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how to effectively time block with kids at home

If you are a stay at home mom a daily schedule will CHANGE your LIFE! Do you strive to be present with your kids, but when you’re with them, you feel like you should be doing chores/projects? And when you are working on chores/projects, you feel like you should be with your kids? The struggle is real.

Do you spend hours planning the perfect day to do it all, and spend no time doing what you’d expected to do? How many times do you build up the motivation to start a task, only to be interrupted by one of your many other competing priorities (like a child who needs help wiping in the bathroom)?

A daily schedule for a stay at home mom is a fantastic help! To-do lists and prioritizing are part of the solution. However, the zone scheduling system provides the framework to complete tasks in the proper zone! It streamlines tasks so that similar ones are grouped, and you can focus.

You won’t be distracted and attempting to do everything at once, which means you’re not making progress on anything. It’s especially difficult to feel productive with young children because they often undo any small amount of progress you made!

It is damaging to our confidence to continually break promises we made to ourselves about what we were going to accomplish in the day. Let’s change that.

daily schedule for a stay at home mom

Busy Mom Life

If there’s one thing we all know for sure, it’s that mom life is BUSY! And exhausting. What used to be a simple errand can now require a herculean effort in the areas of patience and perseverance.

I’m lookin’ at your “quick” trip to the grocery store to buy one thing :-/ Before kids: Pick-up the keys, put shoes on, walk out the door, drive to the store, grab the said item, and return home.

With kids: Feed kids breakfast so they won’t be starving on the way to the store. Consider cleaning up milk that the preschooler spilled, definitely wipe up the wet cereal that the toddler threw (because that will set up like cement if it’s left to dry), pack snacks because they’ll be hungry again in 5 minutes, and beg your kids to brush their teeth. Then explain for the millionth time, why it’s not acceptable to wear pajamas to the store, wrestle the toddler into her clothes as you’re negotiating with your preschooler to get dressed. As your preschooler puts on his shoes, your toddler poops and needs a diaper changeโ€ฆ. All this and we aren’t even out the door yet. You know the drill. I could go on, but you already know about the rest ๐Ÿ˜‰

I finally realized that attempting to plan my day by the hour was never going to work. Instead, I divided my day into zones for similar tasks at a time of day that made sense.

Also, I have a routine for each zone. Essentially I have a sequence of tasks that I do daily and then I fit other duties in where they make sense.

While each day is different, a daily schedule for a stay at home mom is general enough that activities for almost any day can fit into it. I had started to discover this concept on my own, but when I saw how Jordan Page of Funcheaporfree.com made the zones (she calls them blocks) more formal, I LOVED the idea.

She even sets an alarm for 15 minutes before the end of a zone, so she knows it’s time to get wrapped up. When a timer rings when the zone has ended, she immediately moves on. The activities I do flow smoothly into zones and I don’t want to use a timer because that’s the way I’ve designed my day.

I have two different zone schedules: one for my workdays and days when I stay home, but they aren’t even that different.

I used to look through my long list of to-dos at the beginning of the week. And then decide what should be done each day, only to fail at completing most of them.

Wanna learn the method to the magic? Read on! (Also, there’s a great video at the BOTTOM of this post!)

Time-Block Schedule Planning

Divide your day into approximately 2-3 hour zones, based on similar activities. This will help you identify what the general rhythm of your day is so that you can take a look at the big picture. A daily schedule for a stay at home mom helps you to create bundles of routines for related tasks instead of having specific blocks for specific tasks.

Sometimes we try to fit things in when it’s not even possible. But when we tell ourselves we’re going to do something and we can’t, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

When we fail in an impossible situation, it saps our confidence. The following is an example of my daily schedule for stay at home mom days- free template at the end of the post!

SAHM Daily Zone Schedule Example:

daily schedule for a stay at home mom

Morning Block

My Morning Block is between 5:00 am, and 7:30 am. I do my RISING Morning Routine, have a little time to myself, and work on this blog! If you’re not a morning person or you don’t have a business, your morning block may start with what I call my “Routines” zone.

I still recommend waking at least 15 minutes before your kiddos to have a few minutes to yourself. It certainly doesn’t have to be a couple of hours.

 daily schedule for a stay at home mom

Routines Block

I learned early on that anything to be consistent, it must be completed early in the day. From 7:30 am-10:30 am is our Routines Bloc; we get ready for the day and squeeze in a touch of cleaning and exercise. We make beds, kiddos get dressed, eat breakfast, and clean-up after breakfast. I set the timer for 15 minutes and check a few items off of my Turbo Tidy Checklist, and do some form of exercise.

It may seem silly to write down the obvious tasks like eating breakfast. But this is essential for being realistic about how everything fits into your day.

This also helps the kiddos know what to expect every morning. When we had many days that we didn’t get dressed, our preschooler would firmly resist the days when they needed to get dressed. Then we’d often have an all-out battle. Now, he gets dressed and ready for the day, whether we plan to leave the house or not.

We do have occasional pajama days, but we try to save those for the weekend. I make sure to highlight it as a unique activity outside the norm.

Similar activities can be bundled based on location. It’s easy to get the meat out of the freezer while I’m in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher as part of my Turbo Tidy.

Assigning exercise in this zone has helped me become more consistent! I don’t let it hang over my head and nag me the entire day; there’s always tomorrow. I’ve used to plan to do it when I first woke up, but then it wouldn’t happen. So I’d tell myself I’d do it before we left the house, and then it didn’t happen again. Okay, okay. I’ll do it when we get home and on and on until I was lying in bed at night thinking, “how is it possible that I didn’t fit exercise in when I’d planned to do it so many times?” Procrastinating and lying to myself that many times throughout the day was detrimental to my confidence.

I didn’t believe anything I said to myself, and that’s TERRIBLE on so many levels! Now I know exercise happens in the Routines Zone. If it doesn’t happen, I don’t try to do it at another time, I know that I have tomorrow!

Fun/Outing Block

Next up is our Fun/Outing Block from 10:30 am-12:30 pm. This zone can vary on the specifics from day to day, but we almost always leave the house around this time. (I’m writing this post during the COVID-19 outbreak, so “outing” means we can step outside into our yard. We can’t go much further than that! I’m writing this as it will *hopefully* apply to regular life again soon.)

During this zone, we do things such as attend a workout class, run errands, have play dates, go to the park, go to appointments, eat lunch, and clean up after lunch. Essentially, I try to wear out the kids, so their energy levels are manageable. ๐Ÿ˜› This also helps me schedule things like well-child checks, as appointments go in the Fun/Outing Zone if at all possible so that we don’t interrupt nap times or attempt to depart the house multiple times in the same day, which makes the day unnecessarily difficult.

There are some days when we stay home during the Fun/Outing Zone, so we’ll do a Playing Preschool lesson or engage in some type of planned activity.

During the Fun/Outing Block, I make sure to be as present as possible with my kids. It’s too easy for the whole day to fly by, and I suddenly realize I never engaged in real play with them.

We limit structured activities in general because we’ve found they add unnecessary stress. Yes, we have a membership to the children’s museum. Also, we participate in soccer lessons, swim lessons, music lessons, but NOT all at the same time! We choose ONE activity to participate in at a time.

Having the Fun/Outing Zone helps us because we don’t sign up for anything scheduled outside that time. For us, naps are too unpredictable to schedule something afterward, since I never know precisely when the kiddos will wake.

Rest Block

The Rest Block (also called the Favorite Zone ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) is from 12:30 pm-3:00 pm, and this is when the kiddos nap and/or have quiet time. I have a chance to work on projects or relax. I do NOT let myself clean during this zone unless it’s necessary. Cleaning happens during the Routine Zone. I give myself full permission to not think about it again until the following day.

A daily schedule for a stay at home mom organizes the entire day
so that you don’t feel guilty taking a break because you have been productive! An organizing project is excellent for this block because little hands aren’t taking the items you’re attempting to organize- if you feel inspired ๐Ÿ˜‰ If not- take the BREAK!

Dinner Block

The Dinner Block is 3:00 pm-6:00 pm and includes after-nap, baths, chores, cooking dinner, eating, and cleaning up after dinner. I don’t give our kids a bath every day, but I view it as an activity for them- not a chore. It’s easy to make a small snack to eat and then prepare food for dinner since I’m in the kitchen anyway. The kiddos stay occupied eating their snack, so they aren’t demanding my attention.

Bedtime Block

The Bedtime Block is from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm where we clean up toys, brush teeth, and do tuck-in time. I also do my evening PEACE routine to prepare for the following day. Tuck-in time is another part of the day when I love to be present and connect with our kiddos. I give them each separate one-on-one time where we snuggle, talk, sing, and I soak up every adorable little detail that I can.

Netflix (and maybe Chill ;-))

Netflix (and maybe Chill ;-)) Block is from 8:00 pm-9:00 pm, where I relax a bit and take focused time to connect with my husband. A daily schedule for a stay at home mom life ensures that what needs to be done is accomplished. With that, I have more time for what I WANT to do. Sometimes putting effort into marriage feels like one more thing on a long list of to-dos, but creating space for connection makes it fun again!

I would love for this block to be longer than an hour but there isn’t more time in the day, without sacrificing sleep. However, focused time being present is POWERFUL- even if it’s resting my head on my husband’s chest, listening to his heartbeat.

Sleeping Block

The Sleeping Block is from 9:00 pm-5:00 am– yes, it’s critical to plan for a Sleeping Zone! As with everything else, you can’t have a goal to get more sleep if you don’t have a regular block time planned for the 8 hours of sleep that you need. Some mamas need more or less sleep, so plan accordingly- you do you!.

Sometimes, mamas are very exhausted and not getting enough sleep. It’s because they don’t even give themselves a chance!

Yes, often we wake up a lot at night with littles and that can’t be helped. Make sure you have sleep planned into your day so that you know when you need to head to bed.

How Time-Block Scheduling is Different

Instead of focusing on a list of tasks that force you to go in a specific order (and when they’re incomplete, they spin in your head continuously as you attempt to fit them into your day later to no avail), this daily schedule for a stay at home lets you focus on a bundle of tasks. This way, you can do the work in whatever order suits you. You know the same daily tasks to complete so you can take them in stride with the unexpected.

The little unanticipated things will not throw you off, nor throw your whole day off. Another vital element of this is that if you didn’t complete something during its assigned zone, FORGET about it.

This strategy works very well for many reasons. As previously mentioned, bundling similar tasks will save you loads of time. Working regular tasks into a routine at a specific time of day will automate the necessary. Then, you can set it and forget it!

Also, Parkinson’s Law comes into play; “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” By creating zones, you only allow a small window of time to complete a task. Therefore, you complete it faster instead of letting it stretch throughout the entire day.

It’s like a task that you procrastinate on for months but then manages to accomplish in a couple of hours before the deadline. ๐Ÿ˜› It is incredible how quickly you can finish something up when you have a deadline to meet. The daily schedule for a stay at home mom provides the deadline for activities that typically don’t have one.

Another perk of the zone scheduling is that you can wellโ€ฆ get in the zone! You can be fully mindful and present because you’re confident that you’re doing the necessary activities at the appropriate time in your day.

I like to think of the zones as the sections on a submarine that are separated by a heavy locking metal door. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in that section at the predesignated time. You have to move on to the next section and close that locking door. There’s no turning back! Don’t bother wasting mental energy thinking about it. You get to start over tomorrow.

A daily schedule for a stay at home mom isn’t fancy or particularly exciting, but it provides a framework for you to focus on what matters when it matters. With distractions kept to a minimum, you can complete the necessary tasks AND be fully present and enjoy time with your kiddos.

I also have assigned zones when I allow myself on social media. I usually check social media in the morning before the kid’s wake, during their naps, and sometimes after they have gone to bed. This helps me to remain present throughout the day and still have some time to zone out.

I’ve found that zone scheduling works incredibly well by providing a framework to “do all the things.” I have the flexibility to roll with the punches so it doesn’t make me feel like a failure because I didn’t complete as much as I wanted to. These zones enable me to focus.

Instead of being overwhelmed by my day, I know which zone a certain activity will fit into most easily. It helps me to be more mindful because I don’t have endless chatter and “planning” spinning in my head.

This daily schedule clears your mental space of clutter or distracting thoughts. It’s because decisions have been made, and you have a consistent rhythm to your days.

This framework doesn’t mean that you’ll accomplish everything on your task list, but you will achieve a lot, and you’ll go to bed at night feeling fulfilled and satisfied because you know you were productive with your time and enjoyed time with your children.

The opposite of more is enough.

What are your favorite schedule and routine hacks to ensure you get more done?

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