6 Easy Tricks To Getting Younger Kids on a Schedule {and free download!}

Trying to get your kids on a schedule? Here are some tips!

Most of you know that I have 8 kids. At the time of writing this post, my oldest is nearly 21 and my youngest is 2! So I’ve been doing this mommy thing for awhile now. While I don’t want you to think that I’m this perfect mommy who has everything figured out and my kids are perfectly organized, I DO have a few things that I’ve done that have helped us have a little more structure in our home. Some days/weeks are better than others. But I think these techniques have made a difference!

 

Back in the day a typical morning at my house used to go a little something like this:

Wake up. Look at the mess in the kitchen from the night before. Wait for kids to get up. Try to negotiate with them to take a shower and get ready for school. Sometimes I would win, but usually they’d win by just getting dressed and running a brush through their hair. 10 minutes before leaving one of them reminding me they needed something for school that day or “Oh, I didn’t finish my homework.” We would finally make it out the door, just to run back inside for a backpack, coat, or even a few times, shoes! FINALLY I would drop them off at school and I’d then spend the next hour or so trying to recover from the morning chaos. 

Once a spring sport was added to our schedule I had hit my breaking point. Something had to change our I would either have a head full of gray hair or no hair at all! With school activities, homework, sports, church activities, and just regular household needs all taking up my time, I decided I surely needed to crack down on my own time management skills. I couldn’t expect my kids to follow a routine or schedule if I couldn’t follow one myself!

Here are a few of the steps I took to find balance at my house that might help you too!

1. Start making a daily to do list for YOU!

I knew I would have to start small and not expect magic overnight. I decided if I made myself a list of things that I wanted needed to get done throughout the day. My brain was cluttered with so many TO DO’s and appointments and who needs to be where that I was dropping the ball. Keeping a brain dump has helped me declutter my mind (once it’s written down that thought doesn’t keep popping up in my head, distracting me). If I found myself getting distracted or off task, I simply go back to my list. Applying this little change to your life should make a difference right off the bat! You should feel like you’re accomplishing more! PLUS, don’t you just feel good crossing something off your list?? I love the sense of accomplishment!

I learned this principle in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. I actually listened to the abridged audio version of it and found it’s principles VERY helpful! It incorporates some simple principles. Here is a VERY general overview… I highly recommend this book or audiobook (ps you can try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)!

  1.  Dump EVERYTHING into an inbox
  2. Go through each item and assign it (do it now, do it today, do it this week, do it later, or delegate it)
  3. Visit the list every day and get thigns done!

2. Make lists for kids!

AM and PM routines: After I saw how quickly my to-do’s and other items were being checked off, I figured this would be a good motivator for the kids as well. Depending on your child, this list can be very detailed like brush teeth, get dressed or more simple like, homework, chores, and so on. If it’s not a habit for your child yet, then it should be on the list. Making this list for your child will help them establish patterns. The patterns will turn in to habits if we are consistent! Once good habits are in place, lifestyle will certainly improve! You can download my blank “Good Morning Good Night” routine chart here!

Chore Charts: There are a ton of different ways to make routine charts, job charts, or daily schedules. It could be as simple as a printed spreadsheet OR writing things out on a white board or chalkboard so you are not having to write those items daily. Some people make their kids chore list each day. For chores at my house, I give them weekly assignments. Because I have a large group of them, I have them in teams and they work together to get things done. Some of the teams take turns each day, and others of them work together. Here is a chore jar idea! And you can download my daily/weekly chore chart here!

3. Have set bedtimes

When my kids are younger and can’t read a clock, I use a clock as a visual aid in helping them become responsible of their own time. I made the one above with a $1 clock from a local thrift store. As you can see the clock was well loved before it came to our home! 🙂 I just used colors with a color crayon so my kids would know what they should be doing in a certain color. When the small hand is in the Yellow Zone, it means it’s time for homework and/or jobs. This is a great time for me to prepare dinner. When the small hand is in the Green Zone, it’s playtime, screen time, and dinner. And lastly, when the small hand is in the Red Zone, it’s time to wind down, do a final tidy, bathe if needed, brush teeth, read, and then in bed. Dark red meant it’s getting into the danger zone. If the the hour hand leaves the danger zone, and they are still up messing around they would lose some of their green time the following day.  The clock worked wonders. The first night I did it, they were in bed ASLEEP at 8:18pm!! I couldn’t believe. I have only had to take away 15 minutes of green time once! The clock has been a major motivator for the kids. They like to race it and be asleep before dark red happens! Having a set bedtime is good for your kids brain. It gives them structure and boundaries. Plus they will sleep better, which will bring us to our next tip.

4. Have a set wake up time.

I will admit, the first few days, this was BRUTAL. I am a morning person, I thrive before the sun even comes up. Most of my kids however, did not inherit that from me. They like to wake up on their own terms, not with mom’s help. Whatever you do, no matter how brutal it gets, don’t give up. Just when you think you can’t handle it anymore, the next morning they will wake up smoothly. Before I was on the path of a chaos free home, I would wait for them to wake up because I didn’t want deal with the cranky beasts when they first awoke. Once I got them going on a wake up schedule, we weren’t rushing around like crazy in the mornings. There was time for showers, cute hairstyles, and they even like to watch the weather on the tv in the mornings now. AND we have yet to leave the house in a rush missing homework, no coats, or no shoes!

5. Reward them!

I am a firm believer in positive reinforcements and I know my kids are motivated by this as well. If they have a few great days, with no moaning or groaning, I will give them some extra green time, for example 15 minutes, on an easier day in the week. If they make it all week, chores, done, the whole nine yards, I might surprise them with a new book, toy, or something else they may be wanting. It doesn’t have to be anything big and I always hit the dollar store for this stuff. My kids are motivated by extra free time (see more here).

6. Don’t give up.

Some days it’s just not going to happen. Later sports games, finishing up school projects, sick kids, etc. Life happens and just remember that’s ok! 🙂 If life gets a little chaotic just roll with it and do the best you can as far as the schedule goes. Once it settles down, try to get the kids back onto the schedule in baby steps if you have too. Don’t stress about not being perfect with this. Remember that PROGRESS is what matters… NOT perfection!

You can do it! Start these tips today and let me know how things change in your home! I believe these tricks will make ALL the difference! I’m curious to know what your tricks are… share them in the comments below!