Monday, July 06, 2009

On schedules, routines and lists

So, last week, I asked all of you how on earth to start implementing more structure into my life and overcome my schedule rebelliousness. I got a lot of great advice from you. I think what it comes down to, is that I need to choose a schedule/routine that fits my own approach to life.

It did seem to be the general consensus that I should not be worrying about such things right now at this time of my life. I do agree, but I think my kids need a bit more structure than I've been giving them so far this summer.

I really liked what Kerri had to say, and I think I'll do a modified version of her schedule:

This is our schedule for the summer: Morning: getting our jobs and practicing done. Lunch. Nap for Ben and quiet reading time for the others. Afternoon: activities. Mon: Cousin Day, Tues: Library, Wed: Pool, Thurs: Field Trip, Fri: Friends.

So far, so good. We haven't had any major breakdowns, and the schedule is loose enough for me to not get overwhelmed.

I will say that we have done a pretty good job of getting practicing done first thing in the morning. Bria is especially good at this, as she is an early riser and really does love to play her violin. I think she actually looks forward to playing every morning. It's a little more difficult with Chloe to get her to do her piano, but she's doing okay with it. After practicing, they each have to do three jobs and then the rest of their day is free...and that's where the struggles begin. So, I really like Kerri's afternoon structure. We only really have about 4 weeks until we move (AUGH!), so I may not be able to plan something every day, but I think 3 times a week is good.

I had to laugh at Chandler's comment, because, basically it is how I function, too:

I try, and try, and try to follow a schedule (especially since my husband is a creature of habit), but I'm not so good at it. The best I can ever do is invent a totally new schedule every day—so it's not exactly a daily routine, but at least that day is planned out.

(Then again, does anything ever go according to plan?)

Instead, I keep lists like nobody's business. I have the weekly list, the daily list, and the long-term list. And I'm pretty good at sticking to them—so even if my day doesn't exactly resemble yesterday, or tomorrow, at least I've accomplished the things I'm supposed to do. Yes, things like "do the dishes!" and "fold laundry" make it onto the list, too.

Don't know if that helps, but I definitely feel your frustration!

Ha! Joel constantly makes fun of me for my lists because I put such obvious things on there. But honestly? If it isn't written down, it doesn't get done. Sometimes it still doesn't, even if I wrote it down, but it was a lot closer to getting done than it could have been.

Today, my list reads:

Send in Michigan school registration for girls.
Pack 3 boxes of books.
Clean bedroom.
Unload/load dishwasher.
Clean kitchen.
Laundry--at least 3 loads + fold.
Take load to DI.
Take box of baby clothes to Heather.
Find musical number for Sunday.
Find babysitter for Friday.
Pick hymns for Sunday.
Call Gena.
Make CDs for play/photos.

So the problem I see with my personal lists, is that they don't really help my kids. And my kids need structure more than I do.

But I'm not going to worry about it too much until after school starts and we are all safely moved in.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Hehe. You make me laugh. My husband likes the list thing too. I'll write one occasionally, but it's usually when there are things I need to get done that I don't normally do.

    Anyway, I like your new approach to the schedule.

  2. I need to do a schedule for myself. I am way too lazy during the day!

  3. I think I just figured out part of my problem--my lists are mostly for ME, not my kids!

  4. Glad to see you at least are thinking about finding them structure, that's half the battle. Good luck; I know you can do it. And be safe in packing, I've messed up my back a couple to times lifting boxes to stack.

  5. Good luck with that Lara. It is always nice to have structure that works for you and your family.

  6. Maybe I should write out a list every day of what needs done, then perhaps I wouldn't spend (read: waste) so much time on the internet, we only have about two weeks before we start moving (taking about ten days to move all of our stuff and clean out this place, since we're only going across town).
    I've packed almost all of our books, games, pictures and movies already. It's the first thing I pack because it goes quickly and makes me feel like something is actually getting done!

  7. I don't make lists because if I don't finish what is on the list then I beat myself up for the rest of the night. I just couldn't do that anymore. I know what needs to be done and I just try my hardest to do it all. That is the best I can do.

  8. Not gonna lie-your list kinda overwhelms me. Good luck! :)

  9. sounds like a good plan. It is what works for you :)

    good luck

  10. My list for today:
    1) Eat chocolate
    2) practise not caring about lack of list
    3) repeat daily

  11. Hey if it is working for you then great. Good luck!!!

  12. My day usually gets started on schedule, but then the day takes over and I feel like a metal ball in the old-fashioned pinball machines...bouncing from one thing to the next, no will of my own, directed by outside forces. I really need some structure, too! And I love Kerri's blog, love her point of view on things. Will check out Chandler's another day.

  13. I'm glad my "structure" could help you out! Especially because last week's structure got thrown away...sigh. HOWEVER, we are in the middle of cousins' day right now, and the practicing got all done, so maybe this week will be a better one. I'll wish you luck if you'll do the same.

  14. Yeah, I bet once you get into your new life you will figure something out that works for you and the kids. It might be a completely different situation---church farther away (natch), etc. Best of luck. Have you found a house?

  15. People would die if they saw my anal to do lists. But honestly, it keeps me going and on track. When I can't figure out where to being I look at my palm pilot and it tells me.
    It's like my mom. :)

  16. Your list is funny. Especially, unload the dishwasher. Maybe I should write that one on my list. Then, I would feel like I accomplished more than I actually did.

  17. You've gotten me thinking so much about schedules that I've actually written one out for this week! (Besides, there's so much to be done this month that I don't think a list will be enough.)

    I heard a program on NPR a couple of days ago that was talking about the idea of "multitasking," that our brains are actually incapable of it, for the most part. She said that what we really do is a sort of rapid-fire, serial "monotasking." If it seems like we're doing 4 things at once, we're usually doing one thing for a moment, then another, then another, etc. (Ever get a phone call when you're trying to write an email, and then you say something unintelligible in reply?)

    Anyway, she also said that we can best handle tasks in 90-minute chunks...anything more than that and we start to get fried. For me, I think I get fried after about an hour, so my schedule this week (labeled "Ye Olde Medieval Rigid Schedule") has my tasks in one-hour increments. We'll see how it goes, and how much I get of luck with your remaining four weeks!

    (Sorry for such a long comment!)

  18. I love Marjorie Pay Hinkley and her thoughts on the subject. She spoke about her son Dick and how he came up to her later in life to thank her for the times she had let him spend the day. She reflected on a time earlier in his youth when he needed to do chores and have structure and he was off playing. She spoke about how she began to get frustrated and then prayed instead. She left him alone, and was thanked and hugged by a grown son who not only recognized her sacrifice, but had spent that time looking up at clouds pondering the mysteries of god. I say summer doesn't need to be scheduled, just give yourself permission to allow your kids to just be kids, after all it doesn't last long.

  19. I like the idea of scheduling each day just as it comes--probably because that's how I operate! It helps me, too, to prioritize. (It helps even more when I STICK to the priorities....)