Saturday, September 13, 2008

Taming the Schedule

On the 4th of September I shared my wrestling with our family schedule for the year. I will not recount all that I said in that entry, you can click and read if so inclined.

For the past 1 1/2 weeks I have continued to whittle and evaluate our schedule for this upcoming year.

There are so many EXCELLENT activities to chose for our family to be involved in. BUT all are not for us in this season. I thought it may help to see how we evaluated our schedule.

Before you read further consider this....this one entry really is geared toward large families. Many SSS work the same for small and large families. If ALL your children are older, if you have fewer children, different goals then of course your calendar will look different. Our decisions are not meant to say how "all families" or "all large families" should order their days. I share our process to show how it works for us! LOL

I must mention that this process is bathed in prayer throughout. Our goal is to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to reflect that love. If we are so frazzled that we're perpetually surly, we will ultimately fail regardless of how wonderful our transcripts and gpa appear. I realize that I often say, "get on your knees and get God's plan for your family and then follow it." Sometimes, this seems mystical to others and so today I will share how we go about setting our calendar.

First, I list every single thing that members of the family want to do. The result of this this year was this spreadsheet linked here.

Second, as a family we sit down and see if this is feasabile. (It wasn't this year).

Next, I enlist the help of Mike and the children and we begin whittling. We had to cut this year. There was simply no way we could do all that we wanted to do. This was a family project. No cut was made quickly or without lots of input from all. Here are some principles that emerged.

~We seek to keep our main priorities first.

~Each person is asked, "If you could only do ONE thing, what would it be?" We were surprised at several answers this year.

~"One outside activity per family member" was the rule in decades past....and seemed to work...but not well as our family grew. Eleven weekly activities was too much. We have learned to simply look for balance and sanity. Some children won't WANT outside acitivities. Sometimes we can group several children into one activity. Some children will need more.

~The needs of individuals are important and not to be overlooked.
This year this means that Jared has three weekly outside committments. He will continue with House of Faith, Civil Air Patrol and will play basketball. We realize this is heavy and he offered to cut back. In fact he was willing to cut back to one activity. We shared that there are two activities on his list that he may not have in our new location. The opportunity to minister to urban kids through House of Faith and the chance to play high school basketball as a homeschooler. Jared's schedule will dictate a lot of what we do this year. One year it was Jamin's intense desire to play football with a local private school that drove our schedule. LOL

~The unity of the family is important and not to be overlooked.
In the midst of all that we do, family remains one of our top priorities (after relationships with God). Therefore, at some point, individual activities must be limited.

~We combine where possible. This means activities as well as purpose.
Bells, band and piano were all on our list. seems to be desired. Piano lessons for two can be accomplished between the time when we drop Jared at House of Faith and when we pick him up for CAP. Bells and Band were dropped.

I need to make it to the gym regularly to fight the big cholesterol/heart scare. The boys want to workout regularly and are working on PE credits. They've alternated days going to the gym with me. Which, BTW, offers me a chance to talk one on one with these young men of God.

~We look for short term committments. This isn't simply because we are flakey. ::snort:: I've learned that if I force my children to commit to something for a full year, eventually they become relucatant to try things they aren't already 100% positive they will enjoy. We tried a drama class or 8 weeks. They loved it and it will remain once again this year.

~We look for things that may duplicate what we are already doing at home.
We really thought about Bright Lights, a study for Arielle. BUT she and I already have a weekly study. We both like what we are doing. It provides intensive time for me, her mother, to mentor her. We opted to continue this at home.

We had Y PE on our list. We realized that it would be better for us to utilize things we are already paying for. I enlisted Jared to plan a PE program for us. He'll use the guidelines in a resource we already own, Homeschool Family Fitness by Dr. Whitney. Jamin will be his assistant in carrying out the plan. This pulls our busy high school young men back into the heart of our family and our family priorities. We'll use sports equiptment we own. We'll utilize our family gym membership. We can swim, use basketball and raquet ball courts at the gym.

We had park day for Zander and Stacia on our list. The problem is that homeschool park day doesn't fall on a "good" day for us. We all committed to making it to the park at least twice a month when it WILL fit into our schedule. We'll most likely be asking others to join us for power play dates. ::snort::

I wanted Stacia and Zander to experience story hour, but another scheduled outing is daunting. I enlisted Arielle to take the lead on this. She will select a book and plan a craft or activity to go along with the book. Nolan will be her assistant with the crafts. Last night I discovered a great link on Lisa's blog to homeschool share. These folks have ready made crafts and such to go with various books etc. - FREE. Last year we used Enchanted Learning for lots of these sorts of supplements. This was FUN this week. The kids did a great job with Stacia and Zander (Photos below). They chose to do it during a time slot when I was preparing for Bible Study....which meant that it served the unexpected purpose of keeping the littls occupied so I could tie up my study time.

We wanted to take an elections class. The one offered locally would be great, but it would conflict with family time. Mike is "scheduled" to have Friday's off and so we want to keep those times free for things HE can do WITH children or family activities. We opted to do a study on the election here at home. It was GOD that I was sick and surfing last night and found resources here.....and this a.m. we got a call from a young lady taking the election class who asked if our older kids would like to be registered to vote in a mock election. She dropped off the voter reg cards and the 11 - 18 yos will get to "vote" in Oct. I may have to come up with a voting option on a produce co-op day so the young ones can vote too.

I think our process this year illustrates how we pull together as a family and how God grants solutions and creativity as we wait on HIM for a plan. We've begun carrying out the plan. Here is our REVISED calendar. It works. We know that each item on their is important to someone, and that it's been prayed over.

It hurt to say goodbye to 4-H or Bright Lights....but in the entire scheme....everything wouldn't fit. We are happy with this schedule.

Shew - this got long. I'd love to hear any tips you could share on how your family tames the scheduling monster.

Which reminds me that as soon as I can remember how to do Mr. Linky, type up guidelines, and figure out how to make our graphic clickable....Super Size Saturdays will become a meme. I'd hoped to announce it during the Blogoversary week....but school came before blog research. I look forward to hearing YOUR tips and thoughts. I'm hoping to figure this out by next week.

For more of my Super Size Saturday entries click here.

First Story Hour of the year - The Giving Tree
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

©2008 D.R.G.


Kristine said...

Isn't it exciting to see how your hsing changes each year, based on the varying needs of your family!

Anonymous said...

I'm tired reading this. But then again, I'm tired with my own, too! I've been asked by several how we schedule our brood as well (four less than yours....) so I think I'll blog about it....good ideas.

berrypatch said...

Glad you found Homeschool Share helpful. Deb first told me about them. It's a fanstic site to use.

Thanks for posting about your schedule. This past spring our schedule really exploded with all three boys wanting to play rec baseball. I could only manage two of them & that still meant practice or games every night Monday - Friday. Phew! I am determined not to have a repeat of that schedule. They are now in to soccer & two are playing again but the schedule is so much nicer - just one nightly practice & one boy has games on Saturday am.

Long comment - sorry! All this is to say "Thanks" for posting good guidelines for me to keep in mind for the future!!! ;-)

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Lisa - never apologize for long comments. I love comments!

Mel - I'll be watching for your post.

Yes, Kristine - it's new every year! LOL

Michelle said...

De'Etta, isn't Homeschool Share an awesome resource?

We revamped a lot this year; doing much less outside the home.

We've always doubled or tripled up: voice lessons, piano lesson, homeschool gym & swim. Now with more than doubling the number of children in our family in just 3 years, it's just not possible nor financially feasible. Also, after running myself in the ground transporting 3 teens to all their activities and with a newborn/toddler, I won't revisit that again!

Now we're spending more family time, opting to use the gifts God has placed right in our midst with church friends (who are retired teachers) who teach the children for free: knitting, voice, volunteering with elections of senators/presidents.

We also enjoy the freedom of having more free time to be spontaneous, to have family time for Advent, apple picking and all the baking that goes with it and other fall activities.

Jodi said...

I found it very interesting to see how you whittled down the schedule. I need to think harder about it all next year,

I love how you have your "middles" doing story hour for the littles!

Julie Zesch said...

We use Google calendar for our family calendar and it works great! Also since its on the internet you can access it from anywhere!


Cynthia said...

I don't remember you doing 4-H before. Have you? If not, GOOD DECISION to not take it on. It's a TON of work even if you only do one thing.. the record keeping for the project books about did us in!

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Jenny, your Dad had mentioned google calendar too. I'm aware of them but I don't want that much info about where we are going and when on the spreadsheet works to give a general'll note I have no times or locations on the one that is linked from here. LOL

I'm working on a google calendar to embed in the PWOC blog.

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

**We also enjoy the freedom of having more free time to be spontaneous, to have family time...**

Michelle, this is exactly the thng that keeps our family out of lots of support group type activities.....we need to be able to go at our pace,linger where we need to, rush where we need to, break for this or that opportunity.....and I hesitate to give up that lifestyle at this point.....IF we were in San Antonio where I'm aware of a big co-op with high school classes....I'd have the older boys drive to that....or if I could find a family or two to join for history or science hands on - we'd do that....but I just can't be overly "scheduled" again. LOL

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Cindy - 4 H is one we've tried to do since Great Falls but it has never fit. I was really wanting it to fit this year but the meetings are on Tuesdays and that is Bible Study day - I need to be focused on that day, arrive early for prayer...not rushing in from afternoon committments. LOL That's just the way *I* takes a lot of prayer for me to lead a study. LOL

Herding Grasshoppers said...


I think 90% of the battle is realizing that we can't do ALL the good things! I love to see the way you are putting your family first... as a unit. (Okay, GOD first!)

I also like things that are short-term commitments. This is our busiest time of year - starting our homeschool year and playing soccer. I only have three, but they are all playing, which means practices 4 or 5 nights a week and games every Saturday. What makes it work for us is the short season (8 weeks) and the games being all in one location... so we all go together :0)

Another thing that helps is keeping Saturday evenings free. That's not the ONLY time the family is together, but it's a 'dedicated' time. Plus, it's part of preparing for worship tomorrow.

Keep all your great ideas coming! Even us moms of smaller families appreciate seeing the process and the result.


Romany said...

Since I got very ill several years ago, trying to do everything that was on offer {g}, God gave me a new rule.

'Don't take anything outside the home on, unless and until you have hear from me that it's MY desire for you.'

This has really helped me not to take on too much. I still disobey sometimes and start to do things just because I can, but they never go as well as they should because God hasn't specifically called me to them.

This principle has worked its way into our family scheduling too. Works for us!

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Well now, Dorothy, you said so much quicker than I. ::snort::

Cynthia said...

I should post about our schedule and how I "budget" our time just like I budget our finances....

Our women's ministry asked if I would speak on organization at their women's retreat next month. I would love to, but I don't enjoy public speaking at all so of course I told them NO WAY! Perhaps I'll blog about some of the things we do here for scheduling...