Tweaking my schedule
For the last couple of months, I've been working hard to get my children and I onto a more effective schedule. It's not always easy, especially with babies and toddlers, who are so unpredictable and require so much help and attention.
I think, though, that it is possible and I have been diligently trying to find the right balance for our family. Some of you may remember the series I did on creating my new schedule a few months back, and the details of the schedule that I posted at that time (the links to those posts are at the bottom of this one).
I thought it may be helpful to hear my feedback as to how that schedule is going, what I like or dislike, and what I have decided to adapt. The thing about a schedule is that it is in place to serve you, and not the other way around. I can sometimes frustrate myself by stubbornly trying to stick to something that just isn't working, though I am slowly learning that it is better to stop and reevaluate instead.
Here are a few of my reflections on how my routine was working:
1) I really enjoy having a morning routine, but a bedtime routine is somewhat impractical for me. I love the concept, but since that is my time with my husband and I try to keep it flexible and open, it just doesn't work for me (though it might for you).
2) I do sooooo much better when I am going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. It just makes all the difference in my day. As does making sure that I have my time with God, as much as it is possible!
3) I was trying to do our learning time (home educating) first thing after breakfast and getting the kids ready for the day. This wasn't working because it drove me crazy that the house wasn't really tidy when we started, and I would get so distracted. I also found it hard to get a strong start on my chores when I didn't start on them early in the day.
4) My kids naps have shifted from right after lunch, to more like 2:00 or 2:30, which threw a wrench into our afternoons. So, I needed to figure out how to make better use of my mornings, knowing that our time between lunch and naps was a bit less productive, task-wise, but I was (sort of) losing more of my later afternoon.
5) I need to start dinner earlier than the late afternoon (usually 4:00ish). Especially because I do everything from scratch, it just often left me scrambling to get things cooked and finished in time for my husband's arrival.
Here's what the schedule looks like now:
Morning Block (6am-12pm):
- Morning routine (shower/dressed, devotions, blog work, start laundry)
- Make and eat breakfast
- Clean up kitchen, unload dishwasher, sweep
- Kids dressed, beds made, etc.
- 15 minute house pickup (with a timer- this is so effective!)
- Task cleaning (this is where I have my general cleaning for the week split into a few tasks that I do each day)
- Daily duties (this is my major assignment each day- Monday is grocery shopping and food prep, Tuesday is blog work, Wednesday is cleaning floors, Thursday is office/planning/errands, Friday is house projects like organizing, decorating, sewing, etc.)
- If time (there rarely is), we could do gardening, exercise, go outside, read, etc.
Early afternoon block (12-3:30)
- Make and eat lunch, do Bible reading during lunch (I'm reading one chapter of Matthew each day)
- Clean up kitchen
- Start dinner
- Learning time (homeschool)
- Read aloud to kids
- Naps/quiet time for them, blog work for me
Late afternoon block (3:30-6:00):
- Fold and put away laundry (which I've been pushing through the machine in the morning)
- Gardening/park/fun/craft, etc. with the kids
- 15 minute house pickup
- Cook dinner ( I can do extra things if dinner can "cook" itself in the oven, etc.)
- Clean up kitchen
So far, so good! We still never seem to have a day where we stick to it perfectly, but it is overall a major improvement on what we had before. The thing about a schedule is that you never really know how it will work until you do it for awhile and then you can seek what works and what doesn't.
My biggest challenge at the moment is figuring out how to work around doing social things, needing to run or do unexpected errands, or having guests in our home which throws off the schedule. The most difficult part of it is knowing how to get done the things that I had to skip to accommodate the extra events (like now, I'm about to try and do some extra cleaning I skipped because we spent yesterday having a fun day with Nana who was visiting).
A few links/resources on this topic:
My own scheduling series: Struggling with a schedule, What are our pitfalls?, A glimpse into my own process, A contiued look into my own process, The schedule is finished!
Crystal's great time management series (This link is actually to her Finding Time category, which was the best link I could come up with, as it's a long series, but you'll find many great posts as you scroll through it)
FlyLady– A great resource for learning to create a morning and/or evening routine, and for creating routines to help you keep your home and tasks in order!
Polestar Family Calendar– My review of my absolute favorite Mom's planner!
Does anyone have any tips for how they work around things that come up, or fitting in extra activities that aren't normally part of the schedule? Do you just skip what you didn't get done, or ditch other things in order to get those things done? Advice from more seasoned moms is greatly appreciated!
(Graphic from allposters.com)
I don’t know if I have much advice to offer on disruptions – other than that they do happen! I think that’s the great thing about being on a schedule, is that if something does come up, I’m never that far behind that it’s a big deal. For instance, I clean a certain section of my house each day (M-F). If something comes up that I don’t do my cleaning zone that day, then I just double up the next day. Alternatively, I could just skip that zone, knowing that I will get to it next week (I prefer not to do this, but have done it in the past). I keep up with the laundry every day, so if I happen to miss a day, it’s not a crisis – I’ll just do an extra load or two the next day.
I guess I would argue that just having a schedule allows me to go with the flow, and be more flexible. 🙂
I posted my schedule on my blog a little while ago, if you’re interested it’s here:
Like yours, mine is just a guideline – rarely are we ever on schedule for an entire day. It serves more as a compass.
One of my many peeves with this fallen world is finding the time to squish 10 excellent things into a day that only fits 5. You just can’t do it and something, even something that’s good, always gets cut. Don’t feel condemned by it, but do be convicted to keep, like you said in a previous post… the main thing the main thing.
In my home… cleanliness (floors and walls and such things) is outranked by devotions, home schooling little ones, messy crafts, helping hubby around the home, living life with friends/neighbours/family, working from home, etc. Thankfully it’s kept in check by being slightly organized and uncluttered (living in a small home with only one bathroom helps this too!), and random visits from my mother. (Yes, my schedule for dusting is precisely 5 minutes before my mom visits).
Of course, I don’t really like to clean anyways! I’d much rather read your blog 🙂
I hear you. There are always interruptions…I mean opportunities :o)that come up daily. The comfort I find in a routine is that if I happen to miss something due to a visit or leaky bum disaster (on my duvet…ugh) I know it is coming around again next week. This applies mostly to cleaning. Anything can wait another week except maybe the bathrooms and laundry. Since I began to see it this way I am much more relaxed about getting off track. I try to have a good balance of non-negotiables and negotiable parts of my day.
What a great, practical post! I have been struggling to keep my schedule since we finished the bulk of our homeschooling a few weeks ago. This week my goal is to get back on track with my schedule!
My schedule? looks a lot like yours and is posted on my fridge but it’s more of a reminder list for me. There are things that I’d like to get done in the AM and things that typically happen in the PM but I don’t worry so much about the order. This does two things. It relieves a lot of stress for me about sticking to the schedule with two little ones and it allows me to be flexible when appointments or unexpected visitors are added to the day.
I was talking about this with a mom of 7 kids the other day. She said that many, many times she would be rushing about and then a child (or more than one at once, most likely!) would need her. She would have to deliberately STOP what she wanted to do (get accomplished) and tend to the child. She realized that if she didn’t (although there are times to have a child wait) that most often the opportunity to connect with that child, know their heart, help guide them and train them up in the ways of the Lord…that opportunity would then be lost. So many of the teaching opportunities in life are unplanned.
You know what, too…her house isn’t perfect. When I go there, if I really look around, many things are out of place, work needs to be done, etc…its kept up fine, but its not like she rushed around before I came over to fix it up (she never does with anyone!) but instead of seeing the things that needs to be done, I feel so much love in that home. FAR more than when I go to someone’s home and it has just been cleaned to perfection. I wonder if that is how our children feel, too…that when our home is perfect (or as close as we can get it..LOL) then they are feeling unloved. Its not that we are to neglect our homes, our chores, our schedules…but I think that we must also remember to take the opportunities to show love and teach and put people before things. Eternal things are what really matters…young hearts and lives…not the dustbunnies under the bed. 🙂 Definately its very hard to balance everything though. I think you are doing a good job.
More specific answer to your question…although you’ve been mothering longer…I try to leave a block of time in the morning and afternoon to fit in those things that come up. Certain things that come up unexpectedly can be postponed until those time blocks. However, there are always times and circumstances that come up where I can’t do anything about it. If someone calls and is upset and needs to talk, if my child hurts themselves and is screaming, if I have something break, burst, flood…(thankfully seldom but it still happens!) then I deal with what I need to and leave the missed tasks for when I can get to them. Often, its the next week. I try to remember that my job has to be very flexible.
Thanks for sharing your schedule, Alissa! I always love to see what others are doing!
Hes, your home always seems clean and tidy to me! And you’re in a busy season of life, with 3 school age kids. I love that you dust when your Mom comes- I must admit, I often dust before hosting ladies caregroup. Not much of a duster, and I often skip it when it’s on my schedule! 🙂 And I’m so glad to know that I’m keeping people from cleaning, because, you know, that’s the whole point of my blog! LOL!
Nola, it’s a good idea to leave a block of time free for unexpected things that come up. I may ultimately end up doing something like that. Thanks for sharing about your friend- to have a welcoming home, full of love, is definitely my ultimate goal!