"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... " Ecc.3:1
From the beginning, God created time. He made man, and put him within the limits of time. He tells us that there is a time for everything. He also instructs us to use our time wisely. "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16)
It has been on my heart lately to make sure that I am making wise choices with my time and the children's time. We want to be intentional with our parenting, and not just reacting to the children all the time. We want to help them "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). In order to help them in this way, we choose to do things "on purpose" in our family. We desire to budget our time in much the same way as we budget our money, using our time wisely with the Lord's guidance. We wish to sharpen our children in the Word of God, so that they will be useful in His kingdom. "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:3-5)
With the help of the book, "Managers of Their Homes" by Teri Maxwell (www.titus2.com) and much prayer and guidance from the Lord, we came up with a schedule for our family (David is not on the schedule b/c he is at work from 8-5). First, I wrote down our NEEDS. Those are the things that are absolutely necessary for everyone to maintain physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. Things like self-care, chores, meals, cuddle times, education, bible time, baths, naps, etc. I made a list of these things for myself and each child, that way I could make sure my needs as Mommy were being met, as well as the needs of each child. Once you strip everything down to just the NEEDS, you really begin to see how many things you commit your time to that are really less of a priority. Plus, it feels really good to know that you will be able to give your children all that they need, without going to bed wishing you'd done more.
Next, I started with the babies nursing schedule that they developed over the last few months. I don't like to schedule my breastfeeding babies, as it inhibits a good supply production. This time especially, having twins, I needed to build up a nice, good supply. So, I nurse on-demand, and let the babies naturally fall into a routine. Now, at 4 months, they nurse about every 3 hours during the day, so I was able to use their natural pattern, and work our schedule around it.
Then, I wrote the nursing times down on a time chart, as well as giving everything from our NEEDS list a time. Our chart is broken down into 30 minute increments. Not everything we do will take 30 minutes, so this allows for some flexibility for interruptions and occasional discipline issues. I want to note that I also included the number of hours of sleep I would like each person to get onto the NEEDS list, so that it would be a priority. Then I determined what time each person would need to be in bed and get up in the morning to meet that need, and put it on the chart.
After that, I made a list of the things David and I feel led to add to our daily life to enrich everyone's relationships with each other and with the Lord. These would be things like each sibling having a certain time where they play with another sibling. That way each sibling relationship gets nurtured at some point during the week. Also, I wanted to make sure that we did art every day. I had to do some shifting and altering before I came up with the final schedule that I posted on the wall for everyone to see. It was definitely a time investment on my part, but one that I have faith will produce good fruit in our family.
Finally, I wrote all the information down on a poster-sized post-it note (huge!). I assigned each person a color, and wrote their part of the schedule in that color. I hung the paper on the wall in the dining room. I chose this wall because we either are in that room or pass by that wall many times a day. Plus, you can see that wall from the living room. I had it hung on the wall for about a week before we started using it, so that everyone had time to look at it and ask questions.
This has been our first week on our schedule. There have been "off" days, interruptions, outside activities that conflict with parts of it once a week, etc. When we are home though, we've stuck to the schedule. For instance, we went grocery shopping yesterday. After we got home and put away groceries, we looked at the schedule to see what everyone should be doing at that time, getting right back on task. It was so much nicer than me having to come up with something to keep everyone busy. We also accomplished a lot more at home than we usually do on grocery day.
One thing I'd like to make clear is that a schedule is meant to offer guidance, not to run your life. If you expect to follow it perfectly, you will give up. There has never been a day where something unexpected hasn't come up. You might have to clean up a poopy mess when, according to the schedule, you should be doing laundry, or have a heart-to-heart with a child when the schedule says it's time for handwriting. I HAVE to be flexible and allow for the ebb and flow of life. It does, however, give us purpose and help us meet goals.
Other things we do to keep the home running more efficiently are menu planning (which I hang on the refrigerator), and chore charts (hanging in the hallway). I am by no means an organized person. It does NOT come naturally to me. It is only by seeking the Lord and listening to the counsel of moms who have "been there, done that" that I am able to form ways to run our home that work well for our family. God is so good to give the ideas, the counsel, and the energy to do anything that I do. He is sooo good!!!