Friday, May 1, 2009

Guest Post: Schedules and Routines

Malia Russell is the blessed wife to Duncan, thankful mother to four children, ages 4-18 and an author, conference speaker and director of Visit her site for inspiration, encouragement and practical help in your roles as a godly wife, mother, homemaker or home educator.

Schedules and Routines

Many women have learned the benefits of having a schedule in their homes. Others have resisted the idea of having a schedule for a variety of reasons. Some like freedom and enjoy having large blocks of unstructured time. It may be because they have created schedules in the past, only to have them fail so rather than working to create a workable schedule, they disregard the idea all together. Others feel that with many small children, keeping a schedule is akin to herding cats. It is difficult, if not impossible.

What I would like to suggest to those women who are “schedule resistant” is the concept of routines.

Daily routines can be the shot in the arm you need to create a more orderly, joyful home. Here is how it works. Think about the things that must be completed daily in your family and make a little list that details what must be done and in what order. Start with a simple morning routine.

Beginning around age three, each child in our home is given a Morning Routine list. When learning his or her routine, I will be alongside, training the child to become familiar with the list and what each point on it means.

Once the list becomes a normal part of their day, their routine can be overseen by a sibling, or they can become entirely self-directing depending upon the maturity of the child. For a three year old, a simple morning routine looks like this:

-Rise and Shine (wake up in a good and sweet humor)

-Go potty (some kids need to be reminded of this!)

-Get Dressed (you can lay out clothes, or teach them how to choose them)

-Make Bed


-Eat Breakfast

-Straighten Room and Bathroom

Once all of these skills are mastered independently, I will introduce an evening routine that looks very similar. As the child matures, the routine list will grow longer, but in each case, make sure they work to independence on their list. For example, at age eight, my daughter’s list includes some additional items:

-Pet Care

-Laundry (switch laundry and put away a load of laundry)

If your children have no routines in place, morning and evening routines are good places to start. You can then start working to establish routines in other areas of household management. You can also have daily routines for meal times.

One of the evening routines we have in place is “after dinner clean-up.” Each person has certain tasks that they can do independently to make sure the kitchen is clean after dinner. Depending on the age and maturity of your children, it may make sense to rotate certain chores, such as dishes or mopping. Or, if you have children of several ages, it may be beneficial to keep the routine the same to best optimize their capabilities.

Other routines to think about: Meal Times, Bed times, Getting things ready for Church, Laundry. Basically, anything that is a regular part of your life can be simplified and made into a routine. Once your children are accustomed to their routines, they will amaze you with their abilities to be a benefit and contributor in your home.

If you would like to see some of our routine lists, you can find them on our website: Look for our routines called: Rise and Shine and After Dinner Routine.

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