defined boundaries. I agree that children need to have the freedom to express themselves and be creative and imaginative. But it’s because of boundaries that children have this freedom, not despite them. Without boundaries, freedom of expression doesn’t happen. Without boundaries, children are too preoccupied with watching out for their basic health and safety. Boundaries serve as the baseline for child development. Set those boundaries and the child will be free to grow, and accomplish things you might never have expected of them.

Consider the following passage from On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise:

“Several middle school students huddled around the inside perimeter of a schoolyard fence. A psychologist from a local university who was passing by subsequently suggested that the fences be taken down. His theory was that the children resented being ‘fenced in.’ The fences, he concluded, restricted their freedom to roam the playground at will. The fences were taken down. The result? The children began to huddle in the middle of the yard. Why? The children didn’t know where the boundaries were. Boundaries give children a sense of security. When the fences came down, their security was stripped away,” (p. 93).

Help your children feel safe and secure in their world by establishing boundaries.

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.

Raise a voracious reader

Source: sheknows.com

Are you a reader? Do you understand the importance of reading for children? Do you read to your child?

Reading to our children is Parenting 101, but sadly, many parents don’t do it, particularly after the child has learned to read himself. Reading to our children and encouraging them to read has so many benefits. They include:

• Developing the imagination. (Reading requires kids to imagine the stories in their mind’s eye. TV creates the images for them.)

• Setting a foundation for phonics and pre-reading.

• Learning life-long spelling and grammar skills. (The non-readers I know couldn’t spell if their lives depended on it!)

• Broadening the vocabulary, exposing the reader to words he might not otherwise encounter.

• Encouraging grammatically correct speech. (Read quality literature and you’ll never read sentences like “Him and I are going to the store.” or “Where are you at?”)

• Developing a life-long love for reading.

These benefits just scratch the surface. But based on these alone, we should be encouraged to raise voracious readers. So how do you raise a voracious reader? Here are some tips:

• Start reading from day one. I started reading to my kids when they were 4 months old. It’s never too early to start.

• Schedule reading times. At a minimum, read before bed. Also read during lunch and before nap. For older children who may be reluctant readers, make daily reading a requirement.

• Have a “sustained silent reading” time every day. This is time where you all just sit around reading books on your own. You read your book and your children read theirs.

• Allow even the littlest ones to hold books. But teach children to respect books by carefully turning pages (not tearing them) and putting them away carefully (not throwing them!).

• Go to the library, often. Go to story times, join the library’s summer reading program, and let your child choose as many books as he wants.

• Surround yourselves in books. Keep reading spots in several areas of the home (bathroom, by the child’s bed, in the play room, etc.).

• Encourage friends and family to gift books for birthdays and Christmas. Teach children that books are a treasured gift.

• Be a reading role model. Let your children see you reading books. This is something I need to work on because I do most of my reading when they are asleep. This is where sustained silent reading helps.

• Put the electronics away. Limit your and your child’s screen time.

• Don’t rely on schools to create a voracious reader. Reading happens first and foremost in the home.

• Get squirrelly boys to sit and read. Allow them to read graphic novels, comic books, joke books, and general information non-fiction books. Do you see your boy picking up rocks outside to find bugs?Get an “All About Bugs” book from the library.

• Use programs like BookAdventure.com and the library’s summer reading program to give children incentives to read.

• Use sites like GoodReads.com and ReadKiddoRead.com to find good books. GoodReads.com is my favorite new site. You can rate books you’ve read, and it will give you suggestions for books just like it. There are also lists created by others. I searched for children’s books that are in a series. There are several Indian in the Cupboard books. You can also search for Newbery and Caldecott award winners. (Look at all of these lists!) GoodReads.com is also social, so you can see what your friends are reading and what they recommend.

• Read to your child long after he has learned to read on his own. Reading aloud enables you to read books that are beyond the child’s reading level. The vocabulary, plot lines, and character development are much richer. Also reading aloud enables you to vary your tone for punctuation (quotes, exclamation marks, etc.) which makes for a more interesting story.

• Allow your child to read over your shoulder. William follows along as I read to him and will sometimes correct me if I read a word too fast! The other day, he commented on the word “ajar” wondering why it was squished together like that (assuming it should have been “a jar”). This only happened because he saw the word, and it gave me a great opportunity to introduce a new vocabulary word! With pre-readers and emerging readers, you might point to words (particularly sight words) as you read them.

• Encourage quality, not quantity. Rich books like the Indian in the Cupboard and The Cricket in Times Square (William’s favorites!) are better than “twaddle” like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (Don’t get me started on Captain Underpants. It has intentionally misspelled words! Luckily, William was smart enough to notice.)

• Savor books. Don’t zip through them, thinking more is more. Savor them and immerse yourselves in the characters’ lives. Even if your child wants to read more and more, just stop. Leave him hungry for more, and he’ll think and talk about the book and will ask for more reading times.

• Allow a child to read from a black-and-white e-reader like the Kindle if the device will create reading excitement. While iPads, the Kindle Fire, and other tablets can be good for reading, I suggest you avoid them. The temptation to play games can be too great, and would require quite a bit of oversight.

• Supplement reading with books on CD. These are perfect for room time. But be sure to use these as a supplement, not a replacement for reading.

If you like these tips and want to know more about the importance of reading, pick up a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Not only does it offer statistics about reading, but also it offers great suggestions for books. Nearly half the book is devoted to book suggestions.

Happy reading!

School’s almost out! Structure your summer

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Many of us are heading into the last few weeks of school for the year. My boys get out of school on June 13. That’s just a few weeks before we will be forced to make some routine adjustments. While I look forward to having them home, I know that I will have to structure our days, or else they’ll end up getting into all kinds of trouble!

I had a rude awakening just the other day. I had to get some work done after they came home from school. You would have thought a tornado had run through our house! My husband even asked what happened. If I had just taken a few minutes to put them in roomtime or sibling playtime in one of their rooms, they would have caused far less mischief (and mess).

So save yourself this hassle all summer long. And no, you don’t need to be running all over town driving from one summer camp to the next. Just structure your days at home. Read more for some background on structuring your day and creating your schedule.

If you’re not one to follow a strict schedule, just jot down a few items and when they’ll take place. They might include:

  • Regular meals and snacks
  • Roomtime
  • Sibling playtime
  • Naps/quiet time (depending on the age of the child)
  • Reading time
  • Couch time
  • Chores
  • Bath/shower

I would advise you to have just these basics down every day. If those don’t quite fill your days, other schedule items include:

  • Classes: art, music, etc.
  • Library story times
  • Outside play (This can be so important for quality sleep, it might belong in the must-have category.)
  • TV/computer time (Keep it limited.)
  • Mom time
  • “Summer school” (Don’t let their brains rot over summer! Research homeschool websites for ideas. There are a ton of free resources out there.)
  • Time with friends (Schedule weekly play dates.)
  • “Field trips” like zoo, museum outings

Also, think about any skills you might want to teach your child over the summer. Your days will be less chaotic than school days, so you might want to take the opportunity to teach your child how to tie his shoes, properly brush his own teeth, ride a bike, organize his toys, cook a meal, write letters to grandparents, and more.

Take the time now to create your summer schedule!

Consistent bedtime

By Bethany Lynch, TheGracefulMom.com

Bedtime is one of the main sleep issues that parents struggle with in children. The problems range from developmental disturbances and nap-related disturbances to summer activities. Occasionally, it is also a temptation to relax the bedtime routine out of guilt.

Source: Nerissa's Ring

As a working mom, having a consistent bedtime has been a lifesaver…one of my top tips. However, it is often tempting to be much more permissive about bedtime and blame it on not getting enough quality time with our kids.

Permissiveness leads to inconsistency.

Letting my kids stay up late out of guilt is not quality time for me or for them. I am a much better mom by having well-rested children, and they love having a well-rested mom. We also make few exceptions.
Some, yes, but not many. We have left parties early, sent strict notes to the grandparents, and put a lot of effort into establishing an efficient routine.

Here is how we did it:

  • Stick to the plan. Once bedtime routine starts, there is hardly any variation. Ours is brush teeth, pajamas, pick/read a book, say prayers, sing a song, tuck in, lights out, door closed.
  • Establish consequences for purposely not obeying the bedtime routine. The first consequence is losing the privilege of picking the book. The
    second consequence is losing the privilege of reading a book. Last would be going straight to bed the second pjs are on, but rarely, if ever, have we gotten to that point.
  • Make bedtime a priority. I usually start picking or guiding activities about 15-30 minutes before our bedtime routine starts. For
    example, if bathtime runs long, then any TV time before bed is either eliminated or cut short. We also aim to be home before bedtime and
    carefully choose activities that will not compete with getting home close to bedtime.
  • Do not over-analyze bedtime difficulties. It is very common for toddlers to have bedtime disruptions around 2 years old and again when
    naptime needs to be shortened. I have been there, and I tried everything. It almost always comes back to staying consistent. See #1!
  • Cherish the routine and make it work. If bathtime takes too long every night, try every other night or 3 nights a week. If you have a
    special family event, do not be a slave to the routine. That is the beauty of the -wise series…flexibility when you need it. I have also
    had some of the best conversations ever with my children during bedtime. Some nights I stay for extra kisses, cuddles, and questions. My son also knows that once the door is closed, it stays closed. My daughter with SPD sometimes gets a 2nd check if she has an extremely hard time soothing herself.

Start as you mean to go on and know that bedtime can be enjoyable for everyone!

What I’m Reading: “Bringing Up Bebe,” The Cadre

One of the most important ideas in French parenting, according to Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman is the cadre.

“Cadre (kah-druh)—frame, or framework. A visual image that describes the French parenting ideal: setting firm limits for children, but giving them tremendous freedom within those limits,” (Bringing Up Bebe).

The cadre seems to be a combination of the Ezzos’ schedule and funnel. The schedule is the framework that defines the structure of the home. The funnel defines firm limits that equate to the child’s level of responsibility. And the child is afforded freedoms based on that same level of responsibility.

“To the French couple [referenced in the book], it seemed like the American kids were in charge. ‘What struck us, and bothered us was that the parents never said ‘no.’ … It suggests that the American kids don’t have firm boundaries, that their parents lack authority, and that anything goes. It’s the antithesis of the French ideal of the cadre, or frame, that French parents talk about. Cadre means that kids have very firm limits—that’s the frame—and that the parents strictly enforce those limits. But within those limits, the kids have a lot of freedom,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 67-68).

The book goes on to suggest that kids are more content when they are kept in the cadre.

“He’s a little bit lost. … In families where there is more structure, not a rigid family but a bit more cadre, everything goes much more smoothly,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 68).

This idea is further explained as a source of comfort:

“The point of the cadre isn’t to hem the child in; it’s to create a world that’s predictable and coherent to her. ‘You need that cadre or I think you get lost.’ … ‘It gives you confidence. You have confidence in your kid, and your kid feels it,’” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 84).

One of the parents interviewed in the book explains how the cadre plays out in daily life:

“’I tend to be severe all of the time, a little bit,’ Fanny says. ‘There are some rules I found that if you let go, you tend to take two steps backward. I rarely let these go.’ For Fanny, these areas are eating, sleeping and watching TV. ‘For all the rest she can do what she wants,’ she tells me about her daughter, Lucie. Even within these key areas, Fanny tries to give Lucie some freedom and choices…. ‘Dressing up in the morning, I tell her, ‘At home, you can dress however you want. If you want to wear a summer shirt in wintertime, okay. But when we go out, we decide,’” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 84).

This is similar to the structure that I have established in my home. I have very firm limits about eating, sleeping and media (all devices, not just TV). I have other limits related to our structure, but within that structure, my boys have freedom. For example, roomtime is a playtime defined by me, and it’s a time when they play alone in their rooms. But they can play with whatever toys or books they wish.

Or when we’re on walks, they know they are to stop at corners, not walk on neighbors’ lawns, stay on the sidewalk, and not cross the street alone. Aside from those rules, they are free to run ahead or stop to pick up sticks as they wish.

It all comes down to balance. We need to let our kids be kids, but we also need to give them limits to keep them healthy and safe. For both the parents’ sake and the child’s, it’s important to decide what those limits are ahead of time. And then when there’s opportunity for freedom, we can allow it.

Babywise tips for working parents

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It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, 
Childwise Chat 
· Wednesday: Hank Osborne, 
Daddy Life
· Thursday: Rachel Rowell, 
My Baby Sleep Guide
· Friday: Bethany Lynch, 
The Graceful Mom

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.
___________________________________

by Bethany Lynch from The Graceful Mom

I read Babywise while pregnant with my first child. It just jived with our natural parenting philosophy and gave us structure for how to start. I think that is what I love most about Babywise…the ”start as you mean to go on” mentality. We parent very similarly to this day as we did over 4 years ago. We do not change our tactics after they sleep through the night, or walk, or start preschool.

What I was unprepared for was losing much of the structure when I returned to work. I was heartbroken at the thought of daycare changing everything I had worked on the previous 3 months. It took a lot of trial and error and a few tears to figure out how to keep our parenting goals and philosophies when we were not always physically there.

While our goals may not match everyone’s goals, I think there are quite a few things that are applicable to many working moms and dads. Here are my favorite aspects of Babywise that make a huge difference in our satisfaction and ability to be very involved while we are at work:

  • Find a mutual caregiver. If daycare is not working, find something else. If your family member refuses to work with you, consider daycare. For us, a nanny was the best solution. We still evaluate it every 6 months or so. Being happy with our caregiver was probably one of the biggest factors in my peace and happiness while away at work.
  • Use a log just like daycare even if your mom or best friend is watching your children. Sometimes just knowing if they ate or slept is extremely helpful. Down the road, you can use it to look for structure, potty training, time outs, funny stories.
  • Don’t be afraid of structure when you are home. For awhile, I thought that I needed to be fun and carefree on my days off or the weekends. My kids really do like predictability, and they need to know the rules and reasons are still the same.
  • Don’t be afraid of flexibility. Yes, I know I just mentioned structure. I also tend to be overbearing or overstructured as a working mom at times. Recently I decided to start waking my son up 40 min early when my work schedule changed. It was much more important to cuddle with him and start his day early than to deal with the attitude from missing me.
  • Take your children on dates. I think this is important if you stay at home or work outside the home, but I think it is crucial for working parents to provide that extra special attention. I have even taken personal days specifically for taking a child on a special date. My kids need one-on-one time on a regular basis. We often run errands with one child, and not for ease but for special time. Make sure that dates are dates, and not errands, though.
  • Aim to stay on the same page as your spouse, especially with obedience and discipline. My husband backs me up 100% as a mother and validates almost all of my parenting decisions. We regularly take time to discuss discipline strategy, sleep needs, education, childcare. While this tip is not unique to being a working mom, I am absolutely certain that I would not be the mother that I am without the support of my husband.
  • Find unique ways to implement structured activities like room time and couch time. We still make a point for our children to observe us in conversation without interruption each evening. It may be while we fix supper, while we sit in the backyard, or while the kids finish eating those last 3 bites. Roomtime comes and goes. I wish I could do it every day but it depends on our nanny and how often I have errands on my days off. As they get older, it gets easier, and I try to do it even for 15-30 minutes most days. Some of my favorite moments have been listening to them play together nicely and use their imagination by themselves.
  • Give your children (and yourself) the gift of sleep. I work with so many parents that feel guilty about missed time and let their kids stay up late every single night. We have certainly made exceptions, but consistently teaching our children to sleep well has been one of the best things we did. Bedtime is usually without exception. We also started sleep training from birth. Our kids slept through the night around 4 months of age, for the most part, and I could not imagine working full-time more than a couple of weeks without a full night’s sleep.
  • Don’t over-commit your family time. As a working mom, I feel like I need to have the same attention to detail and opportunities as moms that work in the home. Soccer, classroom volunteer, playgroups. Sometimes it just isn’t possible, and the most important thing is that our family gets enough time together even if that means cutting out other obligations.
  • Don’t wish for what isn’t. I love the structure and parent-directed emphasis of Babywise. I love the results of sleep training. I hate that I am not here all day to implement my dream routine. I hate that I feel like I have to compromise with caregivers. I hate that I often wonder “what if.” The best tip I could ever give another working mom (or dad) is to value what you have. Value what you can do, the values you can instill, the time you can structure…and those sweet grubby hands.

Bethany Lynch is a full-time mother of two young children, a son and daughter. She also works as a full-time NICU pharmacist. Frustrated with the lack of resources for Christian working moms, she decided to start her own inspirational blog. She is very passionate about encouraging other mothers balancing work and family. 

Do you need to change your routine?

Source: miszshawtyyx3.edu.glogster.com

Do you have any chronic behavior issues with your child that you just can’t seem to shake? Have you tried every discipline measure in the book? Perhaps you’ve tried to praise your way out of a bad behavior predicament.

What if there was a simpler solution? What if simply changing your routine would eliminate the problem?

On Monday, I discussed changing your routine to eliminate too much TV watching. But sometimes, we need to change our routine when we’re having behavior problems. Sometimes, we go to great lengths to come up with creative logical consequences when a simple change in our routine is all that’s needed.

It’s easy to think that a chronic behavior problem requires drastic measures. But sometimes the simplest route is the most effective.

Here are some behavior issues and simple routine fixes:

1)    Too hyped up at bedtime: Eliminate dessert and any sugar served at or after dinner.

2)    Slow-moving in the mornings: Put the child to bed earlier to ensure he gets a good amount of sleep. Or consider having breakfast before getting dressed.

3)    Won’t follow directions at naptime: Put the child down earlier or simply take him by the hand to complete your naptime routine.

4)    Says no when you ask him if he needs to go potty (even when you know he needs to): Stop asking. Just take him.

5)    Always gets into trouble when you’re working with an older child on homework: Put the younger child in roomtime.

Take a closer look at your routine to see if there are any tweaks you can to make to eliminate behavior problems.

Best of Childwise Chat: Structure your day

With family in town for the holidays, I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging this week. So here are my top posts of all time (according to visitor stats). Read and enjoy!

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.