Establishing a Schedule

No matter what your previous work experience, when you take on the role of full-time homemaker, you are suddenly CEO of the company.  Each day stretches like a blank slate before you, and how you choose to fill it is entirely up to you.  There are no meetings, no job descriptions, and no quarterly evaluations.  If you do a smashing job, no one’s going to promote you, and if you’re woefully irresponsible no one’s going to fire you.  The uninhibited freedom can feel overwhelming at first.  I think it’s why we young moms will often look at fellow young moms and casually ask, “So…what do you do during the day?”

When I first found myself at home all day, my answer to that question went something like this: “I wake up, change the baby’s diaper, go to the neighbor’s house to ward off boredom for pretty much the entire day, then come home and make dinner.”  Not exactly a great use of time.  Herein laid the problem: my use of time reflected warped priorities.  Over the years I began to learn how to order my day, and the result was far greater fulfillment, daily accomplishments, and joy in the home.  I’m not suggesting that my system will work for everybody, but I offer it here as a starting point.  It’s the sort of step-by-step tutorial I wish I could’ve read when I first took the plunge into full-time homemaking.  So…if you’re a SAHM thinking about establishing a schedule, here’s what I did:

  1. List your priorities in order of importance.  (Ex: Grow in Godliness, Love My Family…etc.)  I referred to the book Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney to help me come up with my list.
  2. Next, create a simple chart with days of the week across the top, and time in thirty-minute increments along the left-hand column.  Begin with the time of day you generally wake up and end with the time of day that you generally go to bed.
  3. Block off one entire day as a Sabbath.  Personally, I chose to do this because I like to have one completely unstructured day a week, with no expectations, no chores, and no requirements except enjoying God and my family.  For me, this day is Monday since it’s my husband’s day-off.
  4. Next, fill in the established commitments you have each week.  These are the things you routinely participate in that do not change from week to week.  Side Note: I think that how much you’re part of has a lot to do with personal preference.  If you’re happily commited to one activity a week, good for you!  If you feel bored and aimless, then perhaps it’d be helpful to build some routine events into your week.  Think through the age of your kids, their interests, your budget, and your needs (what am I lacking–fellowship, spiritual growth, time alone?…etc.) 
  5. Okay, your commitments are scheduled in.  Next, pencil in meal times, nap times, and your kids’ bedtime routine.  A typical morning for me begins around 7am and includes dressing the kids, fixing breakfast, and a quick dishes/tidy-up time.  Sometime between 11:30 and 12 (depending on the day) I fix lunch, tidy-up again, and put the kids down for a nap from 1-3pm.  Around 5:30 I start dinner, we eat at 6, bathtime begins at 6:30, and the kids are in bed by 7pm.  Factor all that in, and my week is beginning to take shape.  Everyday I have a “morning” chunk of time between breakfast and naptime, and an “afternoon” chunk of time after nap before we start dinner.
  6. Take stock of what time is left.  In my case, there are 4 established things I’m part of each week–church, BSF, Book Club, and MMO (read more about these things here).  These 4 things take up 4 of my “morning” chunks of time.  So I am left with 2 “morning” and 6 “afternoon” time slots per week.
  7. It’s time to factor in chores.  Because grocery shopping for me falls somewhere between climbing Everest and being attacked by sharks, I like to do it only once a week.  So that takes up one more “morning” time slot.  Personally, I like having a chores’ schedule because as soon as my “chores for the day” are done, I don’t worry about doing any other chores until the next day.  So, if you’re like me, at this point in the schedule-making process, you may want to allot certain chores to certain days.
  8. Finally, I chose 2 blocks of time to schedule intentional play time with my kids.  Obviously, I play with them more than this, but in case the week gets crazy and I’m tempted to become consumed with chores, having that time set aside helps me ensure that they’re getting uninterrupted quality time with me each week.  This is about as structured as I like to be, so instead of setting requirements for my remaining blocks of time I simply labeled them “free time,” and then created a list of possible free time activities.  Here is a fictitious example of what the final product might look like: Weekly Schedule
  9. Okay, here is the kicker–it’s time to evaluate.  Go back to your list of priorities and beside each priority, write down aspects of your schedule that fulfill that priority.  For example, here’s what my list looks like:
    1. Grow in Godliness—Church, BSF, Time with God while girls nap
    2. Love my Family—Sabbath / Family Day, Mommy & Girls Play Time, Chores
    3. Serve in the Church—Book Club, Sunday Morning Nursery Duty
    4. Fellowship with Christians—BSF, Book Club, Church, Small Groups
    5. Evangelize non-Christians—(I don’t “schedule” this into my day, but being out in the community during some of our “free” time slots helps keep me missionally minded.)
    6. Manage and maintain our home—Chores
    7.Health / Leisure Time—Exercise during nap time, MMO, free time after 7pm
  10. Finally, if you’ve discovered that one of your priorities is being neglected in your schedule, go back and factor it in.  Remember, you establish the schedule!

Whew!  We made it through!  Once more, let me reiterate that you don’t have to do things my way.  I’m only sharing my way of doing things since this is my blog and I get to write about whatever I want 🙂  I can testify, though, that as I’ve sought to use my time intentionally and truly “own” my days, my joy and gratitude in being home has grown exponentially.

3 thoughts on “Establishing a Schedule

  1. Just what i needed to read. Ive temporarily returned to work to keep my maternity pay but will be finishing in 4 weeks. I love being at home however its by no means the easy option. I shall be using your tips to create a schedule that works for us.Thank you for sharing this.

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