Being a stay-at-home mom (or a stay-at-home parent) is arguably one of the most challenging jobs in the world because when you take this responsibility on, you are literally doing all the things a human could possibly think of. Your roles are limitless, and your daily tasks are endless. The needs of your family go on and on, and they are falling solely on YOU. To stay organized and sane, many stay-at-home moms turn to master schedules to restore order in their kingdoms. Schedules are helpful and have a place in many homes, but the key to a stay-at-home mom schedule lies in between the lines of crafts, meals, and activities.
Stay-at-Home Mom Schedules, It's Not WHAT You Do, but How You Do It
Parents can get so tied up with the actual activities of a daily schedule. Working in intricate crafts during art time, teaching vocabulary and comprehension activities during the reading block, and choreographing dance routines during creative movement skits are all things that parents think they need to infuse into a daily schedule. If you happen to be one of the few human beings who can imagine a daily schedule full of enriching activities like such and then execute them with zest day after day, then kudos to you. You really are one in a million.
Avoid the Burnout
If you are like everybody else on the planet, this overthinking of a schedule will probably do you in before the end of day one. Regarding daily schedules for SAHMs, the point is to keep some routine and structure to your seemingly never ending day, not to keep your children so mindfully engaged that they never learn to think or do things for themselves. The quickest way to SAHM burnout is to overwork a daily schedule. It is the epitome of setting yourself up for failure. True, you are an amazing human being, but girl! You are no wizard.
Avoid Taking a Second Job as Family Cruise Director
The key to longevity and success isn't what you do; it is how you do it and organize it. Yes, meals and snacks have a place in your daily schedule, feeding kids is pretty important, but that doesn't mean you need to whip up pretty bento boxes five days a week and come up with a five-course meal for dinner each night. Creative play is a crucial component of child development, but there is no reason that kids can't get creative with siblings, friends, or on their own. Schedules organize the day; they should not automatically promote you to cruise director.
For a SAHM, schedules do much more than promote routine and organization for children. They provide pockets of sanctuary and solitude for parents. Schedules should include spaces where kids are having their "me" time and parents are as well. Schedule changes signal to exhausted parents who are doing their best, "One more round down, only ten more until bedtime." Daily routines can enrich your kids' lives while saving yours.
Absolute Musts of the SAHM Schedule
Create a daily schedule that works for your family. If the schedule brings everyone to their knees and causing more misery than magic, it is not for you. While all schedule initiations and changes will bring about bumps in the road, transitions are tricky, and after some time, you should know if you need to keep up the good schedule work or abandon ship and toss the schedule overboard. Starting over with schedules happens, but it stinks. All of that planning and effort wasted can feel like lost time that you certainly don't have. To avoid busted schedules and broken dreams of smooth routines, consider these key elements for a SAHM schedule with a chance at survival.
Structured Meal Times
Kids never stop eating. If you allow it, someone will be in your kitchen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, devouring everything in sight and only leaving behind crumbs, dirty dishes, and complaints of still being hungry. The never-ending feedings will break a mother. You need scheduled meal times. Hang a daily meal schedule in your kitchen and make sure everyone gets a good look at it. Older kids and teenagers will avert their eyes and try their best to ignore a set meal schedule. They love nothing more than grazing all day long. Surround it with arrows and blinking lights if you must, but make sure that everyone sees it.
Benefits to Being the Guardian of the Fridge
Set meals have legit benefits as they can assist children in learning the cues of hunger and foster quality appetites and healthy eating habits. Furthermore, constant grazing by a home full of bored, wayward, schedule-less kids will make families go broke real quick. Grocery bills add up faster than the speed of light when everyone is in the refrigerator all the time. Even if you are a parent who chooses to live life free of routine and schedule, rules in the kitchen are worth checking out.
Set aside time in the day for three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a couple of set snack times, usually with one in the morning and one between lunch and dinner. If your kids have activities that extend into the evening, an evening snack might be reasonable. Choice is important to children, and they can have some say in what they eat. This isn't a free for all, however. A breakfast and snack options are OK, but limit them to choices that you can live with, and when it comes to dinner, your home isn't Bev's Diner. There are no menus, and no one is paying you for your service. Kids eat what you serve.
Get Down With Down Time
Kids need downtime to rest, decompress, and settle their minds and bodies. What a good mother you are to work these spaces of solitude and peace into their lives.
Kidding. YOU need that stuff. Kids can go all day long on hyper-drive, but you can't. Downtime is essential to a stay-at-home mom. From the moment the SAHM opens her eyes, they are on. They go, go, go until the kids fall into their beds so many hours later. Build space into schedules where kids are occupied with independent activities, and you can be occupied with anything but their needs. Watch 20 minutes of The View on your phone, grab a shower or put some makeup and clothes on (so what if you are not leaving the house today). Get 20 minutes in on the Peleton bike or leaf through a magazine while lying on the couch. If you plan your daily schedule out like a champion, you can work in several pockets of independent time for kids and "me" time for you. Everybody wins.
Set Up Socialization Blocks
Ever wonder what it is like to live your life on a deserted island all while trying to survive on minimal food reserves and limited sleep as you fight off wild creatures? Spend a day in the life of a SAHM, and you will know exactly what that feels like. Staying home with your children is a blessing. You get to witness all the "firsts," be there to help them through the bad, and savor those magical moments of childhood. Being a stay-at-home parent can also be isolating. It's just you and the kids, day...after day...after day. To combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, set aside blocks of time for socialization in your schedule.
Find Your People
You don't have to head to a park, a dance class, or a playgroup every single day of the week (that is code red overachieving right there,) but you do need some times in your schedule where you see humans that you didn't give birth to in a casual setting. Find social circles that work with your family. This could be family members or mom friends who love and support you. It could also be moms of kids your children play sports with or take classes with or even parents who hang out at the park on similar days that you do. All of these people connect you to the world outside of your kids. They are likely in similar boats or at least caught in similar storms of life, and when you need to vent or bounce ideas around, they can act as your sounding boards.
Kids benefit from socialization blocks in schedules as well. Being home with family is great, but interacting with people that they don't share DNA with allows for opportunities to practice different and essential social skills.
The Perks of Going Rogue With Your Daily Schedule
Schedules keep you and your family in forward motion. They create fun, engagement, order, routine, and trust. Sticking to a schedule makes many parents feel accomplished and satisfied, but it is important to remember that schedules aren't set in stone. Life is unpredictable, and while schedules form frameworks for the days, sometimes detours pop up, and going rogue feels amazing. Detering from a daily schedule can feel like the equivalent to taking your bra off at the end of a long day or cracking open a White Claw at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. You are a rebel, a wild thing; you can change the schedule if you feel like it!
If your schedule says that quiet time happens at 3 p.m., but then an old friend pops in, great! Don't turn them away because the schedule says otherwise. If you have library time slated for noon on a Tuesday, but your kids have been in full-blown meltdown mode since they woke up, dear Lord, do the community a favor and scrap the library. Some spontaneity and flexibility within daily schedules are beneficial, and kids can learn a lot from seeing you bend and acclimate to the curveballs in life.
Do's and Don'ts in the Land of SAHM Schedules
When it comes to daily schedules of the SAHM, you are the boss. You make the schedule, break the schedule and control everything in between, hence go on and do what you want with your day. Don't feel like you have to emulate a detailed Pinterest schedule that another mom made (and probably doesn't even follow herself.) Take ideas that you think you can swing and work them in where they are possible. While working something feasible for you and your brood, keep the following tips in mind.
- Work in periods where you are not leading some sort of activity.
- Do schedule meal times so that your kids learn healthy eating habits and you don't go broke.
- Do find people to support you and to socialize with (the hosts of The View do not count).
- Do vary the activities in your schedule (boredom is the enemy).
- Do consider yourself in making a schedule.
- Allow for some freedom and flexibility.
- Pack the schedule full of the activities that cause more stress than fun.
- Limit times of transition, too many transitions cause unnecessary stress.
- Watch the clock like a hawk. Too much rigidity works against daily schedules.
- Stick to a plan that doesn't work and causes more stress than joy.
- Make caregivers follow the schedule to a tee. If someone is stepping in for you, know that they will do their best to follow the schedule, but they might not do it exactly as you do, and that is okay.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Stay-at-home moms have to work smarter, not harder, because their days are hard enough! Create schedules that make your life easier, not complicated. Use schedules to organize the endless days and frame activities, but don't hold on to them so tightly that no one in your home can breathe easy. If a schedule doesn't work for your family, toss it. Feel nothing over this. If your family needs a break from the daily routine for a week or two, allow it. If it feels right to you, then it probably is. You are a mom, and you really do know best.