In Around the World in 80 Days, a classic by Jules Verne, Phineas Fogg has a very predictable routine. To be honest, when I read how he took his breakfast at exactly 8:05 and went to bed at exactly 10:17, I am a bit envious. My personality craves order and predictability, and the thought of doing the same things at the same time every day brings me peace.
Enter four children and a spontaneity-loving husband. Living by the clock, if it were possible for me, goes by the wayside in the happy unpredictability of a household of six. So, we compromise.
Some things in our day are set (more or less) by the clock. We get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time every day. (At least the kids do!) Mealtimes are usually within a half hour of the same time and nap times are exactly on the hour (give or take 5 minutes). Changing these around results in very cranky children, which doesn't help Mom's disposition much either.
For the rest of the day, however, we go by a flexible routine.There is a certain flow to the day, and if a part of it is left out, things can crumble into chaos pretty quickly.
Morning chores are essential to a peaceful day. After dressing, each child has a few chores to do that keep us on the right track. One child unloads the dishwasher that I ran the night before. Another child puts away the silverware. Another child empties the trash and takes the dirty laundry basket down to the laundry room. By this time, the child that unloaded the dishwasher is free to start the first washer load of the day. In the meantime, I prepare breakfast and dress the little ones. By the time we sit down to eat, the essentials of the day's chores are complete.
The hours between breakfast and lunch are a little more flexible since I have a toddler and a preschooler. We try to clean up the kitchen and sweep the main area of the house before Bible Time, which we do all together. This is also the time for music practice. After Bible Time, the little ones do different things each day while the older kids do their independent school work. At some point, I switch the day's laundry from the washer to the dryer. By the time the youngest goes down for a nap at 11:00, I am ready to do the teaching part of school, alternating working with each child as they need my help.
This year, during the second hour of the baby's nap, we are trying to incorporate Play Time. This is the only way to fit exercise into my day at this point, and I know the kids need active play during the winter when we are stuck indoors most of the time. We all alternate between the treadmill, the trampoline and Kinect games. I fit in folding the laundry load during this time since the laundry room is right next to the game room. If there is time, we end up with a board game or card game.
By this time, the baby is usually awake so we eat lunch and finish up and schoolwork that is left. When I put away the kids' schoolwork from that day, I pull the worksheets and supplies they will need for the next day's work so we are ready to go the next day.
Afternoons are usually spent in free play time and chores when we are at home. A few days a week, we run errands, go to doctor appointments, visit the library or go to gym class during this time. Every once in a while, I will go against the grain and do something spontaneous like a field trip. I try to always be home by 4:00 for the baby's second nap. I want to hold on to that as long as I can! That is when I do some computer work and supper preparation.
After supper and cleanup, I try not to schedule the kids' evenings very much. If we don't have a place to be, they spend time with Dad or free play. We do the bedtime bath/story/prayer routine so lights are out by 9:00 most nights.
This schedule, however imperfect it may be, gives me several hours in the morning before the kids wake up and several hours at night after the kids go to bed to pursue all of my personal essentials like devotions, writing, blogging, reading, planning and preparation. I try very hard not to do any of this at the expense of time with the kids, so the schedule frees them up to get the rest they need and me to pursue my own hobbies and interests. It also gives me time to spend with my husband who is away for much of the day. In that way, scheduling is very freeing to me and absolutely essential!
See how a homeschool mom with no babies and a preacher's wife expecting a baby schedule their days:
Jessica @ It's the Little Things
Joanna @ The LaVans