Monday's Washday (Establishing Routines - Part I)

Do you ever feel like the White Rabbit in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland? This frenzied creature sang:

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date
No time to say "Hello", "Goodbye"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late
And when I wave, I lose the time I save
My fuzzy ears and whiskers
Took me too much time to shave

I run and then I hop, hop, hop
I wish that I could fly
There's danger if I dare to stop
And here's the reason why
You see, I'm overdue, I'm in a rabbit stew
Can't even say "Goodbye", "Hello"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

Life moves at a relentlessly frenetic pace, and when we want to accomplish many things, we can begin zipping along at the speed of light, or at least at the speed of a crazed rabbit. Sometimes I think I’ve morphed into that White Rabbit racing from one task to another without necessarily ever finishing the first. However, keeping a peaceful, though busy and active, home is one of my goals. Are these antithetical ideas? Is it even possible to remain serene in the midst of a lively home filled with children with all kinds of different needs plus a husband to love and help, not to mention a church family to serve and an extended family to care for?

Establishing order through routines and schedules can go a long way in helping you maintain a calm home while at the same time allowing you to complete more work. But as much as I prize efficiency, more importantly, children thrive on routine! Even babies feel more secure and calm when we help them fit into a consistent schedule of meals and sleep. Developing routines before nap and bedtimes makes those transition periods predictable, and (usually) much easier.

At our house, the bedtime routine begins when Tim tells the youngest ones to “jammify.” Then we have family devotions, and the youngest head up to brush teeth and go to bed. Of course when we had babies and toddlers, we had to do much more of the physical processes (diapering, dressing, teethbrushing, etc.). Still, our basic pattern has remained pretty much the same through the years. As the children grow, their lights out time shifts, but knowing what to expect has made for very little argument over the process. Simple frameworks like these help children know what to expect every day, usually resulting in happier and more obedient little (and bigger) people.

After meal and sleep routines are established, begin to work on a morning routine. What do you want to accomplish after breakfast? Build that daily schedule of personal hygiene, meals, housework, service, etc. Then consider how you want to arrange your week. It may sound hokey, but bringing back a weekly pattern of work something like our foremothers followed can be useful. You know, the old, “Monday’s washday” schedule:

Monday: Wash Day        
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

Happily for us, with washing machines and clothes dryers, we don’t have to dedicate an entire day to laundry, nor another solely to ironing. (Talk about torture!) But as you plan your week, consider the work you want to accomplish, figure out how your children can help you, then routinize it so you don’t have to re-think it every week, and your children will also come to learn what to expect with each new day.

As moms we all have different styles, and that is as it should be. Some of us are more rigid while others are more laid back. Both the extremely inflexible mom and the ultra-loosey-goosey one will run into difficulties. Figuring out how your home runs best will take some examination and then trial and error. Could we use a bit more structure? Do I need to lighten up a bit and learn how to flex with unexpected events? Maybe at different times of the year or seasons of life you will want to aim more in one direction than the other. During the school year, I follow a very strict schedule. In the summer we relax things a great deal, but even then (now) I find that structure helps both the children and myself to complete our daily tasks. And - if living on a schedule makes you shudder, then think routine instead! Rather than strict times attached to key events of the day, develop predictable patterns. Both you and your children will be glad you did.

In the next post I hope to write specifically about scheduling for homeschool families.

Just for fun! Check out this link from the Hoover library for a peek into a pioneer woman/family's weekly schedule!


Kim said…
I was just thinking about the white rabbit, and for the very reason you listed. this week i'm revamping our chore charts, looking at school plans and trying to see what stays and what goes. oh my!
Peter Jones said…
I found your blog from a link from the Bayly Brothers' Blog. I have 6 children and I have enjoyed your entries here. This post was helpful to solidify what I am finding myself, that things are more stable and better for kids with predictable routines and easier for parents too. I hope you do a second part. I would be interested, as we are a homeschooling family too.

Julie Jones
Anne said…
Thank you, Julie! I'll try to get the second part finished this week.

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