To Schedule or Not to Schedule…

So recently my son’s speech therapist asked me if he was on a set daily schedule. I gave her a puzzled look because I knew where this conversation was going. Our son has been diagnosed with a speech disorder and receives weekly services to help with his communication. He has many behavioral issues also and we’re all hoping the lack of speech is linked to his levels of frustrations and his behavior issues. This comment was struck by the fact we happened to be talking about his “bad behavior”. She continued to explain to me that her colleague felt that if we had Jacob on a set schedule that he would benefit from a more structured day. Then proceeded to tell me “You know, like having play time from 10-10:30 am, then you could clean up from 10:30-11 am, then you could have lunch from 11:00-11:45…” you get the idea. I tried to play it off like I was really listening and concerned about what she was talking about but I’m sure my facial expressions read otherwise.

I’m personally not into having my children on a set schedule. They eat lunch about the same time (within a half hour or so every day), they take naps at about the same times, they play or watch tv or color or whatever through the rest of the day. I happen to be a firm believer in the motto of “life happens”. So I’ve never wanted to get my kids on a set time schedule because what if something comes up and I can’t stick to it? Wouldn’t that be more detrimental than having a schedule in the first place? I have a very hard time looking at my son and saying “Oh, it’s 2:15! That means it’s time to do play-doh!” He’s two! I’m not sure how many of you have tried to tell your two year old to do something ‘now’ and have gotten a pleasant response.

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I understand that schedules work for a lot of people and a lot of people swear by them and I’m not saying they are bad for ALL situations; they are bad for MY situations. Since my husband works such late hours and we don’t spend much time together in the evenings, our chance to get things done is during the day on the weekends. We spend most of our family time doing things on the weekends! One of my bigger concerns is that I would spend all weekend enforcing this set schedule and then come the weekend it’s all out the window, causing major regression and in turn making me start all over with it on Monday morning (which undoubtedly would be hell!). If I wanted my kid on a set routine, I’d fork out the money for a daycare center and let them deal with him on Monday’s when we’ve messed him up over the weekends. Perhaps my ‘fears’ can be read as a lazy parent. Let me stop you there folks, that’s not the case. Living the life style we have based of mine and my husbands work hours, our weekends have little structure to them. We often do the same things, grocery shop, spend some time playing with the kids, watch a movie perhaps, but they are never, ever in the same order!

So the more I thought about what the speech therapist was saying the more I really tried to toy over the idea. Is my son really that upset because he has no structure? Could he be one of those kids who could benefit from it? Part of me worries that since he is so headstrong getting him to transition into something like that could be more frustrating than beneficial. During Jacob’s speech, he has set “activity” time. He gets an allotted time for each toy. Last week she brought over slime and oh was he in love! However, when she said it was time to clean up the slime.. the tantrums started. This worries me that by giving him set times to be allowed to play with certain toys that the tantrums could actually increase.

I’m going to be going back to college soon (read: in 3 days! Eek..) so I could really benefit if I knew exactly when my kids would be able to leave me alone so I could get some class work done. However my original fears still stand. So here I stand at a parent cross road, to schedule or not to schedule… that is the question. Do I uproot myself and my ‘comfort’ zone of going about our days with no set schedule, or do I shake things up and try something new and set a schedule for the kids? Can I find a happy medium? Set enforcements for lunch, naps and bedtimes however, play time is ‘free’ time? What do you and your kiddos do? Do you think it helps greatly with your kids demeanor and help your life function more smoothly? Do you like to play it by ear and does it work awesome for you?  Leave your thoughts below! 🙂