An incredibly important aspect of homemaking is how we manage our time.
There are so many things that need to be done, that sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do first.
I always enjoy seeing how other people manage their time, so I thought I would share a typical day at our house. (For even more peeks into our life, follow me on Instagram!)
Instead of just sharing our ideal schedule, though, I'm going to first share my ideal and then share the reality. This will give you a chance to get ideas of how you might like to order your day as well as see the pitfalls where I mess up and how you can do it better.
If you're trying to glean tips for better productivity and time management, you can learn from my mistakes just as well as from the things I do right.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO: Ideally I should be up by 6 or 6:30 in the morning. If I want to accomplish everything on my yearly goals list, this is the time that I need to get up each day.
HOW IT REALLY GOES: 7 AM is usually about the earliest I get up. I would honestly love to be up much earlier than this every day. I cherish the quiet that I do get, and I know I could accomplish some more of my personal and business goals if I had more quiet time in the mornings.
But after struggling with chronic illness for many years, I have learned that I need to take my days slow and gentle. When I push myself too hard, I end up crashing and then I'm really not very productive at all!
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO: If I'm not up by now, this is when I will typically wake up on my own. I read my Bible, use my prayer journal, and go over my to-do list for the day.
Usually the kids start waking up one by one during this time. The bigger ones will start on their own morning routines and the little ones will snuggle with me for a while.
HOW IT REALLY GOES: This is the one part of my day that usually goes according to schedule. I have been blessed with 5 really good sleepers (here's how I helped my kids to sleep through the night when they were babies.) In fact, they sleep so well, that I often have to wake them up! I love having this time in the morning to get myself going slowly and gently.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO: At this point I am supposed to get the kids up and going so that we can get started on our school day by 9:00.
HOW IT REALLY GOES: This is when I play things by ear. If the kids have not stirred by this point, I leave them be and get a little computer work done, whether that's developing products for my shop, planning my menu, or doing my online shopping.
Ideally, if I want to follow the schedule I've written, I should be getting them up and going at this point, but I normally can't find the determination within myself to wake up 5 sleeping children and end the blissful silence.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO: By this time, all the children are usually awake and I start breakfast. I usually cook eggs or oatmeal for the kids and make a smoothie for myself. I don't really care for most breakfast foods, and I add enough stuff to my smoothies that they keep me going until lunch without a problem.
While I'm making breakfast, the kids are doing their morning routines, which include getting dressed, fixing their hair, tidying their rooms and reading their Bibles. Once they've done those things, they make their way to the breakfast table.
After everyone eats, I leave breakfast cleanup to the kids while I get myself dressed, fix my hair, and get the baby dressed (okay, she's 2, but I can still call her a baby, right?)
HOW IT REALLY GOES: This part of the day goes more or less like I've listed above, but I can promise you that I am putting out lots of fires during this time too. Whether it's sibling arguments (okay, let's be honest, sometimes they are full-out fights), cleaning up some crazy mess the toddler makes behind my back, or like today – finding our dog who had broken his line and run off to play with his canine friends at the neighbor's house, I am often running around, completely out of breath, just trying to keep up with whatever is going on in my house.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO:
I would love it if we could have school well underway by this time, ideally doing the bulk of our work from 9 AM to 12 PM.
HOW IT REALLY GOES: Hopefully by this time we are ready to start school if we haven't already. It really just depends on how early everyone wakes up. We do things in the same order every day, so it all gets done. We just finish earlier or later depending on what time we got started.
First, we spend all together “one room schoolhouse” style. We do Bible, scripture memory, language arts, history, science, handwriting, and any other fun activities we decide to do. This is our favorite time of day when we are all together and everyone is (usually) still in a good mood. If there is anything the little ones can't participate in, they usually color quietly, but sometimes I am interrupted by a whiny 2 year old who wants markers instead of crayons and isn't happy with me when I say no.
After we finish the things we can do all together, I send the 2 oldest kids to work on their daily chores while the middle 2 go with me to the other room to do their math and reading lessons. I have always kept the oldest 2 kids basically on the same level with their school subjects, and then I did the same thing with the next 2. It will feel weird when the youngest child gets into school and does everything all by herself. But of course she already tries to participate as much as she can!
When the middle kids are done with math and reading, we switch and I send them to do their chores while the older 2 do their math lesson with me.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO: It's not a problem for us to eat a late lunch since we do not get up and eat breakfast terribly early. We all eat, straighten up the kitchen, and the kids finish their chores if they haven't already. After I eat my own lunch, I take the time to do my own household chores and any other miscellaneous tasks on my to-do list.
HOW IT REALLY GOES: To be totally honest, sometimes our day starts falling apart at this point. My brain is worn out after a full morning, and the brain fog that accompanies chronic illness settles in. I often can't figure out what we should be doing next, even though I have a written schedule.
I'll fix the little ones something to eat, get myself something to eat, and then go hide in my room for a bit to settle my brain down. The bigger kids are perfectly capable of getting themselves something for lunch and cleaning up their mess. (The question is whether or not they do clean it up!)
After I eat, I will fold whatever clothes are in my room, throw in a new load of laundry, and then go outside for a while.
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO:
As long as the kids are finished with their chores and any miscellaneous homework assignments I've given them, they are free for the rest of the afternoon. They can go outside, play on their Kindles (all they have is eBooks and educational games on there, plus they automatically shut down after a certain amount of time), do arts and crafts, play the piano, pretty much anything that strikes their fancy. Everything I have available to them is either educational, active, or in some way profitable for their minds and bodies.
The 2 year old goes down for her nap at this time.
HOW IT REALLY GOES:
While the kids are having their free time and the little one is napping, I am free to work on blogging or other computer-related tasks.
However, most days I don't really get a whole lot done during this time. I'm usually pretty tired so I will often take some intentional down time. My brain is firing all day with homeschooling, breaking up sibling fights, and trying to calm girl drama, so sometimes I need some time to just rest and think about nothing! (Hello, mindless Instagram scrolling! This is my time to indulge guilt-free for a little while.)
Unfortunately, I don't always get to rest either. I may hear that the kids are arguing, or like any mother, I just feel like I need to keep checking on them, so my rest time is still not always restful.
If I do get any blogging or other computer work done, this is when it happens, though.
The fruit of some of my afternoon labors
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO
At this point the plan is for me to inspect the kids' chores so that they can re-do them if necessary, then I start prepping supper.
HOW IT REALLY GOES
Sometimes I get into the middle of working on something and I don't go out to the kitchen right at 4:00. Once I get in a zone I have a hard time switching gears.
Some days I go out to start supper and I get distracted with a bunch of other things – I'll decide to switch out the laundry again, or I'll realize how nice the weather is and decide to go outside (who wants to be cooped up in a kitchen when the weather is beautiful?!)
5PM – 10PM
HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO:Ideally I would have supper done and ready to go by the time my husband gets home from work. Then we could all sit down to eat, clean up the kitchen, and get the kids to bed early every night. (Which means I could go to bed earlier every night.)
HOW IT REALLY GOES:
I'm often late getting dinner onto the table (because I was probably busy playing outside instead of cooking!) which pushes the whole evening back, which then pushes the kids' bedtime back, which then puts me getting to bed later, which puts me getting up later, which causes me to have less quiet morning time to work on my personal goals.
I've started taking steps to get dinner on the table earlier. Hint: it doesn't require trying to force myself to get out to the kitchen earlier. I've learned that trying to force myself to fit into a mold that's not my personality only makes me rebel against it and makes things worse. Instead, I've been focusing more on using the weekends to prepare meals to put into the freezer. This way I have dinner already prepared, and if I want to go play with my kids instead of making dinner, I am completely free to do so!
We also need to implement a better bedtime routine – we often just get busy enjoying one another's company (which is a good thing!) but our time together often continues on indefinitely until we finally realize how late it is and then end up rushing everyone off to bed.
Of course, there's no way I could include the dozens of interruptions I have all throughout the day – potty training that needs to be attended to NOW, little girl drama that needs my gentle attention, spills that must be cleaned, boo-boos to patch up, and on and on it goes.
Every time I write or speak about productivity, my main thrust is always the same.
True productivity cannot be attained without an accurate definition of productivity.
Does it really matter how many items you have crossed off your list if they weren't the most important things to do?
Is it really productive to have everything done at the end of the day if you ignored the things that were the most important?
So then the question must be asked:
What is the most important thing for me to do today?
For me, I believe it is to love my family well.
But loving my family well may look different from day to day. Some days I may need to discipline myself to get delicious meals on the table right on time because that's what they need the most. But other days I may need to give myself grace for not having an amazing supper prepared because I spent most of my time gently helping a girl work through raging emotions. I can be productive by helping a young boy research some question that is burning in his mind. Maybe that means I skip some of my housework to do so.
When I developed my Ultimate Goal Setting Planner, I intentionally designed it to help you determine your big-picture goals for your home, family, and personal life, and then to break those goals down smaller and smaller until your priorities for each day come into clear focus. You can spend less time feeling guilty for the things you didn't do and embrace each day with confidence that the items on your to-do list are the most important things.
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