Time Management for Homeschool Moms through Scheduling Perseverance

We know that time management is vital for busy homeschool mom to keep up with their multitude of responsibilities.  Sometimes I have moms ask me about the ongoing success rates of those who haven’t scheduled for time management and begin to do so. We don’t have a way to track that, but I hear from moms regularly via our conferences who tell me how grateful they are for their schedules. Some bring me problems with their schedules that we discuss and often come up with other solutions to try. Generally, though, these homeschooling moms are letting me know the positive changes in their time management they have achieved through using a schedule and how it has transformed their home life.

I would like to share a homeschool mom’s time management scheduling story with you that I recently received. It portrayed to me so many beneficial outcomes of a schedule and the realities of using a schedule. I thought it could be motivational to some who are on the fence concerning scheduling and to others who haven’t pushed through the problems they faced when they tried scheduling.

Homeschooling Mom Uses a Schedule for Time Management

“I’d like to give you a MOTH (Managers of Their Homes) testimonial if I may. This is a story of perseverance. I purchased the MOTH book some months after my sixth child was born. I had spent five weeks in the hospital on bed rest, and my daughter spent five more weeks in the hospital after being born at thirty-one weeks. I needed help because my house was out of control even though my husband did his best while I was gone.

“The important thing that making out the schedule did for me was to show me that I was doing too much and expecting too much. There were only so many open spaces for those colored squares. We didn’t follow our schedule very well at first, but it did serve as a kind of a list of what we were shooting for.

“I continued to make out schedules every fall and some times different ones for winter, spring, and summer. It was very easy once I had it on the computer, and I only needed to make changes. We gained more and more success following it.

“Now nine years later we don’t always follow it perfectly, but it is there, and the children check it often. I rarely have to tell the children to practice their instruments, and many other things happen automatically. The teenagers help me schedule. More than that, they have become time minded. They know how to adjust their own schedules when things get crazy. They don’t like to squander their time. They are learning to evaluate how they spent their time.

“I have heard some moms say that they have tried scheduling, and it didn’t work. I could have said that the first year, but the Lord showed me in many ways that if I just persevered it would make a difference. Peace and productivity has crept into my home. Thank you for this blessing.”
Nancy

Time Management Wisdom from the Lord

Of course the blessings of time management for homeschooling moms through a schedule aren’t from me but from the Lord. He is the One we cried out to as I faced daily struggles in time management with a growing family, homeschooling, and a home to run. He is the one Who showed us step by step how to put together a useable and reasonable schedule to manage my time to accomplish those things He had called me to do.  The information we share in Managers of Their Homes was learned and implemented step by step as those needs arose in our lives. So in essence, I was doing what Nancy did—persevering in the scheduling task. I consider perseverance a very important factor to successful scheduling.

Time Management Flexibility for a Homeschooling Mom

Moms will say to me all the time, almost with apology in their voices, that they love their schedules, but they don’t do a perfect job of keeping to it all the time. Exactly! That is what I consider a successful scheduler—one who has learned when to be flexible, who is using her schedule to help her manage her time to be productive, and who will allow the schedule to change when necessary. In normal life, there will continually be interruptions to our days that cause us to have to temporarily or permanently rearrange the pieces of our schedule.

For example, I normally grocery shop on Monday and Thursday afternoons after 3:00 p.m. so that I can take Mary along with me when she is finished with her school work. When we came home from our speaking trip in February, our daughter-in-law, Melanie, was on pregnancy bed rest, and so I began going over in the afternoons after their two-year-old, Abigail’s, nap to do what needed to be done so Melanie could stay down. That eliminated 3:00 p.m. as a viable grocery shopping option.

For a season, I stopped having my scheduled computer time in the early afternoon on Mondays and Thursdays and went grocery shopping instead so that I would be home by the time Abigail was up from her nap. We bumped Mary to finish her schoolwork later in the afternoon or early evening, whenever there was time available. There wasn’t always as much time to complete that school work as she would have had if we hadn’t gone grocery shopping and over to help Melanie, since she went to Melanie’s with me too. However, she wanted to be part of the support team for Nathan, Melanie, and Abigail, and she was willing to extend her school year as long as necessary to finish the work she didn’t get to on her normal school days—another example of scheduling flexibility. Whereas we usually complete school by the end of May, she worked diligently through June before her books were done.

Just as Nancy said, if the interruption comes, when we have a written schedule, it gently guides us back to the time path we have chosen to follow. For most, having the schedule to consult makes it much easier to move back into accomplishing our daily tasks after an interruption than it would be to try to figure out what each family member needs to be doing. I am always grateful for my schedule and all of the little decisions it is alleviating me of through out each day, even the days when there has been more need for flexibility.

Time Management for Priorities

Sometimes it seems overwhelming to a mom to make up a schedule. Even though the steps are clear, she can’t imagine all she feels she must accomplish each day fitting into twenty-four hours. One of two things will happen. It may be that as she puts her schedule together, she discovers that it does all fit, and it is very workable. That is quite common. It could be like Nancy, though, that she will realize that she is trying to do too much. That in itself is often a relief and stress reducer. Then she begins the process of figuring out what she can cut from the schedule, how she can utilize her children as helpers, how she can be more productive as she uses her schedule, and what she can do less often but still accomplish. To do this, she will be praying and consulting with her husband, if he is willing to help her.

Schedule Practice Makes Improvement

Once that first schedule is made up and implemented, subsequent schedules become much easier as Nancy testified. They were simple enough to revise or redo that she would find herself choosing to make a new schedule for the changes every season brought to her life and the family’s activities. It was worth the small investment of time she would make for the outcome of productivity she realized.

Because Nancy didn’t give up scheduling that first year when it wasn’t working as she really wanted it to work, she now is a successful scheduler—although I would have called her one long before she called herself one. She has peace and productivity in her home. She isn’t badgering her children all the time with what they need to be doing. She doesn’t even have to make up all their schedules; her teens do their own. Her education in time management has been passed on to her children, and she is seeing the beneficial fruit in their lives.

Homeschooling Mom’s Time Management Brings Blessings

Let me wrap this article up with one more testimony.

“I function better when I have a schedule to follow, yet I have been reluctant to sit down and work on a schedule. I really cried out to the Lord and asked for His strength to get me over that hump. I finally sat down yesterday with my schedule and started working on it. You know what? It wasn’t that bad! I actually started to have fun and get excited about the upcoming school year. My schedule is a work in progress.

“The most uplifting thing was when my daughter came to me and saw that I was working on our schedule. She said to me, “Mom, I like things so much better when we have a schedule. I’m excited for school to start!” Then my other daughter came and cuddled with me for a while and wanted to know what her “path” said. We went through each of her activities during the day, and she too was excited for the schedule to start. This was the biggest comfort and encouragement I could have received! Ultimately I know that a schedule is so much better for my family and that I function as a mom on a much higher level when I follow one!” Bookworm

All these positive scheduling outcomes are my desire for every Christian woman, serving the Lord with her life. I want to encourage those who haven’t tried scheduling to become motivated to begin right now. For any who thought they weren’t successful in time management through scheduling, I suggest they change their success criteria. There may be moms reading this article who have tried scheduling but didn’t persevere and are still discouraged with their feelings of time pressure, not doing what is truly important to them, and being tired. I hope Nancy can give them the nudge that would push them to go back to scheduling and patiently work toward a schedule step by step. Does nine years sound like a long time? Is the fruit worth it? It was for Nancy, and it is for me. Perhaps it will be for you as well.

An Exercise of the Will – Part 1

I’m guessing and hopeful that every family has had a situation come along where they felt the Lord was leading them to make some major changes, and they obeyed. First the Lord brought conviction to the hearts of Dad and Mom, and they came to the place of knowing they wanted to comply with that conviction. Next these potential changes were broached with the children. Dad wondered what the children’s responses would be as he presented this information to them. If only they would eagerly accept the new direction from the Lord, but he was concerned that there was going to be major resistance to it. What was the result? Was it an emotional and spiritual battle, or the children cheerfully following Dad and Mom’s leading?

Is there a way to make these transitions easier? Most certainly, but first let me give you a scenario that is quite sure to produce conflict and bitterness in the hearts of the children. Picture the dad who sits the family down sternly telling them that the old way is wrong, but the new way is good. He says that’s the way it is going to be, and he really doesn’t care what any of them think about it. I can assure you that this method may initially be less time intensive, but the damage done to the hearts of your children is hard to reverse, if it even can be reversed. There is a better way to handle these difficult changes that will draw the children’s hearts to you and your heart to them.

If Dad and Mom have the hearts of the children, then it will be far easier to introduce change into the family. If you find you aren’t willing to make a decision for the good of the family out of fear of how the children might react, that is a serious situation. It shows that you don’t have your children’s hearts and are more afraid of your children than the Lord. We are to fear God and not man. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19). When God directs us to do something, we must do it. For more information on keeping our children’s hearts, I would direct you to our book by that title, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts.

In order to walk us through how to biblically, lovingly, and compassionately implement a change in the family, let’s look at a possible example of a decision and how Dad and Mom could go about presenting it to the children. Let’s assume Dad and Mom have been convicted that they should get rid of the beast (TV). Here is how Dad could go about such a dramatic change with his family.

God gives grace when we follow Him, so depend upon that grace through the process of implementing a change. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). When God directs and we follow Him whole-heartedly, we can rest knowing He will give the family the needed grace to follow as well.

It all begins in the prayer closet. Seek the Lord for His help concerning how to best present the change to the children. Ask Him to prepare your heart, making sure it is loving, tender, compassionate, patient, and filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Also cry out to Him to be softening the children’s hearts in preparation for what you will be discussing with them. Pray for His blessing on what you say and the outcome with the children.

Next you will want to determine whether it is better to have a family meeting to talk with all the children together or to meet with each child individually. I have done it both ways. When we decided to take our older two sons out of Little League Baseball, I started by inviting Nathan, my oldest son, to Burger King for a milk shake one afternoon. I told him I had something important that I wanted to discuss with him. I did the same thing with his brother. That allowed me to hear each of my son’s heart response to my request without their being influenced by the other.

Most generally, I call a family meeting by telling the family, after Bible time, that I have something that has been on my heart that I would like to talk with them about. I begin by explaining how the Lord has been dealing with my heart and Mom’s heart in a particular area. In this case, it would be concern over the influence of the TV in our home and the time wasted watching it. I explain that it is my desire to follow the Lord Jesus no matter what He tells us to do.

I generally confess that I have failed my family in the situation such as bringing the beast into our home in the first place, and I ask their forgiveness. I have had to ask my family’s forgiveness many times for bad decisions I have made. I’ve found asking forgiveness to be a good thing because it is a humbling process for me, it shows my children my sincerity, and I’m more careful when making future decisions so I that I won’t have to undo it in the future. I look each child individually in the eye and ask him to forgive me. I’ve never had a child who wouldn’t say yes.

You will want to tell the children what you decided to do and why you believe the Lord Jesus is leading you in this direction. Explain to the children what the benefits of the change will be. In this example of throwing out the beast, you could start by saying that you will be less hindered in having family Bible time every night, and that you are very excited about that possibility. Your enthusiasm for the change will be contagious. You could go into how they will not have the negative influence of the world affecting their hearts like it was with the beast. Commit to them that you will personally have more time to spend with them. Encourage them that the family will use their time more productively than they did when they were watching the beast. Let them know that you and Mom are looking forward to the elimination of the conflict that was occurring between family members over which TV show to watch.

This is only the beginning of the suggestions I would like to share with you concerning helping your family accept changes that the Lord is directing toward. When these changes affect your children, you would be benefitted to have a plan for how you will approach the situation so that you can bring their hearts happily along with you. Invest the necessary time helping the children understand the reasons for the decisions you are making. I will conclude this discussion next month, but for now I encourage you to consider how you have approached these situations in the past, what has been successful for you, what hasn’t, and what you might do in the future.