As you would probably imagine with a large family, there is a lot of structure to our daily lives. Yes, at times, it’s more like controlled chaos, but still some kind of routine is necessary if for no other reason but mom’s sanity. I know that having all the meal planners and house cleaning schedules and extra detailed planners works for many moms, but I am just simply not one of them. I do like lists, but our lives need to be a little more flexible than that. If a baby is teething and fussy all day, or I forgot to get a much needed item at the grocery store, or Daddy has to stay late at work, our schedule rolls right along with it. So, like a lot of other things we try to do around here, I schedule “with grace.”
This is something I’ve had to learn over the course of having a few kids, to be honest. I remember with my first, I would freak out if I didn’t get her down for a nap at just the right moment or if meals weren’t at the same exact time every day. But when you have a houseful, you learn to relax with the little things and focus on the bigger things that actually matter. And I personally feel like I’m in some ways a better example for my kids, being a little more flexible when life happens.
With all of that said, though, I still believe that kids do well with a routine… at least I know mine do. So we’ve found something that works for us. We may not start our breakfast or school time at the exact same minute each day, but it is around the same time and each child knows what is going to happen next. Assuming they don’t forget. That happens too, probably more often in my house than you’d ever imagine.
If you aren’t a planner by nature, but feel a little more structure would help your family, maybe something a little more relaxed like how we’ve set up our daily routine would work better for you? You can still put in time frames if it works for you. Or maybe you prefer bullet points. If you want to try out a daily routine, I’d suggest you start with the things in your schedule that aren’t flexible (i.e. sports practice, school pick up time, etc…) and then fill in around it as best you can. If something takes less or more time than expected, then just proceed with the next thing on the list when you’re done. Here’s what mine looks like currently….
With six kids in the house, four of which are homeschooled, you can imagine that I need to keep things organized so I don’t forget what needs to be done. But believe me, there are days that they take forever eating a meal or doing their morning chores, or whatever it may be and we just keep moving through our day. Occasionally I do need to sit down and rework it if my timing is way off or if something big in our days have changed, like recently my youngest son quitting naps.
For me, it’s been freeing to be able to still have some kind of structure in our house without worrying about perfection, which just isn’t real life. I believe I’m actually more productive most of the time by having some kind of plan written out too. I just have this routine stuck on my refrigerator and a basic wall calendar for other notable events. For me, keeping a structure, while keeping it simple, has been a good fit for us.
Kids are truly amazing, but kids are very much still learning; and sometimes how they get things done may not be in the same way or in the same time as we would do things. Providing a framework and helping them to succeed by having a plan is important, but having grace in the process I believe is as well. Are you a planner? I’d love to hear planning tips you’ve found that work for you!