How to Build a Family Schedule That Works



I have never been a highly scheduled person. I dabbled with the baby feeding schedules, but for some reason I could never get the babies to understand my plan.

“No, no, no, little one. You see, right here on the 9:00 hour, the schedule clearly states that you are to be asleep.   WHY YOU NO SLEEP?????”

I get it. All schedules must have wiggle room. Life doesn’t go as planned. Ever. Well, sometimes, maybe?

I married into a family of the most scheduled people I’ve ever met. I’m going to tell you a story before I get to my point here because this story is relevant and unbelievable. Seriously.

Nonna and Aunt Janet came to visit us in 2010. Joshua was turning 5, Caleb was 4, and Daniel was in utero.  We lived in Washington, D.C., not in the suburbs, but actually in the city.

Of course, Nonna came with an itinerary for all that she and Janet intended to do during their visit. Upon their arrival, they discovered that our little boys were super sick with strep throat.

Nonna was undeterred. “Okay. So on Thursday, we’ll do the Space Museum. Then on Friday, I figure we’ll be sick with strep throat. We’ll take a day or two off to rest. On Sunday, we’ll hit the Holocaust Museum and Mount Vernon. Monday we’ll see Arlington, and Tuesday we’ll get ready for our trip back.”

I kid you not, folks, they developed strep throat as scheduled. Poor Aunt Janet, who came down with her sickness in the middle of the Space Museum. Let’s just say that for some people, strep throat is also a puke bug. It was a trip to remember.

Were our travelers caught unawares with this sickness? Heck no. That’s the power of the plan!

My friend Kim convinced me to buy this book:

This came in handy for several reasons:

  1. Schedule suggestions
  2. THE KIT!!! It includes this sticky tack stuff, which is a must have for the final color-coded-schedule building step.
  3. But the amount of priority questioning that has ensued from working on my family schedule still has my head spinning! Talk about staring your choices in the face!


How to Build Your Schedule:


#1. Make an exhaustive list of every single thing that you need to accomplish during the average weekday. If your family has sports 3 nights a week, include that. Don’t forget to include the fact that it takes 30 minutes to get ready for said activities, 15 minutes to drive there, and 15 minutes to get home. All together, one soccer team may actually add up to 5 hours of your week, like Caleb’s team!

Then break that into 30 minute or hour increments. Here’s an example of my worksheet:


my daily activity worksheet

You may find it awfully hard to get everything into 24 hours. Lightbulb moment that you’re trying to do too much….Just sayin’. I certainly have that problem.

That was not my final draft.

#2. Do that worksheet for each family member.

Consult the kids to ask them what is important to them. Make sure they are having time to practice whatever their craft or skill is. I tried to build in time for bicycles, drawing, and baseball in the yard.

#3. The fun part: Get your kit out. Choose 1 color for each family member. Write all the activities on the appropriate size squares. They come in 30 minute squares and hour-long squares.

#4. Cut out the squares, and arrange them on your master schedule: 3 legal size papers with time slots. Use the sticky tac on the back of each square to hold it temporarily in place. 

I did John David’s first. Younger children have the most needs to consider. Older children have harder set times, though. If soccer is at 5, you can’t really move that square around.

Here’s ours:


The morning schedule. This works for 3/5 of our weekdays.




Midday Schedule: Also works for only 3/5 of our days.


Technically, each evening is different for us, so I tried to allow for that with “Soccer/AWANA/Family time”


Now that I’ve gotten all of this done, soccer season is wrapping up, and we switch to the basketball schedule. I don’t think it will change too much, though.

I will warn you. This activity may lead you to question EVERYTHING in your life.

I kept thinking, “Wait a minute. This is crazy. Something more must be delegated!”

Or “Why do I blog at all? Should I drop the blog?”

“How clean does the house really need to be?” *chuckle*  Alan does his share of the cleaning, believe me!

How the schedule has helped so far:

I love that I have a plan in place. Also, I don’t have to be the bad guy with the kids.

“Mom, is this the last thing we have to do??”

“No. Go look at the schedule.”

“Awww man!!”

“Sorry. It’s on the schedule.”

Also, I have gotten more done at school. When the schedule wasn’t written down, by 1:30 I start to run out of energy and say things like, “Eh, you’ve done enough, go ahead.” The schedule holds my feet to the ground with, “Oh, yeah, you really should do handwriting.”

They should. So should I, but that’s why adults get to use computers.

The schedule also helped me find a way to alternate seat work with fun. I don’t know why I’m such a hands-on teacher, but I’ve just accepted that as my teaching style. I’d love to be the mom that has the kids working quietly while I tend to the house, but that’s just not me. I walk them through division, I read to them because I love it, and I hover nearby as much as I can. That’s my teaching style. We talk all day long.

Meanwhile, the schedule says that right now I’m sitting on my porch, when in fact, we are all inside. I’m procrastinating letting JD up from nap while I blog. 

I mean, schedules are a wonderful TOOL, but let’s not marry our schedules.

Hope you all have a good time this weekend, passing out candy to adorable little trick-or-treaters! We will have a Darth Vader, a Boba Fett, a Snoopy, and a Yoda. I promise to take photos, if you promise to do the same!





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