I have a long personal struggle with scheduling my household. In my grandparents’ home, you ate at noon whether you were hungry or not; lunch was always the big meal; “early to bed and early to rise” weren’t just suggestions. My mother rebelled against that kind of structure, and as a result we had a very loose “schedule” during my childhood. That worked for a family of four living in a relatively small town, but I can tell you from years of experience that it doesn’t work for a large family living in a big city. I want – no I need – to redeem the time that God has given me, establish priorities and give them proper attention, and actually feel that I’ve accomplished something by the end of the day.

Being scheduled, organized, or efficient are three very distinct and different things.

I am organized. My CDs are grouped by artist and genre; the books on my bookshelves are arranged by subject area; everything has its place in my kitchen and bathroom drawers and cabinets. Being organized is not the same as being scheduled.

I am efficient. I can cook supper while folding a load of laundry while administering a spelling test while bandaging a scraped knee while talking on the phone while installing a program on the computer with one hand tied behind my back. Being efficient is not the same as being scheduled.

I am not scheduled. Take lunch, for instance. Lunch is usually late, the menu sometimes doesn’t change for days at a time (mac ‘n’ cheese may be fun on Monday, but after four days in a row, it gets a little old), and sometimes the table doesn’t get cleaned until supper time. I have actually made a “master lunch menu” which we’ve started to implement this week. This is my first baby step toward scheduling.

Today I trained my nine-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son to make Tuesday’s lunch. They were thrilled and so was I. Some of you may have been doing this for years and wonder what’s the big deal. I, however, have failed to delegate properly and resisted scheduling, not recognizing that a good schedule involving well-trained children should free my life, not complicate it.

Scheduling suppers shouldn’t be too complicated with a basic skeleton schedule. Sunday nights are popcorn and cereal nights (a lifesaver, as well as a family favorite); I think I’ll go back to my old routine of homemade pizza for Fridays; soup sounds good for Wednesdays; I’ll need something uncomplicated for Thursdays since that will be our busiest day of the school year.

I’m working on a meal list containing my repertoire of supper recipes. I’ve got about 20 listed so far, just working off the top of my head without looking at cookbooks. I spent a lot of time last week on the road with my Palm Pilot and keyboard in my lap, typing away Excel spreadsheets with assorted lists and schedules. I’ve gotten my inspiration from my 10-year-old copy of Managers of Their Homes (better late than never) and the Large Family Logistics “Do the Next Thing” email reminder loop from Yahoo. I just noticed that Large Family Logistics has a sample lunch schedule which looks much more appealing than mine. Maybe I can branch out once I establish some sort of routine.

Next time I’ll share my journey toward scheduling school.

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