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.


  35 Responses to “A Daily Schedule for Stay-at-Home Moms”

  1. You have convinced me that I need to make a schedule – I seem to be constantly running around & never getting everything done!! Thanks for your blog – it is definitely one of my favourites!

  2. Thanks Renata. Your blog is one of my favorites too!

    Good luck with your schedule. Let me know how it goes.

  3. So I absolutely love your schedule. I have one very similar to it. My question is a little different. I have a 15 month old daughter. What does your 18 month old do all day when she’s awake? Other than when she’s eating or taking her 2 hour nap, I find myself wondering what she should do. She’s pretty lively and doesn’t sit still to read a book for very long. So I guess my question is just, what should HER schedule look like and how does that fit into my schedule? I can’t be outside with her if I’m inside doing chores, etc.

  4. Hi Renee,

    I’ll try to address your questions in tomorrow’s post, in case other readers are wondering the same thing!


  5. This sounds like such a fairy tale day! I am in process of staying home. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I use to not do a schedule, but after a few weeks of staying home after working in an office I decided it was a must.  Makes my life much easier.  

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post.  I have been home for 1 month and already feel annoyed that I don’t have a routine.  It was like you read my thoughts and posted a blog about it!  Love spending time with the kids, but then look around and go ‘okay, what’s next?’

    This is my first time on your blog and I wanted to let you know that your thoughts have helped a mother of two. 🙂

  8. Thank you for writing this blog. I have a 2yr old and 7month old twins, so i am now a stay at home mom. Going thru so many stages of growth with the twins it’s been tough to get things done. Making a schedule is the only way to maintain some balance in my household. The one thing i didn’t do was schedule some time for self.

    It’s been three days now since i scheduled some time for self and it has made a differencein my marriage. As a mother we can get so caught up in doing for everyone, but i gurantee you all is when you take care of you, you will see such a difference.

  9. Hi,

    I am very undecided. I am debating between giving up my good paying job and being a stay at home home mommy. I am afraid it would be difficult for me to get back into the workforce once i decided to go back.


  10. Thank you for your advice, it is greatly appreciated!! 🙂 I was wondering if you recently posted an updated “daily list” now that Bee is in school and you have 2 additional kiddies? I am a Mom to two amazing little boys and a third surprise sex baby in 4 months!!! 🙂 My eldest is 5.5, soon to be Middle guy is 22 months & well surprise baby is in utero lol I value all of your insight & know for me I struggled keeping a toddler occupied while assisting my Kindergartener w homework. It finally, Sept-February, fell into place but I worry once #3 comes. I just found your blog this a.m. 4:02 exactly lol I look forward to applying your knowledge & organizational skills to my family & home. ~Melissa from LI, NY

  11. Thank you for posting this.  I have brain damage from a car accident some years back, and remembering the details of what I am supposed to do every day is harder than people realize.  Remembering to schedule taking care of my hair and teeth can trip me up.  There are so many scheduling support websites out there, but the thing I particularly like about yours, is that you are specific about what you are doing, and don’t just write things like, “housework” or “self-care.”  

  12. I needed to read something like this to give me an idea on how to do it, Thank you

  13. What about a schedule for the summer when all the kids are home with you!

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  15. I’m curious what time your husband gets home every evening. Is he able to eat with you at 5:15?

  16. Great schedule! I’m going to do just that! I have 2 year old Twins and a 16 year old and a VERY needy Husband… I needed that, you showed which direction to go:)

  17. Great Article…I am so inorganized and with a three year old..that is not

    Check out my blog…Still in the making but fairly up:)

    Happy blogging

  18. Great article
    I am so unorganized in my life and I am having a 10 month old daughter…..
    I needed an idea on how to organize my life with a ,little angel in my life

  19. Hi
    Thank you for your post.
    I am disorganized person with 2 kids (3 years old and 6 months).
    And I am stay at home mum and my job is my home&family;)
    But they are some kind if challange for me. My husband is disappointed with me((
    And I am frustrated as well………

  20. hi ladies. Thank you for posting this, i guess if think about it the Proverbs 31 woman had to have a schedule to fit in all her activities,honestly I’m not feeling the schedule thing yet, havent even tried.its been a week of staying at home though, so gleaning any wisdom I can. Would like to know if any of yall have at home day cares? What do you all do for money?

  21. Heather, would you mind giving us a look at your daily schedule for stay at home moms updated to now. You have children in school and activities and at home, like I do. I am struggling to find a balance in my day and I was thinking about how much your old schedule helped me in the past. Thank you.

  22. I like to stay on schedule but at times it is missed, although i maintain a discipline of my schedule. My only question is how much one on one time is usually required by toddlers mine is 2 years old, she needs my attention 24/7 it just makes me irritated, i feel guilty if i refuse to play with her or not spend time with her talking etc etc…..its just very annoying that i have no me time for me ever…i want to send her to day care, but i knw this wont happen…plzgive me comments eveyone

  23. This is GREAT! I’m a working mom with a stay at home dad. That’s just the way life went for our family. But what has been frustrating is the lack of routine and things that I think should be done vs. whats actually getting done. This actually puts things in perspective and I think all we need is to come up with an agreement and a schedule together.

  24. Heather, am so inspired—GBU — You make this so easier–than for all moms– thxs for this–

  25. Thanks for this. I am a stay at home mother of 15 years (previously accountant). My children are now 13 and 15. I have no plans to go back to paid work. My husband works a 12 hour day in the financial markets. I enjoy making our home a great place to live for all of us. I’ve done lots of home renovation but now I might try doing a schedule so I can stay focused and have some discipline in my life as I have no projects on. I plan to put up some photos and pictures around the house in the coming weeks.

  26. Thank you so very much for giving me a draft on how the day should look like. I decided to stay home for about 2 months now and I feel that everything is everywhere. No set schedule for anything. Kinda tough also to keep anything in schedule with my 7 months old son. I will for sure give this a try-thanks a bunch!

  27. Great idea you I am going to start a schedule!! I do have one question… When do you do all your errands, shopping, phone calls, emails etc? Would love to see a weekly schedule outline in a future blog. I just signed up!!

  28. I have a 19 yr old and don’t remember a thing! Now with a 3 month old and working part time from home this is what I need to ensure our bundle of joy is loved and cared for as well as ensuring I can cover my hours to bring on some income! It is amazing at well almost 43, an unorganized scatter brain can change her habits! Thank you for the great post!!!

  29. Someone tell me how to take care of yourself and have an idyllic , productive day with three kids, two and under and none of them are twins. Also, how to keep a 3000 sq ft house, yard work, and place nice too. My husband works sometimes over 80 hrs in one week on a regular basis, and then picks up on several of his days off. Also, I work one day per week, but it also helps me get out…I have little support as my mom has health problems and is 70 yrs old and my MIL has back problems. I’m 31 and I don’t think I’ve slept in three yrs. trust me, my husbands work schedule is the biggest bone, my husband and I have to pick . Now I’m starting to hire a girl to help me …I try to keep a basic schedule….it is very hard to on some days! Nice post! This is the hardest thing I have ever done! I’m nurse, and I find that easier than taking care of my kids, house, husband ect….

  30. So in your home management notebook, do you put blank sheets in page protectors then write on those with dry erase? A dumb question I know but I had to ask. Thanks! Love your blog!

  31. […] (If you need help making a schedule for yourself, please see A Daily Schedule for Stay-at-Home Moms.) […]

  32. […] how easily I’m distracted. I’m a person who needs structure. I have a (very flexible) time schedule for my day, and I try to follow it, but life with young children is often unpredictable, and sometimes my […]

  33. […] A Daily Schedule. This is the most popular post on this blog, and the one that draws the most first-time readers (but you know, I like to think they stick around just because they like me :). This is a good first step toward taking control of your life. You might want to put your kids on a schedule too, if you haven’t already. Personally, I’m a big believer in early bedtimes so that you can have time for yourself, or to spend with your husband. […]

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