At our house, we have much more productive days if we have a plan. I’ve been using a printed schedule since I had 2 kids and they were 5 and 1. At that time, I was providing daily child care to another baby and toddler. I accomplished so much with those 4 small children! I had time to teach my 5yo, garden, scrapbook, cook clean, and play with the kids.
I got the basic layout from Managers of Their Homes.
Here’s their method in a nutshell:
- make a list of everything you would like to accomplish in 24 hours (including sleep)
- make a similar list for each child
- list chores, school, and playtime
- assign a possible amount of time for each activity
- DON’T schedule your husband without his permission!
. . . this process can take a few days as you assess your activities and needs
- break activities into 60 minute, 30 minutes, and 15 minute increments
- put these increments on colored squares of paper (different color for each family member)
- arrange the pieces in a pleasing manner : )
- test the schedule for a week
I know, I know; I can just hear the crowd yelling, “I couldn’t be tied down like that. It’s too restrictive.” But I never feel tied down. I schedule flexible times, free time, play time, and other such times. The days when we don’t use our schedule is when not much gets accomplished and the kids get bored and cranky.
If it’s a behavior problem, we need to stop and address it. Building character is more important than Grammar to me.
If it’s a spill, potty disaster, or something similar, we just take care of it and pick up where we left off. Since there are 3 ‘big people’ there is usually someone to take care of the problem while everyone else continues with what they were doing.
If we have an unscheduled outing, we will skip that part of the schedule for the day, and usually try to pick up at whatever point we arrive back home. Example: unplanned trip to the store may happen during Chloe’s grammar time. That’s okay. Missing a grammar worksheet isn’t the end of the world. We’ll just pick up with Spelling when we get back.
There are a few flexible times, like EC Homework or Tambourine, that can be used to ‘catch up’ if necessary.
Here are a few more explanations:
TV time means a DVD like Veggie Tales or a pre-approved show on the DVR, like Blue’s Clues or Backyardigans. Bigger kids can watch Bonanza, Brady Bunch, or something similar. They do not have unauthorized access to the remote control or channel surfing.
Girlhood books include Beautiful Girlhood, The King’s Daughter, Raising Maidens of Virtue, and So Much More. These can all be purchased at Vision Forum.
We also have a chart with ideas to keep the little boys occupied. Each big sister has time with the little brothers, and I’d like it to be productive time. So there is a list of games, preschool activities, and books for them to use.
My favorite part? Everyone has a place to be at all times, even if it’s unstructured time. This way I KNOW I’ll have some uninterrupted time with both older girls for certain subjects.
My best advice? BE FLEXIBLE. Be willing to stop what you’re doing and handle what may come. Even if you have to pick up later in the schedule, you will have accomplished more than if you hadn’t tried to do anything at all.
AND…be willing to tweak it as often as necessary. The one I showed above is about to be updated. Baby doesn’t take 2 naps anymore, and 4yo doesn’t take naps AT ALL. My husband’s schedule is much longer, so dinner time is later. And we are about to start Sonlight for our schooling, so our school schedule will look different than it does now. In order to do this, I’ll make notes about how things seem to flow best, and then start playing with my spreadsheet.
I’m always interested in how other families manage their day. Sometimes I find some great ideas just from reading other family’s schedules. I saw this one recently and it sounded so laid back with lots of family togetherness.
So, how do you manage?
Here are some other home management ideas you might like.