Living Life Methodically: Create a Daily Schedule

by | Sep 10, 2009 | Parenting | 4 comments

So if you read my post the other day, you know that I’m having some issues getting some life balance going on. I don’t have a job outside my house, and I’m in library school, but most of my time is spent parenting. Or so it seems. It’s not really exactly how I thought it would go, but I’m finding that one of my biggest challenges as a parent is teaching my kids that I cannot — and should not — be available 24/7. After six years, it’s a lesson they seem to understand not at all. And all I know is that I miss me, and I desperately want to keep moving my life forward and not put everything on pause until they’re older.

One thing that became very, very clear during my break from daily computing was that we have no schedule. Our days would just be thrown into the river and we’d see where the current took us. Which is fine every once in a while, but as a general way of life it was making us all edgy. So the first thing I did was steal an idea from preschool and make a daily schedule.

This was one of those crazy ideas that I got in the middle of the night, when I got up and wrote up a potential schedule, in the dark.  Since a scribbled written-in-the-dark schedule would have been useless to the children, I made a giant table in Word and wrote up each task. I copied clock images from a website called Dositey, and grabbed clipart from various websites (a lot of it says “SAMPLE” in huge letters across the image, but it’s not like I’m selling this or anything — it only lives in my kitchen). Just do a search for something like “breakfast clipart” and you’ll find lots of possibilities, although I had to make sure not to use a picture of, say, pancakes, since I knew the boys would say, “Hey! It says we get pancakes at 7:00!”

I cannot even tell you how psyched Henry was about this schedule. Clearly he’s been desperate for some daily normalcy for his entire life. He was telling everyone from the grocery store cashier to the UPS man, “We made a schedule. It’s a big list of everything we’re supposed to do in our day!” (He may also have been influenced by Frog and Toad on this one.)

The absolute best part was on the first day, when noon came, and I said, “Ok, it’s quiet time!” Eli said, “I’m going into my room.” And went in, tucked himself into bed, and took a nap. First time that’s ever happened. Ever. Who knew all I had to do was write it down on a list?

There’s some flexibility in here still. It bugs me that there’s no time for getting outside worked into the schedule, but we’ve been trying to make that happen in the morning, after Henry goes to school (I’m interpreting “morning meeting” to basically mean “we do something together”). I know some people would put getting dressed before breakfast, but sometimes the kids are outlandishly messy eaters, and they’d just have to change again. Better for us to have getting dressed after breakfast.

Making up the schedule took maybe an hour. If you at all feel like your days could use a little structure, I highly highly recommend doing this.


  1. Sarah

    Look at it this way – when you eventually go back to work you’ll be forced into a daily schedule, so enjoy your “freestyle” days while you can!

  2. Lisa van Oosterum

    This rocks! I love it…wish I had it a month ago!! It will also be fun to announce “schedule free morning” as a surprise, but conveniently keeping the afternoon quiet time in place. I can’t believe Eli put himself to bed…so cool.

  3. SereneBabe

    Love this. Tried this. Maya *loves* this kind of thing. But, I can’t stick to it! It’s not in me. She’d love it. I’m so glad she’s going to school now so she can have a routine.

  4. Julie

    I’m the same way, Heather, though I’m finding that it’s really good for me to have this routine that I have to stick to — it’s helping a lot to alleviate that “a few more minutes, let me just check one more thing on the computer…oh no, we should have left ten minutes ago” thing that happens to me in the mornings. I will also say that 9-11 do tend to be free-form, because when else am I supposed to grocery shop?


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