Dear Jasper and Kestrel,
I have been living at Uncle David’s and Auntie Olga’s house for almost three months now, and I have noticed a few interesting things.
Their house has a lot more technology than mine. This is mostly because Uncle David loves playing with new machines and computers, and finding ways to use them.
He has an alarm clock for Liza that is a light…it starts dim and gets brighter as the sun does. There is also a melody that starts very softly and gets gradually louder, but never gets really loud. He is experimenting with different lights to make a whole room do the gradual light-up thing.
And, on the big desk in the living room, there are three computer screens. One for Uncle David, one for Auntie Olga, and one for Liza. The main way I have seen this screen used is to list Liza’s bedtime routine. Here are her Numbers:
0: Clean up toys
3: Bedside water
4: Cereal, bowl, spoon
6: Flossy brushie teethie
The family has been using this list for at least a year, and Liza is pretty good at it. She can read all the words, which is nice. But more important, she knows there is a routine and knows where it leads. When we say, “time to start the numbers,” she knows she is about half an hour from bed. I say “about” because depending on her opinion of bedtime that day, she may protest, which is natural. But if she begins to throw a fit, the routine (and the optional stories or videos at the end) are called off and bedtime occurs immediately.
I like this system. Cleaning up daily prevents chaos accumulating. Big projects, like LEGOS, can be waived for a few days. Laying out clothes and hair styles for the next day prevents tempers in crucial morning minutes. Getting breakfast things out speeds this along, too.
It’s not perfect, because perfect parenting is a moving target. Some evenings go more smoothly than others. But the simplicity and consistency make for fewer arguments. It also, over time, has lead to a more disciplined Liza. Self-disciplined, that is, which is the best kind.