By Whitney R., Contributing Writer
I love having a homemaking schedule or routine for my days and week; I just don’t always love following them. In fact, I’m pretty bad at sticking to a self-imposed agenda. Instead, I want to do what I want and when I want. The consequences are numerous, and all disastrous in nature.
One challenging of homemaking is that it requires a certain level of self-discipline. Without this valuable character quality, the days are likely to slip by while the To Do list grows and tensions mount. Abiding by a schedule/routine is not about being tied down, but freed by the approach of being proactive to life instead of reactive.
It’s about managing the home and family in a way that permits it to be a place of peace and joy. No one schedule/routine will work for everyone or every season. It’s a constantly fluctuating practice, but one that I have personally found vital to my homemaking.
When I worked outside the home during college, I followed an employer-imposed schedule. Some days would be so hectic that falling behind on daily tasks was certainly regretted. In an attempt to manage my tasks and resulting stress, I created a more detailed schedule or routine for myself. I had in mind the tasks that needed to be accomplished by a certain time. I knew the consequences of not abiding by this agenda were additional stress (and thus an unhappy me) or the need to stay late and make a long day even longer. The lesson of the value of a schedule/routine was established. Or, was it?
The test for the full acceptance of that lesson came when I entered homemaking full time. Suddenly, I had no employer dictating what I did or when I did it. While I understood the importance of my role in the home, the struggle to be self-directed and disciplined remained. I have demonstrated time and again that without some direct direction I will tend to conduce the day in a rather scattered and aimless manner. If I believe homemaking to be an equivalent job position, then I also need to treat it as such. For me, this has meant that a schedule/routine is a necessity.
Creating a Schedule/Routine
I imagine a schedule to be rather time dictated, whereas a routine is more pattern oriented. For instance, a schedule may list tasks per thirty minute blocks. A routine, on the other hand, may simply list the top five tasks that must be completed in the mornings. Direction for one’s day can consist of an exclusive schedule or routine style, or it can be a blend of the two. The style depends on the most appropriate fit to one’s family and season of life. I currently prefer an exclusive schedule style, but I imagine incorporating elements of routine later when our little one arrives.
A good schedule begins with priorities.
What are the most important areas or tasks you wish to have be part of your days or week? Don’t forget that you have an entire week to accomplish them! In college, I used a method of dividing all my coursework by the time available to cover it in order to manage. I had to spread out the work to make it feasible (and maintain my sanity). The same applies to homemaking tasks. Certain days are better for my errands, blog work, Etsy shop work, housework etc. than others. Things are much, much easier to handle when they’re not piled up and then attempted in one day!
The key to following a schedule/routine is disciple. Disciple is a character quality that must be developed, and a schedule/routine is a good means of doing so. I’m still working on this quality. I jokingly say that I have the attention span of a kindergartner. In only ten minutes I can be completely distracted from my task and schedule/routine. Therefore, I find it helpful to involve a few aids:
- Type the schedule(s)/routine(s) and keep in page protector(s). Then, using a dry erase marker the tasks can be marked off as accomplished. Seeing the page take on colorful checkmarks is great motivation!
- Use a timer. Give yourself a quick burst of activity, and then move on to the next. I find that doing a quick timer tidy in each room periodically in the day keeps the clutter down.
- If your schedule/routine isn’t working, then revise it to be more fitting. It may take three or four revisions before you land on one that fits. Life changes and so much your schedule/routine. Before long you’ll have a little supply of old schedules/routines to work off of instead of creating a brand new one.
- Keep in mind that with consistency, the schedule/routine will become habit in time. Don’t give up! Plus, this practice is building the character quality of discipline.
The heart of the matter is this- the home and family are intended to be a blessing and glorify God. My home and family become chaotic messes when I’m not approaching my contribution proactively. I want to rise in the morning with purpose and intention to make the most of the opportunities God has placed before me in our home and family. I want my demeanor to be joyful and calm, not frantic and frenzied. I want to end the days feeling accomplished, not guilty. This is my job, and I feel it important to approach it as such.
Furthermore, homemaking has been a tool by which God can shape me to being more disciplined (as well as less selfish). I glorify Him when I care for my home and family appropriately. I’m not entirely at that point yet, but practice makes progress!