Dec 082008

I really like having a schedule because it gives structure to my day. My first few months as a stay-at-home mother were incredibly frustrating, because I was accustomed to working in an office, with a structured routine and defined expectations. I’m a person who needs order and routine, and stay-at-home motherhood offers neither. The work has no definitive beginning or end, and there is no boss to tell you what to do and when. When there is no schedule or plan, it’s very easy to become unmotivated and undisciplined. My day goes so much better when I don’t spend it flitting from task to task, or wandering aimlessly trying to decide what I should do next. Aside from meal, nap and bedtimes, I don’t have a schedule on weekends. Weekends are generally more relaxed and flexible, and we occasionally go shopping or on family outings.

I don’t follow my schedule to the minute, and neither should you. If you attempt to do this, you will drive yourself completely crazy with frustration! Instead, look at your schedule as a guide, a rough outline of how you’d like your day to go. Remember that you can’t predict what’s going to happen every day, especially with young kids. There will be days (heck, even weeks) when your schedule will completely go out the window, and that’s OK! Just do the best you can, and remember that time management requires flexibility too.

It’s easy to set up your daily schedule in an Excel spreadsheet, with your waking hours in a vertical column, broken down by half hour. To get started, sit down and examine your day. Make a list of all the things you need to do, from taking a shower to cooking supper. When you begin to write things into your schedule, start with things that have specific start times, like wake-up time, naps, meals, school, activities and bedtimes.

Next, move on to things that don’t have specific start times, but that you have to get done. When finding blocks of time to fit them in, think about the time of day. For example, it’s best to schedule work requiring concentration during nap time or after bedtime if you have young children. I know this from experience.

Don’t forget to schedule time to just play with your kids. After all, they are the reason you stay home, right? Also, remember to give yourself a break! If the law mandates that employees get two 15-minute coffee breaks for every 8 hours of work, then surely you’re entitled too. Especially since you work way more than 8 hours each day!

My School Year Daily Schedule looks like this:

7:00 AM: Up. Change and dress Cakes. Bee dresses herself. Make breakfast for girls. Pack Bee’s lunch.

7:45 AM: Get dressed. Everyone gets hair and teeth brushed.

8:15 AM: Bee to school.

8:30 AM: Eat breakfast. Write blog post for the day.

9:30 AM: Plan supper menu. Get food out of freezer to defrost, or start meal in slow cooker.

10:00 AM: Start one load of laundry.

10:15 AM: Daily cleaning chores and lunch prep.

11:30 AM: Eat. Lunch clean-up.

12:15 PM: Cakesie-nap routine (rock, read books)

12:30 PM: Cakesie-nap. Bible study and quiet time with God.

1:00 PM: Walk on treadmill 20 minutes. 10 minutes of weights. (I’m working on this. Honest).

1:30 PM: Shower and rest.

2:00 PM: Fold and put away clean laundry. Play time with Cakesie.

3:15 PM: Pick Bee up from school.

3:30 PM: Girls-snack time. Supper prep.

4:00 PM: Girls-free play time together. Work on daily cleaning chores and finish supper prep.

5:15 PM: Eat supper (we eat early because Cakesie goes to bed by 7:30 PM)

5:45 PM: Supper clean-up.

6:15 PM: Kid baths, pajamas & teeth brushing

7:00 PM: Cakesie-bedtime routine (rock, read books, prayers). Bee-daily chores (tidy bedroom and playroom, put away any toys in living room).

7:15 PM: Cakesie in bed. Bee-free play time.

8:15 PM: Bee-bedtime routine (choose next day’s clothes, read, prayers, snuggle and tuck in).

8:30 PM: Bee in bed. Straighten up.

9:00 PM: Time with my husband (snuggle on couch, watch TV or movie, talk).

10:30 PM: Bedtime routine (wash and moisturize face, brush teeth and hair, floss, change into PJs). Read.

11:00 PM: Lights out.

After you set up your schedule, give it a trial run for a few weeks. You may find that it’s just not working for you, and needs modification. Make notes to give you a realistic picture of how the day actually progressed, and adjust the schedule to suit your needs better. A schedule is a work in progress, always changing, but that’s how life is too.