A flexible block schedule might be just what you need to create the ease in your household that you crave. Read on below for how and why you might want to try it with your young kids.
I’m guessing you love them or hate ’em.
I’m all about having consistent routines with my kiddos, but only recently have discovered the magic of scheduling.
I was a skeptic for sure, and I had tried a lot of toddler scheduling techniques that just didn’t work.
…and overall we were happy so I didn’t see why we should rock the boat.
Creating ease with a flexible block schedule for young kids and toddlers
But after my husband bought me a laminator for Christmas (nerd alert!!) I decided to try out some scheduling one more time,
Let me tell you, this time I found a system that worked and it has been a total gamechanger.
Why block schedules work with young children
There have been so many benefits to introducing a block schedule in our household. Heres my top 5 benefits:
- A flexible schedule helps all of the different personality types in our home work together better.
In my house we’ve got a super type A mom, a strong-willed type A daughter, and a happy-go lucky type B son (the jury’s still out on the baby).
Because of this, my daughter and I especially tend to have conflicts over what we think it’s important to accomplish in a day.
A schedule allows us both to fit in the things we feel are important, and ensures that we have each other’s cooperation when it’s time for the things the other feels are important.
My son is pretty laid-back, but he does require a little attention here and there or he starts acting out to get attention. Having a schedule helps me to schedule in some one-on-one time which is HUGE in helping him be on his best behavior.
2. Knowing what to expect makes transitions go much smoother
Transitions with kids are hard no doubt, but it’s much easier for my kids to move from one activity to the next when they know what to expect.
It’s also helpful if they know something fun is coming to help them cooperate and get moving on what we need to do that very moment.
3. A schedule can act like a built-in reward system.
Do you get tired of trying to think of “natural consequences” all the live-long day? ME TOO!
The cool thing about a solid schedule is that it can act like a “natural consequence” and help urge your kids to cooperate in the tasks that are not their favorite.
For example, you can easily say that ” you won’t have time” for outside time if they can’t finish their chores first, etc…
This has been one of my favorite parts of block scheduling because there is always something they are looking forward to that they can usually kick their hineys into gear to get to do.
4. A flexible schedule helps me stop saying “just a minute” and actually play with my kids
I hope I’m not the only mom who is guilty of saying “just a minute” all day long only to get to the end of the day realizing that I have only focused on my own things and I haven’t spent enough time playing with and nurturing my kids.
It’s not a great feeling and it’s something I’ve struggled with a lot.
Just like my kids are motivated to clean up or help out when they have something fun on the schedule to look forward to, I am also motivated to play and have fun with my kids knowing that I have time set aside to get my things done later (and that my kids will likely be at least mostly cooperative because I’ve taken the time to fill their cup too!)
5. A schedule keeps me on track in times of laziness or anxiety
As a mom it’s so easy to turn to social media and endlessly scroll when I am feeling anxious or stressed out. I tend to waste a lot of time this way and I don’t always even notice that I’m doing it.
Having a schedule helps me to “snap out of it” because in those down times I don’t have to think about what to do, I already know what I’m supposed to be doing, I just have to get up and do it.
It truly has helped me to set down my phone and live in the moment a bit more.
Overall, implementing a block schedule has helped to create the ease that I have been craving in my home. I’m surprised that this was the answer, but grateful we’ve found it and excited to keep working on and perfecting this system in our home.
How to block schedule with small kids and toddlers.
Let’s first define what a block schedule is, shall we?
A block schedule (or time blocking) is basically the same as your high school class schedule.
You set aside a dedicated chunk of time for certain tasks.
I find that 90 minute blocks throughout the day work best for my small family.
To block schedule I fill each block with 2-3 realistic tasks.
I also try to split the fun activities up with the more mundane tasks that my kids are likely to resist so I have those built-in rewards throughout the day.
There are 2 keys for making this work with younger children, the first is pictures.
My kids are all too young to read, so many scheduling systems we found online just don’t work for us.
I’ve tried others that are picture-based, but they all took too much maintenance.
That’s why I finally came up with the idea to draw our pictures using a dry-erase marker on a laminated schedule.
This way, we are super flexible, we can draw whatever we want, and changing it is as easy as a little magic eraser and drawing something new.
The second key (I have already alluded to) is choosing a system that is low maintenance.
With this laminated block schedule system, I don’t have to spend time on the computer every day adjusting as our life changes, and I don’t have to sift through a bunch of activities we’ve printed out to find the ones we do. We just sit down and write as a family.
(another key to your kids cooperating is letting them help make the schedule).
Maintaining this system takes me about 10 minutes a day, but it saves me so much more, and it’s honestly close to zero effort on my part because my 5 year old wants to “do the schedule” before we even eat breakfast.
If you want to try my block schedule for free, you can download it below! Just hit the photo to open the link in a new tab and print it out.
Then simply laminate it and start scheduling. If you don’t have a laminator, you can get things laminated at staples or other similar stores, but I found it was much more cost-effective to just buy one (and it’s seriously my favorite thing.)
(Note: There has been some confusion so this is to clarify. The schedule is meant to be displayed vertically, begin filling out on the top left down to the bottom then circle back to the top right)
You could also just print out a stack and dispose of them every day.
I hope this post has motivated you that even if you don’t think scheduling is for you, that you might try it out.
We all crave more ease and peace in our homes, and I think so many of us are searching for it, when in reality we have to create it.
A flexible block schedule for kids has been one of my ways of creating that ease I’ve been seeking, and it works!
What about you, are you pro-schedule or do you like to go with the flow?
Let me know!
Want more posts on kids? See my best tips for cooking with kids here!