Do your kids need more structure on weekends?

Filed under: Preschoolers, Big Kids, Places To Go, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

I was just over at Friday Playdate and I saw a post that made me go, "Hmmm..." And I thought, "Susan can NOT be the only mom dealing with this issue!" So, I thought I'd write about it here and see what y'all think.

Basically, the dilemma is this: How do the parents get to have a relaxing weekend when the kids need structure? And how do you balance the family's needs-- the needs of some family members go get out and Do Something! and the needs of some family members to stay home in their pajamas all day. My kids are older than Susan's, so we don't deal with this quite as much. Also? My kids are only with me every other weekend, so when they are with me, they often want to stay home and just have down time. So, we don't schedule a lot for the weekends. But I do remember the days Susan is talking about.

One of the things that really struck me, and I am NOT an organized or a structured person is that Susan knows her sons need structure. It is hard for kids to go from the extremely structured school environment to the non-structured home environment. So, I had the thought that maybe Susan should create artificial and arbitrary structure for her kids at home. I have done this in the past, and it actually requires very little effort on the parent's part (which is good for people like me), but the kids seem to like it. I used to do this way back in the day when I was a stay-at-home mom and my kids were very young.Part of the need for structure, it seems to me, stems from a desire to control the environment, even if that control stems primarily from knowing what to expect next. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that at school, they not only do the same thing at the same time every day, but they talk a lot about what the daily schedule looks like so the kids know what is coming.

A similar thing can happen over the weekend. Write the schedule on the whiteboard. It will look something like this at my house:

7:00-8:00 a.m. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Make bed. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Go ahead and let the kids do the same thing on the weekend if they want or need to that they do during the week. Why break up the continuity for them?

8:00-8:15 a.m. Weather report. Have the kids peek outside and find out what the weather will be like.

8:15 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Centers. This is what they call it at school. They are allowed sometimes in lower grades at school (and this is the age group who will need this structure the most) to play with legos, manipulable toys, puppets, etc. So, what we are sneakily doing here is instead of saying to the kids, "Go play!" Tell them it's time for Centers and during this exact time period (it may need to be shorter at your house), they are going to do Centers! If it helps them to have you set a timer, then set it. Tell them that when it rings, they can move to a different Center, and set it at 15-minute intervals if they need it, or a half hour, whatever. Or, just have them know it's time for the next thing when it goes off.

10:00-10:30 Snack time. They have regular snacktimes at school. Why not do it at home? That keeps them from eating all day long, and also? It chews up time!

10:30-11:00 a.m. Clean up Snack time and Centers.

11:00-12:00pm Look at books until lunch time.

12:00-1pm Lunch. And recess! Yes, recess. At school, they will go outside after lunch, so keep to the program and make them go outside after lunch.

1-2pm They also usually have a period of lying down or quiet time in kindergarten/first grade. So, that is a good idea when they come in. Just because they looked at books before lunch doesn't mean they can't do it again.

3pm-5pm Video time. You can include a snack during this time too, if the kids need it, even if it's just popcorn for the movie.

5-6 pm Dinner

6-7 Bath

7-8 Bedtime routine.

Of course, you can vary the schedule any way you like! It's ARBITRARY. But writing it down on a white board so you can point to it (even if they can't read it) makes it official. And you can refer to it, so you don't have to remember it in your head. And announcing it and scheduling it will let the kids plan their day and know what will happen next. And when you leave the house? Call it a Field Trip! Even if you're just going to Starbucks!

Does anybody else do this? What suggestions do you have for how to survive the weekend?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.