Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Planning Your Schedule

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Figuring out how to work out your day can be very overwhelming, especially if you have more than one child and/or several things you need to work in each day.

I recently created our Fall schedule, and it was definitely the most difficult to work out and balance that I have ever done. In case you are wondering, the second most challenging time for me was when Kaitlyn was born and I was figuring out how to balance two little children at the same time.

We had some new things happening, like playgroup, piano lessons, dance class, and Kindergarten. I had some new things to juggle, while still wanting to make sure McKenna got the attention she needed for things like blanket time.

I started off with one piece of paper divided into three columns. At the top of each column, I wrote each child's name. Under each column, I wrote all of the activities that needed to happen in that child's day each day, along with my estimation on how much time was needed for that activity. I included everything from chores, to meals, to homework...everything.

I then took a new peice of paper. I used one piece of paper per child. I put the child's name at the top, and then wrote times down the left side in 30 minute increments. I then wrote activities that were set in their time slots. Such activities include nap times, bedtimes, school times, and meal times. I then worked in other activities in the times that remained. As I added my activities, I checked them off of my first list with three columns so I was sure to add each activity.

I now plan to use these schedules for a month or so, tweaking as needed. A schedule will rarely be perfect from its first creation. You will realize some things make sense in different orders or for different amounts of time. You always want to be evaluating and willing to change things that don't work.

Let's review, hopefully in a simple way:

Step 1:
Get a piece of paper

Step 2:
Divide that paper into the number of columns you need

Step 3:
Write the names of each person at the top of their respective columns

Step 4:
Write each person's daily activities in their respective columns. Include things like getting ready and eating meals.

Step 5:
Get a new piece of paper for each person

Step 6:
Write the name at the top of the paper

Step 7:
Write time increments on the left-side of the page. I went in 30 minute increments (7:00/7:30/8:00 etc)

Step 8:
Write in the items that are pretty non-negotiable. These might be nap times, meal times, school time, etc.

Step 9:
Think through your remaining items and decide where they would all fit best

Step 10:
Try it out for a while. Make adjustments where and when needed. It doesn't have to be perfect from the beginning

Step 11:
Don't stress out about exact times. When you write a schedule out on paper, it looks jam-packed and stressful with little wiggle room. When you live it in life, take it easy. Remember, the clock doesn't rule you. If you and your child are having a great time playing a game, don't feel the need to cut it off because your "schedule" says you need to. Shift other items in the schedule. This is to give you a guideline, not to rule your every move and make life methodical and emotion-less.

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Angelle said...

Are you going to post your fall schedule soon? I have three about the same ages as your 3 and I always use you schedule as the basis for mine. Would love to see it when you are ready!

Kerry McCullough said...

I am a constant list and schedule maker, but the problem is that my 9 month old is constantly changing! Just when we think we get it down, the naps change or the amount of meals changes, etc. We'll get it eventually ;)

Jessica said...

Angelle, I was going to ask the same thing!

Kerry, my daughter was the same way. I think all kids at that age are. At about 10 months is when we got a very consistent schedule of feeding and sleeping times. I know that at that age her naps were from 10-12 and 3-5, I would have to look for the feeding times.

Leigh Anne said...

Thanks so much for this timely post!! I was needing to tackle this for my 2 kids and was a bit overwhelmed.....your post lays it all out nicely!

Plowmanators said...

Angelle and Jessica, I will post something but I am actually thinking this over quite a bit. With Brayden out of my eyesight during the day now, I hesitate to make his schedule known. I will post something, but I haven't decided what yet. If you email me (, I will give it to you.

Plowmanators said...

Kerry, that is so true! It is constantly changing :)

Plowmanators said...

You are very welcome Leigh Anne!

Brylee's Mom said...

My baby is 4.5 months old. I started trying to implement Baby Wise from the beginning but was never really consistant with CIO due to her having a lot of gas issues. (I know that makes me a "late starter.") We have also been more on a "pattern" than a "routine." I can't seem to get her on a consistant schedule. Her naps are all over the place. I tried really hard to get her waketime down to a science and read a lot about it on here, but I still don't seem to have it right. Until recently she got sleepy after about an hour and went to sleep fairly easily. Now often times when I lay her down before that hour mark she won't go to sleep for another hour although sometimes she's out in 15 min no problem. Sometimes she doesn't fuss at all just lays there. Other times she works herself up crying. Yesterday for example, I put her down for her first nap at the hour mark. She was out in 10 min, no fussing. Today - same wakeup time, same bedtime the night before - I laid her down a little before the hour mark and she didn't go to sleep for another hour. Didn't fuss, just laid there moving around from time to time. I know she fights it sometimes, but it really seems like she can't go to sleep even though she is tired. We have tried to help her too at times, walking, rocking, etc. Sometimes it works, sometimes we can't get her to go to sleep for anything. I feel bad making her lay there for so long when I feel it is my fault for not laying her down at the right time. She inevitably has atleast one short nap 30-45min...usually more than one. When she has a poor nap should I lay her down sooner for the next? It seems she is already over-tired and often won't go down for 2 hours again even though she is yawning like crazy and rubbing her eyes. I can't get her bedtime consistant either. This has been an issue for a long time. She will often be up 3 hours before she will go to sleep at night and we can't just lay her down. We have been away from home a lot the past 2 months as my husband has had to travel some for work and we have been with him (staying with family.) Should I give up trying until we return home? I am afraid things will just get worse. I have nearly gotten to the place of giving up thinking maybe this won't work for her, but I figure the problem is my fault - I have been doing all I know to do and it's frustrating. Is there another book that you think would help me with her, or do you havee other suggestions? Thanks!

Plowmanators said...

For waketime, have you kept a log consistently? Like, for two weeks straight to see patterns? That would likely help you.

There are two posts:

Waketime when they wake early


Waketime when baby wakes early

that will help you with that question.

I would say it will be hard for you to have success if you are not home in a consistent place. So until you are there, you might just need to stick to some basics.

You can still have her eat at regular intervals and still have her nap when she should nap. You would just help her sleep if needed--if she won't fall asleep on her own.

You might want to read The Baby Whisperer and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Good luck!

Jules said...


My little one is 10 mo and has been doing everything faster than normal. I have a couple of things I can't seem to wrap my head around and need your help. Malachi is on a 4hour schedule with 2 naps a day. He is awake by 7:30 and down for bed by 7:30 below is his most days routine.
I think his feeding time are supposed to line up with our eating times but how and when? The breakfast and lunch times line up great but dinner is not until 5:30. Do I feed his bottle to him when he wakes up and the other food at dinner with our food? I'm trying to transition the baby food out. Which is my other question. How do you make sure they have a full feeding when you stop the baby food?
I have given him scramble egg and toast one morning and he didn't eat it all maybe half. He was really cranky come about 9 o'clock. I think didn't get enough food to make it to 9:30 or 10. He normally stays up till 10 or at least 9:45. He had enough sleep the night before and everything else was same oh same oh. Maybe I'm not giving him enough time to eat everything? He does seem to want to stop before he is full because he is tired of chewing and feeding himself. He has never been very excited about food unless its in the morning or at night. After his bottle though he would not complain about not getting real food until he is whinny because he didn't get a full feeding. Now I'm rambling.
How do I get him off baby food? How do I only feed him real food when we eat?

7:30 wake up, 8oz. bottle 3T cereal half tub fruit
9:30 or 10 nap
11:30 or 12 wake up, 6oz. bottle whole tub of veggie whole tub of fruit
2 nap
4 wake up, 6oz. bottle 2T cereal, half tub veggie, half tub fruit
5:30 is when we eat as a family he eats some of what we are having or little snacks
7:15 bottle 8oz.
7:30 bed

Thanks for your help. I love your blog and tell all my BW friends about you.

Amy said...

I absolutely LOVE your blog and check it often!!! I just wanted to let you know that I did a post today on my Baby Wise schedule and thought it could be of use to some of the girls on here. Check it out at my blog :)

Thanks again for all of your advice!


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