There’s A Checklist For That
Everyday routines can be exhausting.
You know the kids are going to:
Put up a fuss
Do it slowly or poorly
You are tired of getting aggravated so you:
Give up and do it yourself
Or learn to let them do it it their own way
Many situations fall into this dance of parent and child:
Getting ready for school
Coming home from school
Helping with chores
Though there are many things that we try to analyze and perfect, for many reasons parents often resign to the standard
practices that come naturally but may not be effective. When we take the time to evaluate we can make big changes. A checklist, combined with better understanding can provide harmony in the home and more responsible children.
Sarah was a mom of 3 darling girls ages 2, 4 and 6.
She frequently complained that the girls ganged up on her and it was especially terrible at bedtime.
Gymnastics in the bedroom including jumping on bed and using the window sill as a balance beam was their routine. Once in bed the party continued, starting with soft whispers and soon escalating into wild laugher. Often the girls would sneak out of bed and get massive amounts of food without the parents having a clue, only to find the remains under the bed the following day.
1- Examine and trouble shoot
What might be interfering with your intended goal?
When we examined the situation we saw that the girls had gotten into a routine that needed to be stopped in order to see change. The 6 year old, deprived of night time rest had resorted to taking a long nap in school which made it harder for her to be tired at night.
The plan was to create a new look to bedtime. The family, including the girls and I made a checklist of what needed to happen once the bedtime routine was initiated. Since one of the problems was the amount of time mom spent talking and reading at
bedtime we added a time component so cuddling and reading was reasonable. Talking would be saved for daylight hours, at least till things fell into place. I took pictures of them to further invite buy in. The necessity of sleep was explained. They knew that most fluids would stop after 6:00 and the restroom would be used prior to bedtime so access to the bathroom was not going to be granted. They also knew.…..and this was super important.…. that mom would be stationed outside their door and would know if there was any talking or whispering.
2- Create a checklist
Think about what it would look like if your child independently, or close toindependently, began and finished the chosen routine. A bare bones approach is just as effective as one that gives lots of details. Logic and the particulars of your situation will guide your decision. Do a run through to check for accuracy.
• Let your child be involved with the sequence of events
• Have your child pose for pictures for each step. iPads make inserting pics very easy
example for Going to Sleep:
Take a bath
Put on pajamas
Eat a snack
Story time:15 minutes
Cuddle time: 5 minutes each
Close eyes, think of something nice
The reward for a successful bedtime would be a prize that they had already picked out.
After many successful bedtimes the girls transitioned to a star chart which translated to a fun family trip. Now it’s just their routine and rewards are unnecessary.
The day we began mom and dad made sure the girls were tired out from the day. The checklist was brought out and the girls cooperated. Once they got into bed the lights in the entire apartment were turned off.
Mom made sure they could clearly see her right outside the room taking away the temptation of getting out of bed to assess the situation.
They had relatively few issues and after only one bathroom request (which was ignored) and one warning about whispers, they fell asleep
Mom kept expecting the drama to start but the evening was uneventful, with the exception of the silent cheers of a relieved mom and dad.
As the days unfolded the girls continued to embrace this new routine. The effect of harmony at bedtime had positive effects in the daytime as well including increased respect and cooperation. School time naps ended and the teacher reported better focus.
I know that this situation was extreme but the same process can be applied to more mild issues.
A mom I worked with was miserable about how her child kept coming home from school and dropped their stuff all over.
She said she’s tried everything but a conversation with her child which resulted in a jointly created checklist solved the problem.