After a long day of playing with our friends in NJ and a drowsy drive home later than our usually scheduled bedtime, we carried Blitzen into the house, slipped on her pjs and patted her back as she lay practically comatose in her bed. Suddenly, she sat up and asked with alarm ‘did i get bedtime playtime?’.
I tried to ignore the query, hoping that she drift off to sleep again, but alas, it was not to be.
Such is the power of our schedule. It will wake you up at night. It must be adhered to! Now, I am not an inflexible person. In fact, I’d kinda like to flit about a bit, not always knowing what is coming next, doing whatever feels like it might be fun in the moment (ok, not all the time but some of the time). But that is not our life right now. Our life has rhythm, it has a defined flow. It moves forward in a very predictable way each and every day.
On many an evening, I’ve heard Blitzen end a call with her Nana by saying something like ‘Oh, I see that it’s snack time, I’ve got to go!’.
The schedule has saved us from near daily meltdowns. Everything is so much easier when everyone knows exactly what to expect and when to expect it. It is how we manage anticipation, anxiety and whole host of other emotions each and every day.
It is how we begin every morning. Over breakfast, we talk about it as a family. This is our schedule today.
As we move through our routine, it is how we review each segment of the day. How was breakfast – were you responsible and respectful?
It is how we wind up in the evening. How was the day – let’s look at our sheet and see how we did.
And we make everyone bend to it — the baby sitter, the music teacher, the social worker and behavioral therapist. You want to come on a day that is not your usual day? You want to come at not your usual time? Oh, ho, ho, I don’t think so. We’ve got a schedule.
It keeps us on track. It settles arguments. It prevents us from watching 5 hours of tv a day. And it is portable and flexible enough that we can carry it with us. We can still have snack time in NJ. We can still have activity time when we are visiting with our friends. And don’t think you can just skip bedtime playtime because somebody fell asleep in the car, either. If it is on the schedule, you do it.
The schedule is a powerful piece of paper. It is a magical piece of paper. It is a peace-making piece of paper. I think it is kind of a miracle, actually.