Switching up the Routine

We’ve had a good routine for many years now.It helps us meet all of our goals and objectives for our family and attend to all the practical things that need doing. Even the littles know what to expect each day, and for the most part things move along pretty smoothly.

So you can understand how uncertain I was about changing things, when somehow the subject became a matter of family conversation. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

My oldest wanted more flexibility with how he used his time. I could concede that he is pretty responsible and would be able to manage things fairly well independently. My second son was good with the routine, though he recommended a minor change. He is, however, highly distractable when it comes to school work, so I was sure that totally independent time management would probably be an epic “fail” for him.

My personal concern with freeing up the schedule too much was that it would be chaotic in general, and that specifically, the littles wouldn’t have the structure that they needed. Also, I didn’t want everyone to be going their own way and miss out on valuable family time. Not to mention that I figured it would be a micro-management nightmare for me, trying to make sure that everyone was getting done what they needed to get done and not just wasting time.

So, after much discussion, we compromised and came up with something that everyone seemed happy with. We will begin our day with family Bible reading and prayer, then have about an hour to do morning jobs and either start school, read books, or enjoy some free time. Breakfast at 9:00 for everyone, followed by Circle Time (everyone participates). Between 10:00 and 12:00, the older children are free to do their schoolwork or have free time, with the stipulation that either Language Arts or Math must be done by lunch time. After lunch, the littles nap and I do something school-related with the big kids, then they have the afternoon to complete their independent work and enjoy whatever free time is left over. Afternoon jobs can be done “whenever,” as long as they are done by 5:00, at which time we’ll do something together as a family (read aloud, play a game, or whatever), and then make sure the house is in order and supper underway for Dad’s arrival home at about 6:30.

I still plan on managing time and tasks for the littles, of course, but I like having some “checkpoints” built into the routine so that even the big kids can manage things better and I have less worry that things will spiral out of control.

We’re on all of day two with this new schedule, and so far, so good. I’m optimistic that this will work fairly well for our family. If not, we’ll keep on tweaking it. On a positive note, my second-oldest is doing surprisingly well with getting his academics done–he’s finished his math in record time both days! Don’t know if this trend will continue but I hope so.

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