Planning Flexible Schedules
Schedules are one of my favorite things. I recently came to the realization that creating schedules is actually a source of redirecting my anxiety and taking control of situations I have no control over, so creating schedules has actually become almost therapeutic to me. I have always been one to write out the same dreams and plans over and over in my phone notes, but typing those big dreams on a little screen never felt quite right.
When my first daughter was born, I created the ultimate schedule that guided us through every day with ease. This included everything from when to brush our teeth, to naps, snacks, clean-up and story time. My daughter quickly caught on, and now thrives when she sticks with a routine... When my second daughter arrived two years later, I tried to rework our schedule over and over until I found one that worked, but I couldn't. Our youngest daughter is a wild flower and lives life on her own terms, thriving in an environment that constantly changes and stimulates. So what's a mom to do when one child needs rigid routine, and the other wants nothing to do with it? You create a flexible schedule.
What is a flexible schedule you ask? This is a schedule that has a plan, with no fixed timings, merely a guideline to follow to keep you motivated and on track for the day. Rather than "10:00 go for a walk, 11:00 read a book" it looks more like "outside time, followed by quiet time." This allows my routine oriented child to thrive because there is a plan in place, and my free spirited child to thrive because she can decide how she wants to spend her time.
If you feel like you are constantly stuck in a rut, never doing the things you plan to do, and wanting to get into a schedule that allows you and your family to thrive and be your best selves, then write it down. Finding a routine that works for your family can be tough, and it may need to be tweaked here and there until you find a schedule that works for you. I always recommend starting with taking notes through a typical day. Write down the things you do everyday, then you can look at your schedule and decide if there's anything you would like to change; do you watch TV a lot during the day and want to spend more time outside? Make a commitment and remove TV time from the schedule, replace it with outside play.
It seems trivial, if I want to spend more time outside, we will just spend more time outside. Interestingly enough, when you write down a goal, you are more likely to achieve it. When you make plans in your head and leave them there, that's typically where they stay. So when I used to make notes of my plans and goals in my phone, that was a step in the right direction, but they were usually typed down, then forgotten about and never looked at again. I highly recommend using a day planner - this allows you to write down your plans, and take action on them. Make a point of referring to your day planner frequently, adding new activities, appointments and plans to your schedule, and checking in with yourself to make sure you are staying on track with your goals.
So, if you find that your day is always busy but you are not getting anything done, it may just be that you need to re-manage your day. Running a household is a lot of work, and it can easily create stress and become overwhelming. Being a mom may seem simple enough, but between diaper changes, meal planning, clean up, educational activities and everything else you have thrown into your day, you are basically taking on a whole load of jobs and if you don't manage yourself and your time, those jobs may just get the best of you. So write down your goals, your plans, and your ideal schedule - not in your phone, not in your head - write it down on paper, and put it somewhere you see everyday. Make an actionable plan, whether that be a flexible schedule or a rigid schedule, find what works for your family (it may take some adjustments), and then make it happen.
Do you keep a daily schedule for you and your family? I would love to hear about any helpful tips that you use to stay organized, in the comments below.