learning how to create and sustain a healthy schedule for your children is crucial to good parenting.
Not only does it help you as the parent to create a home life that is rich in productivity and peace.
But it also teaches your children to be productive and to be able to spend time working, studying and playing in a way that will become second nature in your home.
The benefits of creating a block schedule system for children are:
- The ability to ease boredom and create constructive time zones for your child/ren in the home
- Easy to create, and extremely flexible while producing flowing productivity in your home for the entire family.
- perfect for achieving goals in your day and with your children without feeling like a schedule.
- Maintain your home while teaching your children vital life skills all while creating a peaceful environment.
- Manage your children’s time while maintaining flexibility and the ability to adapt to life and its changes
A block schedule system for children is a way of dividing their time, into focus specific slots.
- A focus is an event in your day such as school time, lunch, dinner, or an outing that you can work with, and incorporate as a time constraint rather than scheduling the hours in the day.
- It provides structure and productivity in a way that is relaxed and habitual as you are using daily events that are already part of your life.
- As a parent, once you have your focus zones for your children you don’t have to think of things to do all the time. (something that drives me mad!)
- The days are filled with things that your children can choose to do and things they know they must complete, like schoolwork and chore time, meal times and bed times. The rest is scheduled around those times and to your preference.
- Having children in the home contribute to the daily chores is a healthy practice in any home. it teaches them responsibility and a good work ethic and it helps them to fill their time with constructive time as well as play time.
- having a structure where they can learn to be reliable and time savvy is easier in the long term, and creates a peaceful homelife as your children grow in their ability.
- This sets you up for a home lifestyle that works for everyone and sets your children up to be productive members of society when they fly the coop.
You can create flexible, relaxed and productive schedules for children with these 5 steps.
- Understand what you want from your children. Is it better time management with current chores? starting chore time altogether? better management of screen time? or more time spent outside or in imaginative play?
- Create a simple block schedule. break your day into blocks of time, not measured by minutes or hours, but rather by events or “focuses“ in your day. what do you want to happen before breakfast? before lunch? during the afternoon? before dinner? after dinner? and before bed? use this structure to add or remove certain activities that create the productive schedule you desire.
- Place this schedule where the family can see it. this can be with the aid of pictures, or a printable schedule you can download right into your inbox here.
- Follow through. while this schedule is flexible and relatively easy to follow (depending on how much you are introducing/changing at a current time) you need to allow time for adaption as well as find a way to encourage good behaviour and discipline children who are actively refusing to follow the schedule.
- Introduce a reward system for children older than 6. A simple system that you can create in your home and adapt to your family, their ages, and interests. You can use, screen time, money, or outings. keep a jar, or a tally on the fridge, and set a target to be reached each week in order for the child to enjoy their chosen privilege.
Read how to create your own block schedule!
How to create a schedule that incorporates healthy habits for children.
If you’re after a schedule for yourself and your children, then you need to create one that will revamp your daily life while also being simple enough to slide into your current lifestyle, even if that means you incorporate one thing at a time to make slow changes.
Write a list of habits/activities you want to add or remove and choose one or two at a time to add to your current lifestyle.
As a parent, our lifestyle reflects on our children, and how productive we are, reflects our ability to train them for their own good lifestyle habits.
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STEP 1: assess your current daily routine
From mealtimes to the expectation of daily chores if that is part of your home life, perhaps the encouragement of screen time cut-offs, and bedtime.
You as the caregiver are in charge of creating the daily routine in your home.
From the age of 5-to 6 which is when you can start to truly incorporate their participation in a block schedule as independent contributors in the home.
With chores, waking times, bedtimes and screen time monitoring, as well as school or homework quotas and outside play and socialising, children at this age are pliable and able to create effective habits in their daily life without realising.
For older children from 10 to 16, you want to encourage healthy habits, preparing them for life on their own.
- You should instil a routine that they can rely on.
- You can instil a good work ethic.
- create a time zone for work and play to help them manage time in the day.
- create times for family and alone time.
- help them stick to their own healthy life habits, such as taking time to exercise.
Step 2. Block schedules can be used for children of any age
If you have multiple children or if you wish to instil more responsibility into your young children then you can start to establish time blocks in their day to help them learn to manage their time and become more self-sufficient.
For very young children this applies to you more than the child, however, it is healthy for an infant to have the same schedule and for toddlers to be able to predict their next event in the day.
- 1-2-year-olds, use it to help with waking times, nap time, meal times, screen time monitoring(tv), and playtime. and how you can work around it.
- 3-4-year-olds, begin to incorporate quiet time, bed time and small chore tasks.
- 5-6-year-olds can learn to wake at a set time, have beds made and rooms clean before breakfast, and do specific chores done in the morning and afternoon. Monitor and use task rewards for healthy screen time habits.
- 10-year-olds should learn to manage their time to be out of bed, have chores completed, help with younger children, and be able to understand the work standard and the set tasks to reach the reward goal without prompting.
From that age, you are beginning to work on adult responsibilities, time management, money management, tasks and the standard they are to be completed.
This also means you are not in sole charge of their entertainment.
having to entertain children ALL THE TIME is draining and not something that a child should expect.
Create time-spaces where you are not available to ease their boredom.
Such as QUIET TIME.
If they do get bored and complain to you, then you can give them a task to do like cleaning the basin or folding washing.
STEP 3: break your routine into time zones
Every day has time zones, you can schedule them as rigidly or as freely as you choose.
You start with Am and PM
then you divide the AM into :
- early morning/breakfast
- late Morning
the PM slots are divided into:
- dinner/dinner clean
- evening prep/children’s bedtime
children are to work into your needs.
they much learn to do certain things when their time allows and to learn to be efficient with their time as you are.
This isn’t being too harsh, in real life as a working adult or a parent and you know that much of the time our time isn’t our own, teaching children this fact when they are young only helps them, not hinder them.
Step 4. Allow for flexibility don’t crush your lifestyle
I am not rigid in my time zones.
Instead, I practice using focus zones in my day over scheduling tasks to a set time or time period.
I do this because
a. I prefer this way of life, tell me I have to do something at the same time every day and I will instantly hate it. I prefer to know that in the mid-morning, I have a task, rather than making myself show up for the said task at 10:15 every day, and putting pressure on myself if I fail.
b. I also want my family life to be overall relaxed while being productive. We all know morning chore time is part of our family life, whether it be 7 am or 9 am when we start our chores (to a point I do try and hit some kind of time structure otherwise you are losing control of your routine!) doesn’t matter to me, what matters is maintaining the flow of our day without creating a limiting time structure.
what to do when your can’t control your routine
There is nothing worse in my opinion than losing control of your routine and realising that your child/ren is controlling your day because either they are completely unable to adapt to change and be flexible or they outright refuse to take part in the routine you try and put forward.
by healthy I mean, taking part in family activities such as chores, meal times, and monitoring screen time.
on the other side, it is unhealthy for you to be required to meet the demands of your children beyond a normal standard.
There is a difference between your children being hungry for dinner and complaining a little, over having a child that must eat by 5 and will tantrum if the meal is not to their liking.
To tackle either of these hurdles in creating a family routine you need to be honest.
- don’t put up with bad behaviour
- don’t make excuses for your child
- create a discipline for the behaviour and maintain follow through with that discipline.
if your child is unable to adapt inside a routine, then simply place them in a the situation at home where they are unable to control the routine, and not allowing the negative behaviour is the only way have your child understand that you control the day and how it is spent not them.
STEP 5. create a healthy reward system that encourages good behaviour and aligns with your routine goals
there are a few ways you can reward your children for sticking to the daily schedule.
I like to keep it super simple, something that is easy to see, easy to record and easy to reward.
For me, it’s pocket money.
- It starts at $10 a week, they’re 9 and 10 years old (my 5-year-old doesn’t receive pocket money yet).
- 10 dollars covers, chores, gardening, completing school each school day as well as conducting themselves with kindness, no silly talk, respect for mealtimes, respect for adults, and completing their school and daily chores without complaining.
- all of those things create a peaceful home life so I like to incorporate them into the reward.
For me, there is no choice but to complete the daily chores.
- They are a part of the family, and this family works.
- They do have the choice however of the attitude they have towards their work and the standard of the work they complete.
What to reward for?
A job well done, and with a glad attitude, will, if done all week, result in the entire ten dollars in their pocket.
For instance, when they are sour, unkind to others, and disrespectful, I remove money to the amount I see fit for the offence.
We keep track of this with jars and tokens. I use old monopoly money in dollar notes to the amount of 10 dollars per child (they each get their own jar).
At the end of each week, the money is removed from the jar and placed in their money jar.
if they misbehave, money is removed from their money jar, and into my jar.
Whatever remains at the end of the week is what they are paid.
This works for me as my boys are always saving, if they want a big item (over 100 dollars) I will help them pay for it by matching their savings or allowing them to work for extra money.
This way they are keen to keep as much money as possible.
IT really works!
for younger children 3 -6 when money doesn’t really matter to them, you have the opportunity to start young, and by that I mean, if you are beginning a routine for a 3 to 5-year-old then they will most likely fall right into it without needing any reward.
My child does not want a reward?
If your child does not ask for a reward, then don’t give it. Especially if they are young (younger than 7) children these days have very high expectations these days, not something that will carry on to a healthy lifestyle when they are older.
to reward a young child, or if you want to instil the idea of a healthy work ethic in the family dynamic, then you can introduce the idea of watching a movie, playing with a specific toy or baking a treat or going out for a treat as ways they can receive a reward for their effort.
Note that you don’t want to go overboard with the rewards. Keep it simple and don’t let the reward control your childs actions, working toward something is healthy, only showing up to help others for what you get out of it is not.
You do not need to reward every good action.
placing their plate in the sink or making their bed, shouldn’t mean they are feeling entitled to treats and extra pocket money.
have them work daily, have them meet your standard for their age in their work, have them do it without complaining and with a happy face, for this they can earn the reward.
I had a friend when I was a teenager who demanded her mother pay her fifty dollars for cleaning the kitchen, a job she did not do well by any means, only offered to help in the home when she needed money and did everything with a sour attitude.
Her mother always paid her.
I remember wondering what kind of wife she would make one day. (yes I was already thinking that way at 13 which makes me laugh!)
remember the time your children spend in your home is fleeting while also the most important.
When they leave, they should be with skills and the ability to function, not just for themselves but for others as well.
At what age can you expect to teach a schedule to young children?
At the age of 5-6, it is more of you setting the daily routine, keeping it flexible, don’t be afraid to leave the house beyond a certain time or taking your child to dinner because they won’t be eating by 5:15, and will potentially meltdown at the change.
you control nap times, meal times, bedtimes, screen times, and playtime.
This realistically should stay this way until they are teens.
My children work when I say, eat when I serve a meal, play when I say and so on. Of course, this is done not through force and displeasure, but by me creating a schedule, a block schedule, and maintaining, the expectancy of events in the day.
How you can relax into your schedule
Four days a week I will maintain a rigid morning schedule, as the mornings are the most productive time when everyone is fresh.
In the morning schedule, we do chores, and breakfast, I start washing, we do outside work, feed animals and do school, and one of my boys cooks breakfast for the family.
Once the morning is over and it is time to make lunch, the day for my children slows.
They can play, on rainy days watch a movie, and on weekends they can play a video game.
The little ones play for a time and then it’s off to bed for the afternoon.
It is this time in my day when I can work out, blog or film youtube videos.
You don’t have to rise and grind every day!
life is long and the time spent with your children is short. Sacrificing a to-do list at least once a week is a healthy habit to curate in my opinion.
not only does it prevent burnout, and helps you to spend quality time with your children as they need you.
Children appreciate rest
They desire structure, yes.
They also need time to slow down, and that may look like a slow day, a day where the house moves but not to the beat of getting it done, but rather to the slower humm of enjoying the day.
Hustling every day is exhausting, and one of the privileges of being a stay at home mum is that I can own my time in a way that provides a restful schedule when we need it.
Notice I said four days a week we hustle through the morning routine.
The other three days, I take it slower, usually Friday through Sunday. We move through the morning routine at a slower pace, and enjoy homemaking, sitting for a big breakfast and completing daily tasks.
I understand if this is not possible for you, but perhaps you can choose other ways in your week to slow down, enjoy something you do as a family, or take time to rest, even if there are things to do, children need this just as much as we do, and so allow your schedule to reflect that.