Schedules are a wonderful thing!

About a year ago, before little A was placed with us, we were concerned about how I would cope with 3 kids. I knew it was possible, the question was how sane I would remain. So, I talked to a friend, a homeschooling mom of 5 kids, who had scheduled her days. I wasn't genuinely interested, as I had never used a schedule in my life. Between having a naturally lazy human nature, and ingrained weaknesses of procrastination, "flexibility," and a general lack of self-discipline or know-how, I was very nervous about even trying. Nonetheless, she gave me a few tips, S encouraged me, and I put together my first daily schedule. I had some success with it, but between the addition of 2 new babies, a cross-country move, deciding to homeschool, and general life circumstances, I gradually drifted away from it. Much to my (and my family's) dismay.

I decided it was not only time to get back on a schedule, but to develop a really good one. I decided to use a tested format and scheduling system called "Managers of Their Home." As I read this book, I realized a couple of things.
  • First, starting this schedule did not mean changing everything as we knew it, but improving on what we already did during our day. My original schedule was a very good starting point, as some of it had become habitual, and the older kids were already familiar with it.
  • Secondly, a couple of Bible verses got my attention. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, "God is not a God of disorder, but of peace." Along those same lines, 1 Corinthians 14:40 states, "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." I realized through these verses, that order is a Biblical thing, and is, in fact, expected of us as Christians. Order brings peace in our lives.
  • Thirdly, I realized how beneficial it is for a child to have scheduled order in their lives. A routine is predictable, and children thrive on predictability. Such predictability eliminates many potential discplinary issues with children. If they know what to expect, they are better able to mentally prepare for it. This fact was emphasized to me recently when I had to very suddenly leave my children for almost 2 full weeks, and many loving people, who were otherwise unaquainted with our routines, stepped in to care for them. It was so wonderful to know how well my children not only coped, but also helped direct their caretakers in their daily lives. They knew where to find needed items, JR was able to help them discover the "rules" of the house, and M was able to help ensure things were done "normally." In addition, a predictable schedule can truly help a child in many ways as he matures.
  • Fourthly, having my habitually valued "me-time" is not a Biblical principle, but a secular one. In fact, scripture reminds us time and again, "They get into the habit of being idle....And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 1 Timothy 5:13

That all being said, I also learned that this type of schedule does NOT mean rigid, structured, and inflexible. Rather, it should be a guide, or tool, to help you, as a mother, accomplish everything you need to do in the time you have allowed. If set up correctly, the schedule allows plenty of flexibility. In addition, unexpected interruptions are to be expected. James 1:2-4 provides comfort in this fact; "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." This helped me stop stressing over issues I had dealt with in my 1st attempt. If I managed to get the whole house cleaned, and turned to find the kids had messed something, I used to get irritated. If I was in the middle of baking and had to stop to change a diaper, I could get frustrated. I have since realized this is to be expected. Relationships with your children, and with others, are much more important than a "spotless" house. I once heard a statement to the effect of, "When your child is off in college and decides to invite a friend home for Thanksgiving dinner, do you want him to say, 'oh, my mom does such a great job of keeping a clean house and you will even find all the table linens perfectly folded!'? Or would you prefer he say, 'I can't wait for you to meet my family! They are the most loving, accepting people I know!'?" If you think about it, this has a good message. Furthermore, "order" does not have to mean a spotless house. It means an orderly house. There is a big difference.

So, we are well into our first week with the new schedule. As you can see, each person (except S) has a schedule that corresponds with everyone else's, and it is color-coded for quick reference.

The day is basically divided into 30 minute increments (or a combination of several 30-minute increments). This allows plenty of time slots for needed accomplishments, while also allowing a few minutes of "flex" when you finish something early or have an interruption. To allow a little more flex, I have scheduled items in the late morning hours that I can sacrifice, which allows us to do big things on some mornings. For example, Wednesday is a baking day, and Thursday is a field-trip fun day. When we return, we pick up at the current time, and I don't feel like the whole day is lost. I scheduled things for myself during their nap that gave some flexibility based on my desires that day, and scheduled some things for the kids immediately after nap that I won't mind being missed if the kids need a little extra sleep. Some moms prefer to wake the kids at a designated time, but I prefer they get the sleep they need. They may need more on a field trip day than a day at home.

This type of schedule is "busy" in one sense, but I can honestly say it is very rewarding. Unlike days where I feel like I have been"busy" but have nothing to show, I have lots to show with a schedule. If I miss something, I just pick it up the next day. It is, at times, exhausting, but I have been sleeping much better (waking at night to feed the baby helps in that area too!). The kids' bickering has been significantly reduced because they are kept busy. I wake up feeling like I have a "plan" and direction for the day, and feeling in control. It does take self-discipline, which I continue to struggle with, but teaching my children to be self-disciplined, orderly, and obedient is much preferred to many other popular, more secular upbringings today.

Paul counsels the young widows in 1 Timothy 5:14, "...to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." (emphasis mine) Having an orderly home involves dedication, commitment, hard-work, and perseverance, but is Biblical and rewarding on so many levels.

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