Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a lover of schedules. There’s something about a schedule… the predictability of knowing what’s coming next, the planning ahead, the organization… it truly is a beautiful thing! Now I’m well aware that not everyone feels this way about planning ahead. We have a lot of friends and family that prefer to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ and find it amusing that I plan get togethers at LEAST a week in advance.
Prior to becoming a mom, my life was very schedule oriented. I knew exactly what time I needed to be out the door (as well as how long it would take me to get there. Lord knows that doesn’t happen anymore with a child!). I knew when I needed to catch the bus, be at meetings, eat lunch, etc. Everything was planned and it accommodated my love of structure really well.
Fast forward to becoming a mom. I quickly realized that predictability is no longer a thing. Jonas sure knew (and still knows) how to keep me on my toes and I never really knew what was coming next. So I decided I was going to try and create a VERY simple schedule for us starting when he was 3 weeks old (example of this will be in next week’s blog!). Would you expect anything less from me?! Side note: this schedule did not involve sleeping and eating. He was way too young for that yet! Even though it was extremely basic, I found that it kept me sane and allowed me to feel like I was accomplishing something (which is another thing I thrive on).
Not only do I enjoy the predictability of a schedule, but I think Jonas does too! It helps him to know what’s coming next and to have a sense of structure in his day to day life. There are a lot of reasons why research indicates that schedules are helpful for little ones. Not only does a schedule establish expectations (which can help down the road with behavior) and build habits (for example, we brush our teeth in the morning and before bed), they can also challenge us as parents to follow our family values.
Creating a set of family values is the easy part. Following it? Now that’s a whole different story! Having a schedule can allow you to incorporate your values into your child’s daily life. Here are some examples of values that have become a part of our daily or weekly schedule:
- Intentional relationships – we spend time each week with the people we love (playdates and family gatherings)
- Prayer – we pray before we eat meals and go to bed
- Being active – Jonas isn’t quite there yet, but he sure is the best cheerleader when I take him running with me!
- Eating together – usually 6 out of the 7 days of the week we eat dinner together as a family to catch up on our days (another example where Jonas isn’t quite contributing yet as far as the conversation goes, but one day he will!)
- Rest and relaxation – for Jonas this is currently naptime but eventually once we drop the nap, I plan to have “quiet time” as a part of our day
I do want to note that I also believe in the importance of adaptability. That’s been a tough one for me. I struggle when for example, I know we won’t be home by 7:00 PM for bedtime. But seriously…. what’s the worst that’s going to happen?! He might be a little crabby for a day? I’ve learned as time goes on that it isn’t the end of the world if we are home at 8 instead of 7. Obviously we know he’ll be less crabby if we’re home at 7, but we need to continue to live our lives too! This is something I still struggle with BUT am continuing to work on. Moral of the story: a schedule is beautiful, but it can be broken from time to time. Stay tuned for part 2 of “The Beauty of a Schedule” next week where I’ll talk about the HOW and give you examples of schedules that have worked for us at different ages and stages.