Having made literally hundreds of schedules over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of my life, I’ve pretty much nailed the process.
Let me show you how you can craft one to meet the unique needs of your family, in minutes.
Get ready to re-gain control mama!
- Lined notepad (preferably A4, but really anything will do, even a plain A5)
- Pencil & Rubber
- Black pen
- Coloured pens/pencil crayons (optional)
Step 1 – Jot down the needs of you and your family
To stay strong, patient and in control during the challenges of Covid-19, you’re going to NEED to balance your life more than ever before.
That means making sure you give enough time to fulfil the needs of your
The same goes for your kids. You need to make sure their daily lives are balanced too. If you all get a well-rounded day and a good sleep at night, everything is much easier to navigate, and daily life will be far more pleasant.
Step 2 – Mark out the hours in your day
On a clean sheet of A4, on the topmost line, write the hour you roughly start your day or would like to start your day at. Then on every OTHER line (miss a line) write the next hour until the hour you end your day.
The missed line marks half past the hour. You can write on those line 4.30, 5.30 if you like.
Every line equals half an hour. Every two lines equals 1 hour. The top of the line is the start of the hour/half hour.
Being an introvert, I cherish early mornings as I need plenty of time to myself, alone! I aim to get at least 4 sleep cycles most nights in the week (that’s roughly 6 hours) so I try to fall asleep by 10/10.30pm. That’s why you can see my schedule starting at 4/4.30am.
Step 3 – Write in your daily routines
From now on, use a pencil to craft your schedule until you’re absolutely happy with it (you may need to rub things out until you get it right).
Mark in the times your kids wake, breakfast, prayers, lunch, dinner, bedtime etc. The things you do everyday that don’t change. If you don’t have set times, this is the time to change that.
Creating routines in your day that DO NOT change are essential for good family and home management. Again the timings can be flexible depending on your day to day needs and situations, but aim to stick to the times you set for these things here, on more days than not. If you keep consistent in that, over time, you’ll find that these routines become habits. And habits are what we’re aiming for!
Step 4 – Block off the remaining time slots
Now I like to take my pencil again and block out the rest of the time into squares, so I can see how much time is left.
Children (and you) need plenty of connection to maintain healthy relationships. So I make sure I dedicate time for that in the morning and evening.
Connection doesnt mean I’m sitting with them one-to-one every day, and having deep conversations. In reality, I am getting my toddler dressed, washed and ready for the day while giving hugs, smiles and salaams as the older ones do the same for themselves. In the evenings, it looks more like a quick house reset together, with everyone pitching in whilst having running conversation. It often ends with us slumped on the sofa as I try my best to listen to all things Minecraft and The Ranger’s Apprentice (my kids current favourite book series).
Step 5 – Split your day into morning and afternoon
By blocking off your schedule like this, the day wont feel as long. Make the activities you do in the morning different to the afternoon.
If you spend time with your kids in the morning being present, mindful and hands-on, your kids will feel connected and grounded. They are better able to cooperate and behave more amicably, so that in the afternoon you won’t have to be as hands-on (and not even in the same room if your kids are older).
Of course, being completely present, mindful and hands-on for 5 hours in the morning means that both you and them are going to run out of energy fast. So make sure you block out half an hour midway, for a SIGNIFICANT SNACK! Eat something wholegrain or protein-packed as these both give you sustained energy levels as opposed to a bit of fruit, a pack of crisps or a biscuit!
Step 6 – Allocate appropriate activities to your AM schedule
We have the most energy in the morning, so that’s the time to do brain work and physical activity with your kids. If you’re well and not self-isolating, you can still take a trip to the park. Go for a walk, explore nature and bond with your kids. Just make sure to keep a distance from others who are out and about too.
If you have a garden, or space for kids to run around, please please let them go outside for fresh air and exercise.
If you cant do any of the above, then move aside the furniture (yes, do it) and run races, play games or have a fun workout. It’s all about what your real priorities are.
Mornings are also the time for any schoolwork or homework you might want your kids to do. If you’re setting the work yourself, try to find as creative activities and ideas as you can. I don’t mean paint and glue and scissors necessarily, although that might be your thing, I mean things like creative writing, online maths games, reading books aloud to them and asking questions to help them comprehend… The more learning is fun, the more they’ll cooperate and be pleasant to be around.
Step 7 - Allocate appropriate activities to your PM schedule
My kids are 100% ready for screen time by the afternoon. If you’ve had a well-connected and present morning with your kids, the afternoon should be a breeze.
Set them a few chores to get done after lunch and set a time for screen time or anything else they look forward to. My kids usually have half an hour of Minecraft but I’ve listened to their recent request and increased it (by 10 mins ;)) during Covid-19. They take it in turns and have set time slots each, so once their chores are done they get to start their fun.
This also means I get to leave them room and do what I need to. (Hurray!)
Step 8 – Finalise your schedule
Play around with your pencil and rubber until your happy with your schedule. You may have some overlaps but that is totally normal for a multi-tasking mama.
Now go in with pens and colours to customise and finalise your schedule as you like. I like to use a few simple coloured marker pens to block off the different sections of my day. That way I can see how much balance I’ve created. Visuals are always great.
And that’s a wrap... Or is it?
Realistically, once you start implementing your schedule, you might find areas which you didn’t account for or find the timings and activities weren’t quite right. Please do take time to re-adjust or re-do your schedule.
Like I said at the start of this post, I have created 100’s of schedules over the last 10 years, because the needs of growing families are always diverse and ever-changing.
You’re still better off with one than without. So don’t give up on keeping a schedule after your first go.
If you have a go at making your own schedule, I’d love to see it! Please share it with me on Instagram by tagging @theyareourfuture