Welcome back to Part II of the Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Series. In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how to create a family schedule that will turn your lo-o-o-ng days and weeks into productive and fun filled days. I’ll have your family running like a well oiled machine in no time. Okay, I promised to keep it real, I’m not a miracle worker but I can guarantee that if you follow the suggestions outlined in this post your days will be more organized and those long, aimless afternoons of staring at your kids and wondering what you will do with them for the next three hours will be a thing of the past.
I’m going to share with you my family’s schedule as well as several free downloads to help make creating your family schedule easier. Just remember to use your schedule as a guide rather than the rule and make it work for your family.
The following steps outline my process for creating the perfect family schedule. Let’s get started.
Make a list of everything you have to do each week.
First, I listed on paper (I know, old school) everything that we absolutely have to do each week so that I can see how much free time we have to work with.
Research Local Classes and Playgroups.
Next, I googled classes and playgroups in our area and wrote down the dates and times of each. If you aren’t having much luck with google try contacting the churches in your community. They usually have playgroups or children’s activities available and most don’t require you to be a member of their church to attend. Ask your local friends on Facebook if they have any suggestions. Check with your local library, YMCA, and children’s museum. The cost of classes can add up so set your pride aside and ask if they offer scholarships. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most organizations provide some type of scholarship for families that meet certain income requirements. Hint: If you are a one-income family and cringe at the price tag then you most likely qualify.
In addition to organized classes and playgroups, scheduling weekly playdates with other mom’s is a great and free way to get the kids out of the house. It was awkward setting up our first playdate but I soon found that most of the other stay-at-home mom’s were looking for ways to fill up their days too and jumped at the chance to get together weekly.
Ask for Help
Now comes the hard part, asking family for help…gulp. As a stay-at-home mom I find it excruciatingly difficult to ask others if they can watch my kids so that I can have some time to myself. I only feel comfortable asking if I have what I feel is a legitimate reason, like a doctor’s appointment. But what I crave more than anything is time at home by myself for a couple of hours, where I can watch what I want on tv and eat the hidden snacks out in the open.
If you don’t have family available then try asking other mom friends if they would be interested in setting up weekly times to watch each others kids. You watch hers for an afternoon and she watches yours for an afternoon each week. Knowing that you’ll get a break soon will give you that extra boost to help you through the tough days.
Create your Family Schedule
It’s time to fill in your schedule. Samples of my family’s Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer schedules are below. To remain true to my “keeping it real” word, I must tell you that I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve followed these schedules exactly. I use it as a guide to lead me through our days. If something more interesting comes up or if any of us aren’t feeling well then the schedule goes out the window for the day and we pick it back up the next day.
Lucky for you, I’m offering a blank version of this little creation as part of my Complete Family Scheduling Bundle for FREE!Now that we’ve got you organized it’s time to get your little one’s organized too. It’s so important to have a schedule that your children can follow. Picture schedules are most often used as a visual aid for children with autism but I firmly believe that there’s very few parenting problems that can’t be solved with a picture schedule for children of all abilities.
Just imagine not being able to tell time and to be at the whim of your parents day in and day out. Never knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing from one minute to the next. The picture schedule allows your child to see what they will be doing that day and gives them some structure and a feeling of control to their days. In addition, it serves as an excellent tool to help establish rules for watching TV, bedtime, clean up, etc.
When I first started using a picture schedule with my kids I was skeptical. My boys really liked it so we kept it up for a couple of weeks then I found they no longer needed it anymore so I stopped using it. I soon found that when we stopped using the schedule we became more relaxed. My son started badgering me constantly to play his Kindle and I found myself caving and letting him or allowing them to watch tv for longer periods each day. When using the picture schedule, if my my son asks if he can play his Kindle I tell him to check his schedule. He sees that he’ll get his Kindle after lunch and that pacifies him and completely side steps the fight that would have inevitably ensued if I had told him no.
If that doesn’t sell you on picture schedules then I don’t know what will. Let’s get you started and you will soon see the magic for yourself. The following instructions and free downloads will have you using one in no time.
To create a picture schedule:
- Click on the picture below to download the Complete Family Scheduling Bundle then print the Picture Schedule Board and laminate it. You can purchase an inexpensive laminator just like the one I have from Amazon. Then adhere velcro dots to the center of each box. If you’re not interested in purchasing a laminator then I would suggest printing the Picture Schedule Board on cardstock and taping it to a small cookie sheet or the refrigerator. Then use magnet dots to adhere the picture cards to the schedule.
- From the free downloads print the Picture Schedule Cards. Laminate each sheet, cut out the pieces and adhere velcro dots to the back of each. If you don’t have a laminator than print on cardstock and stick magnet dots to the back of each picture. Either hang your schedule on the refrigerator or tape to a small cookie sheet. The magnets will hold the picture cards in place on the schedule.
- If you want to create your own picture card, start a new row in the Picture Schedule Cards document by putting your cursor on the last picture schedule card and clicking the Tab key. A new blank row will be created. In the blank box, click Insert, click Clip Art. Then search in Clip Art for whatever you need (i.e. hiking, arts and crafts or grandma). Click on the picture you want to use to insert into your document. Then right click on the image and change the width between 1.5”-2”. The height will automatically adjust. This size will fit on the Picture Schedule Board provided.If you can’t find what you are looking for in Clip Art then you can also use your own pictures. In your Word document, just click Insert, click Picture and then upload the picture from your computer. Right click on the picture and change the size like above.
Voila! You now have a personalized picture schedule of your own! Make sure to hang the schedule in a busy area of the house where your little ones can access it easily. Click the download button below to download The Complete Family Scheduling Bundle and get organized today!
That wraps up Part II of the Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Series. I hope you found it useful. Please comment below with your feedback or let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear how the schedules are working for you. Read Part III of the SAHM Survival Series: Socializing Mommy.