What is the difference between a schedule and a routine? Is it necessary to have everything planned to the minute? What do you do when a doctor’s appointment or something comes up that’s not in the schedule?
I don’t think that anyone has to have everything planned perfectly. For one thing life isn’t like that so if your goal is to have everything planned and then go by the plan you are doomed to disappointment at best and insanity at worst. (For instance right now Daughter (2) should be about an hour into her nap, but we ran errands this morning, ate lunch late and for some reason although she’s tired she isn’t going to sleep. I should be napping too but since she isn’t I’m not….).
What is helpful though is too have enough of a schedule that you know that “Johnny is crabby because we usually eat at 11 am and it’s 1 pm now.” That doesn’t mean you eat right on the dot of 11 everyday but you do try to eat close to 11.
A routine (to my mind) is more like this: everyday when Son (3) finishes breakfast, he is supposed to feed the dog, and then empty to silverware out of the dish drainer. He knows it and I know it and we don’t have to fight about what job he’s going to do. I can just say”What’s your first job?” and he knows what to do.
Both routine and schedule are very important to children. The world is new and strange and many things in it are beyond their experience so they need some predictability. Think of it like a framework- they can handle an amazing amount of change and upheaval if the foundation stays familiar. The things they do every day and week are that foundation. Give them that stability, combined with training and discipline and they will amaze you with their flexibility!