Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Making a Daily Schedule Work

Here's a big news flash - when you are the parent of young kids, your schedule is always changing.

Not your "official" schedule, the one with work and classes and activities and all that (although that changes too). But the day to day stuff.

When I first started writing, almost two years ago, I was on a great writing and cleaning schedule. I was in great shape. I had an infant and a not quite two year old, and my days, busy as they were, had a good amount of time in there to get things done. Between naptime and early bedtime, I had plenty of time to write, clean, cook, do laundry, and still get to relax. I had at least two hours of freedom in the afternoon during naptime, which was plenty of time for chores and laundry. The girls were asleep between 6:30 and 7, which gave me a full evening of freedom to write.

A year ago it started getting harder. The girls were sleeping less, and were much, much, much more high maintenance during the day. I've watched my writing time dwindle into nothingness while I try desperately to keep the house in some sort of order. By 8:00, when the girls are finally in bed, read to, cuddled with, and willing to let me go, I am spent. Instead of writing at night, I collapse into a pile of nothingness that plays games on my phone, reads, and watches grown up TV.

Throughout the year, I've made some attempts at planning out when I'll do various chores, I've instituted rest time for Madison, but long term, nothing has stuck. Pretty much all my writing takes place on the weekends, when I can take a few hours and escape to Starbucks (which actually, is pretty great. I get some alone time and some quality material).

This is what I've been trying to work off of. Every day has an errand and a household chore to focus on (including a breakdown). Yeah, hasn't been effective.

Then I was reading something about being a more effective writer, and the idea was to give yourself daily "office hours" where you focused on your blog. You interact on social media, answer emails, create graphics, make connections, and write.

That idea really stuck with me. I never thought of giving my blog an official spot on my daily calendar, but since we're all going to be home together for the foreseeable future, and that long block of uninterrupted "naptime" is disappearing, I think it's time to prepare for the year ahead by really creating a "schedule" for us. Chore time, learning time, screen time, rest time, writing time, activity time, can all be scheduled into the day.

I was browsing some sites about making a daily schedule, sort of like one kids would follow in a classroom, and some people are very opposed to this. One woman on a message board said her schedule was: Wake up, have fun, eat breakfast, have fun, eat lunch, have fun, eat dinner, have fun, go to bed.

Now I realize her point was that every day is a fun adventure without any rigid schedule, but she did make sure that meals and bedtime were in there. So actually, she did have a schedule.

For us, there's a basic skeleton in place already. The girls wake up around the same time every day, we're generally out of the house all morning at some kind of activity, Reagan naps right after lunch, and Madison is usually good for about an hour of solo resting time. We always eat between 5:30 and 6 and bedtime typically starts at 7:00 and ends, with Madison read to and tucked in, by 8:00 at the latest. So really, I just need to add a few specifics, to keep myself on track.

In our case, I need to experiment and schedule in the following things:
  • Morning Activity
  • Mealtimes (and dinner prep)
  • Rest/Nap Time
  • Daily Chore Time (with a time allowance - 30-60 minutes)
  • Daily cleaning maintenance time (30 minutes)
  • Blogging "office hours" (30 minutes for upkeep? Dare I try to find a whole hour?)
  • Structured playtime (the learning games Madison does, the "mommy intensive" sensory play that requires set up)
And I need to be able to start my day when the girls are up and officially clock out around 8:30. Because it's been established that I will hit snooze until one of the girls wanders into the hallway in the morning and I turn into a pumpkin after bedtime. I can interact on Facebook, but that's pretty much my limit. If I sit down, I'm done.

Twenty four hours in a day....sixteen hours I'm giving myself to work with...how do I fit it all in?

Well, that's what the summer is for. I'm using my handy dandy Erin Condren planner which I highly recommend, and I'm making it more than just an appointment book. I've also got my blog planner working, my meal planner letting me know what I'm in for each night, and we'll see how it goes.

LOVE this thing. I just need to use it even more effectively than I have been.

Does your family have a daily schedule you follow? How do you manage to fit in all the pieces of your day and keep all those balls in the air?
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