Thursday, April 10, 2008

Routines of a Relaxed Homemaker

I was asked recently how we got everything done when the children were small. Did I follow a schedule? My philosophy concerning schedules is the same as for my homeschooling, very relaxed. In fact, though I have beaten my head against the wall trying to craft and execute several schedules, I have yet to keep one.

The use of a schedule seems a little cold to me. It evokes memories of lock-step institutionalism, otherwise known as public schools and factories. The use of a schedule may keep the masses on track, but I have always preferred a routine for our family. A routine has similarities to a schedule, yet without the stress involved with having to meet a set timetable.[1]

In a nutshell, the year is divided into quarters and halves, the months into weeks, and the weeks into work days, Saturdays, and Lord's Days. The days are sectioned into quadrants, and everything we need to do gets plugged into those spots. In this way, we work more according to the seasons of our days, much like our fore-mothers did before the Industrial Revolution regulated our time for us.[2]

Here is my most recent routine which includes personal care, schooling, and cleaning. Items in parenthesis may be interchanged. For instance, the showers may be taken immediately upon rising, after areas are cleaned, after school, or after family devotions.:


(Get dressed)
1. Devotions
2. Breakfast
3. Meal Clean-up
a. Clear tables
b. Clear counters
c. Wash tables & counters
d. Sweep floors
(fill ice trays)
4. Areas (each child is assigned an area to straighten)
5. Monday through Friday school routine
6. Noon Meal
7. Meal Clean-up/Garbage
8. Dishes
9. Wash stove
11. Finish school
12. Music/Computer sign-up
13. Meal prep. (aim for around 4:30 pm)
14. Dinner (aim for 6 pm)
15. Meal clean-up
16. Dishes
17. Wash stove
(fill ice trays)
18. Family devotions
19. Bed

Cats on Laundry Day

*The "SPECIAL" section of the routine includes the following items:

Bird/Guinea pig cages cleaned
Garbage out to curb
Mowing/Snow removal (as needed)
Pans/Plastics (set to rights in cabinets)
sort dirty
sort clean
put up

Pantry/Freezer inventory
Back porch set to rights
Van/car clean out

*The section entitled "OPEN" would be used for one of the following:

Pull-out and vacuum under furniture
Van/car wash & wax

Shed organized & set to rights
Curtains/blinds washed or replaced
Shampoo carpets

Windows washed inside & out
All storage re-organized & set to rights

This pretty well covers everything we do.

I love how Lady Lydia describes the serenity of the home routine in a recent post entitled Home: The Woman's Realm:

Though she keeps an eye on the time, a woman at home will not be in any particular hurry. This is a great advantage to her health and her mental state. Being at home gives her a chance to think deeply about what is important. . .She is not obligated to keep the same hours as the rest of the world, but she is free to make a schedule for herself if she sees the need. That is perfect freedom.
[1] Definition of a schedule: a procedural plan that indicates the time and sequence of each operation; and the definition of a routine: a regular course of procedure. Both definitions found at and, respectively.
[2] A wonderful book called The Seasons of America Past by Eric Sloane (New York: Promonitory Press, 1988) helps us see how we have lost something very important to our well-being by not following the seasons of our lives. It includes instructions, with pencil illustrations, for how folks in America used to work and order their lives before the Industrial Revolution.