What works...

So. We've been experimenting, adapting, rolling with punches. Some things work. Some don't. What seems to be working well enough that we stick with it:
  • Five minute warnings. Two minute warnings. Count to ten (twenty when we're feeling generous) countdowns.
  • Asking (sometimes repeatedly against resistance) "Would you like to walk, or do I need to carry you?" 
  • When the above doesn't work, suggesting, "Well, you're showing me that you need to be carried."
  • Presenting two choices at pajama time. 
  • Explaining that we all have "chores." Daddy works outside. Mama is a laundry maid. Arlo puts away train tracks. 
  • We have some non-negotiable "rules." Most of them involve not inflicting bodily harm, or moving one's body or things in a manner that could possibly inflict bodily harm, on other people. We do a lot of reminding (and "a lot" can often mean five times in thirty minutes).
  • But what's working most of all: predictability. Not just a routine, but a rhythm. And not just implied, but collectively decided upon, and stated implicitly.

    Enter The Day Chart. 

Now, you should know that this stems from me, a person who manages two day planners and a phone calendar. I have a sickness. Like President Bartlet, I need to know "What's next?"  But I was noticing daily breakdowns around what we were doing. What day it was. Do we visit with friends today, or go to the park? Does Mama have to work today, or do we go to Toddle Tunes? And why oh why do we have to eat lunch now? We do manage to keep our days simple, at least we try to, but still we ran up against walls.

I had noticed that having a simple conversation was helping, but still naptime would wipe all memory away. I had an idea to get a board like they have in preschools, but that royal blue pocketed thing I found at Lakeshore was ugly and not something I wanted in my house.

Enter Target and their dorm collection. This green board is really a magnetized white dry erase board. Only, I wasn't so excited about the smelly dry erase markers. But the board was on sale at Target, so even though I wasn't quite sure what to do next, it was less than $8, so in the cart it went.

Andy helped me with the next bit. I was obsessing over where to find magnet paper (do they even make such a thing?), when he pointed out all of the magnet advertisements we had stuck to the side of our fridge. Old veterinarians, calendars from a nearby plumber, etc. Then we found some index cards. Andy helped me peel the laminate off of the magnets, like so.

And then we trimmed the index cards to fit the trimmed magnets.

Lastly, after having drawn the activity on the card, we glued them to the magnet. 
All told, we made a handful. Months, Weather, and about twelve activities. I bought the days of the week (also at Target), before Andy had his great idea. So they don't match the rest of it, but it was still a good idea: it took me way too long to finish all of these, and by the time I was done, I was way over it. I didn't have seven days left in me.
Every night, after dinner, we take them all out and make up the next day's chart. Its the third thing he asks for every morning (Lincoln and Milk being the first two).

All told, turns out Arlo is as OCD as me and President Bartlet. It works! What's next?


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