I have tried before. I really have. I bought Managers of Their Homes by Terri Maxwell, read it from cover to cover twice, made up a schedule in 15 minute increments, and we followed it. For about three weeks. Tried again six months later, and then the next year, and the next. I just could not do a schedule! Now those of you who know me well, know that I am extremely on the flexible, fly-by-the-seat of your pants personality so I do not like schedules. I do not understand schedules, and I certainly don’t live by them.
The problem is, I have several children now who love schedules, thrive on schedules, and struggle with anger or other bad attitudes when they don’t know what to expect when. So after several years of trying to schedule our day on my own, and failing, praying, and starting over — I asked my husband. First, he gave me a grid on paper and told me to write down everything I needed to get done.
Two weeks later; we fought about that because I didn’t even know where that paper was and I certainly had not filled it out! Finally, with a lengthy visit from Grandma looming as she was taking over our homeschool during my recovery from surgery, Daniel and I started working through what a daily schedule might look like and getting into the computer.
In our case, Dan is a schedule guy, in fact writing acquisition “cost” schedules and planning schedules is one of the strengths he brings to the Air Force. (something he is known for in one of the offices where he has spent most of his career in other words..) So, it made sense for me to get his assistance! Daniel took off for a week before the arrival of Grandma, and we spent the weekend planning our daily schedule, putting it into iCal (MAC or iPhone program) and tweaking.
Then we started on Monday with our first experiment. Every day, we tweaked more, added and *mostly* subtracted, re-arranged etc., and by Friday we had a fairly decent working schedule. We ran the schedule for two days with Grandma to show her how it worked, and then left for surgery on Wednesday. Of course, I ended up home on Saturday under vastly different circumstances then I expected — but God had given me a workable schedule that we are still basically using three months later!
Dan tells me that my error is always trying to fit too much into a day when I actually type up a schedule. His plan continues to be that we take out enough so that what we try to do actually gets done. We basically scheduled from waking up at 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day and included meals, housework, school work, and outside activities. Because our outside activities for the kids are at different times each day, every day’s schedule is different.
Two things remain constant: 1 hour of Protected Free Time, (no helping with the twins or running stair errands for Mommy) and 1 hour of Mandatory Diligent Housework. A lack of diligence results in a loss of free time the next day; though it has only come to that once and after that one time, one warning was sufficient. One other recent development is that gaming (in our case iPod touch or computer) is limited to one hour per day. We found that if gaming wasn’t limited, our older children were not reading books on their own even though they are both wonderful readers.
For our school day, here is what my oldest two do. Jonathan (age 9) and Clara (age 11) each have scheduled 30 minutes on Bible and Awana, 30 minutes on Math, 30 minutes on History, 15 or 30 minutes on Latin, 15 minutes on handwriting, 30 minutes on grammar, and 15 minutes on writing, Monday through Thursday. Fridays still contain Bible/Awana, and after that are reserved for Science, Music, Art, and Field Trips, or Fun Times With Friends. Since they consistently finish certain subjects early, I would say we are spending roughly 3 hours of school time each day and the rest is taken up with showers, meal time, meal clean-up, chores, free time, Tae Kwon Do, and Ballet.