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Timetable for the Day

Life Hack Alert! Organising your little ones has never been easier.

man working on computer

‘What are we doing today, Dad? I’m bored, I’m hungry, can I play Xbox now?’ A day at home, a weekend, school holidays or a rainy day means organising kids for the single dad. Whether it’s one kid or 20, trying to keep them occupied, organised and refrain them continually asking for things or what to do because they’re bored, there’s a hack that makes things much easier. It’s a strategy I modified from teaching classes of kids in Primary School. It worked a treat there, so I bought it home to parenting and everyday life.

making a checklist

The Magic Timetable

What you do is write a timetable. Could be on a piece of A4 paper, could be on a whiteboard or blackboard if you have one in the home somewhere, as long as it’s written and visible. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, kids are used to timetables from school, it helps them to know what’s happening through the day and what’s coming next. Secondly and most importantly is that most kids believe things that are written down.

They perceive these as ‘concrete’ and rarely question it. If you think about it as adults, we often read something and then recount that information to others, usually without questioning or checking its credibility. Just think of all those Facebook posts you forward!

using a computer

Written in Concrete

Things just seem to to come across as fact if they are written down, (which is a whole other conversation about ‘critical literacy’ that children and adults need to have and should be aware of). Even younger children not able to read will get the idea as you point at the clock and read what’s on the sheet for them. Drawing little pictures or symbols in place of words can help in this regard.

Teacher Style

As a teacher, at the the start of every day I would have a one side of the whiteboard ruled off with the heading ‘Today’. I would then write the day’s events something like this:

8.50-9.00: Silent Reading

9.00-9.50: Maths

9.50-10.40: English Grammar

10.40-11.00: Recess

11.00-11.50: HPE

11.50-12.40: Computers

12.40-1.30: Lunch

1.30-2.40: Science

2.40-3.00: Pack up, story

3.00: Home!

Kids would come in, see the board accept it. Occasionally you’d hear a groan or complaint from a couple a couple of kids: ‘Oh no, not grammar, I hate grammar.’ But the point is, they rarely question or argue that it’s happening. They can see the progress through the day. We cross off each thing as we finish it and they can feel how time passes and how long until lunch or hometime.


Same, Same, But Different

This same strategy can be used at home with the kids. I tend to use it mostly when I know it’s a day stuck at home with no plans, and I just know that I’m going to be asked repeatedly what they can do, when they can watch tv etc. So I grab a piece of paper and write something like this:

7.30-8.00: Breakfast

8.30-9.15: Walk dog

9.15-10.30: Lego

10.30-11.15: Morning tea

11.15-12.00: TV

12.00-12.45: Play dough/art and craft

12.45-1.30: Lunch

1.30-3.30: Swimming pool/beach/park/outdoor activitiy

3.30-5.00 Tidy rooms and xbox when clean

5.00-6.00: Dinner, bath/shower

6.00-7.30 Family movie/TV

7.30- Bed

child playing with Lego

Rinse and Repeat

Of course you’ll need to modify based on the age and interest of your children, and be flexible when things don’t go according to plan, but the principal is the same regardless and it puts you back in control. I know it seems simple but it really does work. They'll run up and cross things off as they do them getting excited about it getting closer to going to the park.

They even start encouring and helping each other clean up so they can get onto playing on the X-Box together.

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