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  • Shaneel Mukerji

Readiness to Tidiness

24 hours in a day can sound like a very long time. Being in one space for these hours over a number of days can make it even more overwhelming.

Here is an option to Plan or Build on a Routine Step by Step, that may make it a little easier.




Step 1: Draw two columns on a sheet of paper. The first narrower column is for ‘Time’ and

the second broader one is for ‘Activity’.


Step 2: Write down “Wake Up time” and “Bedtime” on the top and bottom of the page.


Now let’s try and keep the idea of “READY TO TIDY” in mind.

This would mean thinking of the things we need to do before an activity starts, and what to

tidy up after an activity.

Here are some examples:

i) Drawing Time: Bring crayons and drawing book/paper. Tidy up crayons and

drawing book/paper.

ii) Snack Time: Take the banana and peel it. Tidy up by throwing the peel in the

dustbin


Let’s go back to the schedule


Step 3: Put in all the times when your child is engaged in activities of daily living or personal care. These would be meal times (including snack times), bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, toilet, sleeping etc.


Step 4: Add the Ready to Tidy ideas that your child can do with these daily activities listed in

Step 3.


Here are some examples of daily activities with different levels of difficulty:

i) Meal Time:

a. Bring the plate, Tidy up by putting plate in kitchen

b. Count and bring plates for all family members, Tidy up all plates

c. Help set the table, Tidy up by helping clear up table and wiping the table

d. Set the table, lay out the food, Tidy up by clearing the table and wiping the

table

e. Set the table, lay out the food, Tidy up by clearing the table and help wash

dishes.


ii) Bath Time:

a. Bring my towel, Tidy up by putting away towel

b. Bring my towel, fill the bucket, Tidy up by putting away towel and bucket.

c. Bring my towel, get clean clothes ready. Tidy up by putting away towel and

dirty clothes in the laundry bucket.

d. Bring my towel, get clean clothes ready. Tidy up by putting away towel and

dirty clothes in the laundry bucket, dry bathroom floor with ‘squeegee’ mop.



Step 5: Put all the other activities your child does during the day in your schedule. These

would be Physical Activities, Music, Art & Craft, Reading/Story, Play, Learning, Screen Time,

etc.


Step 6: Add all the Ready to Tidy ideas that your child can do with these other activities

listed in Step 5.


Here is an example of a Physical Activity with different levels of difficulty:

i) Physical Activity in a room:

a. Take pillows off the bed before jumping on the bed/mattress, Tidy up by

putting pillows back

b.Take pillows and bedsheet off before jumping on the bed/mattress, climbing

on window grills, Tidy up by putting pillows back

c. Bring stool and chair, take pillows and bedsheet off before jumping on the

bed/mattress, climbing on window grills, stool and chair, Tidy up by putting

pillows back, making the bed, putting stool and chair back.

d. Help set up obstacle course* with Start/Finish mat/card, stool, table, bed and

mattress on floor. Tidy up after.

* (Obstacle course: Stand on Start mat/card, pick a toy from Start bucket, crawl

under table, climb onto stool, jump on the bed (can add fixed number of times to be counted), climb up and down the window grills, jump onto the mattress on the floor and do one somersault and get to the Finish mat/card and put toy in the finish bucket.)


* You can choose just one or fewer steps from the example given above, or create your

own, depending on your child’s level.

* It is helpful to plan in advance where in the house physical activities can take

place so children are safe and their energy is used up!

* For some children you may need to put in a physical activity for a part of every

hour in the schedule.



Step 7: Add all the usually adult activities around the house that your child could be

engaged in to the schedule. Some examples are cooking, shopping, looking after house

plants, fixing/mending things, filling bottles of water, washing and drying clothes, etc.


Step 8: Add all the Ready to Tidy ideas that your child can do with these ‘usually adult

activities’ listed in Step 7.


Here are some examples of usually adult activities with different levels of difficulty:

i) Washing and drying clothes

a. Bring bucket/basket to put in wet/take down dry clothes, Tidy up by putting

away bucket/basket after

b. Bring bucket/basket to put in wet/take down dry clothes, pass clothes one at

a time to hang up/put in basket, Tidy up by putting away bucket/basket after

c. Bring bucket/basket to put in wet/take down dry clothes, pass clothes one at

a time to hang up/put in basket, put clothes clips on/take clips off, Tidy up by

putting away bucket/basket after

d. Bring bucket for washing/open washing machine, put in clothes one by one,

add washing powder, fill bucket with water/turn on washing machine

e. Bring bucket/basket, take down dry clothes, Tidy up by folding clothes (start

with simple handkerchiefs) and put away for ironing

f. Bring bucket/basket, take down dry clothes, Tidy up by ironing and folding

clothes

g. Bring bucket/basket, take down dry clothes, Tidy up by ironing and folding

clothes (start with simple handkerchiefs) and put away in cupboards.


ii) Cooking:

a. Bring one item of food to be prepared (may be a vegetable/fruit/bread that

the child can identify), Tidy up by throwing the peels in the dustbin

b. Bring items to make a simple dish (eg sandwich, glass of juice), Tidy up by

putting the items away

c. Bring items to make a simple dish including the utensils required to make it,

Tidy up by putting away items and utensils

d. Bring items to make a simple dish including the utensils required to make it,

Tidy up by putting away items and washing the utensils.


iii) Shopping:

a. Help write a shopping list by picking pictures of vegetable, fruit, other items

that child identifies, Tidy up by putting away one item bought

b. Help write a shopping list by putting in numbers only ‘6’ bananas, ‘3’ Litres

milk, Tidy up by putting away items bought with counting and checking on list

c. Help write a shopping list by writing 3 full items, Tidy up by putting away

items bought after sorting

d. Bring paper, pencil and help write a shopping list, Tidy up by putting away

items bought

e. Check on remaining stores with help, write shopping list, Tidy up by putting

away all things bought

f. Plan meals for the week, check on remaining stores, write shopping list, Tidy

up by putting away all things bought



Some additional notes that may help:

* You can start with Step 3 & 4 first, then Step 5 & 6, and finally 7 & 8, if you’d like to fill in

the schedule slowly. You may choose any other order also.

* You can mix and match ideas from the various examples depending on the level of your

child. You may add on your ideas only.

* You may choose to practice just one small new task for a few days before adding another. You may add more steps at the pace your child and you are comfortable with.

* You may bring in changes to the routine either very gradually, or quicker, depending on

your child’s comfort.

* Even little children may be given choices, sometimes make their own choices, and can help plan this schedule!

* Don't forget to put in 'Breaks' for everyone in the schedule.


* This visual schedule helps with a number of things. As an aid: to create and build on a routine at one’s own pace, in planning new tasks, in regards to preparations required, in practicing learnt tasks, in gradually bringing in flexibility or changes over time, in making concrete what may overwhelm us in the abstract.


By involving your child in planning, getting ready for, and tidying up after activities in the day, s/he is learning and practicing useful skills...and maybe 24 hours in a day may not seem so long after all!


Shaneel Mukerji

Special Educator and Therapist

Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata



N.B. The idea of ‘Readiness to Tidiness’ is one I share and discuss with the families I work with. These discussions usually revolve around looking at an existing schedule and then adding this idea to it. I also keep this idea in mind for my own children!


It seemed like the ideal time to share this with others considering the unusual times we are living in with viruses and lockdowns. 24 hours in a day can sound like a very long time. Being in one space for these hours over a number of days can make it even more overwhelming. Being in one space...with a child/children can sometimes be harder. This piece was written in the hope that it may be a useful resource for someone.


Though this may seem only applicable to families with children, it may also help adults plan and try out new things at home that others usually did for them, at a pace they are comfortable with!

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