As any mom who blogs, reads blogs, or spends any time on the computer, I have read my share of home organization and scheduling blogs. I have read posts outlining the multitude of benefits and drawbacks of a schedule versus a routine and even posted my own schedules and routines on occasion.
I have tried, trashed, and retried more cleaning schedules, meal plans, and daily than one can probably count. Right before life got crazy with the house fire, three years ago now, I started using a cleaning schedule just for myself. I had certain tasks assigned to certain days (like always mopping the kitchen floor on Tuesdays) and certain tasks that I did every day.
This was just enough for that season of my life.
Then came our big move to Utah, another baby, and a husband who was doing PhD work on a variable schedule. Back to the blogs I went.
Around this time I was introduced to the concept of the Managers of their Home style schedule. I had a spreadsheet for every day of the week with who was where at every moment of the day. This worked well during that season when our schedule was so varied from day to day.
Over time, however, this schedule became more of a burden than a blessing. When we got off schedule we were all a little lost! Our days had so much packed into them that was manageable when we were all on our game but the lack of flexibility for changing appointments, etc. was very difficult for us! Even when I could be flexible, we found that Caleb struggled with a schedule because the schedule took priority over everything else. If that paper said we were supposed to do something at a certain time and we didn't it was a recipe for a major melt down!
We ended up settling into a nice rhythm to our day. Certain things were morning jobs and certain things were afternoon jobs. We did things like school at about the same time every day, but if it was off by 15 minutes it wasn't written down, so it wasn't such a big problem. We did things in the same order each day, but not necessarily the same time.
Our days had that rhythm I had read so much about.
Yet, I still felt like something was missing. I didn't have that ease or peace about my day that these blog moms all touted. Was it imaginary? Was it just good persuasive writing? I still felt like I was working from behind most of the time and an "off" day felt like it took a week to recover from.
About six months ago, I took a new approach. I melded the rhythm and the schedule into a block style schedule. I gave each 2 hour block of my day a focus and then built in the completion of my daily, weekly, monthly cleaning and household jobs into the blocks.
So my daily "schedule" looks something like this:
5-7 is my time. My time for quiet reading and prayer, working out, or even sleeping in if the baby had a rough night. If I get up early I might shower and dress during this time, but if I get up later there is room for that later in the schedule as well.
7-9 is preparing time. Preparing everyone for a good start for the day. We eat breakfast as a family 7 days per week, almost without exception. Tim or I makes a heartier breakfast (we don't do cereal as it is too expensive for 7 people and has too much stuff in it we would just rather not eat regularly) and the kids come in as they wake up. Sometimes they help with breakfast, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they get dressed before, sometimes they don't. Tim and I usually take turns making breakfast and cleaning up so we help the little two and get ourselves ready whenever the other one is working. One thing we do without exception, before we sit down to eat, is pray our morning offering together. After breakfast is over we clean up the dining room table and the kids have their own list of morning chores (make bed, dirty clothes in basket, brush teeth, brush hair). Once everyone is dressed, Tim heads down to his office and starts his work for the day. I finish up any other daily chores and the kids play.
9-11 is school time. I think this one is pretty self explanatory, but with the exception of cleaning the school room when we are done and me taking quick trips to the laundry room to swap loads, this time is for school only.
11-1 is kitchen time. This section of the day is for making, serving, & cleaning up lunch and doing prep work in the kitchen. Things like putting dinner in the crock pot, baking, and other kitchen jobs. I also do any kitchen deep cleaning and empty the kitchen garbages during this time. The kids help with the first hour (they do like to eat...) and then they play outside for the second hour.
1-3 is flexible time. Two or three days per week we do our afternoon preschool time. I try to schedule doctor appointments and therapy during this time as well. When we are home, I use this time to finish my weekly and monthly chore lists. Things that need to be done regularly, but not necessarily daily. Sometimes if kids are grouchy we incorporate quiet time!
3-5 is catch up time. I finish any dinner prep, usually have odds and ends to do like put away the clean laundry, and do any organizing for evening activities. This is probably the most hectic period of our day but that a day without any craziness is probably an unrealistic goal!
5-7 is family time. We have activities the melt into this time some days each week, but dinner, clean up, stories, & bedtime fit into this period quite nicely even when we have overlap. The older two boys each have an after dinner chore to help this time run more smoothly. Kylee is honestly getting old enough at four that it is time for her to have her own job as well!
After the kids are in bed I am not quite as structured ;) Honestly, if the day has gone well I don't need to be. I like to spend a few minutes doing any daily chores that didn't quite get finished or take a few minutes to think about the next day's breakfast. Tim and I also like to spend some time hanging out together, chatting, etc. I like to be in bed no later than 10, but he often stays up later to work more. Evening is the one time of day that Lucie can be a little fussy, and I suspect it is because I am sitting down and it just isn't as much fun as hanging out in the sling! Either that, or she doesn't know what to do when it is finally quiet in the house... Sometimes I just take her to bed with a book for myself and read or watch a movie on my iPad until someone (usually me) falls asleep.
This schedule works great for me as a morning person. A night owl might prefer to have their "me time" late at night, or even to do most of the preparing work the evening before. Some families have kids who need a more structured rest times. Variations aside, I have really found blocking my schedule helps to provide more focus to individual times during the day. I also have found that within the blocks there is plenty of time to finish both the required daily work and the fun longer term projects.
If you stuck with me through all these wordy words, I hope that at least some of them might be helpful for you! I will write up another post in the next week on how I figure out daily, monthly, weekly chores. It is probably self explanatory, but I will share what I do just in case you need a place to start!