She wants to play video games, but you’d rather she was studying her times tables? With this plan from Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, you’ll both be happy—and yes, the homework will get done!
You know how there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off items from your to-do list? Whether she realizes it or not, your daughter gets the same feeling of accomplishment from having a game plan and finishing the tasks laid out for her. “There’s so much in life that we can’t predict or control,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Daily routines help kids feel safe, while teaching them the incredibly important skill of time management.” And an after-school schedule might be the most important of all, since it’ll ensure that she finishes school work, has time for a relaxed family meal, and actually gets to sleep at a decent hour.
But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play! In fact, it’s important to recognize that just like you’ve had an intense day at work, she’s had a busy day at school and can benefit from some decompression time. Here’s how to strike a happy balance and make everyone’s evening a little easier:
Develop a plan with her, not for her
Sit down and talk to her about all the things she both wants to do and needs to do when she gets home from school. Listen to what she says and take her needs seriously. She might want time to chat with friends, watch TV, or any number of other things. Of course she can’t spend all evening doing those things, but if you put them into her schedule, she’ll see that you are hearing her and working with her, not against her.
Map it out
Let’s say she has five hours between the time she gets home and when she should start getting ready for bed. After setting aside about an hour for dinner, divide up the rest of the time between homework, chores, and a little time to relax. Hint: Want her mind to be sharp as possible for studying? Let her take a break first to recharge! “Girls are often overstimulated and tired after school,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Having some downtime and then a plan for getting homework and chores done after will reduce any worries and let her know she can fit it all in.”
Test it out
The key word here is “test!” Write out your daughter’s new schedule and post it in a central spot to make it easy for everyone to remember what was agreed on. If after a few days you realize that you allotted way more time to homework than was necessary (or not enough!) fine tune the plan going forward. And definitely be open to changes for special events or holidays. Even the most rigid schedules need flexibility now and then!