Aug 5, 2013

5 Days of Housekeeping for Homeschool Families: Day Two: The Schedule

I'm a wife, I'm a mom, I'm a teacher, I'm a homemaker. And a chauffeur, and a nurse, and a referee, and an encyclopedia, and an admiring fan, and a chef and many other things, but we'll leave those for later. The point is, I wear a lot of hats and juggle a lot of balls and it can be hard to keep everything running smoothly.
Now, first, I want to be clear: we have plenty of days that my husband has no socks, or a kid announces that there are no clean forks in the drawer, or I say, "Find your soccer uniform NOW if you want me to wash it before your game." In other words, I drop balls plenty, organization does not come naturally to me. But even a midst the failures, we keep striving for order. My husband has taught me that everyone has weaknesses, but the smart people figure out ways to circumvent those weaknesses so they don't hold them back. If you have a broken foot, don't be ashamed to use that crutch!
One of my main "crutches" is a chore list. Every time we move into a new house, I sit down and organize the house into a huge master list. I write down every chore that needs to be done to keep the house the way I my husband likes it. (I prefer to do this in a word document so that the next few steps are easy.) Once I have that list, I sort it into daily and weekly categories. I then make up a list of things to do each day. So, for instance, on Monday, I put all the daily items, and a sixth of the weekly items, then on Tuesday I put all the daily items again, and a different set of weekly items. I try to mix the weekly items up so that I'm not doing a lot of big chores on one day. I don't want to vacuum AND mop on the same day!
The final step is to format and print off a list that I either put in a binder or hang on the fridge, depending on which I think I will see more often. Currently, it's hanging on the fridge because hunting down a binder for my chore list just adds another step that I don't need right now.
Sometimes, I like to make my list pretty with lots of different colors, fonts and graphics. Sometimes it is just functional, but I always want to make it visually obvious what needs to be done when. My current list is the plainest I have ever had, but it is still easy to read at a glance.

I've been doing this since Kaytie was born, but even if we didn't move, it would still need updating every so often because our needs change as the kids grow and our rhythm changes. This is the first time I have added the additional step of sorting my chores into blocks of time. Let me explain why.
We are schedule/rhythm type people. Kaytie was four months old when we learned of the impending arrival of Nate, and I knew right then that I was outnumbered and needed all the help I could get in keeping the chaos under control. So I created a schedule. We don't go by times, but we do know that after breakfast comes chores, that after lunch is personal space time (formerly known as nap time, but no one sleeps any more) that the bedtime sequence involves picking up, brushing our teeth, etc. As the kids get older, our routines become less structured as far as personal habits (there was a day when I had set "wet diaper" changing times you do that when you have three in diapers) but more structured as far as school goes. Now our day follows the rhythm of: breakfast, chores, school, free time if you don't dawdle over school, lunch, school, free time if you don't dawdle, chores, snack, free time, supper, free time, bed time. So, since the kids have set chore times, I do, too. It is much easier this way than trying to squeeze the work in around listening to reading aloud, giving out spelling words, and checking math problems.

There are many benefits to setting rhythm in our day. I am not trying to clean the entire house every day, each day has it's own list and if it isn't on the list then I don't have to even think about it. I don't have to keep the whole list of housework in my head and decide which is the most urgent thing to do, constantly running around putting out "fires". It's also helpful because we are building the sort of habit that Charlotte Mason talks about: the table gets cleaned off after every meal without us much thinking about it because we always clean the table after we are finished eating. And finally, if we have a bad day, or a busy day out of the house, or company comes over and we throw all our routines out the window to spend time with them, then it is fairly easy to get back in step the next day. I usually add a few extra chores each day until I'm caught up again. Or, I can just wait and catch that chore up the next week. 
So with just a little bit of upfront work, a schedule/ list can give you a lot of extra time each day to focus on other things than housework!
Tomorrow I will talk about how to get some help with your work load.
Thursday I'll be chatting about feeding your crew.
And Friday I'll discuss everybody's favorite topic: laundry!
But until then, you can click on the banner and read all the other topics the Crew is writing about this week! 

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