Making plans together is staying sane together
The kids day planning might be the easiest structure of all the structures in the toolbox, but as it has been so valuable for us during Corona times and as more and more people have asked how we do our day planning, I decided to just write it out once and for all.
Planning the day ahead together with the kids makes them partly “owner” of the day and smoothens the way … or better: day. Not to make this overly rationalized and/or make it seem that this is brilliant, but I really really like the basic components of the VIST model (Hertel, 2002), which says that there are four key elements to motivate people:
- Valence: How important are the main objectives of the project to the employee? By starting with the fact that we as parents would love to have a really fun day together again, we create a shared goal and something they like to contribute to. Also, by discussing the day we would like to have, they have something to look forward to and it gives them insight in what “lesser fun” things they will have to finish in order to do something else – which is a great bridge to the next point.
- Instrumentality: To what extent does the employee believe his/her individual contribution to be crucial for the project’s success? By engaging our kids in the day and also asking them for ideas to make the day more fun or do more, they feel that they are heard and essential in having a great day.
- Self-efficacy: To what extent does the employee believe him or herself to be capable of the tasks in the project? By discussing the day and seeing what our kids can do themselves and/or where they need or expect help from us as parents, it is very clear that there are plenty of things they can do to make the day fun.
- Team trust: To what extent does the employee believe that the other project members are fulfilling their duties? Making a day planning helps massively in this. It not only highlights that we as parents have to do things to keep the house clean/tidy and that they have their own role as well, but it also creates the open atmosphere to discuss that usually, our youngest is the worst in picking up his toys.
So, in other words: a remarkably simple structure helps to kickstart the day in a good way.
Comfort level participants
Piece of paper (ideally a model day plan), color pencils or markers.
A collaborative approach to staying sane
Both my wife Marieke and I believe in a very open and collaborative way of communicating with our kids. Part of it -especially during Corona times- is making a day planning together. However, there are more parts to it. I made a separate post with the different structures and agreements we use and have used.
Five Structural Elements for the Kids Day Planning
The purpose of the exercise is to engage your kids in making the day planning. Key emphasis in that way is on just that. That might mean you will need to tailor your invitation over time and/or distribute participation to your kids – maybe even letting your kids make the day planning.
Five structural elements
How to read the instructions
As this is a repeating (daily) exercise, the invitation may and will change over time. There are different alternatives here:
- Positive, enthusiastic. By starting with the fact that we as parents would love to have a really fun day together again, we create a shared goal and something they like to contribute to. Also, by discussing the day we would like to have, they have something to look forward to and it gives them insight in what “lesser fun” things they will have to finish in order to do something else – which is a great bridge to the next point. This might be a good way to kick off the habit of making a day planning.
- Neutral: Over time, it will be enough to just factually state “let’s make the day planning again” or “we are going to make the day planning”.
- Hyper engaging: When you have older kids, they will be able to create a day planning themselves, either with you writing down the elements, telling them the key elements or showing a previous day as an example.
- Breaking the convention: When the day planning as an exercise is established, it might well be interesting to divert from the regular habit of building a day planning and create an “upside-down-day” – we wake the kids up saying “sleep well”, eat dinner, then have lunch and after having breakfast we put them to bed saying “good morning”, something we as a family sometimes use when we use our surprise bowl of kids activities or our wheel of fortune.
Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation
Also, see the model.
- Name and day. For later reference, fill out name(s) and date. This is also a moment to reflect on the day of the week, the date in context.
E.g. Today is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, the first day of the weekend.
E.g. Today is the 14th of May, granddad is having his birthday in 2 weeks.
- Weather. Indicate which weather it will be. Often a good moment to start the conversation on what the planning of the day will look like – what clothes will they wear, will we play outside or stay in, will we be doing special activities (e.g. making hot chocolate in winter, setting up a small pool in summer).
- Tasks. The things we’ll have to do that day as a family. The “most important tasks” for the day. This can be cleaning, doing groceries, calling with friends or family, or other things that have to be done today.
- Fun. Specific things to look forward to for the day. E.g. baking a cake, calling friends, going out.
- Planning. And, finally, the day planning on an hourly basis. We try and keep the same/similar structure each day for when we’ll have breakfast, lunch, dinner, do school work, go to the local bakery for bread, etcetera.
How Groups Are Configured
Make it a joint exercise of at least one parent, with your kids.
How Participation Is Distributed
You will probably start filling the model out by yourself, using your kids ideas as input. Over time, you might distribute filling out parts or the complete model to one of your kids.
Additional tips and pointers
- Make the kids day planning a fun moment together 🙂
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