Second-Generation Scheduling

As my life has entered a new stage because of being a grandmother, I am now seeing the benefits of using a schedule in the next generation. Not only is a schedule helping my granddaughter, Abigail, with her daily life, but her mommy, Melanie, is developing the pieces of her schedule beyond what I learned to do with mine. Because our daughter-in-law was recently on pregnancy bed rest for many weeks, the Maxwell ”girls” have been part of the team that takes turns going in to take care of Melanie and Abigail while Nathan works. This has allowed me to observe Melanie’s scheduling of Abigail’s time and the results in Abigail’s life. Because I regularly get questions regarding what one might put on a preschooler’s schedule, I thought you might like a glimpse into the one I am most familiar with right now.

Mealtimes are on the schedule: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since the time Nathan arrives home for dinner varies some, dinnertime is ultimately based upon when he is available. Before meals, Abigail, who turned two in May, has some simple jobs that she helps with, such as setting the silverware and napkins on the table, making salads (the ingredients are prepared in advance), and helping Mommy get things out of the cupboard. Although her “help” at this age probably slows Melanie down, it is productive use of Abigail’s time. It is teaching her to work, and it is training her for jobs that she will soon be able to accomplish independently. After the meals, Abigail again has some chores that she does while Melanie is cleaning up. She can clear her dishes, wipe her high chair tray with a dishrag, put a few items away, and sweep in the kitchen with her mini-broom.

Melanie chose to try baby potty training, so Abigail has been going potty on the toilet since she was quite young. She is just beginning to be able to consistently communicate to Melanie when she needs to go, so she is still on scheduled potty trips. This happened every hour at first and now every hour and a half, involving five to ten minutes.

Not only does Melanie include Abigail in her kitchen chores, but she also has scheduled a daily chore time after breakfast. Abigail goes with Melanie (or whoever is the current bed rest helper) as she tidies up the house, helping to put things away. She has a little broom to use when Melanie sweeps the kitchen floor, swishes her feather duster as Melanie does her dusting, puts dirty clothes into the washing machine, and moves clean wet clothes to the dryer. Making Abigail part of Melanie’s daily work productively occupies Abigail’s time, teaches her how to work, equips her with skills she can build upon as she matures, and keeps Melanie and Abigail together.

Midmorning following breakfast and chore time, both Melanie and Abigail take a break. They call it naptime, but it is more of a slow down since neither of them actually sleeps. Abigail drinks a small bottle and then cuddles on Melanie for ten minutes. After that time is up, Melanie spends the remainder of the half hour reading out loud to Abigail.

Abigail has twenty minutes in the morning schedule called blanket time. For this, Melanie puts a blanket on the living room floor with several toys on it. Abigail is to play on the blanket alone with the toys but not get off the blanket. Because Melanie started working with Abigail several months ago and taught her to stay on the blanket, when Melanie says it is blanket time, Abigail knows just where to go and what to do.

Last in the morning, Melanie has scheduled school time for herself and Abigail. During this half hour, Melanie does simple preschool activities with Abigail. The ones I have observed were stringing large beads onto a thick string and putting designated objects on a mat that had big numbers on it. They also work puzzles together and are practicing colors and letters.

When school is completed, the next time block involves making lunch, eating, and cleaning up, and after that it is naptime. This includes preparation for the nap, which means going potty, getting a diaper on, and drinking a small bottle. Abigail’s nap is scheduled for a certain amount of time, but if she wakes up early, she is allowed to get up.

After naptime on the schedule comes snack time. Abigail participates in getting the snack food out in addition to enjoying the eating time with Mommy. Melanie is always looking for little tasks that Abigail can do to be a “helper” girl. It would be easier for Melanie to do the work herself, but these are the formative years when good habits are being instilled into those little lives.

Weather permitting, when the snack has been eaten, Abigail has a half hour of outside playtime. This might mean a walk with one of her aunts plus Grandma and Grandad, or it could be playing in the backyard with Aunt Mary or Mommy.

Once Abigail comes inside after her play-outside time, she has a read-aloud time with Grandma two days a week and her Daddy CD the other days. I have collected a bag of toddler and preschool reading books that I tote over to Melanie’s house to read to Abigail. Abigail looks forward to “read books,” and it is wonderful grandmother and granddaughter time.

The Daddy CD is a CD that Nathan recorded of him talking to Abigail, sharing his heart with her, and teaching her things he wants her to learn. Abigail spends this time in her crib with special toys that are put in the crib with her that she only plays with during her play-alone time. Melanie, or whoever is helping, takes Abigail to her room for her Daddy time. They turn on the CD together, get out the toys, and put Abigail in the crib. When the CD ends, we know it is time for Abby’s play-alone time to be over. (For more information on how to create a Daddy CD, Steve will be writing about it in his next month’s Corner.)

There is time in Abigail’s schedule that is called “playtime with Mommy.” During this half hour each afternoon, Melanie sits with Abigail on the floor near Abigail’s toys and plays with her. It is a designated amount of time so that both Melanie and Abigail know Melanie is going to be giving Abigail playing attention. This helps free Melanie from feeling like she needs to continually play with Abigail, and it also keeps Abigail from always asking Melanie to play with her.

The evening is somewhat scheduled, but dinner is flexible based on when Nathan can get home from work. Nathan’s evening schedule can be found in Steve’s newest book for men, called Redeeming the Time. After dinner there always seems to be something to do, but Abigail has a set a bedtime to which they adhere. That means that family Bible time, evening bottle, teeth brushing, and getting jammies on are scheduled in the proper order just before bedtime.

This structure brings stability to Abigail’s day. It allows her to learn the day’s schedule and anticipate each activity that will be happening. It helps Melanie meet Abigail’s needs and have time for those teaching and relationship activities that can easily be pushed aside in the rush of the day. It also allows those who step in to help when Melanie is on bed rest or just not able to be up as much as normal to know what to do with Abby. Melanie has to make a decision each day and throughout the day as to whether she is going to follow the schedule or do other things.

There is a special peace that comes from the productivity and efficiency of using a schedule, not to mention the building of relationships that can be part of the scheduled activities. I am not implying that every mom’s schedule would look like Melanie and Abigail’s. However, I am encouraging you to prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do each day and then develop a schedule to help you move toward that goal.

For more scheduling help, we recommend Managers of Their Homes.

Go Green – Part 2

Last month we began looking at how we teach our children that time is the most precious, irreplaceable ”commodity” we have. We treasure time because we have a very limited and unknown amount of it. We begin to teach our children to value their time by modeling for them correct attitudes and behavior in how we manage our time. Last month’s Corner would be helpful to read prior to reading this Corner if you haven’t previously read it. We will conclude our discussion this month.

Family Bible time is an excellent opportunity to teach the basis for right decisions including how to value time. Foundational truths that we want our children to live by can be taught during family Bible time. As we go through Scripture with our children, we will discover verses that speak directly to a particular topic such as time management and other verses that we can use to teach secondary applications.

Two good examples of verses with a primary application of valuing time are: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16), and “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5).

There are also many other sections that teach about time from a secondary application. I picked three passages from Mark fairly close together as examples of how easy it is to use Bible time to highlight a particular topic.

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). In this verse, I would call attention to how John the Baptist is conveying a sense of urgency. Time is passing; and therefore, one can’t assume a decision for how to utilize our time can be put off for the future. It may be too late if it is delayed. Therefore, the correct decision must be chosen and acted upon immediately. If we don’t make the right decisions for our time, we may not receive a second chance to do something. We must use our time wisely. The few short years of childhood must be spent wisely preparing for adulthood and serving the Lord. If wasted, they can’t be reclaimed.

“And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat” (Mark 6:32-36).

In this passage, I would discuss how the people saw an opportunity to be with Jesus and took it. They dropped what they were doing and ran to be with Him. If they would have chosen to spend their time having fun, they would have missed being able to hear Jesus teach.

These people wisely made the best choice for how to use their time at that particular moment. As a result, they were able to listen to Jesus for an entire day. Then there was an added blessing—Jesus performed a miracle by feeding them all. In a similar fashion, as we choose to follow Jesus in how we spend our time, there will be good fruit that is reaped. As we spend time with Jesus, He desires to take what we have learned and apply it to our lives.

“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

From these verses, I would point out to my family how the Lord gives back to us far beyond whatever one might perceive to lose. Here Jesus was promising that there are blessings in eternity that far out weigh any sacrifices that we make on this earth. As we choose the best use of time, we must believe Jesus’ words that the eternal benefit far outweighs any earthly benefit.

Family Bible times are wonderful teaching times, and I’ve given a few examples of how you can use them to teach the value of time to your family. They will be blessed if you catch a vision for the wealth of practical teachings at your fingertips each evening while you are in the Word together.

Another great tool to teach our children to value time is for us to personally have and follow a schedule. We emphasized last month how our example is very important in imprinting truth in the lives of our children. Certainly having a schedule is a key aspect of this modeling process. Our schedules should reflect the vision that God has given us for our family.

Your children will observe that you are following a schedule because time is precious and not to be wasted. They will see that you want to be a good steward of your time. Our children need to see that Dad doesn’t waste his time on unprofitable things and that Dad spends his time with a view on eternity.

There can be much talk about how valuable our time is, but if we still choose to waste our time doing what the world does, we’ve gained nothing with our children. Instead, we’ve taught them that time is for our pleasure and enjoyment not the Lord’s glory. “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:4-5).

Our schedules should dovetail nicely with our wives’ schedules. Their schedules will include all the children and detail how each one will spend his time during the day. It is a great opportunity to discuss with the children why we do certain things and other things we avoid because they are a waste of time. To pray with the children and ask the Lord to direct in how He wants them to use their time highlights for them that all of our time is His time, and it is to be used as He directs. This ties back into those family Bible time discussions of time and how time should be spent.

If the children are young then Mom, consulting with Dad, will create their schedules. The older and more responsible they are, then they should be able to work with Dad and Mom to make their own schedules that will mesh with the family’s schedule. If they need a resource to help them, the young men could read Redeeming the Time and the young ladies Managers of Their Homes. Why not give your children a jumpstart in an area of life in which many parents are lacking? Time management is a great discipline to have, and with that skill your children will be far more effective in life.

These years of discipling our children are important in preparing them for life. Just as our children do schoolwork each day so they are properly educated for their adult lives, we need to teach our children to value time and then help them to implement what they have learned. If we teach them these truths, but let them waste their time in front of a TV, playing video games, or participating in sports, we’ve gained nothing. However, if we model for our children the value of time, teach them Scripture’s view on time, help them to make wise decisions on how they spend their time, and use a schedule as a family, we will be a tremendous blessing to our children.

If you would like more encouragement for how to raise children who will value and not waste time I recommend Preparing Sons.