A struggle every person seems to have is that there are not enough hours in a day. Now, I almost failed economics in college, but I remember that time is the most precious resource because we cannot make more of it.
“We live and we die by time, and we must not commit the sin of turning our back on time.” —Chuck Noland from Castaway
Before you think that Chuck, a Fed Ex employee tragically marooned on a tropical island, was being melodramatic, read this part of the Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker which my family prays each morning:
…to work, above all, with purity of intention, and with detachment from self,
having always death before my eyes and the account which I must render of time lost,
of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success so fatal to the work of God.
When you sit scrolling your Facebook or looking for the end of the Internet think to yourself, “the account I must give of time lost…” That’s a great examination of conscience isn’t it?
But how to arrange our time so that we can do what we need to do in a day?
For me, the first principle is have a plan.
When our babies were new, Bill and I appreciated some thoughts from On Becoming Babywise. (Contrary to popular belief, this book was not actually authored by Satan. There are some good nuggets in there, and like anything, you do have to apply your common sense.) The 3 hour schedule starting at 7 am and ending at 10 pm, while not healthful for most babies, actually laid a foundation our family’s schedule for the past 18 years. In addition, A Mother’s Rule of Life and Time Management for Catholics have useful tools for analyzing and designing a schedule that fits your life. And the Flylady says put your clothes out the night before. That’s amazing!
Would you like to see how I wife, mother, homeschool, housekeep and care for myself each day? Here is a schedule for our whole family because my ability to do these things is dependent on what we are all doing each day.
5:30am Bill Prays rosary for his employees and family. (Prayer) If he runs, it is at 4:30am.
5:45 am Rachel Makes a personal offering of her will to God. Dresses. (Prayer)
6:00 am Bill Showered, makes coffee and eggs for himself and Rachel. Reads daily Mass readings. Rachel Goes walking with neighbor. (He serves me! Prayer. Exercise)
6:45 am Bill Morning hygiene. Rachel Makes breakfast for kids. Eats and reads daily Mass readings. (I serve them. Prayer.)
7:00 am Kids Start to arrive at table for breakfast. Bill and Rachel Review calendar together to see what is on the schedule for the day or the next few days. Daily “to-do” list is created. Expectation that 3 top items will happen. Input from kids. (Planning. Family time.)
7:30 am Everyone Morning prayers. Bill takes child to Spanish class and goes to work. (Prayer. Day’s work begins.)
7:45 am Kids Breakfast is over and chores begin. Chores include morning hygiene, putting away laundry, cleaning kitchen and dining room including floors, cleaning 3 bathrooms, starting a load of laundry, sweep all floors, pet care, vacuuming, trash, recycling. Rachel Blogs. (Housekeeping–Kids serve the family! Me time.)
8:00 Kids Chores continue. Piano practice begins. Six kids take piano so this continues all day. Some children start independent work. (Housekeeping. Day’s work.)
8:30 Rachel and Kids Everyone is doing school. Rachel teaches Kindergartener first, usually with 3 year old close at hand. Next she teaches 3rd grade. (Day’s work)
9:50 Rachel Shower and clean the master bath. (Housekeeping.)
10:10 Rachel Pick up child from Spanish. Listen to news on the way. Kids Independent school work. (Me time. Day’s Work.)
10:30 Kids Snack and break time. Rachel comes home and starts on dinner if necessary. (Break. Planning. Cooking.)
11:00 Everyone School. Poetry time for 3 year old to 8th grade. Rachel continues teaching 3rd, then 5th, then 7th grade. (Day’s Work)
Noon Lunch Everyone makes their own and helps little kids. At this point, most of the kids are done with school and play games, play outside, read or play with friends for the rest of the day. Midday prayers on our own or Mass on Wed. (Prayer. Break. Kids’ Me time.)
1pm Naps for 3 and 5 year old. Two kids Dishes, kitchen and diningroom clean up. Everyone Break/reading time. (Chores. Break. Me time.)
2 pm Rachel and older kids Finish teaching 7th. Teach 8th and high school. Rachel Nap. Eight year old Laundry (total 2 loads a day). (Day’s work. Me time. Housekeeping.)
3 pm Little kids Up from nap. Rachel Chores, phone calls, or errands. (Housekeeping.)
4 pm Kids Walk for an hour. Rachel Chores, blogs, plays games, reads aloud etc. (Exercise. Housekeeping. Family time. Me time)
5pm-ish Rachel and daily helper Start dinner. 30 minutes screen time chosen by 3 or 5 year old so Rachel can read the recipe. (Cooking. Kids’ Me time)
6 pm Everyone home from friends’ house. Clean up main living areas and designated “hot spot” where Rachel has placed loose items throughout the day. This is a communal responsibility where every puts everything away rather than saying, “He was using this and should put it away.”
6:30pm Bill Home. Everyone Dinner and everyone shares about the good and bad parts of their day. Evening prayers. Kids Leave table to shower and clean kitchen as they finish. Bill and Rachel Discuss the day and talk. (Family time. Prayer. Housekeeping. Couple time.)
7:30pm Dinner officially over. Bill Works on computer. Does budget. Does laundry. Rachel Finishes teaching 8th grade. Cleans up. Thaws meat for tomorrow’s dinner. Kids Shower and change for bed. (Housekeeping. Day’s Work. Cooking.)
8:00pm, 8:30 pm, 9 pm Kids go to bed and read. Lights out is 1/2 hour past bedtime. Bill and Rachel Talk or read or watch a movie (rare). (End of day. Couple time.)
9:45pm Bill and Rachel Change for bed, set out clothes for next day, pray together, read. (Planning. Prayer. Couple time. Me time.)
10-10:30 pm Lights out. (Official end of day.)
This schedule was built around regular sleep times and meal times. Other parts vary by season, whether I have a breastfeeding baby, whether Bill is deployed. But having a framework to come back to has allowed us to adapt this schedule to serve us for years.
Second Principle Each day’s plan is best when our schedules work to support each other.
In the early years, my day mostly revolved around the kids’ needs. When they napped, I napped or had fun. Housework was shoved into a frustrated hour before dinner. Laundry was almost but never quite done in one long Monday, leaving mess and guilt for the rest of the week. Everything else I did was done at the expense of Bill’s free time or the expense of a sitter. Everything else he did was at the expense of family time. Dinner was at 7pm so we could eat together. Otherwise, we had an “us”and “him” mentality that took years to correct because we are flawed humans. I was impatient for life to flow as easily as it does now, but we all had to put in the work to make our family function this way.
Third principle There are certain kinds of activities that each person should do each day: prayer, exercise, housekeeping, work appropriate to one’s station in life, personal time, bonding time, and planning. These are all included above.
Fourth principle There are certain activities you will never have time for.
You can see that I have not included grading or mopping the floors above. That’s because I don’t make daily time for things I dislike. They get done, but I’m still working on it. Also not included are sports teams. They would cause more stress than benefit so for now, they are out. And we don’t do home or yard maintenance because we live in military quarters.
Lastly, less frequent activities aren’t there.
Weekly rhythms :
Sunday: Morning Mass. Evening pizza and family movie.
Monday : 4H archery for 9 and up
Tuesday evening : Meal planning, grocery list
Wednesday : Short school, library, Mass, commissary and PX
Friday : Piano lessons from 8:30-3. Grading. Evening Youth group at church and American Heritage Girls.
Saturday : Morning Whole house clean including mopping. Afternoon family fun or errands. Evening movie appropriate for 13+.
Sunday potluck and pray the Rosary with families from church.
Tuesday Adoration and Confession.
Saturday Deep clean the house.
I think when we are willing to serve one another, when we take universal principles, and when we think about out time in cyclic layers, it allows us to step back, plan and prepare for the life and family culture we desire.