How could my family benefit from a schedule or routine?
When you have a schedule, everyone knows what is going to happen and when. This creates a feeling of security (or dread in the case of laundry day). This is particularly important when you have many children or young children. Toddlers, for example, thrive on routines. This is also the best way to make sure that everything that needs to get done, does. The more hats you wear, the more children you have, the younger they are, all increase the need for some kind of organization in your day.
Don’t freak out! It sounds scary thinking about organizing your day. Especially if you are like me and have tried over and over again and failed every time to make and stick with a new schedule. Well, I have learned a few things that I think will help other normal non-scheduly types to create and implement a schedule.
Before we begin, this information is what has worked best in my family. Your family is different. Take the parts you can use, twist a few of the others to your liking, and throw the rest away. Then come back and read it again because you know once you find a good schedule, your children are going to grow or something else will change and you will have to go through the process all over again. But don’t despair. I have remade my schedule many times and each time it gets easier.
What’s the difference?
A schedule is very regimented and time oriented. For example:
Breakfast is at 8:00
Lunch is at 12:00
A schedule is like the trunk of a tree. It is strong and inflexible. But it is also vital to the life and growth of the tree.
A routine however, is more like how the day flows. The order of events not linked to any particular time. Example: Morning routine: make bed, take shower, eat breakfast, brush teeth. Although you might have an idea of when you want these things to start, it doesn’t really matter much when they start.
A routine is like the branches. They flow and move with the winds. Just like the branches, your routine needs to be flexible but connected still to the trunk; rooted in the schedule. These also are vital to life.
The way that I run my house is with a mix of the two.
Where do I start?
When I first started making schedules for my family I made the mistake (for my family at least) of scheduling everything. (If this is what you are looking for than I suggest looking into Managers of Their Homes. It gives very detailed instructions on how to create a schedule and I learned a lot from it.) I have since learned to balance using schedules and routines.
I have broken up this process into several steps. At the bottom of this post there is a “print friendly” button you can use to print this page to use as a reference. Or you are welcome to bookmark this page and come back to it as many times as you want.:smile: Feel free at ask me questions, I really do love scheduling and would love to help anyone who is struggling or to clarify what I have written. And, if you have anything to add, please add it to the comments.
Schedule meal and meal prep times.
If you have zero schedules or routines in your house, start with scheduling meal times and meal prep times. I hate cooking and my children are young enough that they cannot help much in the kitchen. So for me, breakfast, lunch, and snack are really easy things that they can cook or make themselves or things that don’t take much prep work for me. So I don’t have prep time scheduled for those meals. I have it scheduled to start dinner prep 1 hour before I want dinner to start. All of my dinner meals take 1 hour or less to cook. This means that I only cook using the crock-pot on weekends when I have more time. For simplicity sake, this is how I do it. However, you are the author of your schedule. If you want to make long involved meals, do it. But that will mean paying attention to what time you have to start cooking that day.
I try to keep to the meal schedule or close to it all week. This means saying no to outings that will interrupt our schedule or bringing meals along. It sometimes means setting a timer so I don’t forget to start dinner. Also, if one person is not going to be there for the meal I don’t change the times. My husband’s schedule changes daily and it would be too difficult to keep up with it.
Schedule bed times and wake times.
Even if all you have is a baby, schedule when bed time is for you and your children. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep. I am nursing at night so I schedule 9 hours of sleep for me. It depends on your children how much sleep they need. My children are 7 and under. They all are scheduled to sleep 12 hours (including the baby). I don’t know if it’s normal for children to sleep that much, but they all do (except the baby, who nurses a couple of times in the night).
At this point your schedule might look something like this:
|5:00||Dinner Prep||Interrupt Mom|
|7:30||Help with bedtime||Bedtime routine|
|8:00||Put kids to bed||Bedtime|
If you have never done any scheduling before, you might want to go a week or two with your new scheduled times before going to the next step.
I didn’t realize how much room explaining the scheduling was going to take up. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, so I am going to end this post here and pick up where we left off for the next post.