Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mickey Mouse Parenting

The house in Easley has been on the market for a month. So we've worked "cleaning" into the morning routine and now every day before we leave for work and school we pull back the curtains, wipe down the sinks, and put everything away. It's amazing how keeping the place clean has become habit. 

I fought establishing a routine for HB. I like variety and I wanted her to be able to go-with-the-flow. Structure meant that when the routine broke she would be incapable of coping. I've seen two year olds who missed their 1 p.m. nap. Ugly.

In the mornings we have a list of 5 things that need to be done (breakfast, dressed, teeth, hair, shoes) and they can be done in any order she chooses.
After school every day is an adventure. Some days we go to the grocery store, some days to dance lessons, some days her grandmother picks her up, some days we just go home. When we get home sometimes we play, sometimes we watch movies, sometimes we have popcorn with M&Ms. She naps at school but at home, on the weekends, rarely.

Then this week someone informed me that children without routine are more likely to develop ADD. Not sure how realistic that stat is. Since ADD research is still new and no one has bothered to mention the effect TV has (my theory), I haven't paid much attention. Still, this most recent accusation that I had ruined her got me thinking: Was my anti-routine stance backfiring on me without my even realizing it?

About six months ago I noticed that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes use sequencing to tell the story. For example: to get to the park we have to go 1) down the windy road, 2) over the wall, and 3) across the river. Then Mickey suggests the viewers repeat the sequence. In 20 minutes they repeat the sequence again and again as they achieve progress toward their goal. It's genius. I applied it to parenting. When we get home I tell HB: "we have to eat supper, take a bath, put on jammies and then you can watch a movie, ok?" Then I reinforce the sequence as we tick items off the list. It works! It sets expectations (comfort and stability) while allowing each day to be different (flexibility).

Interestingly, in the mornings, HB's established her own order. Without my realizing it, without my consent really, she's developed a routine. Though now I think the difference between a sequence and a routine is just how frequently it is repeated.

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