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:
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)