Creating a Schedule
Is any day typical for this age? When all my children were little, my world revolved around them, as I’m sure yours does. Every day held its surprises and keeping a schedule was a real achievement. Basically, I squeezed in school whenever I had the time. I am the type of person that needs to have order in my home before I can really sit and focus. However, other moms may choose to do school first and worry about housekeeping later. It’s really a matter of personal preference. My schedule may look different than yours though most of us are balancing similar tasks--basic housekeeping, bathing and caring for children, meal preparation and clean-up, paperwork, children’s activities, and exercise. You may have more or less activities to balance than I have mentioned.
When you are planning for school, every minute counts. Organization is key. Over the years, I fine-tuned my own system. Here are a few things I learned.
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Firm Time Activities
Decide on activities that must happen at the same time each day. These are your Firm Time Activities. These activities may include wake-up time, meals, baby naptime, outside time (playground, walk), afternoon rest time, and bedtime. These activities must remain as routine as possible each day. On your schedule, mark all these as Firm Time Activities. Now you have the scaffolding for your schedule.
Now, let’s figure out all that you need to do between those firmly timed activities. List similar activities in blocks.
Daily Tasks that
Must be Completed
(but Timing is Flexible)
Blocks of time needed for: housekeeping (making beds and tidying rooms, bathrooms, laundry, meal prep, kitchen clean-up); school; reading/quiet time for everyone (paperwork time for Mom); Mom’s exercise and shower time.
Make your own list and put your tasks in groups. You will need to find time between the Firm Time Activities to get all this completed.
Completing the Schedule
The trick is keeping children happily and productively engaged (and not creating a huge mess) while you complete all your tasks; the next trick is finding activities to keep them engaged.
Activities to Keep
Here is a list of activities that happened at certain times during the day to keep my children engaged while I took care of my list of tasks.
Playtime: Choose just a few collections of toys to be played with each day. If they can only play with certain toys on certain days, they don’t become bored with them. Also, by limiting the number of toys available, you have less of a mess at the end of the day! Here’s an example:
Monday: Duplos and puppets
Tuesday: Trains and Action Figures
Wednesday: Blocks and puzzles
We loved our PBS shows: Arthur, Mr. Rogers, Clifford, and Curious George. Carefully sought out, you can find incredible educational series that will keep the children engaged. However, maintain a time limit. For us, it was about 1-1/2 hours per day, broken up. I tried to give up the shows completely, however, those days drove me crazy and left me exhausted and cranky. I needed the TV time to pull the house and meals together. So, choose your children’s shows wisely and use the time productively!
Books and puzzles are a wonderful habit! There’s nothing wrong with blanket or couch time. Everyone finds their quiet spot and no one leaves for one hour, except to use the bathroom. Mentally, it gives the children a healthy break from the constant sibling interaction and noise of the day.
Now that the
Children are Happy
NOW, while your children are engaged, you can get something done. Plan carefully, so when your quiet time starts, you are prepared to complete the necessary work. When you choose to homeschool, you have chosen to live a richly rewarding, but highly disciplined, lifestyle.
Some days will be a total loss, but most days will be happily productive. If things are not going smoothly, it’s time to re-inventory. Maybe you are trying to do too much; maybe some homeschooling needs to happen when Dad is home. Take a look and tweak the schedule. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
When it is time to put your schedule to the test, know that it will not go perfectly. However, a basic outline is great! I used to be so frustrated when people would stop by to visit because I would lose hold of the whole situation, but you can always pull it back together again if you have a plan. Your schedule will probably not look like mine, and once you know what time blocks you need and what your firm times are, you can make a schedule and adjust as you go.
Routine is Empowering
Routine is healthy! I found that my children were happiest (and possibly empowered) when they knew exactly what was happening and in what order. I would let them know the day before if the schedule was going to be different. The schedule created stability in our home. Everyone knew what was going to happen next and what was expected.
Sample Family Schedule
This is the basic schedule I followed with my little ones when I still had kids under the age of six. I had two sets of twins right in a row, so lots of little babies to take care of!