One reason I really love a schedule is that it helps the parents see when something needs to be changed. I know that my daughter needs a new bedtime routine because she quit going to sleep easily. She quit caring that she was being rocked and often fell asleep in bed on her own. It would take her a while, but she would do it, and often quietly.
Today a new bedtime routine was started. We bathed her and got her dressed for bed, read 2 books to her and gave kisses. We wrapped her up and gave her her pacifier, but instead of sitting down in the den to rock her, we carried her straight back to her room. She was quiet at first, like she has been every night this week when I've laid her down to sleep. Then she began to cry. I know that she can fall asleep on her own, so no rocking for her tonight. It will be hard for her at first because she is used to being rocked, but she'll get the idea. In a couple of weeks, she'll be much better at this.
Another reason that I like my particular schedule is that it includes a lot of unscheduled time. Approximatly 5 days out of every week, Allyssa does not have to go anywhere or do anything in particular from the time she is done with breakfast until lunch time and again from the time she wakes from her afternoon nap until supper. I think that this is very important. This is the time in which Allyssa develops most of her skills. This is the time in which I teach her new words like "grass" when we see the dog roll around in it. This is the time in which Allyssa gets to practice her fine motor skills and learn shapes and colors and everything else that toddlers learn. Not every minute of every morning or every afternoon of these days occur at our house, but most do.
For example: Today I needed to go to the store to get milk and a few other things. Allyssa got bored with the particular thing she was playing with, so I said to her, "Allyssa would you like to play, go to the store, or clean something?" I was open to any of these ideas knowing that the trip to the store could be delayed until another time. Now Allyssa is 18 months old and does not know how to say the words "play," "store," or "clean," but she does understand that I ask her similar questions often and that she is getting to choose the next activity. Today, going to the store was her choice (and she had a great time talking with every customer in the whole store). I knew that this was her choice because after I asked the question, she walked directly to the workshop where the shoes are kept.
Other days she does not get the option for a trip to the store. Some days her options are dolls, blocks, or a walk. The important thing in my opinion is that she is learning to make decisions and she is spending the majority of her time at home. Car trips teach toddlers very little. Sure, after a while, toddlers will become easier travellers than they were before or they'll learn to "read" a book in the car, but at this age learning takes place in an environment like home. That doesn't mean that I think that kids should go no where, but I do think that outings shouldn't take place too often. (I am also not saying that home is the only place kids learn. Kids who attend daycare have schedules and days very similar to my daughter's daily activities. All moms know that no one can replace them, but some moms do need or have to work and other moms choose to work. My personal choice is to be a professional mother. I take my job as a mom very seriously and know that it is just as respectable as the work of mothers who work outside the home. I don't know what it is like to be a mom who works outside the home, so because I cannot understand their situation or lifestyle choice as well as they can, I think it is important for me to find worth in my own occupation and allow them to find worth in what they do as well. And of course, as Christians, we know that our true worth is found in Christ.)