Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chore Boards and Charts

It's been a wild couple of years here. We get a lot accomplished but our methods are not pretty. The children and I have opposing worldviews. I say to them, "For six days you must labor and do all your work. That means this is not playtime! Get out your math books!"

They duel with me like Lethargarians, "From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay. From 1:00 to 2:00 we linger and loiter..." Oh, the banter. It's been an exhausting battle trying to stay on top of school and chores.

I've come across several posts in the past week that made me remember that chaos did not always have the upper hand. Sarah posted pictures of her chore wheels and Jennifer put up her family schedule. Hmm. We used to operate by charts and schedules. Maybe we should try that again.

Duly inspired by the organization of others, I spent all last weekend making up a schedule and chore charts (I went with rectangles. Circles baffle me.) Stuart leaned over me and offered helpful suggestions. "Why don't you switch Faith and Lauren's piano lesson with science."

"Honey, if I move that this whole thing will collapse in on itself. Now leave me alone and let me think!" After two days of mental anguish and finagling, I finished putting my brain on paper. It now takes up an entire wall in our back hall.

(The kids pretend their chore charts are hotels and every morning Charlie rushes to move the window washers on everyone's boards to the next window.)

The Master Schedule

It's been a great week. The children have plowed through a mountain of school work. The house is in order. Everyone is happier and I feel more like a mom than a traffic cop.

Kate's Guidelines for Creating and Living on a Schedule
1. Create your personal schedule first.
2. Fit your children's activities around your schedule.
3. Don't fill up every minute of the day. (I left myself several empty blocks of time to fill however seems best each day.)
4. Schedule a quiet time for your children. They need quiet even if they have moved out of the nap stage.
5. Schedule activities where your children can work in pairs or small groups. (You can enlarge our master schedule to see how this works at our house.)
6. Alternate calm and active activities.
7. If you have young children, expect everything to be thrown entirely off kilter when little Xerxes strips out of his diaper or dumps over the potted plants. You'll get back on track in an hour or two. Or you can always call it a day and pile all the kids in the car and go to the park.
8. If you have infants and toddlers, expect to have to create a new schedule every few months.
9. You might not want or need a schedule for the entire day. You may find that a couple of scheduled hours is just the thing to eliminate the dinnertime/bathtime/bedtime crazies.
10. A schedule is a tool not a guilt trip. You will have rough days. See number seven. But the good days will outnumber the bad with this tool in place.


Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Wow! With my house cleaning skills and your organizational charts, we would make a serious uber-mom! I thrive on charts, lists and rules....


The Small Scribbler said...


Who cares about the election? Combined, we could take over the world!


Alyson said...

good job. very impressive!!! I am sitting here doing e-mail drinking tea after telling my kids..."fine! be that way. how about you do what you want all day and I'll do what I want!!"
perhaps after my tea I'll feel better.

jodi said...

I think I'm in love! I can seriously get into charts and schedules. But right now, my hubby is working out of our home and he is more of the "fly by the seat of your pants" variety. It's driving me crazy and more than once a day I find myself saying, "Help me Lord" and reciting Psalm 19:14. :)

Heather C said...

Y'all are so organized you put me right to shame! You go, girl!

Maren said...

I love a good schedule. I always get off my groove when school starts, because everything changes so radically. But you have inspired me to do better! I hate it when I feel like my day is driving me like a speeding bus!

Christy said...

Oh, it hurts my head to even think about following a schedule like that! Thankfully it will be another few years before it may be necessary for us!

The Small Scribbler said...


I am actually doing a lot less tying myself to this schedule than when we operate without it. Don't worry, you will ease into school by degrees and it won't be overwhelming when you get to this stage. (You might even be done with diapers and sippy cups by then.)


Sara Carmichael said...

Hi Kate,
I connected to your blog from Alana's blog today. I love your schedule. I also love that you're a homeschooling mama; that is what I'm hoping and praying to begin doing next fall when my oldest turns 5. Thanks for the great ideas on scheduling. What a neat inspiration. I might try to tweak it on Outlook or some other computer calendar creator and then print it out for all to see.

Great info.