Seventeen years ago, this month, I went on maternity leave, and two months later, our eldest was born.
I wasn't an intuitive mother and found that I didn't know how my days were meant to be organised. My little one was hungry, refluxy and colicky so took a fair amount of time but the rest of the day was shapeless so different from the world of work where I knew what time I was meant to start and where I was meant to be. I had always worked late but that was sort of part of the day's plan. Kind older mothers would invite me round and say things like "Come when you want". This added to my confusion. When our little one was three and a half months old, I went back to my structure, part time and left the baby with an experienced Christian mother who quite obviously knew what she was doing. Even so, my days at work were fine but the days at home a mess-not knowing what I was meant to be doing with my baby or my day and still not achieving a tidy house.
Looking back, so much has changed, through God's grace, although the longer I have children the more I realise that I don't know. I do think, however, that a schedule would have helped. Schedules seem to be one woman's meat and another's poison. Schedules are meat for me. Last year, was our first complete year of home education. We had a timetable that worked well for our nine year old and a rough schedule for the baby based around the fact that he slept twice a day at about the same time for about the same time. The three year old fitted in around things with a DVD and a visit to Grandma, who lives with us.
Now the time has come for a formal schedule. The baby is 19 months and well, is a toddler not a baby. Not surprisingly, he only needs one sleep a day but needs occupation. The three year old is almost four and keen to have some more structured activity. Our nine year old is now ten and a bit more independent but needs time especially as we hope to start a new subject this autumn. So, I've pulled out Managers of their homes and made a schedule.
"Managers of their homes" is a useful start for scheduling. It starts with the premise that God is a God of order and that we should start the day with Him and goes on with the nitty gritty of putting together a schedule. It is a bit pedantic-I certainly don't agree with what they say about scheduling babies although I'm sure that my big, hungry babies would have thrived on their schedule but perhaps not if they had been less keen to feed. I also couldn't cope with kitchen timers pinging every half an hour.
For me, scheduling is a tool. At most, we will keep to the whole day as planned twice a week but will use parts for the other days. Working out the schedule has helped me to work out why certain parts of the day don't go well and try to put in something more workable. That has included needing time to sit for half an hour after lunch and do quieter tasks-well, I mean read e-mails and look at blogs.
If I'm feeling brave, I might post, in a month or so, about how the schedule is going, whether we are still using it and how much I've altered it!