The To-Do List – Schedule or Routine?

Part 1
Find all my printable cleaning schedules and routines on the Home Management page.

I recently blogged about beating the homeschool schedule blues and I told you we’d be talking about homeschool schedules.  However, homeschool schedules aren’t the only schedules we moms have to deal with.  We have a home to run and no amount of positive thinking will make the house keep itself clean.  So, in addition to finding a workable homeschooling schedule, we must also find a workable Homekeeping Schedule.

The first place to begin is with assessing what kind of family you have.  There are basically 2 types when it comes to how things get done in a household:  scheduled and routine.

Now, before you tell me that you are neither one because you are a free spirit and prefer not to commit to anything even remotely resembling something that might tie you down, let me entreat you to consider the God you serve and His attributes in this respect (remember, we are created in HIS image).  God set forth timing and order to nearly everything.  Our day is 24 hours, with a sunrise and a sunset.  We have a 7 day week, with a day set aside for worship.  The tides, the seasons, the revolutions and rotations of the planets are all in a set order.  Even God’s plan for mankind’s salvation and reconciliation to Himself was set forth in a certain order.  God is not a God of chaos.  So, Fly By the Seat of your Pants is not an option.

How do you determine if you are a family who prefers schedules or a family who prefers routines?  First of all, there are merits to both.  One is not right and the other wrong.  They both lead to order, just in a slightly different way.

The Scheduled Family tends to like alarm clocks.  They feel their best when they rise at the same time every day with no variation.  Most of the members of the family work best within time limits.  They are often encouraged by accomplishing tasks on time.  There is very little deviation in life from day to day, and very few outside or spur-of-the-moment trips throughout the week.  Everyone enjoys knowing exactly when and what will happen next.  And Daddy often has a set schedule, so there is no question as to when meal times are and when Daddy’s days off are.

The Routine Family rises at approximately the same time every day, but if they have been out later the evening before, they tend to sleep in later.  Things in the home do not necessarily have a designated place.  To this family, time constraints only serve to create foul moods and frustration.  The joy of finishing a task often supersedes the amount of time it took to complete that task.  Daily life includes many spur of the moment happenings:  people dropping by, quick trips to the store, an impromptu outing with Daddy, to name a few.  Daddy’s schedule is not set in stone.  He is on call, or works random weekends, or later nights here and there, or possibly, Daddy works from home or has the option to be home at will.  Meal times change from day to day as do Daddy’s days off.

So, now that you have a better idea of which type of family you are, you can now move forward with putting a Homekeeping Plan in place.  There is a myriad of options out there for each type of family, so I couldn’t possibly touch on each one, but I will try to have several future posts that give you a place to start.

One of my many little helpers!

I’d also like some input from you!  What type of family are you and have you found something that works well for your family dynamic?  Leave it in the comment section so others can benefit from learning about what has worked for you!

The To-Do List Posts:
This is Part 1 – Scheduled or Routine?
Part 2 – Getting Started
Part 3 – Beyond the Basics

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54 Comments on The To-Do List – Schedule or Routine?

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54 thoughts on “The To-Do List – Schedule or Routine?

  1. We are a routine family. Things don’t have to be done at the same exact time each day but we like to have them in teh same order. A few weeks ago we had a snow day so school was canceled and one of my daughters had trouble that day because she knew she was supposed to be at school but was at home. It was hard for her to adjust being at home during that time when she was supposed to be at school.

    When we know a change will be coming to our routine we warn the kids in advance. We warn them a couple of days in advance and then go into more detail at bedtime the night before the change. If we do this they seem to adapt to the change better.

  2. I’ve heard of this homekeeping tool on blogs somewhere, where it outlines chores around the house for the whole year, and thus includes those little things, like once a month including cleaning out the fridge, or once a year including organise, clean, and trash under the bed items, or something like that, and then it sets them all out on a day to day basis.

    Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? If so, what is it called!

    Also, I’m most definitly a routine person.

  3. As I read your post I think I realized a source of tension in my life… I was raised in a scheduled home, and thought that I was a scheduled person. Now that I have a family of my own I am finding that I am a routine person and we are a routine family, but I keep feeling the need to be scheduled… like that this the “right” way. We are all much more happy if we run on a routine. So, I guess I need to kick that schedule thing out of my head and happily embrace the routine! I look forward to reading the plans that you share in your future posts. I have been a mom for over 14 years, but I know that this old dog could learn some new tricks. :-)

  4. “God is not a God of chaos. So, Fly By the Seat of your Pants is not an option.”

    That is such a great line! We are trying to learn to not live in chaos, lol. So far we are heading towards routing. I don’t think we’ll ever make it to scheduled. Thanks for the great discussion topic.
    ~Amber @ The Mom Road

  5. Wow reading through this made me think our family has a little of both in them. We do stay home throught out the week and do very little. But I am also o.k. with us doing something spur of the moment.
    I have used the Managers of your Home before and love it. It is for a family who likes to have a schedule.

  6. We are a scheduled family living on a routine. Its driving me crazy! I would like to be on a time table but honestly its soooo hard sometimes. I am a relatively new mom, my oldest just turned five, but I am also a mother of many littles. Ages 5, 3, 2, 7 mo. I just can’t get that schedule down. I am feeling time crunch of getting it in down because we begin homeschool in the fall and my hubby is pretty adament about a solid routine and school day.

    I need all the help I can get. I often think of giving up the blogging community but as a SAHM and a preacher’s wife currently in a very small church I am feeling the need for community. This is where I am encouraged the most and also where I learn things like how to manage my time better and so much more.

    Thanks for being here as a go to reference when I need some answers and have limited time to find them!

    • I know how you feel, Amy, I have 4 littles too (2,3,6,&7, and then a 15yo.) About 2-3 years ago I was about where you were – two babies, and the 12 yo (at the time) wasn’t old enough to babysit all those little ones, and the whole “schedule” or even “routine” was impossible. All you can do is the best you can through each day, and remember that this is a season, and it will get easier. My youngest are finally starting to exit the toddler stage, and things are starting to lighten up a bit. I’ve done projects recently that have been on my mental “to do” list for months, or even years! One thing that has really helped me is having a membership to the YMCA (you can get financial aid if you need it!) They watch your kids for free, and I usually hop on a bike or eliptical and read a book for an hour, then I get to TAKE A SHOWER in peace, and I can take my time getting ready in the locker room without anyone bothering me. I do this 1-3 times a week, and I know it’s good for me. It also adds a little bit of “routine” to the week. Also, they have great programs for the kids, which can give you a bit of a break, and add another aspect of “routine” to the week.
      Hang in there, and know that you’re not alone! :)

  7. abba12, is this, perhaps what you are talking about: Motivated Moms Planners? That is a tool I use to try to keep up with housekeeping, and I like it alot. (However, just like any tool, it only works if I actually USE it, lol!)

    Our family is more of a routine family. I, personally, could be a good schedule person, but my sweet husband is NOT, lol! So after a few years of frustrating myself, I realized I needed to “let go” a little and just have basic routines in place to follow, rather than a “to-the-minute” schedule. Now there’s alot more peace in our home, while still maintaining order.

  8. So glad for this post! I was asked (and I agreed to) share what my homeschool days look like and I’ve really been struggling to articulate that I have made a schedule, but that I don’t keep it (making us a routine family, I guess). I may link back here to help explain myself.

  9. We are scheduled people who are having to live more routinely lately due to providential circumstances. I have to think through the next day each night before I go to bed and schedule accordingly. Each day is so different from the next that I have to be more flexible than I would like. It is a season of growth for me! :)

  10. We are a routine Family with a Schedule Daddy. LOL! My husband has to have certain things done at a certain time. We accommodate that for him and when he goes to work we slip into a routine. :)

  11. We are definitely a routine family! I have tried to make schedules with the time and activity on it, then my DH gets off work early or a dear friend drops by or my DH gets called into work in the evening or some subject gets brought up that I just have to go show the children something… schedules just don’t work for me.

    (Besides the fact that getting woken up by an alarm clock gives me a head ache! Really!) We all sleep until we wake up and stay up until we’re tired.

    But it’s probably easier for me-I grew up in a house with a single mom who was an at-home-care giver… times were never definite!

    As far as housekeeping goes, I am far from perfect! But I (try) and follow FlyLady. I know what general area of the house needs to get cleaned each day, and we can usually get it straight!

  12. We’re definetly a routine family. I’m NOT a big fan of the alarm clock!!! :) And one of my favorite phrases is “Be flexible!”

    I wrote a blog post about this (I linked it to your homeschool schedule post), but we try to follow a play-by-play routine every day, but with so many littles, we often hit a day in our week where the routine isn’t looking pretty.

    On those days we revert to my “Today We Will” list, which tells us the necessary things that will get done, in no particular order or time table, one step at a time!

    A “Today We Will” list works for us and helps us through those rough days where it seems nothing is going right!

    So Amy…YOUR TURN :) What kind of family are you all???

  13. Welllllll, I don’t like my alarm clock AT ALL!! We are definitely a routine type of family. I am not aggressive about house work either (except dishes and making the beds)…I get to it when I get to it. I used to try schedules, but they just frustrated me. My daughter naps twice a day (usually) but not at specific times. This is a good thing too because if we are out and her nap time comes and goes, she is flexible and won’t be a miserable mess. I guess it has it’s pros and cons.

  14. Right now we are neither. We are in chaos. And it is horible. I can’t keep anything clean and cringe when the door bell rings! I have lived this way since I was a child. And my husband well, he ofcourse would like a routinely clean home, but he never had that either as a child. So, we want to atleast be a routine family, but don’t know how to start. I have tried Fly Lady, but got overwelmed. Motivation and better organization is what I need. My poor kids need routine so they can learn to keep their room clean and know what chores need to be done. At this point, none of my kids have chores and I know that this is a problem also. I just need that push to get started! I just don’t know what chores to give them. Ideas and help would be great appreciated!

  15. Great post. I think we’re both. :) We’re scheduled in the morning then switch to a routine for the afternoon. Yes, I agree fly by the seat of your pants will not work. If I did that my home would not be a happy, cozy place to be neither would it even resemble bringing glory to God.

  16. Abba12,
    I think the book, Managers of their Homes, has a suggested schedule that is pretty detailed. Maybe this is what you have heard about.

  17. Rachel,
    Thankfully, with little ones you have a lot of freedom to tweak a schedule. You don’t have the constraints of your children having all sorts of places they need to be.

    You can clean when they are either napping or at the time of day they are the least active. The rest of your day can be filled with things they enjoy and you enjoy.

    If you can institute a solid bedtime routine, you can take the time “after hours” to clean and do things that just can’t be done during their awake hours (scrapbooking and such).

    Think of a few activities each day you can do with your children and then begin to teach them play on their own (with supervision, of course). And kids love real life toys. While you work in the kitchen, they can be cleaning out your tupperware cabinet. 😉

    Anyone else want to chime in?

  18. I was wondering if anyone has any advice or tips on how to plan a routine when all your children are young. One is 2 years and the other is 7 months. They are too little to do any chores or activities without my constant assistance. I am finding it really difficult to plan out any kind of day when I have to be so hands on with every aspect. I’d love if we could just play all day, but then nothing ever gets done! I would really appreciate anyone’s input on this! Thanks!

  19. We are a routine family – but are a bit of “fly by the seat of your pants”. We aren’t really super strict about schedules or times. If the kids get to bed at a decent time – when they have school, that is great. On holidays and weekends, they can pretty much go to bed when they are tired, and wake up when they want. I grew up in a house where things had to be scheduled – our meals, our baths, our bedtimes, our outings…. on and on and it drove me nuts. So, that being said, I think has caused me to be much more laid back when it comes to schedules!

  20. Hi Amy~

    Our family is very routine….we all pitch in on Friday to pick up the house for the weekend!
    I tidy up daily and the older kids help with dishes(not on a schedule).

    The only thing I really have a problem with is our laundry…..I have not a routine or schedule! But I keep trying! I have trying scheduling each person a day or time but we are not always home then….we have plenty of clean clothes they are just not all put away!

    At one point in time our babys crib was the clothes troph! They baby never slept in the crib anyways! We would all stand around the crib in the mornings trying to dinf so clothes to wear! LOL Those were the good old days! {sigh}

    OH….I loved the word you used in your post..entreat!

    And you are do right about there needing to be order…God wants that for us!

    Peace and Love,

  21. We are routine with a little bit of schedule and a little bit of chaos. LOL

    I have a somewhat schedule of daily accomplishments I want our family to achieve but, I try to be flexible if things change in our day.

    I do have a “expired” chore chart that I am not revamping. The children are older and chore need changed and expanded.

    Our homeschool morning is a bit scheduled; just to keep us from taking all day. The afternoon is flexible with a bit of already scheduled things mixed in it. Does that make sense? LOL

    I’m looking forward to reading what tips you have next. Thanks for sharing.


  22. Thank you for this post! We are definitely a routine family. I have tried scheduling before, and it is not for us.
    And thank you to whoever commented with the link to motivated mom planners! I ordered it right away, and btw they are very inexpensive, and have been using it for 4 days now. I love it!!!

  23. routine, routine, routine – but I tried to be a scheduled mom for years. It didn’t work. Sometimes I try it for a while, but routine is better for this creative family.

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  31. perusing your blog after finding you this week and had to say that I love this post! Thank you for giving me words to describe our ‘routine’ family. Hubby is active duty, I work from home, kids do school from home and I’m a full time college student from home so we are definitely not scheduled since each of these areas have different time demands from week to week. However, I’m huge on routines!

  32. Thank you!! We are doing a much more demanding homeschool routine this year and I am very interested in becoming more diligent in my time management, but I saw others with huge charts and time broken into 15 min. intervals and thought ‘no way can I do that!’ We are a routine family, daddy often does not get home until 8 or 9, and I am not willing to have the kids go without for the sake of an early wake up call! I am going to sketch out a better routine, we already did the chores, but in summer our after lunch has turned into a free for all! My 7 year old is constantly asking, ‘so what are we doing after lunch? And after that?’ I couldn’t tell him because often I didn’t know! I am going to make more of an effort to do quiet time, reading time, and cooking with mom time. Thanks!

    • Jennifer,
      Our after lunch time is rather chaotic as well. I’m also trying to formulate some activities for that time frame that keep the kiddos busy. So glad you found the post to be helpful!

  33. Seriously, I am SHOCKED that no one has mentioned yet!! She helps diffuse the chaos and help moms of any age child create routines that help with everything from the mtn of laundry to the baseboards and every seasonal home challenge in between. Check her out!

    • I actually used her system for several years, but after having my 4th, I couldn’t make it work. That’s when I moved to Large Family Logistics! :)

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  36. Great post! I enjoyed it very much. Found your blog when searching for MOTH schedules. I have the book on the way but love looking at schedules others are using in the meantime.
    I use Motivated Moms with my kids to do our chores. We do about a 30 – 45 minute chore time per day but I am changing that up to one chore day per week I think and then just a quick tidy up the other days of the week. And on Friday we will do a whole house quick tidy up so it’s in good order for when my husband is going to be off to enjoy the clean house LOL.
    I also use Flylady and have my morning, daily and evening routine. Love that aspect of the day. Her zone cleaning didn’t work well for me which is why I use Motived Moms.
    Sorry to go on and on.

  37. This post changed everything for me. I put so much pressure on myself to be that “perfect”, scheduled family that ran like a well oiled machine. It wasn’t working at all. Something would happen and if I got behind, the whole day was ruined and I was a failure. I would work on my excel file for hours planning out every minute, but I just couldn’t make it work. Then I read this and tried to make a routine. Everything fell right into place! It’s the perfect balance of planned and flexible. Thanks so much for sharing!

  38. Wow! THanks for writing this! I’ve TRIED and TRIED to stick to a schedule for my whole mommying life and finally gave up. I thought i was just not doing a good job because I can’t stick to a schedule! This post gives me the freedom to believe keeping a tight schedule isn’t the ONLY right way! Thanks! In our family we do get up same time every day, eat the same breakfast every day, and eat meals at the same time every day. But activities and chores are definitely done on an “as needed” basis. So, i’m kind of both… schedule & routine! Thanks for giving me the freedom to believe that! :)

  39. I love that God isn’t Fly By the Seat of His Pants! Not being a fly by the seat of my pants mama is a lesson He is teaching me, slowly. But we are very much a routine family. Daddy has weird hours, we have lots of littles (which I think encourages routine over schedule!) and I end up feeling the slave to the schedule and not using the schedule to serve me. So we embrace our routine. This is something I need develop further though. I keep meaning to FINALLY sit down with your homemaker’s schedule book that I got last May but I keep forgetting!