*Updated 9/18/14 to allow for Good News Club, and the newly created cross country carpool.*
Several readers have requested recently that I post an updated version of my schedule, now that I have a middle-schooler, a second-grader, and a preschooler. I also attempt to earn some money from home, through a combination of eBay sales, writing, and helping my husband with his work. A schedule helps me get everything done, and still have time to enjoy life!
I have been following a daily schedule since I first began staying home with Bee in 2003. I really like having structure in my day because stay-at-home motherhood offers no real routine or clearly defined expectations. The work doesn’t have a definitive beginning or end, and you don’t have a boss telling you what to do and when. When there is no schedule or plan, it’s very easy to become unmotivated and undisciplined. I like schedules because I find that 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. However, I would like to offer a disclaimer – I don’t follow my schedule to the minute, and neither should you. If you attempt to do this, you will drive yourself crazy with frustration, and instead of being a helpful tool, your schedule will become a taskmaster that you resent. 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, and even weeks when your schedule will go entirely out the window, and that’s OK. Just do the best you can, and remember that time management requires flexibility, too.
When I sit down to create a schedule, I always begin with things that have specific start times, like wake-up time, naps, meals, school, activities and bedtimes. Next, I move on to things that don’t have specific start times, but that must be done. When finding blocks of time to fit them in, consider your personality, energy levels, and 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 personally schedule tasks requiring a lot of energy for after my quiet rest period, because I’m not a morning person, and I tend to have the most energy and motivation in the afternoon.
If you have only very young children at home a detailed schedule like mine may not work well for you. Instead, I would encourage you to simply have a rhythm or pattern for your days. For example, get up, get dressed, have breakfast, clean up, do housework, run errands, eat lunch, nap, play time, eat dinner, bath time, story, bed. If you get interrupted just deal with it and pick up where you left off. Don’t worry about following a clock, but do try to keep meal and sleep times as consistent as possible, as most children are creatures of habit who thrive on routine.
You’ll notice that while my spreadsheet is broken into 15-minute increments, I typically just assign blocks of time in which I must get certain work done. For example, rather than scheduling 15 minutes to wipe down cabinets, and 15 minutes to clean out the fridge, I simply schedule a block of 90 minutes to get all of my kitchen work done, in no particular order. When my rest time is over I get to work, and I try to get everything done before Cakes comes up the hill from the bus stop. I also color-code my schedule as a way of “grouping” similar activities so I can see them all at a glance.
Please remember that my schedule is the result of 13 years of marriage, and 11 years of stay-at-home motherhood. It is simply what works for me and my family, and it likely will not work for you (at least not without plenty of adjustments!) I offer it simply as a helpful guideline to jump-start the making of your own schedule, if you’re so inclined.