Not all mothers have been blessed with being full time homemakers from the beginning. Many of us sort of fell into all of this and are doing well to stay afloat, knowing all the while there must be a better way.
One “better way” I am convinced of is the keeping of a schedule or daily routine. Now those of you who have followed Raising Arrows for a while know our family is anything but “scheduled.” But, as a mother of many, it has become imperative I have some sort of “guideline” to the day or else chaos ensues. I wrote an entire series on creating a daily routine based upon whether your family is more inclined to be scheduled or routine in nature, but rather than revisit that series, I wanted to offer you a way to pull together a schedule from scratch as quickly as possible. What we will create is a sense of structure and guidelines that you can easily work within. Nothing rigid, nothing set in stone.
Ready, Set, Go!
1. Grab a notepad and a pen. These are the tools you will need to bring your day from haphazard to happy. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Just plain old paper and a pen that doesn’t require a lot of coaxing to write fluidly.
2. Spend the day doing “normal” things, writing down EVERY SINGLE THING you do. If you are naturally a scheduler, then write down what time it is as you write down what you are doing, but don’t feel obligated to do this. This exercise is more about the rhythm of your day than the exact hours you keep. Remember, this is NOT the routine you WISH you had, you are simply writing down the routine you CURRENTLY and NATURALLY tend toward.
3. At the end of the day, compile your list into an easy to read format. Use the computer if you like or just write it down on a piece of paper. Voila! You have a schedule!
4. Follow your schedule the next day and tweak as needed. Perhaps you realize you MUST get up a little earlier in order to be on top of your game. Maybe you see that if you just waited another half hour to start school the baby would be going down for a nap and you would have your hands free. Look for the time of day when the children seem to fall apart…or when you seem to fall apart. Schedule a Rest Time in there. Look for ways to improve what you are already naturally doing. You will be much more likely to stick with it!
5. Refrain from EVER thinking this schedule is set in stone. Life circumstances change regularly. A new baby, a move, unexpected company, or a death in the family will break your life into pieces if you think the only way you can function is within the confines of a schedule that never, ever changes. Yes, a schedule gives your day order and boundaries, but it is a tool and must be kept flexible and able to adapt.
When we first moved here, I put together a loose schedule that reflected the fact that we were covered in moving boxes and life was dictated by which room needed to be unpacked next. As we settled in and started back into school (because we school year round), I put together a much more extensive schedule and posted it on the refrigerator. However, it was TOO extensive. I had too many things crammed into the day and not enough wiggle room.
I went back through my schedule and weeded out anything that was too structured. What I ended up with was a schedule that works wonderfully for us RIGHT NOW. When I get sidetracked, I can simply look at the schedule, find the current time and plug our day back in.
To give you some idea of how our day runs, I’ve included a pdf of our daily schedule. I made this daily schedule in Microsoft Word using a table (Insert > Table). A good starting size for our family was a 2 page spread of 8 columns x 8 rows each. This accommodated 1 mommy and 6 children quite nicely. (It doesn’t make sense for us to include Daddy in our schedule since his schedule is different every day and the hours where we really need structure are during his work day.) I taped the two pages together and stuck it to the side of the refrigerator where it is easily viewable.
You’re welcome to take a look at it to get some inspiration, but remember…start where YOU are, not where I am!