When things started getting a bit odd with Vinny right after he got out of school, I knew it had something to do with his lack of routine. I had hoped that we could make it without a really set schedule, as the idea of a schedule just didn't seem to mix with my ideal of summer. But... today... I decided that we needed to sit down and talk about a schedule and rules.
Something in me says that a normal five year old would not enjoy this discussion. Vinny could not have been more excited. When I explained that we needed to sit down and talk about a schedule and rules, and that we would decide them together, he was actually excited and could not decide whether we should talk about the schedule first or the rules first. I determined that we would talk about the schedule first.
It took about half an hour of talking, but we worked out a schedule that is loose enough for it to feel like summer, but structured enough for Vinny to know what is coming next. Throughout the day, he kept saying, "What time is it? What are we doing next?" and then running to check one of the schedules that we posted all over the place. It is helping him practice telling time and keeping him in a healthy mental place.
Even the rules were mostly determined by him and 100% agreed upon by him. He even added the no "re-closing" things rule. We added a "Vinny will help Mommy/Daddy/Grandma if they ask for help" rule, and this afternoon, I asked Vinny if he wanted to help me make lemonade. Now, this wasn't like a chore type help request (in other words, he clearly knew he had a choice). He loves using the juicer, so he was having a good time, and he looked up and excitedly said, "Mommy! We put on the rules, 'Help Mommy," and I am helping you!" He was so proud of himself. He prides himself in being great at following rules, so making rules that he feels he can follow plays on his strength.
We had such a peaceful day. He ate his dinner without complaining (okay, without much complaining) and even spent time on his own trying to read a book way above his level and scolding me for trying to help him.
I don't like the idea of being scheduled in any way (it really goes against my very spontaneous nature), but I think this will work for all of us.