Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Scheduling is key when it comes to all things Motherhood and Writing! It is hard enough to not get distracted when you write from home. It is even harder when you write from home as your own boss, or on your own schedule. Some days you want to write at night. Other days, it's day time that seems to work best. And at other times, you just don't feel like writing at all. Does this sound like you? Just a little bit? If so, I understand. Until I recently started sticking to a schedule, this was my life. And with two small children at home (one home on summer break from preschool), it made for a very chaotic situation on many days.
This is what I have discovered after having weeks filled with scattered plans, to having ones that are more structured and sane. The difference is noticeable in my calm demeanor throughout the day. My level of productivity has increased, and my attitude, as well as those of the kids, has improved. We are all so much better for having a daily schedule. I have a schedule for the girls and a schedule for myself and they work in sync with each other in such a way that it allows me to be productive at work while being present as mommy at the times when they need me the most. As a result, they are happy and so am I. Here's how the schedule works:
Have a Set Bedtime: It used to be that I would go to bed whenever I felt like it. It was usually around the time my husband was ready to go to bed, which is usually later that 10 p.m. I now have an earlier bedtime, and it is right after we put the kids to bed at 7:45 p.m. I am in bed no later than 8:45 p.m. It sounds early, but it really isn't that early if you structure the day just right. My husband still gets in a good two to three hours with all of us, when he comes home from work, before we all shut down. Plus, he loves the time he gets to spend alone after a long day's work and coming home to a noisy, activity-filled house.
Have Set Working Hours: Before I planned a schedule and decided to stick to it, I tried a few working hours to see what worked best. I do know for a fact that my best hours are early morning hours when the house is quiet and peaceful. It is when I am at my best; mentally sharp, emotionally stable, and physically upbeat. Knowing this, I tried a schedule for a few weeks that involved going to bed around 8:00 p.m., waking up at midnight, and working until 3 in the morning before going back to sleep until the baby woke up at 6:00 p.m. This left me very cranky in the day time. I have since found a schedule that works perfectly for me. It involves going to bed at 8:45 p.m., waking up at 3:45 p.m., and ending my work day at 10 a.m. You will notice that even though I am waking up very early, I am still clocking the amount of sleep my body needs to function properly (7 hours).
Schedule the Kid's Day: The kid's schedule starts at 6:30 a.m. when my baby girl wakes up. I am able to make my work schedule work because she typically spends this time in her high chair picking at Cheerios and engaged in independent play. At 8, I put her down for her morning nap and work until her sister wakes up at 8:30. By this time, I have made productive use of the uninterrupted 3 hours between 3 and 6, the interrupted two hours between 6 and 8, and the uninterrupted thirty minutes between 8 and 8:30. I save non-essential tasks and projects that don't require much brain power, such as email and social media, for when they are having their quiet time, which is from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Stick to the Schedule of the Day: Every day, I wake up with this thought in mind, "I want to be productive!" To me, this means scratching at least two things off of my priority list. A full blog post and editing a few pages usually satisfies this expectation and allows me to be more relaxed during the hours I get to spend with the kids. So that when we're at the library, I am fully there. Or when we go for our mid-morning walk, I am fully present, enjoying myself, and not being cranky and mean.
Make the Schedule Fun: Our daily schedule outside of my working hours includes fun things like an hour for morning walks. The girls love the outdoors just as much as I do so it's something we enjoy doing together. There is also time for fun indoor activities like reading and drawing. We have time dedicated to free play when I let them play freely and independently while I prepare a light snack or lunch. In the evening, they get a little bit of TV time before it's time to start winding down for the night.
By the end of the day, we are all so satisfactorily exhausted and ready to go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. Of course, the schedule will need to be revisited from time to time to adjust to our lives. For example, my eldest will be resuming pre-k 3 at the end of summer, so the schedule will need to be adjusted to fit her school hours. I am also aware of the baby's ever changing growth patterns that include decreased nap times and more need for activity. When the time comes, I will adjust the schedule to fit that change, but for now, the good news is that we have a schedule that works for the here and now and we love it. Do you have a schedule in your household? Do you mind sharing how it works? We can always learn new ways to make our lives easier and fun as work-from-home, writing mamas.