I often tend to set unrealistic standards of what my home should look like. I notice everything around the house that is not “just right” and tend to feel like a failure if my standards are not met. This kind of thinking really keeps me moving! While I am, for example, cleaning the bathrooms, I might notice that the floors could use a mopping. So after the bathrooms, I’ll fetch the mop and bucket. While mopping, I might notice that the living room tables have lots of little fingerprints on them, and I’m off to do that next. While wiping the fingerprints, I’ll notice something else, and so on. Before I know it, it could be lunch time and I might have completely neglected to do anything meaningful with the children, and given only a cursory glance over their school work.
Having a daily plan is absolutely essential to keep me on task! Here are a few tools I have implemented to keep me focused:
Chore Charts and Habits Lists are great for keeping children on task, but we moms may also benefit from visual reminders of what we should be doing. You may have noticed that in my description of our family’s daily chores, I include my own name on the Chore Chart right along with the kids. Having days set apart for particular tasks keeps me from getting sidetracked and overwhelmed by the many other areas of need I may notice in the home, because I know that there is a day designated for those other duties. My floor might need mopped, but if I have a day designated for that task, I will not become sidetracked by it.
An extremely detailed schedule would feel confining to me, but having some sort of written daily routine is helpful. I rarely need to refer to my schedule, but the process of writing one out forces me to think it through and make a plan for how I will accomplish the various things I need to do each day. Others may prefer very detail-oriented, but I keep mine generalized and flexible. My current schedule looks something like this:
7:00 rise, personal Bible time, morning routine, dress little ones
8:00 breakfast, chores, kids free time
9:30 homeschooling routine….
Before I ever began writing down my schedule, I already had natural routines in place, but they were far from efficient. Having a planned routine keeps me focused and purposeful.
A simple schedule like mine is very easy to write and implement. However, if you prefer a more structured schedule, an excellent resource is Managers of their Homes by Teri Maxwell. Mrs. Maxwell gives excellent instructions on how to create a schedule for yourself and each of your children (even the babies!) She also shares many “sample” schedules that readers have implemented.
Another helpful tool for keeping our days running smoothly has been a large dry-erase board. On this board, I draw several large blocks. Blocks of space are designated for each member of the family. In my block of space, we jot down any reminders that we need, such as phone calls to make, focus areas to tackle, home maintenance items, or school projects for the kids. I used to write these notes in spiral bound notebooks, but I like the memo board better because it is much more visual, and because it saves an incredible amount of paper.
In the middle of the board is a menu plan. On the left, I write down my plan for that day’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the right, I list the main dinner dishes that I am planning to make in the upcoming days, of which I have all ingredients on hand. This section of my memo board gives me a visual reminder to give some thought to our meals, so that I am always ahead in my planning.
Here you can see our memo board, with most names temporarily blacked out for privacy purposes. I’ve erased most of our notes because I’m a little conscientious about sharing the detailed goings-on in our lives. I share it here just to give a visual idea of what I’m talking about.
My grocery list is made up of blocks. Each block is headed by a particular area of the grocery store, for example, “Fresh Produce,” “Frozen Foods,” or “Pantry Items.” I print off 10 or 15 of these lists at a time and use a magnetic clip to hold them on the refrigerator. When I notice I need something, I write the item down under the appropriate category. When I go to the grocery store, my list is already categorized, enabling me to be in and out of the grocery store very quickly.