I’ve known that I need a daily schedule since long before I became a stay-at-home mom. When I was teaching full time, I would create a daily schedule during summer break (including silly things like when we would walk the dog and when we would eat lunch.) I don’t function well without some kind of schedule. I don’t think that’s born from teaching, even though that is a very scheduled day.I think its from my need to see things written down and my attention/focus problems. I need to know where I’m headed in the day to avoid falling into distraction/laziness.
So I knew I needed a schedule, but I didn’t know how to go about creating one. I watched some of my favorite YouTubers and read some of my favorite blogs – they all had a schedule, and I could see their schedule, and it was kind of helpful to see an example, but nobody really talked about how they came to that schedule. They would say things like, “This is what works for my family,” but where sis “this” come from?
(For a video about the actual schedule itself, visit my YouTube channel – click here!)
Let me save you the confusion.
First, start with your personal rhythms. Observe yourself and/or your children for a week or so and see what your natural timetable seems to be. When does everybody seem to wake up? Get hungry? Need a nap? That’s what you’re going to build your schedule around – the most predictable things in your day. (Meaning they need to be. Children and adults benefit from routine sleep and food!)
Write these down. Then notice the spaces in between. Fill those with housework or “me time” or play time or work-from-home time. Consider how you function best – do you need to power through work in the morning? Need some alone time in the evening? Often need to make phone calls during business hours? Piece things in as works best for you. If you have small kids, remember to put in some one-on-one time whenever possible.
Consider getting up earlier. I feel there are two kinds of morning moms – those who are woken up by their children, and those who intentionally wake up beforehand. Waking up before your kids enables you to get ready for the day (read: actually shower) without having to set your kids in front of the TV.
Consider eating as a family. I see lots of schedules out here in the blogosphere that have two dinnertimes – an earlier one for kids and then an after-bedtime dinner for the parents. That takes up twice as much time in your evening, and you don’t get the benefits of bonding over dinner and modeling good eating habits for your kids.
Consider getting each child up separately and putting them to nap/bed separately.
The last five minutes before a child sleeps and the first five when they awake set the tone for their sleep and their day. Trying to go down for a nap or bedtime amidst chaos, with mom juggling other kids, is not very restful and possible feelings of jealousy or perceived lack of attention could lead to interrupted sleep, refusal to sleep, etc. Same goes for waking – who wants to wake up in the middle of a mess? Help children wake up calm and ready to face the day with an organized mind by taking a few peaceful moments with each one.
(How on earth do you do that? Well, younger children sleep more, for starters. Older children can be gotten up, put to nap, or put to bed while younger ones are still/already sleeping. Stagger bedtime a bit. I advocate whole-family reading time, but toothbrushing can be staggered to allow a few minutes with the finished-brushing child alone, or put on pajamas last and stagger that.)
It is certainly easiest to accomplish these things if both parents can be home in the evenings. In the case of shift work, or single parents, choose which items are possibke for you in this stage of life. The absolute key is a predictable structure, whatever that has to look like for you right now.