Tag Archives: Scheduling

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 6

The purpose of this series of articles has been to encourage moms who want to become more self-disciplined in their lives. We began with this e-mail:

I was wondering if you had any advice (or possibly you could address this in a Mom’s Corner) on how someone can improve her work ethic. I am terribly embarrassed to admit this, but I really feel like at times I can be lazy. I know there are things that need to be done, but I just don’t feel like doing them! I realize that this is a sinful attitude, and I want to change. Do other moms struggle with this? Would you have any tips on how I can improve or Bible verses that could encourage me in this area? Self-discipline is a character quality I would very much like to see flourish in my life, and I would like to pass it on to my children!

As we wrap up our series, we are continuing to look at ways other moms move themselves from a lazy lifestyle to the disciplined heart they greatly desire. Amber shares this with us:

I really love your Mom’s Corners. They seem to help me out, and they are food for thought. I wanted to let you know lazy to self-disciplined really hit home to me for it seemed to be something that I struggle with daily.

Second I remind myself that it does not ALL have to be done TODAY! As women, we seem to think of a million things that must be done. However, the reality is just one thing at a time. There are some days where I can only do it five minutes at a time. I have five darling children, the oldest is six and the youngest is a month old. There are days when hubby comes home and asks what I did all day. I tell him two things—I nursed the baby and made dinner with one hand. Sometimes that is all I can do, but as long as I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and am actively pursuing it, I know He will bless me with the strength and knowledge that I need.

This verse encourages me, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:5-6).” Amber

Amber directs us to the ultimate source of our self-discipline—the Lord Jesus. Making self-discipline a focus by praying and studying the Word, she is allowing the Lord to the transform her life, give her the energy she needs, and help her make choices away from laziness.

When Amber tells her husband all she did was to nurse the baby and make dinner with one hand, we know she did much more than that. She spent time with the Lord in the Word early in the morning, got the children up and dressed, fed them breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, brushed the little ones’ teeth, made beds, picked up toys, directed the children in their play, washed laundry, fed the children lunch, put them down for their naps, homeschooled her five and six-year-old, and who knows what other tasks she accomplished in addition to nursing the baby and making dinner. She just doesn’t feel like she has anything to show for her time, but her investment in her family has been invaluable and most necessary. She has not been lazy but self-disciplined.

The next self-discipline idea gives us a hint at how we can prepare our environment to either help or hinder laziness.

Hi Teri,
Just wanted to say that one way I fight my being lazy is to put on a apron in the morning; it just gives me the feeling that I’m dressed for work and sets me apart as the homemaker, and keeps my skirts from getting too dirty from the daily work of cooking, cleaning, and caring for young children.
Andrea

Not only will putting on an apron give one an attitude that is conducive to working, but also getting dressed in the morning and making the bed upon rising can do the same. An unmade bed and walking through the house in a robe seems to facilitate the lazy choices more than the self-disciplined ones.

Here is a suggestion you might be interested in from Kathy.

Teri,
You asked for tips on being more self-disciplined. One thing I do is to picture a room or piece of furniture as it would look if it were clean. This is motivating to me. When I picture it, I feel so good inside!  Having a taste of that feeling keeps me going to finish cleaning and straightening it. Kathy

This might be something you would want to try. When you feel like you want to avoid doing a task in front of you, picture in your mind what it will be like to have it completed, and then let that motivate you to tackle it.

This is the final suggestion I received to pass on to you.

Teri,
This hits my heart directly. I was not taught to be a hard worker and now having a family of my own, I have to make decisions on whether I will allow my upbringing to destroy my family and my children’s as they grow or if I will work to better it now for the future. I get bogged down and feel overwhelmed, like I’m drowning with all that needs to be done. However, I’ve helped to create that feeling. I find that I’m really good at wasting time self-indulging, rather than working on what needs to get done thus making the tasks harder because the mess grows.

So for me, I’ve had to do much what you do with writing your column. I set a timer to do a task ten minutes (give or take a few) at a time. If the dishes need to be done, that is something I can accomplish in that amount of time and what a rewarding feeling it is. If it’s straightening up the living room, by the time ten minutes go by, I’m amazed with what I got done and how quickly ten minutes passed! Sometimes (and only sometimes since I AM a work in progress) I continue on after the timer goes off.

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so periodically if I would really rather read than work, I tell myself I can sit and read for a certain number of minutes IF I switch the laundry, fold and put it away, as a kind of reward. Sometimes I feel like I’m being silly, but not being raised to just do it, it takes these kinds of ‘silly’ rewards.

Thank you for addressing this issue of laziness to self-discipline.
Jacque

As we wrap up our discussion of laziness and self-discipline, I want to direct you to the Word. Remember the Scripture verses we began this series with that showed how the Lord desires us to be self-disciplined.

Cry out to the Lord to help you if this is an area in which you are struggling. Consider the example you will be to your children when you model self-discipline to them. Don’t we want to help them overcome obstacles that they will likely face in their futures?

Being self-disciplined will enable us to be good stewards of the time God has placed into our hands. I encourage you to use a schedule so that you can be productive with your time and manage it well. If you would like some help with a schedule, we would suggest Managers of Their Homes. Here’s what Jamie wrote:

Thank you so much for this book! It has been extremely helpful. Not only do I have three children of my own, but I also watch two children. So I have five children four and under. My oldest has begun kindergarten this year. Using the schedule has made the days run smoothly. Everything is getting done (even the laundry!). I am not a schedule person. But it doesn’t seem like a schedule as much when I am the one planning the day!

As additional motivation, look toward the rewards you and your family will experience when you are accomplishing the tasks that will be part of your self-disciplined choices. January is a time of new beginnings. Will you make the move from lazy to self-disciplined?

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 5

As we continue our series of Mom’s Corners discussing moving from being lazy to being self-disciplined, I will first direct you to the previous four articles.

I have been asking others to share their strategies for how the Lord has helped them toward a self-disciplined life. Now I can give some of those to you so that you can be helped and encouraged by them too.

Jen sent me a whole list of her tips.

1. Everyone works together so that everyone can relax together. I try to be mindful that my husband is working at a job all day, and that I should be ‘on the clock’ too. Then, the children and I all do our morning chores at the same time. When no one is just sitting around, everyone works a little harder! It almost becomes like a race. The children scurry around trying to get everything picked up while I’m working in the kitchen because no one still wants to be in their area when the vacuum starts running. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant, and a good old-fashioned competition spices things up!

2. Make a joyful noise!! This is a great time to see if you know all the verses to a favorite hymn by heart. Often, getting all the way through Amazing Grace is the same amount of time it takes to clean the bathroom—if I’m hustling. AND, I feel totally uplifted at the end.

3. Think of it as a gift. Despite my #1 point, there are definitely days off that I get that my husband doesn’t get (say days we don’t do school). I know that on those days I will get more time to put my feet up. So, it is a nice thing to clean the kitchen after dinner sometimes without asking for help and let him have some much-needed downtime too!

4. Pay attention to your best time of day to do ____________. I am most cheerful and energetic in the morning, so the best time for me to do chores is then. In the afternoon I’m better off grading children’s work, or prepping for the next day’s school. Because I know this about myself, different kinds of work feel less onerous. I frequently cook with my crock-pot, because I can make dinner in the morning then too!

5. Compliment yourself and your children on a job well done. Once a task is complete I love to sit back and say out loud, WOW! The ______________ looks sooooooooooooo nice! It directs everyone’s focus to the fact that our house is a more peaceful place when tidy.

As an aside, I think we all need to really pay attention to where we are in life too. As I finish out the first trimester of my fifth pregnancy in nine years, I know that my all day/night morning sickness has about a month left to go—maybe two. I honor the fact that the most important thing I am doing right now is growing a baby. If that makes me too tired to do everything I usually do, I ask for help, or in some cases I let things go undone. This is a time to talk to my children about the miracle happening inside me, to encourage them to help with the littles when I can’t and to come and read their school work to me when I am too sick to get up. It teaches them kindness, compassion, and understanding too!—Jen

As Jen suggested, by encouraging your children to work with you, you are helping them to develop self-discipline, a quality that will benefit them both now and in the future. Singing while you do what you need to do, if that is possible, raises your heart to praising the Lord in the midst of your work. Certainly when we choose to do something that allows our spouse to rest or frees them for another task, we have the satisfaction of loving and serving. Finally, Jen’s decision to pay attention to tasks that require more energy and then to schedule them when her energy level is higher helps her to be more willing to undertake the jobs that she might otherwise want to avoid.

In addition to the suggestions that Jen brought up, she turns our attention to another thing that we need to consider and that is what constitutes being lazy. She is at the end of her first trimester, and she doesn’t have the energy to do what she can do when she isn’t pregnant. Does that make her lazy? Certainly not. She is wise to listen to her body, rest when she needs to in order to care for her unborn baby, and let work go that she would normally do.

Along these same lines, I received this e-mail from Erin.

Thank you Teri for your Corners. I am struggling at the moment. In the Mom’s Corner you wrote, ‘If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.’ How can we know if we really need to rest more, or if we should just keep pushing ourselves so that we are not being lazy? Sometimes I feel like everything is an effort, sometimes too much. I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time, but other days (not often enough) I have so much energy and achieve a lot. If I give in and rest, I will not get done all I need to to keep the house in order. Thanks again for all your encouragement. —Erin

I think this is a pertinent and serious question. For trying to determine whether you are being lazy or is just plain tired, I think you want to do two things: consider where you are physically and check your spirit. On the physical side, are you getting enough sleep? Do you have a nursing baby who gets you up in the night? If you know you aren’t getting enough sleep, then taking a nap in the afternoon isn’t being lazy. It is being prudent. You will get more accomplished with the other hours in the day, and you will have a more pleasant attitude as well.

If you are chronically tired for no apparent reason such as lack of sleep, then you want to check your diet and exercise. Are you eating a healthy diet? Sometimes we undermine our health by getting into habits of subsisting on caffeine pushes from coffee or soda only to have that cause health repercussions. Do you exercise? If you are not physically fit, you will not have a good energy level and will be more lethargic. It is possible that you need to go to a doctor to determine if there is a physical cause for being tired.

For the spirit check, ask yourself: Why is everything an effort? Is it because you don’t want to do it? Is it because you don’t like to do it? If that’s the case, then it could be laziness. This laziness manifests itself in thoughts like, “I don’t like what I have to do, and therefore, I resist it.”

As far as feeling overwhelmed, remember that last month, I encouraged moms to use a schedule. It makes you much more productive, and it helps you avoid that overwhelmed feeling.

I would also encourage you to ask your husband. Often those who know us best have a more realistic picture of us than we do ourselves. It might be that we are deceiving ourselves by saying that we aren’t lazy when in practice we are. It might also be, though, that we are pushing too hard when we need to slow down, and that slowing down isn’t lazy at all. It is being reasonable.

I still have suggestions that I want to pass on to you from several more moms on what helps them to be self-disciplined. I can continue with those next month. For now, I want to encourage you to have your heart set on what the Lord Jesus has called you to do. Be productive with your time, resting in Him to allow you to accomplish what He has set before you. If you are tired, evaluate whether there is a physical cause that needs to be corrected and take the necessary steps. Don’t call yourself lazy when you are not getting enough sleep because you were up in the night with children, and then you feel tired in the afternoon. Take a nap when the children do. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself when you are pregnant and have run out of energy at the end of the day, or even the middle of the day. However, if clothes need to be folded and you are surfing the Internet, then I encourage you to call it lazy. If it is time to start homeschooling and you are checking e-mail, then I suggest you determine that self-discipline is the better road for you. Get off the computer, and start school!

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 4

We have been investigating the challenging topic of how we can move from being lazy at heart to being self-disciplined. If you haven’t read the other parts in the series, you may do so.

In the previous articles, we looked at the biblical basis for choosing to be self-disciplined. Here is another verse to motivate us toward accomplishing what the Lord Jesus has set before us each day: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).

The time the Lord has given to each of us is a treasure, and He wants us to be good stewards of that treasure. This is evident in the parable told in Matthew 25:14-29. Are we using our time as the faithful servant who was given five talents and used it to get five more talents, or are we like the unfaithful servant who took and hid his one talent in the ground? When we are productive with our time, we are the faithful servant, but when we waste time, we are the unfaithful one.

On the practical side of self-discipline, I have found that using a schedule helps me not to be lazy. The schedule sets in front of me what needs to be accomplished, so I do not have to make dozens of decisions as I move through my day about what I am going to do next. Before using a schedule, with the ending of each activity, would come the temptation not to do what needed to be done. I had the option of deciding to do something I would rather do than what I needed to do, to do nothing, or to do a time waster—all of which were the lazy choices rather than the self-disciplined ones.

When I began making and using a schedule, I was seeking the Lord for what He wanted me to be doing and how to fit that into the available time. The right decision had been made when developing the schedule, and all I had to do was to follow it. In setting my schedule, I made sure to include personal activities that were important to me, such as Bible reading and prayer, exercise, and time with my children.  were not lazy or undisciplined activities. They were positive priorities for my time, and they were going to happen when they were in the schedule. For more detailed information on scheduling, I would recommend Managers of Their Homes.

Here is an e-mail that was generated from this Mom’s Corner series:

Mrs. Maxwell,

In reading your article “From Lazy to Self-Disciplined,” my question is would you further help me to define productive activities? I admit that I am not a very disciplined housekeeper. But many times I choose to spend time with my children (7, 4, and 1) and not on housework. The easy answer would be that the children and I would do the housework as our activity, but I know that the season of life we are in now is short. If my husband is okay with a little clutter, is playing in the sandbox with my little ones a productive activity? Should my focus be on raising my children or keeping the house?

Thank you,
Amber

I would encourage Amber that raising children and keeping house are not mutually exclusive. Playing with the children is a productive activity, but only when it is balanced with the necessary housework. If all a mom does is play with the children, then it would become a lazy choice, especially if she is avoiding her household responsibilities by doing it.

When using a schedule, there is time to keep house and play in the sandbox with the children. Both activities are important and productive. If Amber will schedule her children to work with her, she will not only be maximizing her time with the children but she will also be teaching them to be self-disciplined. Her struggle with being a disciplined housekeeper is most likely rooted in a childhood where she wasn’t encouraged to work; therefore, she didn’t learn the self-discipline that would be an asset to her as an adult. We had a series of articles on this topic not too long ago: Holly Homemaker.

Another way that I can direct you toward self-discipline is to make use of those little bits of time that are easily wasted whether one is using a schedule or not. Here is an example of that. In the morning, Steve and I walk for an hour, then I hang on an inversion table for my back, and next comes personal Bible reading and prayer time. Before I start my Bible reading, I prepare a moist heating pad by putting it in the microwave for three minutes.

Here is what I was able to accomplish in those three minutes when I tracked it one morning to share with you.

  • Got out vitamins.
  • Washed up several dishes sitting in the sink.
  • Took soiled towels to the washing machine.
  • Put items away that were out on the counter.

 

I could have spent those three minutes simply doing nothing or looking through a catalog. This is often the temptation when there are just a few minutes available. We tend to think it isn’t worth trying to be productive with that time. However, consider what one can accomplish in just three minutes!

Let me share with you the one testimony of ways to develop self-discipline that I received after my first request. This example fits in well with the suggestion to use small pieces of time productively.

“One practical way that I have found to combat laziness is to use a timer for my computer use. I set the timer for ten minutes. This gives me time to check my e-mail and maybe take a quick peek at a couple of other sites (like the Maxwell family blog!). I find that ten minutes a day is enough to do whatever I need to do on the Internet.

“I used to be always popping onto the computer to ‘check just one thing’—only to realize an hour had gone by. It was really just a lack of self-discipline and a lazy way of avoiding the tasks that I needed to be about. I was also searching for inspiration and affirmation on the Internet, instead of searching God’s Word.” Cherie

Cherie is utilizing a few short minutes and then choosing to be self-disciplined by limiting her computer time to what she has determined would be best for her. Setting the timer keeps her accountable to the standard that she has decided upon. Her method can work for any of us, and I think we can all relate to getting on the computer to see if we have any e-mail, thinking it will only take a minute or two, and suddenly realize an hour has gone by.

Since my initial request for suggestions on how to move from laziness to self-discipline, I have received several more, so I plan to share those in next month’s Mom’s Corner. For now, I encourage you to be a faithful steward of the time God has given you. Consider using a schedule to help you be productive and to minimize, or maybe even eliminate, the lazy time wasters in your life. I pray your heart will be pulled to the self-discipline that the Lord would want in your life.

Summer Schedules and Chores

With the beginning of June upon us, a significant number of families will have different schedules and many hours to invest in activities other than school. The summer months afford us an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate children’s chore assignments and teach them new chore skills. It is also helpful to develop a schedule so we can accomplish all that is a priority for the summer.

When we assign our children chores, we don’t want to have to redo the chore plan until the following summer when we once again have the time to tackle it. During the summer my homeschooling hours are freed up for other projects and redoing the chore assignments will be at the top of the list.

We are particularly interested in evaluating whether older children are ready to learn some new chores while passing on a few of their well-practiced ones to younger siblings. It is also the chance to trade older-children jobs around so that each child learns every chore, becoming accomplished in it. Remember from the Holly Homemaker series having a clean home is only a part of why chores are important to us. We also want our children to learn skills that will facilitate their adult years. If a child knows how to clean the bathroom but not how to do the laundry, then we haven’t done our job as parents.

Scheduling Chore Time

Since revising the chore assignments is important to me, I put it into a summer schedule. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We know that many who use schedules decide to eliminate the schedule for the summer, and that’s fine if that is the family’s choice. However, we have regularly heard from families who make that decision, but then are disappointed with their summer. Why are they disappointed?

They are disappointed because the activities that they planned to do and that were a priority for their summer weeks didn’t end up being accomplished. The children fussed and bickered with each other because of the lack of direction in their days. The time seemed to be filled with chaos, disorganization, and frustration. The family looks back over their summer days with dissatisfaction rather then the sense of fulfillment they were looking forward to in the beginning. After a summer with these results, they decide to return to a summer schedule the following year.

There are many things one can put into a summer schedule. It is helpful to begin the scheduling process by a family discussion and planning time. What are the priorities for family time and individual time?

If the family is homeschooling, summer allows us to do two or three hours of homeschooling a day while still leaving much of the day for other activities. With those two or three hours, the children’s day is more easily filled productively. Younger children will maintain the reading and math skills they are just beginning to learn. Older children can work ahead for the upcoming school year, which means there can be more flexibility in the normal school schedule. If a child had difficulty in an area or a subject, emphasis can be placed on that. Perhaps there are studies that simply haven’t fit into the school schedule because of higher school-time priorities. Summer will nicely accommodate those studies while still leaving plenty of hours for non-school related activities.

Organizing During the Summer

Maybe there is household organizing and cleaning to be taken on during the summer. Time can be placed into the schedule for that. Organizing fits well even into a half hour or an hour time slot. For many years when my children were younger, I did all my major cleaning and organizing tasks during a short little half hour each summer day. I gave one of the older children the responsibility of playing with his younger siblings for that half hour. I kept a running list through the rest of the year of projects and cleaning that were too time consuming for my normal daily schedule. Those were what I worked on during that half hour in the summer. I was always delightedly amazed at all I could get done when I applied myself for just one half hour a day. Not only can Mom get her de-junking accomplished, but the older children can as well.

In the schedule, we put in time for me to make us the new chore system and to implement it. After making the chore assignments, it will take my time to teach the older children their new jobs. If I have it as part of the daily schedule, I am most likely to actually get it done. The older children can teach the younger children the chores that they are handing down to them, but again, there needs to be time set aside in the schedule to do this.

It is also helpful to me to check the children’s daily chores until they become proficient at what they are doing. When I used to try to work the checking into an open spot in the day, I usually didn’t. However, when I started putting “check chores” as a short time block on my schedule, I became successful in the consistency that was important.

We want our children learning how to work, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Summer days give me the time to invest in their lives by working out the chore system, teaching the children how to do their chores, and then holding them accountable for what they did. Without the hours of homeschooling, my summer days maintain a more relaxed pace so that I have the freedom to spend in this beneficial pursuit.

Perhaps a summer schedule and a redefined chore system sounds like something you would want to see as a part of your summer but you don’t know where to start or how to go about it. We have two resources available to help you. Managers of Their Homes gives information and step-by-step-directions for setting up a daily schedule. If you would like to implement a successful chore system, we would suggest Managers of Their Chores as a tool to help you in that direction. We want to encourage you to ensure that you have something to show for your summer weeks and do not arrive at September with discouragement. Perhaps a summer schedule and a revised chore system will help you toward that goal.

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.

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.

Can a Scheduled Mom be Spirit-Led? – Part 2

The question we are in the midst of discussing is whether a mom who uses a schedule can be Spirit led. Here is the specific message that was communicated to me by a mom who wants the order a schedule brings to her day, but she is concerned that she will not be following the Lord if she does so.

“I was speaking with some moms last night about scheduling. I desperately desire to be more scheduled, but they feel their days should be ordered by the Lord and each day should be new unto itself, open to what their children need, etc. Is there a way to be both? Is a schedule so structured that God cannot order your day? I would appreciate Teri and anyone else commenting on the balance here. I’m having trouble keeping to my schedule and I think I may be justifying it as stated above. I am not keeping to our schedule well at all and I’m not sure why. I just know I feel stifled in some way, but I long for the order and peace a schedule can give me. Can I do both?” Used by permission

Last month I shared how my schedule allows me to follow the Spirit in both the overall plan for my day and in the changes that might be put into place as the day progresses. Here is a link to that article.

What I have to say next, I say with all gentleness, as a sister in Christ, to encourage us to have honest evaluations of our words, their meanings, and our hearts. I wonder if those moms who don’t think one can be Spirit led while using a schedule could be confusing “Spirit led” with “feeling led” in their own lives. The reason I have this question is because my frequent observation is that the mom who says she can’t use a schedule because she wants to be Spirit led is often not doing what the Lord has called her to do with her time but rather what she feels like doing. For example, she may not be keeping up with the housework and meals but instead spending time on the computer reading and posting to blogs and message boards. In these cases, then, it would appear that the mom isn’t Spirit led but “feeling led”—doing what she feels like doing rather than fulfilling the responsibilities the Lord Jesus has placed into her life.

Let’s consider a mom whom God has called to homeschool her children. What if she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t feel like doing school? Will she go ahead and have school, or will she decide the Spirit is leading her to spend the day differently? If she decides not to have school, is it the Spirit leading her, or is it her own feelings of personal desire to spend her time in other ways? If she is honest, it is entirely possible that she will find she is being led by her feelings of what she prefers to do. Because of those feelings, she might say the Spirit is leading her not to have school when in reality she just doesn’t want to do school.

Let’s review again the verses that give us that definition of what “Spirit led” means. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). If what we say is Spirit led is actually allowing us to do what we feel like doing, that which is more enjoyable to our flesh, but not what the Lord has called us to do, is it really being Spirit led?

Here’s another scenario. Perhaps my saved, teenage child, who loves the Lord Jesus, comes to me in the morning and says he doesn’t think the Spirit is leading him to do his schoolwork today. I query him to determine what he plans to do with his day and discover that he is going to spend his normal school time on his hobby. Would I agree that the Spirit was speaking to him and allow him to skip his school? Would I tell him that he needed to do his schoolwork and then pursue his hobby? On the other hand, what if he told me the Lord had put it on his heart to spend a day helping his grandparents and that he would make up his schoolwork in the evenings and on Saturday? Would that look more like Spirit leading? One direction for his day has a selfish focus, while the other has a serving focus. The Spirit will generally lead us contrary to the flesh, and that is often an indication of whether it is the Spirit’s leading or not. Is it “living after the flesh” or “mortifying the deeds of the body”?

This is very difficult to communicate. I am not judging anyone, and please don’t take it as that. I leave it up to each of my readers to evaluate if this would apply to her life. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the Spirit wouldn’t ever lead a Christian mom to do something other than the responsibilities He has given her. However, I would have to question a mom who frequently neglects those responsibilities for other activities or free time and says it is Spirit led. My doubts come because if the Lord has directed us to fulfill certain responsibilities, then how could we accomplish them if we are doing other things?

I will also challenge the mom who wrote me about Spirit-led scheduling to evaluate why she would feel stifled by her schedule. Is it because her schedule is put together wrong? If so, then she wants to determine where the problem lies. Did she pray about her schedule as developed it? Did she discuss it with her husband? Is the difficulty with having wrong activities on the schedule? Perhaps she hasn’t allowed enough time for those activities.

Could it be that she doesn’t want to do what the Lord has called her to do? I can certainly relate to that in several areas of my life, but especially with regard to homeschooling. I homeschool because the Lord has directed me to homeschool not because I wake up every morning feeling like and wanting to have school with the children. If I focus on my feelings, then I will feel “stifled” during my school day. However, if I put my thoughts on the blessings to both me and my children of homeschooling and the joy of obedience, then my feelings will be of peace and contentment.

In many ways, it comes back to this verse I refer to frequently: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What will I do with my thoughts? Will I allow the thoughts to follow their own path, leading me to think that what I have to do on a schedule is stifling? Or will I bring the thoughts into the obedience of Christ, thinking instead, “Lord, this schedule is helping me accomplish what You have called me to do. I can set aside what I prefer and follow what You are leading me to do?”

I also want to be clear that I am not saying every mom who is Spirit led must use a schedule. That determination will be made by the mom, with the Spirit’s direction and her husband’s leadership. However, I am trying to make a case for the way a schedule can facilitate a mother being Spirit led and how it works under the Spirit’s leading. I also want to encourage moms who are not following, on a day-to-day basis, the overall direction the Spirit has previously given to them to consider whether they are truly Spirit led each day or if they are feeling led. I believe one way that determination would be made is by evaluating whether the mom’s time is being put forth into the areas to which the Lord has called her and what fruit she sees in her life and home. Is there peace, joy, and contentment, or is there chaos, stress, and confusion? May we be women whose hearts are focused on our Lord Jesus Christ, and who are following the Spirit in every aspect of our lives.

Can a Scheduled Mom be Spirit-Led? – Part 1

Sometimes a question is posed to me implying that if a mom is using a schedule, she is not able to be led by the Spirit. This thought is encapsulated in this message that was going to be posted on MOTHBoard. I asked the author if I could use it as a springboard for a Mom’s Corner so I could write an in-depth answer.

“I was speaking with some moms last night about scheduling. I desperately desire to be more scheduled, but they feel their days should be ordered by the Lord and each day should be new unto itself, open to what their children need, etc. Is there a way to be both? Is a schedule so structured that God cannot order your day? I would appreciate Teri commenting on the balance here. I’m having trouble keeping to my schedule, and I think I may be justifying it as stated above. I am not keeping to our schedule well at all, and I’m not sure why. I just know I feel stifled in some way, but I long for the order and peace a schedule can give me. Can I do both?” Used by permission

I believe we should begin by looking at a couple of verses to help us define what “Spirit led” means. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). Spirit led, then, means that I am not following the dictates of my flesh, but rather the direction of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Those not familiar with scheduling might be surprised to learn that my schedule allows my day to be both “ordered by the Lord” and “new unto itself, open to what the children need.” This is the case because when my schedule is planned and put together, it is prayed about during each stage. The schedule is a tool the Lord Jesus has given me to help me to accomplish what He has called me to do—it is a part of my life being Spirit led. That means I am looking to the Lord for what should make up my schedule and how long should be allotted for each activity, not only for me but also for each of the children I am scheduling. The schedule is also flexible, allowing me to accept the changes that the Lord brings into a day that were not a part of the schedule.

Through the Word, the Spirit has led me toward priorities for my time, and these have been confirmed by my husband. The first personal goal the Lord has directed me toward is my personal relationship with Him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This will only happen as I grow spiritually. Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” From these two verses, I receive the next three goals for my time: to love my husband, to love my children, to be a keeper at home. Finally, 1 Timothy 5:9-10 says, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” These verses suggest to me a final life goal of ministry.

The schedule, with prayer for the specifics, plans out time for each of these Spirit-led aspects of my life. Not only am I able to do what the Lord calls me to do, but because of the use of the schedule, I am more efficient and productive with my time. The schedule has eliminated many of the daily decisions I used to make as I went through my day – decisions that were time wasters and emotionally draining. My mind is now free to focus on the needs at hand rather than trying to plan – on the fly – what should be done and how to fit it in.

To be Spirit led, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel any necessity to ask the Lord whether I should take care of my family that day or do something else I would prefer to do. My dictates for a normal day have already been given to me to follow by the Lord Jesus. Because He has placed loving my husband, loving my children, and being a keeper at home as my priorities, I know that I will care for my family throughout the day in obedience to the Lord Jesus. I also know that the tasks that will accomplish this are on my schedule.

It is a little like telling a child he is not to cross the street without stopping and looking both ways first. Once that command has been given, the child is not to come to me each time asking if he should stop and look before crossing the street. The answer will be the same. If he continues to ask me whether he needs to stop and look first, it is almost as though he is testing my leadership or perhaps is trying to get out of having to take the time to be safe.

This is how I would view it if I were asking the Lord every morning if I should get up and feed my family or do their laundry. I have already been told by the Lord what I am to do in those areas by having been given overall responsibility for them. I would feel like I were trying to avoid what I should be doing – trying to find a way to do something else – if I were questioning His direction each day.

Let’s go back to the child crossing a street. It is possible that I could chose to undo that street-crossing instruction for a particular incident. Perhaps I am with my child, and I have checked to make sure it was okay to cross the street. Maybe the street is blocked off so that no traffic can go through, making it unnecessary to look for cars before walking across the street. That is how I see the Spirit leading in the midst of a schedule where overall, basic direction has already been given. There will be some changes to the schedule on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis.

In a scheduled day, the Lord will bring unexpected events. This is the “new unto itself” part of a schedule. It may be a sick child who isn’t able to accomplish his chores so siblings and Mom pitch in to take them over. It could be the necessity of going to the dentist for checkups or a filling. The schedule lets me receive these diversions with a sweet attitude because I am current with my daily responsibilities rather than already behind and now getting further behind. I easily know what we can eliminate from our day to accommodate the trip away from home.

A very close-to-home example of this from my life involves our daughter-in-law’s recent pregnancy. When Melanie was put on bedrest, she needed several hours of help during the day while, Nathan, was at work. My schedule didn’t prevent us from helping, but rather it enabled us to meet the needs at hand. I could evaluate, on the schedule, who was more available to help and who was less available. Sometimes it was one of the girls, and sometimes it was me. I am not so tied to a schedule that I am not open to what the Lord brings into my day that isn’t already part of the schedule. If that were the case, then I would have to question whether I were Spirit led. I use the schedule on a daily basis, but I am listening to the Lord when He brings changes—changes I am grateful that I can joyfully accept and be a part of ministering to a need.

I believe it was my schedule that gave me the freedom to invest those four or five weeks with one of us across the street with Melanie, while still keeping up with the needs in our home. I was evaluating on a daily basis who would be helping and when. I was the one to be with Melanie the day she was in labor and then, because I went with them to the hospital, stayed with them the days Susannah Joy was alive. I think about that schedule I use and rejoice in how it facilitated our family’s ability to help Nathan and Melanie. All my children, because of the schedule, knew what to do each day and when to do it. They were able to look at what I was not able to accomplish while I was away from home and alter their schedules to accommodate the necessities. Without the schedule, it is likely our home would have been in a chaotic uproar. As it was, the family was able to do what they should do without me being there with them.

For me, being Spirit led takes place while I am using my schedule. It is a matter of my heart focus. Every day I am seeking the Lord for His strength, grace, and mercy for the day. I have to depend on Him. I look to Him for ways to encourage and support my family. He is my sustenance every minute of the day—right in the middle of what is scheduled to do throughout the day. The Spirit is leading me.

I believe a scheduled mom who has prayed about her priorities and schedule is Spirit led when she is depending on the Lord Jesus. Not only is she Spirit led, but she is also able to accomplish what the Spirit is directing her to do each day. She can face any unscheduled trials, difficulties, and pleasures the Lord brings into her day knowing she has been obedient to the Lord’s calling on her life and that the change of schedule is from Him. She is obedient and Spirit led when she is following her schedule and when there are alterations to the daily plan. May we truly seek the Lord every day with all of our energy, whether we use a schedule or whether we don’t. Next month I want to share more about the relationship of a schedule and being Spirit led.

Scheduling for Priorities and Flexibility

Praying about, planning, and putting together a new schedule for the school year is one of my summer priorities. Our 2006-2007 schedule had been committed to paper for a couple weeks when Steve and I began discussing the children’s request to have school time scheduled to practice their music together. The schedule already allowed for individual instrument practice, music theory, and harmony work – a fairly time-intensive amount of music in the school day. However, as we talked, it was apparent that at this point in our lives, music is a high priority because we are regularly doing a family-music session when we travel and speak. Having the children practicing together would be beneficial not only for them but also for the direction of our ministry.

Scheduling for Important Subjects

We decided to put their already-scheduled fifteen minutes a day of Spanish on hold for this year and cut their writing time from thirty to fifteen minutes. This would then free up thirty minutes in the school schedule for a sibling music practice. I returned to my colored squares and sticky tac for a second time to revise the schedule to reflect the changes Steve and I felt would be good for our children’s school year.

Not long after making the schedule change, Steve and I were talking on our daily, early morning walk. We discussed how great it was to take our once-a-week longer walk on the coolest morning of that hot, August week. We also realized that with school soon starting, our ability to go for a walk based on good weather would soon end. We would return to using Saturday to fit the two-hour walk into a non-school day. As I pondered that, the Lord prompted me to again be flexible with my schedule, using it to meet the particular needs of our family.

Willingness to Be Flexible in Scheduling

I found myself once again pulling my master schedule out of the cupboard for another round of revision. I could postpone my first one-on-one school meeting by forty-five minutes and move my “odds and ends” time from the afternoon into that slot. Then if it was a glorious morning and Steve was available for our long walk, I would available as well. “Odds and ends” time could be skipped for a walk, but my school meetings with each individual child are higher priorities – not bumped unless absolutely necessary.

My schedule is my tool. It is designed to help me accomplish what the Lord Jesus has called me to do. As I work with my schedule, I am setting it up, under Steve’s leadership, for the priorities that have been put in place in our family – for my time and for the children’s time as well. We take into consideration our children’s interests and their possible future needs. Thirteen-year-old Anna came to us and requested that we consider scheduling her science time to study gardening rather than the normal eighth-grade science book. As we prayed and evaluated that part of her school schedule, we decided if she had a gardening focus for science it would be helpful to her both now and in the future.

I can also use my schedule for built-in flexibility. In the case of the morning walks, I know that once a week I would like to start school later than I do on the other days. In order to accomplish that desire, I needed to place a low-priority activity in the morning that could be skipped for the walk when I choose to do so. Generally, I put the things that are least important for me to accomplish in the afternoon because I know that time is more easily interrupted than our morning school time is. However, for the sake of that walk and talking time with my husband, I made a change in our schedule to make it flexible, practical, and useable.

Another great facet of a schedule is that if the change I instituted does not work out well, I can go back to the way the schedule normally had been, or I can try something entirely different. Having the schedule committed to paper helps me make those changes. I am not trying to remember strictly from my mind the new pieces of the schedule.

This year, fourth-grade Mary will be reading her history, science, and health on her own. She has scheduled time that allows her to read, answer questions, plus take quizzes and tests. Steve and I wonder about her ability to accomplish this without my help. Her older siblings have done well in making the transition to more independent study in these subjects, but we aren’t so sure about Mary. As we discussed this situation, we decided to give her the opportunity to see if she could do it on her own. I made the schedule up this way. However, my schedule is flexible. If, as we begin the school year, it becomes apparent that Mary needs to read her history and science with me, I will rearrange her schedule and my schedule to accommodate that.

A schedule brings a great amount of order, productivity, direction, and peace to a homeschool home. It is my desire to share personal scheduling information with you that will help you envision the practical aspects of how a schedule can work in your family. Perhaps as you get a glimpse into my schedule discussions with Steve and how they affect my schedule making, you will be encouraged to tackle a schedule for your homeschool.

Our book, Managers of Their Homes has much more information on scheduling and includes the Scheduling Kit (colored squares and sticky tac) I mentioned. Daily, we receive testimonies about how this book is being used as a tool to transform families.

The Scheduling Key

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.