Gah! Frazzled with the bazillion clubs and after-school activities your little darlings have signed up for? Had enough of asking your child to put their shoes on 20 times every morning? Dreading the next family trip to the dentist? You’re not alone. Thankfully, family planners and kids’ reward charts can help to bring (some) calm and rhythm to family life.
Charts and planners are not going to turn your children from disobedient little monsters into docile rosy-cheeked cherubs, but they may just help your kids to hang their coats up rather than slinging them on the floor.
Weekly family planners
Most family wall planners have several columns for each day of the week. Just write the name of each member of the family at the top of a column and any activities, events or reminders in the box for that day. It’s a handy reference for when you’re running out the door and need to know whether you need to grab a swim bag, rugby kit or yoga mat. Some also come with extra boxes for tasks that need to be done that week, but not on a particular day, such as a homework project or piano practice.
We find that what works best is having a family wall calendar on the wall for weekly planning (either a paper version or a wipe-clean one), and a separate binder for other family essentials, such as a menu planner, family rules, useful contacts and that never-ending to-do list.
Kids’ reward charts
There are lots of printable reward charts online, including ones featuring popular children’s cartoon characters. Some already list actions for your child to complete each day, such as homework, tidying their room and eating all their dinner. If you’re going for one of those, look for one that’s age-appropriate. A ten-year-old is unlikely to want one featuring Peppa Pig and a to-do list that includes going to the toilet on their own.
Other kids’ reward charts have spaces for you to fill in. You could add specific tasks and activities, such as doing their homework, brushing their teeth, getting dressed on their own and so on. Alternatively, write in the behaviours that you want to encourage, such as being kind, sharing their toys and showing good manners. Or go for a mixture of actions and behaviours.
Older children are likely to be content with a tick in each box they’ve completed, while younger ones might find extra encouragement in brightly coloured smiley stickers or stars.
The key to reward charts is making it clear what the reward is. It could be a small reward for each action or day, or a bigger reward that your child needs to work towards. Just make sure it’s not an ‘all or nothing’ reward. If your child decides they can’t achieve a reward at all because they didn’t make their bed, there’s little incentive for them to do the rest of their tasks.
You’ll need to be consistent with rewards, so make sure you choose something you can stick to (and afford). Promising your child a £5 toy every time they get 20 ticks may seem like a great incentive, but it could see you spending several hundred pounds over the year. One option is to have a reward jar filled with small treats, such as rubbers, pencils and small toys, Your child can then have a ‘lucky dip’ into the jar every time they achieve a certain number of ticks or stickers.
Homework and potty training reward charts
Some reward charts focus on a specific skill (like potty training), or task (like homework). These are similar to the sticker reward charts mentioned above, but may be themed around the particular goal. Again, the idea is the same – your child receives a tick or sticker each time they complete the action. They’re then either rewarded for each one or work towards a bigger reward.
In the case of new skills, such as potty training or mastering times tables, reward charts can really help to break a large goal down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Your child could earn a bonus reward when they learn each of the times tables, complete a difficult homework project or go a whole week without needing a nappy.
Have a big goal in mind for yourself? Whether it’s getting a new job, moving house or saving enough money for a family holiday, a goal planner might help you to achieve it. There are lots of printable planners available. Some are for monthly targets, while others are for larger goals. Most help you to break your goal down into achievable steps. So, if you want to sell your house, you might write ‘Move into a house I love’ in a box titled ‘key focus’. You’d then list the steps needed to achieve that goal, and tick each one off when you’ve completed it. In this example, those might include painting the living room, tidying up the garden, deciding on an estate agent, finding a solicitor, and so on.
Goal planners aren’t just for major life events either – you can use them to keep you focused on smaller ‘wins’, such as decluttering the house, preparing for an exam or running a 5k.
Wondering whether you need to get more organised to bring some calm into your chaotic life? Check out these seven signs it’s time to get organised.