A good friend from high school facebooked me the other day and asked…
“Hey, I think a good post might be to explain how you staye organized throughout the day.”
I thought this was a great idea. For a girl like Cali, keeping the day organized is crucial! Organized and somewhat routined. There is a difference, but they do work hand-in-hand.
Before Cali was diagnosed, I was always one to make plans for my upcoming week. In fact, even before I was married I tried my hardest to stay organized. Juggling full time school, collegiate volleyball, and a social life definitely forced me to start making plans, scheduling, and staying organized. Creating this habit early on has become a major beneficial factor in Cali and Ava’s development.
I can remember when we first started meeting with Cali’s therapists, some of the initial advice they gave was to stick to routines. Routines that matter anyhow. For instance, breakfast, lunch, diner, nap time and bed time. These were experiences during the day that Cali could rely on to provide stability and continuity to her already busy and distracted mind. The key was to keep priority on the routines that mattered most, but to also stay flexible with daily activities. Why? This could actually be a whole other post, but staying flexible is also a critical thing for a child like Cali and any child really. If I became compulsive about our routines and never veered from them, Cali would suffer in many areas. One of the consequences of this rigidity would be Cali becoming inflexible herself and therefore have recurrent meltdowns every time an emergency or unplanned event disrupted our days. She would never learn how to adapt to change.
So where am I going with this…
Make plans ahead of time, at the beginning of the week, so that you can schedule in the routines that matter and most importantly, so you can stay organized. If you do not feel organized, the plans will go to pot and the routines will quickly become few and far between. Let me give you and example:
Christmas time. I don’t know about you, but between all the parties, family get-togethers, traveling, special events with the community, church, organizations, etc., my plans pretty much go out the window and I fly by the seat of my pants. Sitting down and planning is actually the last thing I have on my mind! Sure I will make a “To Do” list here and there, but that’s only because if I don’t I might just drive myself of a cliff from all the stress…ok, that’s a bit much! But you and I both know Christmas time is the farthest thing from relaxation. No plans and no continuity to our schedule pretty much insures the girls will have a meltdown in the morning, at night, and sometime in between. Breakfast sometimes in the car because we have to get to the store for another last minute gift, or abruptly turing off their one show for the day because a surprise visitor has stopped by to drop off a tasty treat, definitely does not bode will with the girls. One can easily see that making plans and staying organized is a critical thing for the kids and even us!!
I wish I could explain why it is that inconsistent plans and no routines results in cranky kids and disruptive behaviors (most of the time anyhow), but I can’t. All I know is that I see how my kids act when plans are made and there is organization to our days and activities, and I like it!
Here is what I do to make this happen…
1. Sunday is my designated planning day (takes about 1/2 hour to plan):
- I use the notes app on my phone to plan out our week.
- First I plug in all the routines that matter most, the ones we do each and every day (breakfast, lunch, nap time/quiet time, dinner, bedtime).
- Then I go through and plug in appointments, play dates, activities, therapy sessions (things that are set and scheduled but can always be changed).
- I plan for a specific day to go to the grocery store (usually on a Mondays).
- My dinners are also planned for the week, which means I have a grocery list organized and ready to go each time I go to the store.
- I schedule for sitters and contact them on Sunday to make sure they are available (this is important for us because I use a sitter frequently with all of Cali’s therapies)
- Me time is also important, so I will plan for work-outs and outings when they fit.
- Casey and I (usually, but not always) will go through our plans together. This is really helpful for managing expectations.
2. Each day I will look over my plans in the morning because there is no way I will ever remembered all the plans that were made on Sunday.
3. If we happend to miss something or plans change and a scheduled event doesn’t happened, I will simply move those plans to another day.
4. Each morning I will go over the plans with the girls. This part is HUGE for Cali. We have done it so often now, she is the one to ask, “What we do at today?” Translation: What are the plans for today?
5. At night, when I am putting the girls to bed, I tell them we are going to wake up and have breakfast in the morning and then whatever else is next on the schedule. Of coarse the next thing might get changed or canceled sporadically, but breakfast is a given they can always count on.
Some of you may be thinking…you’re crazy or this is way too extreme! Maybe, but this is what we do and it works really well for us. If you are not much of a planner I can most definitely see how this might look neurotic and too much, and if no plans work for you than by all means stick with what you do. For those of you who aren’t very organized or not much into planning, but want to be here is what I would suggest to you.
First, figure out a plan that works for you, one that is simple and attainable. If I were going to suggest things to plan for, it would be to start with these five things:
1. Establish routines that matter most.
2. Make a designated planing day. A day where you can plan for the entire week.
3. Schedule routines and most important events.
4. Wake up and check your plans for the day. This is a good reminder.
5. When putting kids to bed, fill them in on what to expect in the morning. Managing expectations means fewer meltdown for us…including me:)!!
In conclusion, make and plan and stick with it!!
Leave a comment below and tell me how you plan!