So three weeks down, and it seems a bit premature to be writing about our schedule, but we are still at it! No schedule has ever lasted more than a week, and that week was horrid. But, this time things have been totally different.
There are many reasons a schedule may not work out. I certainly couldn't try to even possibly cover every reason. But a few of the most common would be:
1. Not spending enough time in the planning stage.
2. Not being realistic with your time committed to each scheduled activity.
3. Not having the support of your family.
4. Having medical issues (realized or not) that are effecting your ability to carry out the scheduled activities.
5. Not planning for the transition period, that any schedule will produce, and giving up too soon.
6. Not planning for the 'little' things. Trust me we all have them, and they do add up.
The above is by no means a complete list. But these are definitely some of the top problems people encounter with trying to implement a schedule.
I know for myself, in the past, I didn't spend enough time in the planning stage. For everyone that planning time may look different, but these areas that I made sure to thoroughly think through were important:
:: Taking into account the current state of my house.
I have always taken this into account, but I knew I had to dig a bit deeper this time around. In the past I would make sure to clean up the WHOLE house so that we could start our schedule. I would still recommend this, however, there needs to be measures put in place to keep it clean. I thought hard about the areas of our home that were always out of control, and how to best address the ongoing upkeep of them once they were clean. I set up signs, posted how-to's, and have signs for who does dishes, when, etc. This was important for me, AND for my kids. I even have the boys names on some of them, even though they can not read. This was more for my older kids, but to also show the boys that they too have work that I am expecting them to do. I will have a more detailed post on what measures I took to help with the everyday upkeep of the home.
:: Taking into account the needs of all family members.
This is no small matter. With nine of us, that was quite the job. Some things I needed to consider were the abilities of the children and the work I was expecting of them. For homeschooling, who needed my undivided attention, and who could be left on their own to do their work. The needs of young boys. Not only diaper changes, or help in the bathroom, but their need to run and jump :-) Some girls have outside activities, and those that don't needed to have free time. Then we needed to fit in some family time, family worship and bed time routines. All those things needed to be considered, and worked into the schedule.
:: Planning for how long things *ACTUALLY* take and not how long I *THINK* they should take.
I've mentioned this before, that this one particular tip was the key to making my current schedule workable. No matter how much I think that milking the goats should only take 30 minutes, if it is taking my kids 45 minutes to do it, then I need to schedule 45 minutes. End of story. Dinner prep, or schooling, no matter the activity, it doesn't matter how long I think it should take. I made sure to be VERY mindful of this when making out my schedule. Diaper changes need to happen, kids getting dressed, all of those take time, and that time needs to come from somewhere. I don't have diaper changing scheduled, nor do I have a scheduled time for laundry, but when I was making up my schedule, I took those activities into account knowing that they would be scattered throughout the day. In other words I scheduled a wee bit extra than I thought we would need to do a certain activity, knowing that those smaller things were going to have to happen through the day.
:: Planning chores.
This too was a big job. Who is going to do what, and when would it be done. Dishes, laundry, washing off the table, sweeping, bathroom clean up, trash...etc. I spent a LOT of time really thinking about how to divide the work load. This too will have it's own post since it took a lot of work putting it all together.
:: What are my weak areas?
Taking into consideration the problem areas of keeping our house running, really, REALLY went far into making our schedule successful. For example, one of our biggest weak areas was the improper management of 3 rambunctious boys :-) No, really, they are like little tornadoes. When looking over the majority (obviously not all) of the messes made...it was from the 3 little boys. Trying to do school while they were running around wild, or trying to make dinner while they were running wild, or trying to meal plan, or trying to...well you get the idea. Little tornadoes running from one end of the house to the other. By having scheduled times for the boys to be having 'school' time, or play time with their sisters, this has been the answer to our house being a mess all the time. When the boys are finished having a play time with one of their sisters they are to clean up their mess. So basically, cleaning as they go. There is also free play, but I have a clean up afterward, that THE BOYS are responsible for cleaning up.
Those are some of the areas that I made sure to really work on before putting the schedule together. These considerations took time, even days, before I came up with a suitable answer. I will tell you that each time I prayed about any sticking point, the Lord was faithful to open my eyes to the answer. As much as I just wanted to hurry up and get on with this whole scheduling thing, since our household was so out of control, it was this planning stage that made us successful with our schedule and finally be in control! So take your time, there is no rush. I will have posts that show how I dealt with scheduling things like chores, and homeschooling coming soon.