Family Schedule: How to Keep Your Kids Busy All Day
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Are your kids driving you crazy? How about putting them on a family schedule?
Let me tell you, it was the best thing I ever did. It stopped all the whining, squabbles, and idle time with nothing to do. I also noticed my kids slept much better at night because they were busy playing all day.
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In this post, you will see how a flexible family schedule will help both you and your kids have more time to do the things you love.
I will teach you how to create your own schedule packed with fun, spiritual growth, creativity, and learning. You will also understand why you should do it and get a few tips to help work out the kinks.
This is a sample family schedule I used with my kids. It worked pretty well on the days they were home all day. You can adjust the times to your family’s ages, sleep habits, and time of the year. Once you look over it, you will get an idea of how to create your own day.
8:30 am-9 am Breakfast
While eating breakfast, read a short devotional relevant to your kid’s age. Find stories that focus on a character quality. I highly recommend Adventures in Odessey if you want something to listen to instead of reading. (I am not an affiliate.)
After the devotional, ask a few discussion questions. You can make them up. I tried to make the questions fun and relevant. You don’t have to be a teacher to do this. Any questions having to do with the story will get a conversation going.
* I did my best not to let them watch TV during meal times. It is a bad habit to get into. Families lose so much time connecting with each other when they sit and eat in front of the TV every meal.
Get dressed, help with dishes or laundry, clean up their room, empty trash, etc.
9:30am -11:30am Play outside/pool/field trip
Swim in the summer, go to the park, or take a walk around the block. If you don’t have access to a pool or a park, go on a field trip. Look for kid-friendly places to hang out such as McDonald’s, petting zoo/farm, play gym, airplane museum, zoo, train museum, or whatever local attractions are in your area. Get online and do a little research.
Once a week, go to the library to get books. Attend storytime, if they have it. This is a great inside activity when it is hot or cold outside.
If you can’t leave your home, send your kids outside to play. It is important to let them create their own games and have time to imagine. If they come back in bored, give them chores. They’ll go back out real quick.
Get a big cardboard box. This will keep them busy for a long time. Provide a fort, swing set, sandbox, or playhouse, etc. so they have something to start their play. They can take it from there.
11:30am-12:30pm Hobbies/Teach a skill/Lessons
My daughter liked doing crafts so I had a bunch of paints, colors, pencils, play-doh, etc. There was no Pinterest back then. She just created things. I tried to keep the mess to a minimum.
You can set out a towel or shower curtain liner to keep the paint from getting everywhere. This can be done inside or outside. I preferred outside! Other ideas are to teach needlework/cooking/piano. (Pick something your child is interested in.)
My son loved being outside as much as he could. His hobby was sports. We signed him up for the swim team one season and tennis the next season. Eventually, my daughter did the same thing when she was older. Later, she did dance.
12:30pm-1pm Lunch/Picnic Outside
Eat lunch at the park, the pool, or make a picnic outside in the backyard when the weather is warm. This will make lunch more fun. If you are swimming, it will extend the time outside.
*If a devotional is not good at breakfast, do it at lunchtime (if you are home).
1 pm-2 pm Free Time
Let the kids watch TV, get on the computer, iPad, etc. This gives everyone a little time to wind down after the morning activities and get ready for room time.
2pm-3pm Room time/Reading/Rest
Whatever age and reading level, your kids need to be reading books every day. If they are young, you can read to them. If they are older, they can work on their school reading list or have free reading time.
I let my son read comics for free reading. The older they are, the more time they need to read. This is an important part of your family schedule.
After they are done, they can stay in their room and play with their toys or rest, etc. I started teaching my kids about personal quiet times during this time.
They read the Bible/Bible story the amount of time as their age. 10 yrs old = read 10 minutes.
If they keep trying to leave their room, send them back. You can train them to do this with a few consequences and rewards. Example: Make their room time tied to the screen time. For every minute you stay in your room playing or reading, you earn screen time in the next hour.
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3 pm-4 pm Educational Screen Time
If you have older kids, find math, reading, science and history games for them to play on the computer/iPad. I tried to capitalize on the areas they struggled with the most. Be careful because the computer/iPad is addictive. Too much screen time can also cause sleep issues. The blue light will keep them up if on at night.
There are apps, programs, and so many different things to download. Make sure they think it is a fun game so it is not a huge power struggle.
*One summer my son and a friend designed a theme park that included different rides and games. It took them most of the summer to finish. It kept them busy for hours.
4 pm-5 pm Free Time
This is a perfect time to let your kids go back outside or play in the house if it is too hot or cold. Older ones can help in the kitchen with dishes or setting the table.
This allows you time to work on dinner if you have not started. They can also help you with anything around the house like laundry, etc. Chores are an important part of your family schedule.
5pm-5:30pm Clean-Up Time
Everyone helps pick up toys and clean up before dinner.
Eat as a family without the TV. Talk about the day, what they learned in their reading, devotions, etc. Include dad in on the events of the day so he can participate in the discussion.
6:30 pm-7: 30pm Play/ younger kids get ready for bed
It is important to have some whole family interaction in the evenings, if possible. Try a board game or game outside. Notice the emphasis on the outdoors over screen time.
7:30 pm-8 pm Bathtime for older kids/bedtime for younger kids
My kids loved bathtub paints. There are plenty of bath time activities on Pinterest to keep your kids engaged in some fun. Play is such an important part of your family schedule whether alone with others.
8:00pm-8;45pm Storytime/School Reading
Great time to read storybooks together or catch up on school reading, if not done during the day.
8:45pm-9pm Prayers/Bedtime for older kids
Pray together before bedtime. You can pray for other people you know. Or you can pick someone you don’t know like a missionary or someone you have heard of that needs prayer. This gives your kids the opportunity to care about those outside of themselves.
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Why Should I Try a Family Schedule?
1. A family schedule works!
The biggest reason to do a schedule is that it works. After you settle into a routine, you will see how nice it is to have your day planned out and organized. You will accomplish so much more when you parent with direction and goals.
2. Focused time allows goals to be accomplished
Having a schedule allows more time in your day to accomplish goals. If you work at home, you can schedule work hours during room time or screen time. Even if you don’t have a paid job, you still work. You need time to get things accomplished like laundry, dinner, or pay bills. Whatever the task, you have time built in every day to do it.
4. Your Sanity
Once I put a family schedule in place, it cut down on the arguing, fighting, and mischief. You will no longer be irritated and angry all day. In fact, you will enjoy the time you spend together with your kids.
5. Character issues.
Having kids home during the day can be a great thing. It is not only an opportunity to create family memories, but it is also a good time to work on character issues.
When you are with your kids all day, you will notice some things you can work on such as whining, lying, self-control, obedience, attitude, etc.
Tailor your devotionals to hit relevant issues and use the discussion time to talk about positive ways to do things.
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How Do You Implement the Family Schedule?
1. Write out the family schedule with your kids.
Ask your kids for input on their day. Make it a family affair. They probably will balk at first, so don’t be surprised. Keep moving forward and stay positive. Remember that they would rather watch TV and eat all day instead of being on a family schedule. So would I.
2. Post the family schedule where everyone can see it.
It is so much easier to follow when it is out for everyone to look at it. There are no surprises or confusion about what is expected.
3. Adjust the family schedule, if needed.
You may find your kids do better playing in the afternoon and sleeping until 11 am. You do what is best for the lifestyle of your family.
4. Choose what is important
We read every day we were home. It was the one thing I didn’t adjust. Sometime during the day, we had a reading/room time. I tried to cram in some math games when possible, as this was their weak spot.
5. Have consequences for the things that are important.
There were a few times one or both of my kids didn’t read when they were supposed to. They had to read during their free time.
If they got out of their room during room time, I added more time to room time. There will be times of conflict but, overall, your kids should buy into the whole concept of a schedule if most of the day is fun.
A Few Tips to Help Work Out the Kinks
My kids won’t do it: You are in charge, not your kids! Be firm but loving about the activities you have chosen for the day.
Selling it: If you don’t think it is fun, you won’t sell it to your kids as fun. Fine-tune your schedule to their talents and needs. Allow your kids to help choose some of the activities so they have ownership in their day. Be excited!
Screen time: I tried to keep the screen time down to about 2 hours a day at most. If your kids are having sleep issues/nightmares, go down to 1 hour of screen time every day. Make sure they watch it earlier in the day and it is sweet and simple in content.
No matter what, keep an eye on the amount of time they watch TV, etc. It is also important you see what your kids are watching whether on TV, video games, iPad, phone, or the computer. Screens are not a good form of education or entertainment all day long. It should be used sparingly.
We never allowed a TV or computer in the bedrooms. When your kids do get a Smart Phone, it is important to get blocks on the phone. Pornography is too easy to access.
I hope you have fun with your family schedule. You can always message me on Facebook if you have questions. I will be glad to help you make adjustments if you are having a hard time.
Tell me what activities you do have in your family schedule?
Got Family Problems? There is Help!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.
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