By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
When I had my first child, I envisioned a family schedule that involved a clean home, play dates, supper on the table by 5pm with time for Chris and I to passionately make out on the couch after our baby went to bed.
I also thought there would be time to work out, shower, and time go to lunch with friends. Funny right?
After becoming a mom of three, I realized the ‘Heather as a new mom,’ was naive. It adorable how clueless I was. Especially when I went back to work as a journalist.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working home, or a hybrid of these two, you know how unpredictable and beautifully messy motherhood can be. Modern family life can feel a lot like a hamster wheel—a constant rat race that praises the hustle and devalues the holy.
Now-a-days, we overschedule our kids and ourselves, wedging in must-do things like phone calls, appointments, and folding laundry (Does laundry ever end?).
One night after messing up royally, (as in I forgot about a doctor's appointment and I left a kid at school while I was shopping for groceries), I questioned, “Does it have to be like this? What if things could be different? What would actually help?”
As I laid there that night feeling like a mess up and calculating how badly I scarred my kid for forgetting him at school, I realized enough was enough. It was time to free myself from the hustle. It was time to free my family of anxiety and rushing from one thing to next, it was time to get us all off the hamster wheel.
Out of desperation, a family schedule a.k.a ‘routine’ was born. That day I created, “The Raising Rigglemans Routine” thanks to digging deep into Jesus’ life.
I’m not talking about a rigid schedule of thirty-minute slots that you cross off, I’m talking about a family schedule that fills up you and your family with joy.
The kind of schedule that allows for coffee, Jesus, and washing your hair. The kind of schedule that allows for white space. And depending on where you’re at in the messy middle of motherhood, time to manage a job and still have time to get supper on the table.
Jesus Had A Routine
Jesus very clearly told us, “But seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33). Here, Jesus was giving mothers one of the most important keys to a family schedule—seeking Him first.
When we set time aside to come to Jesus with our prayers, problems, and perseverance, He breaks us wide open to pour in His peace, strength, energy, wisdom, joy, and encouragement.
A careful look at scripture reveals how Jesus used to get up early and get away from everyone to let God pour into Him! Mark 1:35 tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
- Luke 5:16, “Yet He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.”
- Matthew 14:23, “After He had sent them away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone,”
- Luke 4:42, "At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place, and the crowds were looking for Him. They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving.
I love the last Bible verse because it seems like a nod to mothers, “Yes, your family needs you, they will look for you (bathroom included) and prevent you from leaving or getting anything done.” Even though Luke wasn’t talking about moms, he was pointing out things will come up, things will distract us from our bigger purpose, and God gives us grace.
On the flipside, God reminds us in Ecclesiastes, “there is a time for everything.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says: For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
The Benefits of a Family Schedule
After my husband and created our routine of “Raising Rigglemans,” I said goodbye to working outside the home and utilized my skills to make income while at home.
We also agreed on only one sport per child and that we would have dinner every night as a family. This meant no outside appointments or obligations were allowed to interrupt our sacred family time unless it was necessary.
Next, I created a family evening schedule. Dinner, hanging out, shower time, room time, and then lights out. Just making these changes created a big impact on our family as a whole. The benefits included:
-As a family we began to live by a routine and found we were happier and less anxious.
-As adults, Chris and I felt a sense of purpose protecting our family schedule and family time.
-We had less stress individually and as a family.
-We all slept better.
-We were able to dig into cultivating our family values and traditions.
-Our kids thrived in a new sense of security.
-We taught our children the value of saying ‘no,’ the value and commitment of saying, ‘yes,’ as well as management skills.
-We created stronger bonds as a family.
Creating a Family Schedule
Creating a family schedule starts with ensuring all of your needs are met as a mom. This includes carving out much-needed time with and in Christ. The next step is to analyze your day, your family’s day, and assess each day of the week. Note what each family member is doing and why.
Decide what activities, commitments, and obligations need to stay or go in order to create "white space" for your family.
1. Create White Space in Your Family Schedule
White space is defined as the area between design elements in the world of art. It is the space within individual design elements, and it is vital for your family. It allows each family member a chance to decompress, relax, and socialize.
If you’re running your three kids to five different sports every week, it’s time to call a family meeting and decide what needs to go.
2. Brainstorm Your Family Schedule
Once you’ve decided what needs to be cut out of the schedule, it’s time to brainstorm what you want your family schedule to look like.
Do you want more downtime in the mornings or afterschool? Do you want a ‘power hour’ to get chores done? Focus on balancing activity and rest for your family. Write it down and post it somewhere everyone can see it on a daily basis.
You’ll likely mess up at first or get some opposition. This is okay—it’s normal, especially when you are creating new routines and habits as a family. Be in prayer for God to reveal the hiccups in your new schedule.
Ask for grace, patience, and wisdom for all involved.
3. Follow the Schedule and Tweak It
Once the family schedule as been created, follow it for a week. Take a look at what is working and what isn’t. Decide if you need more time to establish a schedule or whether some things need to be tweaked.
Follow the schedule with grace and love.
New habits and routines aren’t born overnight. There will be emergencies, forgotten appointments, commitments that need attending to. Continue to follow the routine until it becomes second nature.
As time goes on, be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading of adding anything to the schedule. You want your home to be a place where not only your family dwells and thrives, but also the holy spirit.
4. Use This Family Schedule Freebie Template
If you’re looking for a way to create a better family schedule, here is a free template for you to use.
Below is an example of how I use it for my family. Not every day is filled in but it gives you an idea of our routine.
On Sundays, we gather as a family to ensure not of us are sabotaged by unexpected appointments or events. On Wednesday nights when the kids have youth group, Chris and I make it our date night.
Every day we gather as a family to read the Word, or a devotional, and pray.
The evenings consist of family time, homework, chores, and decompressing before lights out!
I know getting out of the rat race and away from the holy hustle can be tough and it can be daunting, but Jesus reminds us in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God knows your heart and sees your efforts. He is your strength and song. He wants to be a part of your daily schedule and will partner with you to cultivate the family life that honors Him in all things!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.