May 18, 2010

New Schedule

A dear friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago about my schedule. I didn't reply because I was in the midst of deciding whether or not our schedule was working for us. I decided it wasn't.

Putting together a new schedule is fun and scary. Fun because it is nice to shed the old schedule that had lived past its time, and scary because you have to spend some serious time thinking about what your family needs.

After some deliberation I realized I had a major hang-up. When I first started homeschooling almost every homeschooler I talked to said something along the lines of, "If you get up and get going you can have everything done by noon."

After this year my response to that sentiment is, "Well yippidy-do-dah." In other words, just because you can get up and get everything done by noon doesn't mean it is the best schedule for your family. More precisely, it wasn't the best schedule for us. This became increasingly apparent these past few months wherein the feeling of happiness in my home had deteriorated and the level of contention had escalated. After some pondering, I recognized the following as truths for me and my family:

1) Type A personalities should not have very specific to-get-done-by-this-time lists. No matter how much a type A personality tells herself that homeschool can be flexible, if her mental timeframe says school starts at 9:00 am and it is 9:10 am and school has not yet started, she is going to feel angry and anxious and prone to contentious parenting.

2) Babies rule the house. Adapt to them and don't expect them to adapt to you.

3) Children who are prone to playing well for thirty minutes in the morning should be encouraged to do so.

4) Chores always take longer than I think they should.

5) Getting up at 5:00 am to exercise makes a woman too tired to fool around with her spouse. This is to be avoided.

5) Last, but definitely not least, those of us who have children who need a great deal of structure in their lives to keep them out of trouble might do better breaking up school and play time so that they do not have the entire afternoon free. To run amuck. Wreaking havoc.

With these thoughts in mind, here is my new schedule. It has been working marvelously.

6:00 am: Mom gets up and exercises.

7:00 am: Mom showers and gets ready for the day.

7:20 am: stick kids into tub, change sheets, make breakfast, all that good stuff.

9:00ish am: Chores. Including Miriam practicing the piano (I still do that sitting beside her so she'll sit up straight and count instead of sing).

10:30ish am: Devotional. Right now that means read a section of the Illustrated BofM and an article in the Friend, then sing a church song (or Twinkle, Twinkle if it is Emeline's turn to pick) and pray. For the record, devotional usually occurs when I think the kids are no longer playing nicely and/or when the baby goes down for his mid-day nap. It doesn't generally have much to do with when chores actually get done.

11:00ish am: Group activity that Emeline will like. Meaning, no math. No workbooks, worksheets, or anything like unto. This is when, lately, we've been singing about pulleys and building simple machines. Hands on stuff. Usually we read a book or two on the subject and then move on to the hands on part. This has worked so much better with Emeline than what I was doing before. PS--It is so great to have a couch instead of reading to the kids sitting on the floor.

12:30ish pm: Lunch. Emeline to bed for her nap. Miriam to the couch for silent reading. Cowen banished to the great outdoors or his room. I let him sit on the couch and read a few times but he mumbles and hums and makes noises the WHOLE TIME. Since quiet time = Mom's scripture study time, he was driving me bonkers.

1:00ish pm: School time. Since baby and Emeline are still asleep at this point, things go so smoothly. Miriam reads to me, usually a biography because we both enjoy those. Then we do a few exercises from her language arts book that I reviewed here. Then math analogies, critical thinking puzzles, and spelling. I'll review all the things I use for those subjects shortly.

2:30ish pm (depending on how many logic puzzles the kids talk me into letting them do and/or if the baby wakes up): Feed Eli. Let the kids play.

3:30ish pm: Have the kids go through the house and straighten up (if they aren't playing nicely and I need to redirect, otherwise I let them play until they hit that point). Then, give them something to do like play-dough, or counting cubes, art supplies. I limit them to the kitchen table area. Or, I kick them outside. The afternoon is also when I run errands as I hate getting the kids out of the house in the morning. Book reading often happens during this time or playing outside with Cowen.

Start supper, wait with baited breath for Dad to get home.

The end.

I'm learning to not give myself set times for things as some internal working of my brain is fanatical about punctuality. I'm learning to flex with how the day is going instead of always fighting to make everything exactly as I imagined it the night before. I am learning to align my actions with my belief that the children playing together is the most important thing for them at their ages. And I'm learning to fit the things I need to do in throughout the day, instead of waiting for that afternoon chunk of time.

The benefits of this less rigid, better suited to our family, schedule is already being felt by all of us. Happiness is up. Contention is down.


  1. You are awesome! You make so many great points that I sure did need to hear. I just had a baby and have been struggling with our "new" schedule! I have found myself comparing our homeschooling day with others and who are more rigid and it has made me kinda grouchy and frustrated. Thanks so much for sharing your schedule and thus making me feel better about our own little schedule! :) :) :)

  2. Great post! I recently had to redo our schedule too.

  3. That was really nice to see your hs "schedule." I hear ya on the morning thing (getting kids up and out of the house). :) It's nice to wake up not all ready feeling stressed about having to get somewhere!

    I think having a strict schedule -- or not -- totally depends upon the parent's style and the kids' personalities. I've seen some really strict schedules that I could never adhere to (I'd go bonkers!) and some that are so relaxed that I know homeschool wouldn't even happen (It'd be lost and forgotten). So, in my case, I need a good balance of structure and flexibility. :)

  4. Jeanette28 May, 2010

    I love your blog more every time I come here. :-)
    Great Post.
    I am so so so not a morning person and as nice as it may be to start school time at 8 and be done around lunch time it just does not happen. We have an unwritten rule around here that unless we have to be somewhere nothing productive gets done until 10:00ish. We are always up around 7:00 but do not do anything but eat breakfast and play for the first 3 hours of the day.