For many homeschooling families who take a summer break from school, planning for the next academic year is now in process. There is a tool, which we have used in our home for many years, that has enabled our homeschooling to be successful. We have reports every day from others who are discovering this powerful help for the homeschool calling and responsibility the Lord has put into their lives. I want to encourage you to avail yourself of this simple means of facilitating your school days.
It is common for me to be asked how I manage to homeschool, to be a wife and mother of a large family, and to take care of my home. The answer is easy. I use a schedule. This is the mechanism the Lord has directed me to use for budgeting my time. It has been one of the greatest practical blessings He has given me to enable fulfillment of the responsibilities He has put into my life.
Some would say that the structure of a schedule is too confining. However, in reality the schedule gives freedom. This mom shares her experience with a schedule by describing the benefits she finds in structure versus the negative consequences of a free-spirited lifestyle:
“There will be such freedom once you are implementing the schedule you’ve decided is best for your family and that the Lord has led you to! It’s easy to listen to the lie from the enemy that just winging it is actually easier, that you’ll have more freedom that way, and that being proactive in your parenting, schooling, and daily life is more work. Really, I’ve found that it’s far harder to REACT all day than to PLAN your routine and rest in it. You’ll have a billion fewer decisions to make, which brings peace, enjoyment of your children, rest in the good things you’re able to teach, and a sense of accomplishment in what you’re able to do in a day.”
A schedule is one of the best ways we have to achieve our homeschooling goals and to feel encouraged by what we are doing. Perhaps the number-one discourager of homeschooling moms is not accomplishing school and also getting behind in other tasks. A schedule sets aside time for the priorities the Lord has placed into our lives. Look at the difference in this mom’s home after one week of using her schedule as compared to the previous weeks:
“We just started our schedule last week. I am so excited with the results so far. My kids have always done better with structure, and this is just what we needed. My house is being maintained, meals are on time (and I have a helper to boot), laundry is kept up, and we are getting more accomplished in our schoolwork than we ever have. I’ve been able to schedule a half hour of Bible study with the kids (two times a day at that), and I’m also giving each one a piano lesson once a week. The kids are scheduled a half hour in the morning and half hour in the afternoon for doing chores, and we are getting more housework done than ever. I’ve even got cleaning baseboards on my schedule now! I was skeptical at first that this would make drastic changes in our life, but I am convinced now. We just had a peaceful weekend because everything had been done throughout the week so we weren’t scrambling to catch up on Saturday.”
There will be times during this school year when Mom is sick, away for a day or more, or for some other reason isn’t able to participate in her normal daily routine. What happens then? Does everything fall apart because Mom isn’t able to tell each family member what to do throughout the day? Does school stop? Does the house become a disaster? It doesn’t have to be that way. A schedule makes it possible for the family to keep doing what they are supposed to be doing even when Mom isn’t fulfilling her normal role in the schedule. This testimonial relates the reality of Mom in bed when the household is running on a schedule:
“I can really see changes since implementing the schedule. And I’ll add another blessing I just experienced. I was sick in bed all day yesterday with a virus or something. I am up and around today and was amazed that the house looked great. The kids were able to do what needed to be done because of the schedule. That never would have been the case before.”
A schedule is a slave to help us. It is not a slave driver that we are required to obey. We use our schedules to allow us to follow the Lord’s direction for our days. However, when He brings interruptions into our schedule, that schedule can help us deal with them. This mom shares how she uses her schedule to her advantage when there are special needs:
“The biggest thing for me is realizing that it’s OK if I don’t do every single thing on my schedule each day. The important thing is that I have a plan and if we fall off, it’s easy to jump right back in. I have to remind myself that even doing half the schedule is better than what we were doing before we had the schedule. On our schedule, I give myself an hour in the morning for chores, but sometimes I use that hour for quiet time, nap or unwind time if it’s been a rough week. In the afternoons, I have an hour for errands, special projects, phone calls, etc., and then later an hour for chores/dinner prep. When I need flex time for myself, I try to use those times on my schedule so that I don’t get the kids off of theirs.”
Scheduling isn’t a task we have to undertake on our own. The Lord has given us valuable help and support for this endeavor through our husbands. Most men are leaders and problem solvers. They can give direction to their wives on their time priorities and usage. Sometimes in making up a schedule, we will find we have thirty hours of activities we are trying to fit into twenty-four-hour days. No wonder we feel overwhelmed. A husband can prayerfully help his wife discern her priorities and whether her time usage reflects those priorities. Taking schedule stumpers to a problem-solving husband is the natural solution the Lord has put into our lives. This story shares how a husband can help with the scheduling process:
“Have you taken your schedule to your husband? I know this has been KEY for me even though I am still struggling. Seeking his input on how to order the days has helped tremendously. If he is willing, I recommend purchasing Manager of His Home, the audio workshop. This tremendously helped my husband and blessed me. We are learning to work more as a team, and I am learning to rely upon his leadership more.”
Scheduling keeps us on track for obediently following the Lord Jesus. Titus 2:4-5 tells us that we are to love our husbands, love our children, and be keepers at home. For homeschooling moms, we have the added calling from the Lord to homeschool our children. Our schedules help us to make sure our time usage is lined up with our calling. Here is a mom who tells us how her schedule keeps her accountable to her God-given priorities:
“My husband is a pastor, and I am his wife and helpmeet. Each year that I pray through my new schedule, I am reminded that my ministry is first and foremost in the home. If I neglect my schedule, the house and children fall apart, which has a negative effect on my husband’s ministry that far outweighs the positives of me being with him all the time. I would encourage making a schedule that reflects the responsibilities that God has given you, and then sticking to that. While we like to do ministry as a family, and there are many opportunities for that, it’s at a level that is appropriate for children. They are not expected to work the 70-hour week that my husband does, just because ministry also happens to be his job. For me, my primary ministry is my family. The beauty of a schedule is the order.”
A schedule helps with maintaining a meek and quiet spirit. There are rewards and consequences built into a schedule that allow us not to be angry with the child who doesn’t apply himself to his task. Instead, we can let the natural consequences take effect and do the work of disciplining and training. In addition, a schedule should have reward-type activities that, without a schedule, a mom might tell her children they may do when they have time – but that day never arrives. This mom shares with us both the help a schedule was for her spirit and the rewards it provided for the children through the day:
“We stayed on schedule for the most part, and I felt great about it so the kids got a reward to play outside with their friends for a while this afternoon. We even had one of them over for dinner. I usually don’t let them play in the afternoon because we are so behind schedule by then that there is no time for them to be outside. The weather was great, so we ate lunch outside and had lots more fun than usual because we had stayed on track. My oldest is a dawdler, though, and decided to do that today. But I kept from getting angry and just stopped her from her activity when it was time, even though she wasn’t done, and had her complete her math during the afternoon free time when her sisters got to play. I am usually tempted to just let her finish her work slowly and not give her a consequence later of no free time, but because I have scheduled Science/History for all of us right after Table Time (writing, spelling, and math), I had to stop her so she could listen to the lesson. It worked great. Hopefully she will learn to stop dawdling, but from now on if she doesn’t she loses afternoon free time.”
Even those who have difficulties with schedules find the benefits their schedules bring to their families and homes make it worth the unnatural effort they have to put forth. The schedule brings productivity to busy lives that otherwise seem to be spinning out of control. It also provides balance in our lives and our children’s lives—balance to accomplish what the Lord Jesus has called us to do. This mom describes how her schedule has brought these benefits to her home and family:
“I am the only homeschooler in our extended family, with public educators on both sides, and we have been homeschooling for two years now. I learned about scheduling from Managers of Their Homes when we began, and it has been such a blessing to me and the children. I find I’m the one with the most trouble staying on or making a schedule. Anyway, I just had a compliment from my in-laws, who were cautious and concerned about our homeschooling. They were impressed with how much we’ve accomplished. I know we couldn’t do it without some structure and planning.”
One final benefit of a schedule I want to highlight has to do with our summer break from school. I wonder how many reading this article are doing school work through the summer, not by choice, but rather because they haven’t yet completed their year’s worth of work. A schedule has freed our family by enabling us to complete all our school work through our normal school year. Then, if we want to do any school in the summer, it is bonus work and not necessary-to-finish-the-year work. Here is a mom who has found this aspect of her schedule to be a true delight:
“I have been using my schedule from Managers of Their Homes now for almost a year. The benefits have been surprising and welcome!! Thank you. Also, part of the joy of having such a schedule during the school year is being able to totally break from it in the summer. Whoopeee!!!”
I have only scratched the surface of the benefits a schedule can bring to a homeschooling mom and her family. It is my hope and prayer that you will see what a schedule can do for you and choose now to begin planning your schedule for the upcoming school year. If you need help with scheduling, our book Managers of Their Homes will give you step-by-step directions and a scheduling kit to direct you through the scheduling process. If you have used a schedule in the past but have gotten off track, may I encourage you to once again pick up your scheduling pieces and prayerfully plan your schedule? I am continually grateful to the Lord for His mercy in teaching me about scheduling. I need my schedule to accomplish what He has called me to do, whether it be what is on the schedule or interruptions He brings in the midst of the schedule. The schedule helps me with both. Perhaps you need the joys a schedule affords as well.