Balance and Discipline (1): Daily Schedule

The first step of reaching my goal of finding a better balance between work, prayer, self-care, and recreation in 2015 and developing the discipline to keep it balanced is to set-up a realistic daily schedule.  My days need a mix of steady routine and flexibility.  (Disclaimer #1: this felt basically impossible in the days when I had a child under the age of 2 in the house.)

In the past I’ve used Excel spreadsheets to set up 30-minute by 30-minute (a la A Mother’s Rule of Life) schedule charts for the kids and myself.  This time I wanted something a little less stringent and paper-consuming, something that I could print out on a 4 x 6 index card.  This is what I developed.

DAILY SCHEDULE
Morning Prep
Coffee & Morning Prayer
Dressed for the Day
Schoolwork (8:30)
Lunch (11:30)
Chores (12:30)
Cassidy Nap (1:30)
Coffee & Afternoon Prayer
Dinner (2:30)
Recreation (3:30)
Chores (4:30)
Evening Prayer (5:30)
Snack
Recreation
Bedtime Snacks (8:00)
Bedtime Prep (8:30)
Bedtime Routines (9:00)

Disclaimer #2:  I didn’t totally reinvent the wheel when setting up this daily schedule.  Some of it is based on rhythms that seemed to kind of naturally develop in our day.  For instance, if we aren’t done with schoolwork by 11:30 bad things happen.  It’s like feeding mogwai after midnight (and I’m just as bad as the kids).  So, by 11:30 we are just ready for school to be DONE.  And I am also usually pretty hungry for lunch and in need of an hour of recreation.

If the toddler gets up at around 8:00 in the morning, then she is normally ready for her nap at around 1:30.  And I’m usually ready for my second cup of coffee then, too.

My oldest is starving when she gets home from school, and the kids often have sports practice or activities at what would be considered a normal dinner time.  I realized last year that it made more sense to move dinner earlier to kill two birds with one stone.  I also found that it made our evenings more peaceful in general.  So, the 2:30 designation for Dinner signals to start cooking.

Bedtime snacks at 8:00 followed by routines at 9:00 has been in place for months, especially on school nights.  Putting five kids to bed at night is often an hour and half process.

Disclaimer #3:  My main focus for this schedule is weekdays.  On weekends and days off of school, I am hoping to keep some of the basic pegs in place with schoolwork being taken over by extra chores (0r recreation).

Disclaimer #4:  Life happens.  So while the times are listed there to try to keep the day on track, the order of things is more important than the exact hour or minute.

Disclaimer #5:  In the past I would have tried to keep to this strict schedule starting on day one, and after about three days I would have totally burnt myself out.  But this is less about keeping a schedule than trying to establish new habits, which must be developed over time.  The human psyche can only handle so much change.  For the past month, I’ve just been trying to cement the first four hours of the day, and I’m slowly working on the early afternoon.  I would like to have the habits of this new schedule fully in place by this August.

Over the next few posts I’ll be fleshing out some of the aspects and expectations for finding balance and discipline within my routine.

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