Saturday, January 16, 2010

ReRun: Scheduling with Lots of Kids

We recently had a couple rough weeks in the Peterson Household. Eric had issues with the aircraft at work. I had issues with getting our taxes filed (first had a demon possessed computer, then couldn’t find the baby’s social security number), I lost my post for Happy to be at Home several times without saving (Yes, I learned my lesson), and we were dealing with insurance to try to cover some experimental treatment we were trying to get for Mercy. The treatment was supposed to start last Monday morning, and insurance denied it at 4:00 on the Friday afternoon before, to much wailing and gnashing of teeth. (We did get the approval last week and will start these treatments this coming week.)

In the meantime, the children continued to need to eat (didn’t they just do that yesterday?), the house continued to need to stay relatively clean (there are 11 of us living here… and clean is a relative word…) and school still needed to run.

How did all this happen when Mom and Dad were pretty much taken out of the picture due to spending hours on the phone tracking things down? You got it — the dreaded “S” word.


Many people start twitching when they hear the word Schedule. It will make their faces turn green and their eyes roll in their heads. They will start foaming at the mouth and spitting nails when you tell them they would get more done with a Schedule.

I get a lot of questions and comments about how I get it all done. I am quick to say that I never get it all done, and only rarely do I get much done well! However, I do have some tricks to get more done than otherwise.

1. Develop a Routine

The first thing is our routine. We don’t schedule as far as lots of time frames, but we do have a routine though — an order to our days which helps us all to know what should be coming next. And then the children can continue on even though I am not around. This has been helpful in times of illness, business, or again this week when I will be in the hospital with Mercy for several days. Our life will go on relatively smoothly.

In the mornings we try to get up at 6:30. Sometimes it is later. If so, the routine starts at wake up time, whatever that is. For one hour we read the Bible, get dressed, make beds and straighten bedrooms and do the morning chores. At that point we sit down and eat breakfast. We try to be starting school 90 minutes after everyone is up.

This is flexible, but it is our goal. I have assigned the morning chores so no one should spend more than 15 minutes doing them, but if that is all the cleaning we get done, it is fine. Everyone picks up one room, plus has a quick cleaning thing. The main rooms get vacuumed, the toilets and sinks get washed, the dishwasher gets emptied, animals get fed, etc. When assigning these, I tried to think of what needed to be done on a regular basis to keep the house looking neat.

In my house, I am not real good at getting things done in the afternoon. I try to get important things done in the mornings. My parts of school, baking, and organizing projects are much more successful in the mornings.

2. Prioritize

Another thing I did each day was to figure out what I really wanted to do each day, and assign the amount of time needed to do it. So if reading out loud for an hour a day is important to you, write that down with an hour blocked off. I was surprised when I did this — I had 29 hours of things I wanted to do each day, and only 24 hours to do it in! No wonder I always felt like nothing got accomplished. Be realistic. Figure out what is really important — make sure you make time for the things which HAVE to be done, then add in the things you really want to get done. Have a list of things which you would do if there is the time, but know that there will rarely be time for those.

3. Have a Place and Time for Everything

Have a place for everyone to be. Don’t forget to schedule places for the preschoolers so they don’t sabotage the rest of the children’s day.

4. Avoid Schedule Slavery

One last thing — although I could go on for a long, long time — remember that the schedule is your tool. It works for you. You are not the slave of the schedule. People are more important than things. If your schedule causes you to resent your husband taking the day off, or a friend wanting to stop by to visit, something is wrong. If you are yelling at the children because you are “supposed” to be doing math and they are still doing spelling, priorities are out of whack. A schedule is a goal to try to get the most of your days, not a slave master to make you all stressed out and miserable.

If you want to read a great how-to book on scheduling, Managers of Their Homes at is well worth the money.

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