Jammies, potty, teeth.
It’s bedtime, kids.
Jammies, potty, teeth!
Time to get upstairs for Jammies, potty, teeth!
Did you hear me?
What are you doing??
Seriously, guys. Jammies, potty, teeth!
Bedtime at our house sounds like a broken record at the zoo. Just as everything is supposed to be winding down, chaos ensues. We’ve tried to simplify things with an easy to remember mantra, “Jammies, potty, teeth!” Our kids are easily sidetracked, however, and we cycle through encouragement, persuasion, and threats. They wind each other up, playing a game halfway through dressing. One heads to the bathroom to brush their teeth, but finds something entertaining two steps out into the hallway. The other resents being told to get ready for bed again in that tone and becomes belligerent, declaring us the meanest parents in the world. Add a fussy baby into the mix and bedtime becomes a dreaded chore, rather than a time to relax and read with the kids.
I’ve tried task reminders and rewards with some success, but found that this required quite a bit of parent oversight. Did you complete this task? I’ll go mark it. Have you done this yet? Let me know when you finish. Unfortunately, this system stopped being successful over the summer and then school started. I found myself dreading the morning routine of reminding, coaxing, and scolding. There had to be a better way, especially for older children.
How could my kids take real ownership over remembering their tasks, staying on task, and completing them? I decided on a simple “To Do/Done” Task Chart. My kids needed to see each task, complete it, and then mark it off a list before moving on to the next task. Most of all, it needed to be something they could use independently, with calm reminders and positive reinforcement. A Google Search brought this gem of a website, Go Mommy, Go, with virtually every good behavior image you might need. After signing up for the free newsletter, you can receive a word file filled with all of the images and you can even use a pre-made chart from the website. I wanted a project the kids could create with me, so I opted to make my own.
The “I CanDo it!” Task Chart
Colored Foam Board or Sturdy Construction Paper 9″ x 12 ”
Sticky Back Hook and Loop Dot Fasteners
Task Print Outs cut into small squares (Use white construction paper or photo paper)
Chart Title Printed and cut (Use white construction paper or photo paper)
- Attach chart title to the top of your foam board.
- Draw a line down the center of your chart.
- Write “To Do” on the left hand side of the line.
- Write “Done” on the right hand side of the line.
- Place dot fasteners on the back of each task print out.
- Place the same number of dot fasteners as tasks on each side of chart.
- Attach task print outs on left side.
- You can adapt the chart for your child’s needs. We created 3 charts for the older kids – Morning, Day, and Night.
- Have your child consult their chart, begin with the first task, and move it over when complete.
- Repeat with each task.
- If your child gets off task, simply invite them to visit their chart again and move over the tasks he or she has completed.
- Remain positive and calm. Encourage child to take responsibility for her or his chart.
- Celebrate completed charts with your child and recognize improvements.
As you can see from our charts, they are definitely not Pinterest perfect. My goal was to create the charts together, so the kids felt ownership over them. They chose more tasks than I originally planned, cut them out, and eagerly put the charts together. This meant worrying less about aesthetics and focusing on making it their chart.
My nearly 6 year-old son is most responsive to the chart because it suits his desire for order and organization. He gets frustrated with frequent reminders, takes the longest over each task, and is easily distracted. With the chart, however, he can break the overwhelming larger task into small, obtainable goals. He loves moving each task over to the right and is generally responsive to being calmly redirected to make sure he moves over the tasks he has completed. Rather than feeling nagged, he gets excited to complete another goal on the list. A completed chart is highly satisfying for him and this was our goal.
Our 8 year-old and 3 year-old would not be left out the project (thank goodness) and each are using the charts with some success. Three of the biggest task helps from the chart? Laying tomorrow’s clothes out at bedtime and selecting cold or hot lunch while preparing their backpacks. With these as specific tasks, we avoid quite a bit of last minute rushing to find socks, homework, or lunch boxes!
Example Charts from our Family, with Word Images to Demonstrate:
- Eat Breakfast
- Clear Dishes
- Brush Teeth
- Get Dressed
- Brush Hair
- Choose Lunch
- Socks and Shoes
- Winter Clothes
Night Time Chart
- Get BackPack Ready
- Clothes in Laundry
- Brush Teeth
- Go Potty
- Clothes Ready for Tomorrow
What tasks would you choose?