Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Organizing and scheduling your day and activities can be a tricky thing, especially if you've never done it before. As a new homeschooling Mom, it was something I struggled with for quite a while. I was used to responding to the needs of my children when they arose and arranging the cooking, cleaning and other things around that. But when you place a responsibility as huge as homeschooling into the mix, I found I needed to make time to actually educate, otherwise it ended up lower on the priority list. I've also found myself on the other end of the spectrum with the schooling day taking so long I literally didn't have enough time to keep up with the essentials of housekeeping (and I am NOT talking about having a perfect house either). Finding the balance in both worlds is both tricky and necessary.

What helped me, might help you.....

1. Making a list, checking it twice (or 3 times if you are mathematically challenged)
Yup, recording everything you do during the day and where you spend (or-let's be honest) waste time. There is no use in pretending you take 5 minute showers if you really take 20 minutes! Or that it'll take you 15 minutes to get out of the house with 4 kids if it takes an hour! So write it down for a few days, even a week. And be honest, it's YOUR schedule, your life. You may find the hour you spend reading magazines isn't worth it, or you may find you need an hour somewhere to have some downtime! But be honest and true to you and your family.

2. Your Goals
Maybe this seems obvious, but sometimes a well planned day looks fabulous on paper, but really isn't accomplishing what you would like the day to look like. Adding in 2 hours for crafts isn't going to work if your goal is to spend more one on one time with each of your children. Or teaching for 6 hours straight (or even 1 hour!) depending on the ages of your children. But deciding what your goals are, what you want your day to look like and be like and what is realistic, is very important if you want your schedules to succeed. Prioritize what is important for your school day as well as your household. I used to have one day a week that I cleaned the entire house, now that isn't even remotely possible! It's still a priority to have a clean house, but we have different days to accomplish those tasks, it's more realistic for us to clean the floors on one day, the bathroom on another and so on.

3. Your set responsibilities
There are items in everyday that can't budge, they are meals and nursing babies, picking up kids, taking them to sports, so consider them when planning things around those items. Again on paper sometimes it looks like you may have a great chunk of time when in reality you don't. An example is on the days I take the 2 older kids to MBTA, we don't leave the house until around 11:45, I see that chunk and think, "That is almost 3 hours I can fit a few lessons!" When in reality, getting the kids school supplies, homework, clothing, shoes etc ready will take a good hour. Then give myself a little time that is another 30 minutes. Give myself an extra 30 minutes for mishaps and I'm down to an hour, so maybe on a good morning, the kids can get out their science and history units and work on them for a while! That is realistic, not cramming in a full day of school before leaving for their class!

4.Epic Fail or Grand Success  
If the goal is a schedule that works than identifying what is working and what isn't is important. Chances are you've got routines that really are working for you. Keep them! But don't be afraid to admit when something just isn't working. I've changed our school schedule 4 times since the beginning of the year. Because when I try something for a month and it just doesn't work, it's not that I'm giving up, I'm being flexible to make things work. If I keep plugging away at what doesn't work, that isn't helping me or the kids, it's making us pretty miserable!   

5. Down Time
Don't over do it (in my opinion). Make sure there is time in there to throw in a batch of cookies when your little one bats those eyes and wants to bake with you. I found when I tried to have every second accounted for it was almost as overwhelming as not knowing what to do next! You have to leave room for creativity and spontaneity even if that isn't in your natural personality! As much as I need to get things done each day, I don't want to be a slave to a piece of paper that is telling me it's time to do XYZ when I really want to sit and read a book with my kids. This isn't an excuse to be lazy, it really isn't, there is room for rest! 

6.No Cheating    
It's tempting to try and look into another family and copy what they are doing, but don't! You are in a different season of life than someone else. While I think mentors and advice is great, is helpful and beneficial! Make sure you aren't just copy and pasting what works for someone else. Make it work for you and your family! If you aren't a morning person, don't schedule school to start at 7am! Maybe your kids are better focused and work harder after a little free time, so start school after lunch and plan your housekeeping for in the mornings! There are days I declare "Backwards Day" and do school after lunch, it's okay!

7.Give it Up 
Giving it all up to God and asking Him for guidance is of great importance. Maybe He is pointing you in a direction you wouldn't normally take, maybe He is asking for your time in other ways or for you to give up a certain role or responsibility. You won't know that unless you ask Him to reveal it to you! He'll guide you, He will. And He will let you know how you can do it better!

8. Tryouts  
After all is said and done, try it out. But keep in mind two things....the first is that change can be difficult, so give yourself time to adapt. Don't quit after the first day and redo your whole schedule (unless you really messed up!) On the same token don't be afraid to tweak things that really aren't working. Seasons in life are ever changing. 9 Months ago our schedule looked very different with all of my time of nursing and caring for a newborn than it does now. You are allowed to change things as life's really okay! ( I needed to learn this myself~the hard way!)

What tips or steps do you have to helping make a schedule or routine? Please share with us so we can all learn together! 

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