I am greatly aided in life when I have a strict schedule. Not that I allow myself to be a slave to it, but it is a wonderful help for the moment when one task is completed and I ask myself, “Now what?” If I don’t have a ready answer to that question, I tend to make less than optimal use of the time I have been given.
And time is indeed a gift. I have done nothing to earn it. It’s just there, waiting for me at the start of each day. I am especially aware of this great gift at the moment, now that my schedule is more or less completely up to me to set. I feel the (mostly happy) pressure to make good use of this time, and a schedule is one tool I employ to help make that happen.
As a general rule, I try to work as long as Darah is at work. So, from the time she leaves the door in the morning to the time she returns in the late afternoon, I strive to keep occupied in productive activity. For the most part, this is not a problem, as there is plenty to do. Most days, it is just a matter of my deciding to do it. Since there is no one looking over my shoulder to make sure this happens, my schedule is once again a helpful aid in making sure I complete all I have planned for each day.
I know a detailed breakdown of our schedule as it stands currently is of limited interest. I post it here mainly for my own future reference. Also, while this schedule is not yet complete or as comprehensive as I would like, the achievement of what we have so far accomplished is, at least to me, worthy of celebrating. It has been a long time coming!
A typical day starts at 7 am or so, and I take care of the morning’s outdoor chores: feed and water barn cats and chickens, let chickens out of their coop and gather eggs, and tend to the wood boiler (in the cold part of the year). When it’s really cold, I’ll also check on the cistern pump, which is located in the barn inside an insulated box, to make sure the light bulb(s) that heat the box are still working. Nothing worse than having the pump freeze on a cold, winter morning! If the car is fogged over or snow-covered, I try to remember to get it cleared and started for Darah, so she can leave the house promptly at 7:45 for work. (I don’t always remember!)
I like to start the day with a shower, so that comes next, if I didn’t do it before the outdoor chores. Once I’m dressed, I make my bed (a key to a great morning!) and open up the drapes to let that magnificent sunlight into the bedroom. (By this time, Kent is usually up. He has gotten into the routine of starting his day with his school reading assignment, so that is usually what he is up to. Some days, he finishes his entire two-hour reading block before the school day even officially starts at 10 am!)
Next, I make my sweep through the house to start resetting it for the day. We live in a 1200 square-foot double-wide, and I wouldn’t want even one more square foot of space to keep tidy! I hit the back bathroom, the back room (our master bedroom, which is currently nearly empty and waiting to be turned into our prayer and meditation room and dojo sometime this summer!), and the front room, where we spend most of our time in the evenings. I get everything picked up, usually dishes and such from the prior night. Then I get the dining table wiped and cleared in anticipation of the school day. If I have time, I’ll check my email and social media stuff before I put my laptop away; it’s usually out on the dining table from the day before. Next comes the reset of the kitchen, clearing all countertops, loading the dishwasher with last night’s glasses and dishes, etc.
Somewhere in here, I will get the laundry for the day going, since our laundry room is off the kitchen. We don’t use a dryer, so in the winter there is laundry hanging indoors above the washing machine that I have to take down first. Once it is down, I get a load of laundry going and carry the full basket of clean clothes into the kitchen to fold. While I do that, I let Kent know the kitchen is clear for him to get breakfast started. He is our primary cook, handling eggs and bacon. If Reed is up by this time (he usually is), he will also get started on cooking biscuits. I get water boiling for coffee and then complete folding yesterday’s laundry. The boys’ clean clothes are piled up for them to put away after breakfast and I take me and Darah’s to our room and get it put away.
If I have a moment before breakfast is served, I will check news headlines on my phone. Otherwise, I skip it for the day. (There is usually little going on in the world that I need to know about on a daily basis. I check in often enough to stay abreast of what is important; very little “news” is.) Then, after asking for our food to be blessed and thanking God for it, the boys and I spend a few minutes getting caught up before our school day begins. After our fast has been broken, the boys scurry off to complete their morning chores (get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, tidy room), which they almost always put off to the last moment. While they are occupied, I quickly clear any mess from breakfast preparation, load breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, and sweep the kitchen and dining room. Then the leaf gets put into the dining table to accommodate the three of us and our math books.
At 10 am, school begins. We don’t always make it to the school table (our transformed dining table) precisely on-time, but everyone knows that is the start time, and we are usually more or less working away close to 10 am. Math is the first official subject of the day, and we work on it for approximately two hours. (I’ve previously written about our school schedule at greater length.) Then it is on to an hour of writing, followed by a short break for lunch. Then the first part of the afternoon is dedicated to reading, which we do for a minimum of two hours, usually between 1 and 3 pm.
After a very light clean-up after lunch, I run the dishwasher. (I don’t run it earlier because the noise of it disturbs Reed’s concentration.) Once reading is complete, the boys do their daily cleaning chore, including washing the day’s egg haul from our chickens. When there is a need, I’ll supervise or help with the house cleaning. After this, the boys are excused from school for the day. I usually try to fit in another math lesson or two before Darah gets home from work around 5 pm; meanwhile, the boys play games (often), run off some of their energy (frequently), or do some leisure reading (uncommonly!). Before Darah arrives, I try to have the dishwasher emptied out and the kitchen ready to go for supper prep.
We eat supper shortly after Darah arrives home. She prepares supper, with Kent as her helper much of the time. After supper, I’ll do the evening outdoor chores: feed and water cats and chickens, collect eggs, close chickens in for the night, and tend to the wood boiler as the season dictates. As soon as this is done, we do a reading from the Bible together as a family, pray together for our neighbors, and then listen to Kent’s recitation from one of his McGuffey Reader lessons. Once we’re done discussing the readings (sometimes a lot to talk about, sometimes a little), everyone is released to their own pursuits until bedtime.
Bedtime for the boys is 10 pm. I turn in around 11 pm at the latest most nights. Darah is our night owl, so she might be up until midnight or later. And then we are all snug in our beds, and ready to tackle it all again tomorrow!
Because we follow much the same routine on Saturdays (our school runs six days a week) and Sundays are essentially set aside as a day of rest with no scheduled activities besides daily chores, there is little need to vary this schedule from day-to-day. The only changes I’d like to make to it at this point are to have the evening hours be spent a bit more productively, especially once the weather warms up and we have more hours of daylight after supper. All in good time!
Prioritize, optimize, then put it on auto-pilot, with only occasional tweaks as they become apparent. I can focus on what I have set as my priorities, aided by the schedule, and not always need to be wondering if I am doing well. What peace I find in the gentle constraint of a daily schedule!