How's that for lumping it all together in one post?
No, I'm not going to do that every week but for this week it seems appropriate.
The reason I've been missing for the last two days is that John and I have been working hard at how we're going to balance my school and work, his school and work, the kids' school, play time and dance class, and all the other household and personal things we need to do. We're taking the bulk of our "free time" this week to put together a schedule that is actually implementable (is that a word?) and works well for us. It also needs to be easily adjusted because our schedules change with school semesters and our need for study time and our times of fixed classes/meetings/etc. changes.
It's been such a blessing these last 2-3 days to sit down, re-evaluate the goals we made at the beginning of the year (is that really only a month ago?) and see what we need to do to get where we hope to be. We've always had a routine of sorts, but not a schedule and more than a few times a week parts of the routines would have to get cut off because of our scheduled activities.
We are using a new book that we haven't used before (and were hesitant to buy for a variety of reasons) and in a few weeks or months as we see how this works I may do a review. Much of the actual scheduling stuff is pretty basic - write down what you need/want to do, estimate how much time it takes you, don't have more than 24 hours of stuff to do each day, etc.
So what's new to us in this book? Well, several things.
One of the big ones: Schedule everyone! Not just mom or dad but the whole family and then put schedules side by side and make sure there are no conflicts, that someone isn't trying to do something noisy where Mom or Dad are studying, or that Mom is scheduling her sewing in the same room at the same time the kids' are napping. Yes, I know - this should be a "duh" but just talking about it made John and I realize that we both had different purposes for being in the living room in the evening and that was causing a problem. Simply solved but a problem unless we know what the other one is thinking.
Schedule the important stuff first. For us that's time with family and with the Lord. Then fit everything else around it. Again, this should be a "duh" but someone I wasn't putting time to just play with the kids - I did spend a lot of time with them but it was usually doing something (going here or there or a project or chores or...) rather than just playing. Same thing with reading a book or two to them. Spending time alone with each child was something else we had long talked about but never got around to. Now, we have a slot for them. Hurray!
Schedule around the big stuff. Our example: Evening events always seem to start at 7pm for us. Scheduling dinner every night at 630 means something has to move two nights a week or we are scrambling. Usually we just scrambled and wondered why it's not working.
Set realistic get up and bed times. I was trying to get up at 530am. I realized that after adding up the time I had given myself to sleep that it was too short! No wonder I was having such a hard time getting up. I am now scheduling to go to be a half hour earlier and get up at 6am instead. I can still pack John's lunch and have my devotional time before the kids get up. I'm just now more coherent the rest of the day! :)
The Biggest Thing that was different in this book? Put it together, put it away, Pray about it, and go back to it. Again and again. I like that. It made me realize that I had been asking God to help me get through the schedule I had rather than asking Him to help me put together the schedule in the first place. Yes, yes, BIG duh! But sometimes it just needs to be pointed out to me!
Our first partial test run was this morning with the morning schedule only - we all made it out the door on time, with the house picked up, a hot breakfast made and eaten, and no rushing! Whoo hoo! Can I tell you how excited I am about this?
We still have a lot of tweaking to do but I feel like we might actually make some progress on things. Realizing that we can't do everything at once and that it will take time was something else that I'm wrestling with both with the schedule and other things. I'm currently waiting to hear about my written exam. I'm currently still finishing cleaning out when I'd love to be making progress on my sidebar sewing and scrap booking projects (I do need to have some of them done by the end of the month - and if my schedule works the way I hope it will, I'll get to them by the end of next week!). I'm struggling with the waiting. I'm hoping that if I see progress on some things because of the schedule, having to wait on others will become easier.
When you work outside the home, and have a home and family to take care of I do believe having a schedule is a must. I'll get to specific things again next week (on Monday, like I originally planned!).
Until then, what's the best part of your family being on a schedule?