I grew up in a home where routine and schedule were not a part of our vocabulary. At a young age, my day started with by getting myself and my brothers out of bed so we could get ready for school. Our parents were already off to work most times and still at work when we came home from school. We had one job: a simple rotating chore chart and the chores were expected to be done by the time our mom came home from work. There was no set time to do them so we usually procrastinated until the very last hour before her arrival. Dinner was anywhere between 5 pm and 7 pm most nights. As I got older, dinner was usually “fend for yourself” whenever we made it home from extra curricular activities. Bed time happened anywhere between 9:30 pm and 1 am–long after our parents were already in bed.
Having children of my own, I’ve fallen into the same pattern. Some nights, dinner is cereal or something my older two can make for the rest of the children simply for lack of planning. Our mornings are pretty consistent.
7:00 am Get everyone out of bed
7:15 am Be sure everyone is dressed and to the bathroom to comb hair and brush teeth.
7:20 am Prompt people to grab hoodies and back packs.
7:25 am Monitor administration of medications
7:30 am Be sure children are putting on shoes. Go find my shoes because I never remember where I put them.
7:32 am Out to the car and on our way to school.
If you’re judgey, you may have noticed breakfast wasn’t included in there. My children eat breakfast at school because they offer a free breakfast program to all students. It’s a total winner allowing me to pinch my pennies in the food budget this year.
Nine times out of ten my second oldest child is in a mood and doing his darnedest to create tension and stir a ruckus in the morning as he often wakes hangry and in a moody little rebound. It’s an unavoidable combination but we do our best to keep him moving forward with the routine each day.
The morning ideally sets a good tone for the rest of the day. We are stellar at our morning routine simply because we are stuck in a time frame. We wake at 7 am and have to be out of the house no later than 7:35 am. The kids experience a full day of routine at school then arrive home.
The second the door opens, back packs and shoes are hitting the floor left and right. They are begging to play outside, whining about the chore they have for the day and reminding me of things that aren’t even on the calendar for another week or two. In less than an hour of being home, the bickering and fighting begins. I often joke that dinner is between 5:00 and 9:00 pm and sadly it’s a half-truth. Bedtime usually follows a few hours after dinner. Let’s just say there have been many times I’ve seen my children’s obnoxiously rambunctious little faces in the wee hours of the morning. They have no sense of time or prioritizing and they learned it all from me. By lack of routine, I’ve both taught and allowed them to drive me crazy for the past 12 years.
We’ve tried to implement a routine schedule numerous times before but my husband and I are the worst offenders when it comes to breaking it. I can tell you right now that it takes serious commitment from parents to keep a schedule going strong. I promise you, though, it’s all possible and peace in the home is attainable.
It takes practice and time to get it right. The habit didn’t perfect itself overnight and neither will the solution. The first day may or may not go well. A few weeks into it, you might still struggle in areas. Know that each day is a work in progress. If one day goes poorly, wipe the slate clean at the end of the day and start anew tomorrow.
One of my many excuses to avoid creating a schedule is “I just don’t know where to begin.” To start, I first broke my routine into segments: Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Bedtime. I prioritized the tasks we needed to accomplish daily during each segment and wrote them in at an appropriate hour within their segment making sure to allow enough time to complete the task. Some days (for example where extra curricular activities come in) can be a little more tricky to outline. Do your best. If it’s not quite right, make adjustments and try again next time. I’ve learned that these are the days we should absolutely be on task or nothing else that should be done will be done.
Here is an example of our schedule.
Sunday, Monday and Saturday are each so different from the main T-Th/F routine that I’ve found it best to create a separate outline for each. Here’s our Sunday schedule for comparison.
I enjoy this format because we have a larger family with children of varying ages and each person needs ample time for individual needs.
If you have a smaller family or children’s activities are similar throughout the week, you can try a more simple format.
Family awake, Get kids ready for the day
Drive kids to school
Arrive home, breakfast, clean up
Shower, get ready for the day
Pick child up from Kindergarten
Snack and playtime
Lunch, clean up
Children quiet time/nap
Littles up from quiet time/nap
Older children arrive home from school
Children free time
Mom prep dinner
Littles clean up toys
Littles Bedtime Routine
Older children Bedtime Routine
Older children Bedtime
Mom Quite Time
Since we’ve implemented a daily family schedule, I’ve noticed I’m no longer the bad guy and my kids try less and less to manipulate me because of it. How so? When they start begging to play outside I ask them to check the time and go to the schedule. The schedule says chore time, not me, therefore making the schedule the bad guy. It’s immovable and never caves. Except for that time the boys removed it from the fridge and hid it thinking if it went away, the schedule never had to be followed. The kids know if they do their chore properly in less than the time given, they earn extra free time. It’s a win-win for all of us. No one is fighting because they’re all busy doing their prioritized tasks. If one child refuses, they get to see the others enjoy the benefits of extra time in their day. Everyone eats before a mass hangeriness sets in, bedtime routines and lights-out are far less chaotic and I have peace and quiet to finish my day.
I hope you find this helpful and I want you to know you’re not alone. You are supermom in many things and implementing a routine schedule will just add another star to your super cape!
You’re welcome to copy and paste this simple format into a word program and adjust it to fit your needs or download my blank Schedule Template to create a schedule similar to the one we use.