Scheduling without a schedule

I am a planner by nature.  Growing up (and even until I had kids) I had schedules and lists, and even lists for my lists.  I spent hours just organizing my days, weeks, months, to-do lists, and so forth.  Anything that could be written in list format was. And then some.

After having kids I realized that my schedules were not going to work int he same manner.  I couldn’t just get up and go because I had a baby depending on me to do everything for him.  Don’t get me wrong – I still very much believe in order and schedules.  Kids even thrive on repetition, order, and predictability.  However, you do need occasions to allow spontaneity on their part.  Without scheduling it.

I’ve also learned that no matter how much you schedule something, with young kids, it doesn’t turn out as expected.  Something inevitably goes wrong, takes too long, needs emergency clean-up or fixing, melt-downs happen, clothes need to be changed – you name it.  But I still liked having an idea of what my day would look like.

That’s when I figured out that I can still have a schedule without actually scheduling time slots.  The idea of “loose scheduling” works much better when you have kids.  What does a loose schedule look like?  Well, before your see my own personal schedule, I’d like to talk about it a bit and give you a few tips.

  • Keep it simple. The more detailed your schedule gets, the more opportunities you will have for your schedule to fail (not go according to plan).  And while it’s okay to not tackle everything you set forth for the day, there’s something that tends to get me down when I don’t.  A nagging feeling or heavy mind, making me a much crabbier mom and wife.
  • Further simplify your life by de-cluttering your home. The less you own, the less you have to clean and put away.
  • Be flexible. Not everything will always be followed.  Unexpected things do come up and not everything on the list will get “checked off” every single day.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  Try again the next day, but start anew each day.  By this I mean, don’t try to tackle everything from the past few days all in one day.  When you “miss” a planned activity for the day, reassess what really needs to be done, what needs rearranging and tweaking, and what can be skipped for the week.
  • Make it a family affair. Touch base with each family member to see what needs to be added to the family calendar.  Make everyone aware that you are starting this new schedule, and have it somewhere it can be easily and frequently seen.  Get everyone on board to lighten your burden.  Have your kids help you in making the schedule (if they are old enough).  And if they aren’t old enough, they can still help tackle the items on the list according to their age level.  Even a 2 year old can help you put clothes into the washer.  It may take longer, but the sense of accomplishment and what they are learning is priceless.  besides, it’s quality time spent.
  • Don’t neglect your family. Sometimes we get so busy and preoccupied with what needs to be done that we forget to have time to just be.  To love our children and husbands and to take in the beauty and blessings around us.  Breathe, cuddle, play.  I guess you can schedule it at first if you need to!  I personally have a lot of trouble with this one – I have always been on-the-go, so I oftentimes get caught up with all that needs to be done instead of being in the present with my kids.  Nursing my daughter has been what helps me slow down enough to enjoy the little moments (and her little smells).

When scheduling your week, first include those things that are fixed.  This includes activities like soccer practice, church, school or anything else that has a set and immovable time slot.  Then add your daily meals.  From there you schedule it according to your personal priorities, whether cleaning is more of a priority than exercise or reading the Bible – that’s all personal.  I can’t tell you what to put in your own schedule, because everyone’s schedule will look different based on priorities, activities, and season in life.  Our personal schedule changes all the time because of the nature of my husband’s work and because of trips and visitors, but here is a general look at our weekdays:  (I don’t include time slots because it’s a loose schedule – it changes daily.  And some days, I abandon the entire schedule and just go out and play because the sun came out.  I am really looking forward to the weather getting nicer, so that I can “abandon the schedule” more often!)

  • Wake up, morning chores, check inbox
  • Get ready/get kids ready/start load of laundry
  • Breakfast (I’m spoiled because my husband actually makes breakfast and cleans up the kitchen afterwards)
  • Cleaning chores (I focus on a different area of the house each day according to a schedule I keep) – the kids help
  • Play time, fun activity (Tuesday @ Children’s Museum and Friday @ Homeschool Free Gym, where I run on the indoor track with the jogging stroller while the preschooler plays with friends) or school time (mostly just fun stuff for the preschooler)
  • Lunch prep
  • Lunch/clean-up
  • Put laundry in dryer
  • Toddler naps and preschooler has quiet time while I do computer work or work on educational computer games with him (sometimes I do a little of both while cuddling with him on my lap and he watches TV)
  • Kids play in the downstairs play area (or exercise with me) while I exercise (or grocery shopping on Monday or Friday)
  • Fold and put away the laundry – preschooler folds small towels and washcloths while toddler plays
  • Quick pick-up of house and outside play or Gymnastics for preschooler (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
  • Dinner prep
  • Dinner/clean-up
  • Finish anything that didn’t get done while husband plays with kids and family time or church (Wednesday night)
  • Bedtime routine
  • Adult free time (from playing games to watching a movie to doing computer work side-by-side)
Photo Credit


  1. 1
    Tian Kinasih says:

    Thank your for sharing, really help me to manage my time better!

  2. 2

    I like this method of scheduling. It would work for me.

  3. 3

    I spent 8+ years scheduling. I worked full time and as a single mom cared for my daughter through her brain cancer journey. I scheduled doctor’s meetings, surgeries, therapies, tests, medicines, rehab, etc.

    I scheduled everything. I was 1000% on top of my game, and her care while also caring for my son.

    And then Olivia died.

    Now I can’t schedule a thing and can do very little. Now it feels so moot.

  4. 4

    Great tips, I have to work on touching base with everyone when starting a new schedule.

  5. 5

    Love this idea of “loose” scheduling. I would never consider myself a schedule person, but I’ve been coming to realize that when I don’t have anything planned for the day, the whole day ends up falling apart. I am big on expectations – if I schedule a bunch of things to happen at certain times, and they don’t happen exactly as planned, I get very frustrated and grumpy. I need to work on this loose scheduling and planning things, while still managing my expectations to be flexible around changing needs. My first baby is due in a couple months, and I know it’s going to change everything I know about life now. I know I’m going to struggle with expectations and things not going as planned!!

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