4 Moms, 35 Kids: the schedule

I was half-kidding when I asked my rhetorical question about instituting a new schedule before this post, but not because I wanted to impress you with our superior levels of productivity.

It’s because this mom of nearly-10 has become shockingly undisciplined.  After those early years of madcap panic trying to get through the days and weeks and months with all the members of the family receiving at least a meal a day and a bath a week, now I’m surrounded by helpers with able bodies and sound minds.  I have 7 children who can tie their own shoes, and what’s more they can find and tie shoes for those who can’t.

I’m not telling you this in a show of false humility.  There is some real humility, because I know we could make much better use of our time.  But my main purpose in explaining this is to encourage mothers whose children are all or mostly below the age of shoe-tying.  Your days will get easier.  You will, someday, struggle more with the temptation to laziness than the temptation to fall into a teary heap on the kitchen floor because there’s just not enough time in the day to do the absolute bare necessities.

The four of us promised to tell you about our schedules.  Here’s mine.  We don’t have strict times attached to each event because we don’t usually watch the clock except at the beginning and end of the day.  We just have a progression of events that will be done. Well, in theory at least.  On a good day.

This is what our typical day looks like:

7:00 – Rise time. Help with Dad’s coffee, breakfast and lunch, if necessary.

7:30 – Dad leaves.  Other stuff starts:

Shower/dress – only those who rise early are allowed a morning shower.  This doesn’t stop the late risers from asking for an exception every single morning. When I say no, they typically make up for their laziness by spending an hour getting dressed, not realizing that it will therefore be an hour later in the day before they have free time to take a shower.

Bible – private reading for all.  I usually read in my bedroom.  If little ones join me, I read aloud with an admonition that they must be still and quiet or leave the room.

Jobs – clean up the house.  Everyone has assigned areas and chores.  This includes bedrooms, laundry, living areas, animals, etc.  Most jobs get done and re-done throughout the day as necessary.

Breakfast – usually prepared by a volunteer or assigned to somebody who looks idle.

School – there is no time attached to this; it’s simply the next thing on the list.  But I will confess that it rarely starts before 10:00 and continues after lunch.

Lunch – some people eat lunch at noon.  We scoff at such predictable behavior.  We eat when we get hungry, or when we see somebody with a particularly appealing snack, or when the little kids get whiny.

2:00 – also known as the Hallelujah hour. A general shout goes up (Guess what time it is?  Two o’clock!!!) and naps commence for the wee ones, quiet time for the bigger small people.  “Quiet time” really means nap time for those who don’t necessarily fall asleep but still get tired or cranky after a long day.  Yes, that may include me.  Quit snickering.  You know you’re just jealous.

Quiet Timers are allowed to choose one or two books and are required to be still and quiet for 60-90 minutes.  I sometimes lie down with one of the littles while the big girls finish up their school.

Afternoon projects – This includes 1 hour of yard work.  Right now we’re working on clearing the woods around the house, and making beautiful progress in areas that we couldn’t even walk through before.  I rarely take part in this.  The kids are probably going to either laugh or seethe at the term, “rarely” which indicates that I do, indeed, help on occasion.

Free time – Do you really need an explanation here?  This is for those productive individuals who are done with jobs, Bible and school before dinner.   Don’t feel bad for them.  Anyone who wants free time generally has it – the question is whether they are good little children who finish their work first, or bad little children who goof off all day and find themselves scrambling to finish their work before dinner.

6:30 – Our officially scheduled time for dinner, though we love to wait for Dad if he expects to be home any time before 7:30.

Dishes for the big ones, baths for the little people.

Family time – this often includes surfing the internet as a team event, and wild-eyed herds of children stampeding toward the sound of youtube.  It sometimes includes Dad or Mom swatting at 6 or 8 people at a time and muttering, “Get off me!  Let me breathe, people!  I’ll call you when the video is loaded!”

Family worship

Bed – The little ones are usually in bed by 9:30 or 10, while the big people in the house (11 and up) try to have lights out by 11 or so.  I can hear the collective gasp out there.  That’s just what works for us these days.  When all the kids were little and Dad came home every night at 5:15, bedtime was 8:00.  If we did that now, some of them might not see him for days on end.

See the schedules for the other 3 moms and 25 kids:

This post is also part of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Guess who else is blogging about a daily schedule?  Simple Mom is re-running her classic post called 20 Tips for Finding your Routine with Kids.


  1. Thank you!! I have been looking for examples of a schedule that would fit our lives (mom of 6 here) and this is what I needed to see.
    I laugh at the schedules that moms of one or two feel the need to put together, although I was once one of those also, those just don’t work for me now!!
    We also homeschool and I dislike a time strict schedule…this is perfect!
    I also love that bedtime is so late…fits our family just right!
    Thank you…I know where to ebgin with mine now!

  2. I laughed almost all the way through this!!! I love it! It is so our house!!! And the youtube thing… YES!!! My children do that too!!!

    Thanks for sharing, my large family of 8, which includes almost all ages from 8 months to 12, function very much the same way, except Dad works from home and is nearly crazy by the end of each day!

  3. We are not all that scheduled, but we also are late to bed and sleep in, most of us, anyway. The college age child and the one in highschool, get up early and generally put themselves to bed early. But the rest of us are up late, even the little ones. It started becuase my husband would come home 7-8pm, and we wanted to eat with him and you can’t send kids to bed just after eating!
    Now we are going to bed really late because our youngest would wake screaming for 2 hours a night, and we accidentally found out that if he didn’t go to bed until after midnight he slept fine. (we have done every medical test we can find to figure out his problem and can’t find one)
    It works for us, and that is the beauty of homeschooling!

  4. I just left a comment at Raising Olives about the fact that we are way more “routine” than scheduled. Our day looks quite similar to yours.

  5. I’m surprised at how much your schedule is like ours, though our littles go to bed much earlier. Oh, and they can’t do yard work alone… yet. 🙂 The more children I have, the more relaxed I am about the time thing but a schedule does help us keep moving!

  6. Lisa in ND says:

    That was really fun to read! I think it’s very important (as another poster said) for kids to see Daddy. We’ve always worked around DH’s schedule too regarding family time.

    And looking at Deanna’s picture, the yard looks awesome!

  7. Great post! Thanks!

  8. ROFLOL about the “wild-eyed herds of children stampeding toward to sound of youtube”!!! And the expectant crowd waiting for the video to load, and saying “short people in front, tall people in back – come on, get along, y’all!!” Oh wait, the last part is OUR family… 🙂 Hilarious.

    And it is SO important to make sure the children get to see Daddy no matter what his schedule is…

  9. I am going to really enjoy this series. Maybe there is hope for me. LOL I really liked reading both you and the Headmisters especially. I seem to be more like the two of you.

  10. Perry’s comment made me giggle. 😀

  11. I almost cried when I saw your bedtimes. I am a momma to four seven and under. My husband pastors a church, works overtime often and visitation takes up many evenings. I would love to have my children in bed by 8pm every night as to let me have a little down time but if we did that my children would often time not see their dad for days either.
    So, around here most nights the children are in bed around 9pm but some nights, if daddy is gone it is closer to 10pm. But since we homeschool I can adjust our wake time to accomodate the late night. It works for us and that is what I need to focus on.
    Great post.

  12. This series is a great idea. I love to see what everyone else does and the real-life-ness of it all.
    I can relate, especially to the “It’s because this mom of nearly-10 has become shockingly undisciplined.”

    and life goes on… and we all still learn, eat, shower, etc.

    : )

  13. Michelle says:

    @Norah – Homeschooling laws vary greatly by state. Some states require annual testing, portfolios, etc.; others just would like a note to the effect that you will be homeschooling your child(ren).
    Homeschoolers are recognized by many colleges (including large, prestigious universities) as well-educated, self-driven learners.

  14. I don’t have kids and am completely ignorant about home schooling so please don’t be offended by my questions.

    Is homeschooling regulated by State or Federal Government? Does anyone keep tabs on whether the kids are getting a good education? Is there random testing? Are they able to get into universities or become doctors or lawyers or whatever they want to be when they grow up?

    Other than my English and Home Ec classes, I don’t think I use anything that I learned in public school and I gave up on University after one semester so I’m in no way judging the home schooling system. Your kids education is self-evident in your and their blog posts.

    I’m just curious to know if anyone is looking out for the kids whose parents say they’re homeschooling but are really not doing any educating at all.


  15. Thank you for sharing with such honesty! It’s so interesting to see the differences in people’s lives, and to get a great idea I never thought of before!

    Oh, and I love my naps, too!

  16. I just want to say “Right On!” to the moms of preschoolers only. I had 4 under the age of 5 and thought I just might die of stress, noise, lack of sleep, and confusion. Now they are 4-8 and life is really a breeze. A noisy breeze. Whenever I see a mom with a baby, a kid on the hip, and one running pell-mell through the parking lot, I just love to tell her “IT GETS EASIER – I PROMISE!!”

  17. One more thing. Do you all have a button that we can use on our blogs? I would love to share this with others.

  18. I am going to love this series. I suppose I am about where the 4 of you are with my big family but I often FEEL that I am falling apart. It so nice to read that others are pretty at the same place and doing the same things. Maybe I am not so out of it as I thought I was. 🙂

    We run our day alot like yours in that it’s more routine than anything. i really tried the MOTH schedule (I think Kimberly wrote about that) but it just didn’t fit my personality. And I could totally relate to Connie’s coming home from teaching. I think that was the hardest part of me in the beginning. I needed my bell schedule back to tell me what to do and when. Anyway, this has been great to read. I think I will relax a bit about my schedule. I look forward to the next topic.

  19. We’re just like you guys when it comes to watching YouTube! 😉 lol! We all crowd in around a small computer screen, babies & all! lol!

  20. I mostly like the part where you encourage us mommies of non-shoe-tying children that some day, SOME DAY, we will in fact get to sit down.

  21. I am surprised at how similar our schedules are, the same basic flow.

    We also allow showers for early risers only. 🙂

  22. This is so encouraging! It sounds very much like our household. What you said about having to fight laziness is absolutely the truth. Your honesty and willingness to put yourself and yours out there for us all to see is not just going to be fun but also exceedingly helpful. Thank you so much.

  23. I am so glad to know we are not the only ones with a late sleep times. It works for us!!! Our “schedule” is much like yours yet I ditched having a schedule a couple of years ago. I really, really tried to use MOTH but it honestly it only made my life harder and less enjoyable.

  24. Love it too! It’s so interesting to see other people’s schedules…once we have more than two or three kids, I may take a page out of your playbook – you’re AWESOMELY flexible. When do you guys do errands or go to town? Is there a set time weekly or is it more of an as-needed basis? Do you all go? Thanks for letting us in on this one!!

  25. If you can be so organized with 12… surely I can organize my 2 kids! Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. I’m really enjoying this series. I’ve been looking a lot at our rhythms and routines lately, because they’re not working, at least for me. I would really love to hear more about how you plan out your school day. That’s an area where I am really struggling right now.

  27. LOVE IT!!! SO real and honest!! Thanks

  28. Very good synopsis!

    I always wondered what you guys did all day 😉

  29. Interesting, thanks for sharing! Isn’t homeschooling great when it comes to bedtime flexibility? When my dad got up at 4am in order to be at work, we went to bed somewhere between 6 and 7pm so we could see him in the morning.

  30. Great post!!!!

    We also stay up pretty late- a habit begun when my husband did not get home from work until 11:00 p.m. He was the only Dad on his shift who got to see his kids during the week!

  31. When I taught school, my timer was a byword in the classroom. We never started a task without setting the timer and the kids guess how close I got to the time when I checked it right before it went off. I was normally within a minute even though I didn’t check the clock! When I came home last year, I expected to run the home the same way and was shocked that whole days went by without me setting a timer. I really appreciate that you have a rhythm to your day without being time-oriented. It gives me hope for the future with (Lord willing) many more kids.

  32. I can relate. 🙂 Especially the stampede at the sound of youtube. In fact that just happened a few minutes ago. 🙂

  33. This is going to be so fun! I linked to you all today on my blog….We have a flexible schedule, somewhat dictated by my husbands’ work schedule which changes every 7 weeks….so glad we homeschool or you are right their are times they wouldn’t see Dad at all!

  34. Love this. Especially the bedtime schedule. We try to get our girls to bed at a set time, but my husband sometimes isn’t home until later and one of the reasons we wanted to homeschool was so we could actually see Dad and spend time with him. Thank you for sharing your day:) (I came over from Smockity Frocks)

  35. Okay, honest question – do your kids really only eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner so far apart? My 5 would be beyond starving…LOL. We eat meals and snacks at specific times, somewhat like a hobbit (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack).

    Or do you have an open kitchen policy where they can get snacks when they want and you get snacks for little ones when they ask?

    Thanks! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    • Tristan,
      When all the kids were little, we scheduled at least 2 snacks/day. Now, with older ones, we have a more open kitchen. Generally they are allowed to help themselves to appropriate snacks as long as they will also prepare for any little ones who are hungry.
      I’m an all-day nibbler, and for better or worse the children are following in my footsteps, but I do try to keep an eye on the quality & quantity of the snackage so that they still eat regular meals as well.


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