A good schedule saves my life – literally. Okay, not literally, but some days it feels like it. With three kids, a husband that travels 90% of the time and a full-time writing career, schedules are a must for me. When I was a new mom, seven years ago, my own mom gave me some great advice: get that kid on a schedule and you’ll both be happier.
Truer words, Mom! Now more than ever, I need that schedule and so do my kids. Why? Because it tells every one in the house what is expected and when. For example, after breakfast kids play and mom writes. Or after dinner, we read books and hang out as a family. Are we perfect at following it every day? HAHAHA – heck no! But it does help remove a fraction of whining, problems and chaos. And saves my tattered sanity.
Here are a few things to keep in mind/do to make it work.
1 – Consider Your Kids Ages/Abilities
My kids are still very young, ages 7, 5 and 3. Schedules really help little kids, even babies, but they also help teens and parents. We eat at this time, we play at this time, we watch TV at this time, we do homework now, etc. But too much rigor in a schedule will only result in rebellion. For example, our summer schedule was very loose. I posted this on our fridge…
The only thing that was solid was when the TV was off. At the start of summer I failed to do this and the TV was on constantly. So in came mighty Post-It note and I was very surprised by how my kids reacted. They actually followed it, accepted it and played much better after it was declared (most days anyway). Our school year schedule will be a little more precise due to dance, piano and sports classes. But all that will be posted. Which is tip #2.
2 – Write it Down, Hang It Up
Whether it’s a single Post-It or a big wall calendar, post your schedule for all to see, including you. It’s a reminder and keeps everyone accountable. Because only one of my kids is currently reading, when I post the schedule on the fridge, I bring everyone over and read it to them, pointing to the times. They know it! And some days my kids are the ones who keep us on track.
However you chose to post the schedule/calendar, make it something that works and it easy to change, use. Cute is not always functional (despite what Pinterest wants us to think). I just ordered this (pic below) and I’ll hang the calendars on our fridge – a place we all look at multiple times a day. Then I’ll print out a general schedule of daily activities, such as wake-up time, go to school time, TV time, play time, dinner time, practice piano time, etc., to go next to the monthly calendar.
3 – Be Flexible!
I like order. If you mess with my schedule I think of horrible ways to kill you in fiction. But kids and perfect order do not go together. I have to constantly remind myself to be flexible when it’s necessary. Not every day goes smoothly and not every day can be productive. So I stick to the schedule as much as humanly possible and on those off days, I go with the flow. That combination is sanity. I work every day to find that balance.
What are your scheduling tips? How do you reign in the chaos and stay sane?