Routines are a life raft for me in the chaotic world of parenting. I’ve created a routine checklist for my daughter’s before school, after school and after dinner tasks, and the link for it is at the bottom of this post if you’d like to download it and customize it.
Before using a checklist, I found that my relationship with my preschool-aged daughter involved a lot of me telling her what to do: “Unpack your backpack. I said, unpack your backpack. Now we’re going to eat a snack. No, you can’t play yet, it’s time for shower.” Once she was in Kindergarten I felt like she was ready to start helping around the house with chores. But in order to get her to complete all her tasks, I had to constantly nag her: “Don’t forget about your cleaning chores… did you feed the cat yet? Now set the table. I said, set the table. Your backpack is still waiting to be unpacked, do that before you take a shower…” It seemed like every afternoon devolved into an exchange of accusatory looks and frustrated outbursts on both our parts. My goals were reasonable: I wanted teach my daughter to take responsibility for her tasks, but my strategy (constant reminders) was making us both miserable.
Enter the routine checklist, which we started using when she was four and a half. I worked on the list together, so that she could take ownership of it. With the checklist, my daughter knows what is expected of her, and can monitor her progress by checking off the boxes next to each task. (Each task has an icon next to it so that children can use the checklist even if they don’t know how to read. For instance, “Pack backpack” has a picture of a backpack next to it.) If I see that she’s gotten off track, I remind her to look at her checklist. Instead of a ordering her around, I just say, “What’s next on your checklist?”
Now, I won’t lie, the routine checklist hasn’t solved all of our battles. She’s in first grade now, and in the morning tends to be s-l-o-w to complete each task when getting ready for school, and the checklist hasn’t made any difference there. And in the afternoons she’s not that interested in doing chores, so I do get my fair share of eye-rolling sent my way, not to mention the dramatic slump-shouldered walks as she drags herself from one task to the next, glancing over at me to make sure I’m witnessing her misery. But I do feel like using routine checklists has made a difference in my relationship with my daughter, because our arguments (and there are still many!) are more about the fact that she doesn’t want to complete her tasks, and not so much about her being angry at me for ordering her around. And don’t we all get frustrated with our list of to-do’s from time to time? She’s learning that life is challenging because we all have tasks of some sort that we need to complete each day, but she’s also learning that she can get through it if she makes a list and works through it step-by-step.
The downloadable checklist is in Microsoft Word so that you can easily customize it to fit your own routines and expectations. If you have trouble opening or editing the document, leave a comment on this post and I’ll do my best to help you (note that for some reason weird formatting can result from opening the document in read-only mode: to remedy this, select “Edit” or “Print” and you’ll get the original formatting).
Free Downloadable Daily Routines Checklist for Children:
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