One of the things that appealed to me about homeschooling was that I wouldn’t have to have a schedule. I relished the idea of getting up when I felt like it. I also tried doing laundry and dishes and teaching when I felt like it when I started homeschooling. The problem was I didn’t feel like it very often! Something needed to change or I felt I would have to send my kids to school.
What changed is that I came across some emails by a woman named Marla Cilley — aka FLYLady. She gave me an alternative to a rigid schedule in her morning and evening routines. It seems so obvious that life runs more smoothly when you have an organized pattern of activities, but it wasn’t to me. The impact of loading and running the dishwasher each evening was huge. So was scheduling errands and doctor’s appointments on the same day of the week. There were many other benefits.
But when it came to school work, I was very much influenced by Managers of Their Homes. I wished I could be as super organized as Teri Maxwell so I initially created a packed schedule to manage my growing family. Then I was very frustrated that I never EVER followed it to a tee. I returned to a routine for schoolwork, but then managed to take the routine to an extreme, too. Today I use a fluid combination of a schedule and a routine, helped along by my children keeping me accountable. In other words, “Mom, are we going to start school?”
Your Challenge for This Week
#1 You and Older Children Track Your Routine or Schedule
The biggest mistake I have made where routines and schedules are concerned is trying to make too many changes at once. Rather than trying to plan the ideal routine, see what you’re doing right now. I really dislike time tracking in general, but an overview of what you’re actually doing is a very good idea. Older kids can definitely participate in this as time management is an increasingly important skill in our culture. Best not to let them record what you and others are “actually” doing in their opinions. 😉 You can track on paper listing the hours of the day on the left and your basic activities on the right. If you have subscribed to Psychowith6, you will have access to subscriber freebies that includes a form for tracking your routine this week.
#2 Keep Tracking and Choose One Schedule Change to Try
The book, The House That Cleans Itself, taught me to use what’s already happening to my advantage. Let me give you an example to clarify. Let’s say that you’d really like to do family devotions after dinner. But you see from tracking your schedule of actual activities that you tend to watch movies as a family instead. You could a) watch Christian or biblical films at that time, b) discuss secular movies from a biblical worldview, looking up verses, or c) you could choose a better time for family devotions. Trying to enforce more than one schedule change will likely frustrate your family and drain your energy. Pray about the change that would have the biggest impact. You have plenty of time to make more changes as this one becomes second nature.
#3 Keep Tracking and Plan a Time to Evaluate Your Schedule Change
You may not want to keep tracking (I get it!), but the days fluctuate and you may see some important patterns that have to be addressed. Implement your one change (older kids can choose an individual change also) and put a note on your calendar or use the reminder function of a smart phone to assess how well it’s working. This is the step so many of us leave out. Assessment keeps changes in the problem-solving realm, rather than the blaming realm. If it’s working, wonderful. Discussing it with the kids (if it impacts them) will teach them how to problem solve and manage time. If it’s not, it’s important to determine why not and brainstorm potential solutions. Don’t give up assuming that you’re just not organized.
#4 Keep Tracking and Choose a Schedule Format
Continue tracking today and through the weekend if you’d like. Save this information for next summer when we will be working on your homeschooling schedule in depth. Decide on how to keep your schedule or routine visible. I have my HomeRoutines app on my phone, a schedule in my homeschool planner and the kids’, and I have it posted in the kitchen and school room using magnetic frames. Are you getting the idea that I don’t want to forget? One change I plan to make is to acknowledge that the schedule/routine can be regularly updated. I have the file on Word. It doesn’t take much to update it and reprint.
I would love to know the one change you’re implementing this week!