This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive, at no additional cost to you, a small commission. Find out more on my Disclosures page, and thank you so much for your support!
How to Plan Your Day Like a Vintage Housewife
Housekeeping is a real job — and it is a job that will quickly take over your whole life if you let it. Without organization, housework can quickly become mind-numbing, repetitive drudgery. The same tasks will keep building up and can prove to be quite daunting if left unchecked. The best way to keep your sanity as a homemaker is to create — and FOLLOW — a schedule.
Why You Need a SAHM Schedule
Schedules benefit everyone. If you are a mother with young children, a schedule helps provide consistency and security, leading to happier babies. A good schedule is a system that allows others to step in and help, without you having to expend all the energy that the mental effort of reinventing your homemaking every single time. Without a system, you simply live badly most of the time.
A schedule systematizes your homemaking and keeps you sane. It opens up time for leisure, where you can take care of yourself and not feel guilty. A good schedule can be adjusted to make time for anything. Even a baby can do better with a schedule. I use a schedule to ensure that I have self-care time to prevent PPD and combine the baby’s schedule with attachment parenting techniques to keep the baby secure and satisfied. (Yes, attachment parenting is vintage — La Leche League was founded in the 1950s.)
Making a Schedule Step-by-Step
Usually, the biggest problem with planning a schedule that takes care of ALL THE THINGS is that no one ever teaches you how to make a good schedule. I love the sample schedules from my vintage books, but with homeschooling 7 kids and helping my husband with homesteading, I often cannot use sample schedules designed for suburban housewives with two kids in school. (At least, not exactly as written.) Instead, I have to build my own schedules from scratch.
Step 1: Know Where You Are Going
If you have ever read Marie Kondo’s books (affiliate link), you know that she starts her method by having you find your ideal life. Every good productivity guru will tell you the same thing. (Stephen Covey calls it the second habit of highly effective people (affiliate link): “Begin with the end in mind.”) Part of the reason is that it makes us conscious of our “why.” Knowing our ideal is part of creating ourselves as we want to be and every successful project begins with that first creation.
Knowing your ideal life is not really very easy. If you have Pinterest, you can look at the kind of things you pin to help you know what you want. For me, I love words. I also love Bullet Journaling. So, when I visualize my ideal life in my head, I write it into my BuJo using the rapid logging technique. (I have actually been doing this for years, but now Ryder Carroll has created the language to describe what I was doing! Analog is so retro!)
Whether you write it down or make a vision board, you need to know what you are aiming for. Don’t skip this step! You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you are going.
Step 2: Plan For Priorities
The next step in planning is to put first things first. What is the most important thing to plan into your day? Self-care. Always start your schedule with three things:
- A quiet time
- Get dressed
- Make your bed
The starting point for a good schedule is to start with those three things. Every. Single. Morning. Get up about 30 minutes before anyone else in the house — it doesn’t need to take much time. Here’s a really simple routine to start you off:
- Start by splashing cold water on your wrists or brushing your teeth to wake up. Maybe even drink a glass of water.
- Sit down and write down three reasons you have to be grateful. Read something sacred (I read a chapter from the Bible every morning) or uplifting, and copy something meaningful into your journal. Pray. Meditate.
- Get dressed, including shoes, and do your hair and makeup. Make yourself pretty. This is a great place for self-care. Do whatever you need to do to be happy about looking in the mirror. I have found that looking pretty can fight off depression.
- Make your bed. If it’s made, your whole room looks better. It also staves off depression by looking pretty, BTW. And making your marriage bed every day can remind you to respect your husband and build him up.
Start today! Even before you get to the actual schedule, start doing these things. Taking time for self-care is incredibly important. Women are very capable of doing things for other people while being miserable, but taking a little time to make yourself important makes you a much nicer person to be around.
Step 3: Make Activity Lists
The next step is to make an activity list for yourself and everyone whose time you are managing. (Yourself, your children, most of the teenagers, and anyone else you are caring for, like an elderly parent.)
Start with your own activity list. What do you want and need to accomplish in a day or a week? I start with a comprehensive activity list, and then go down the list and write down about how long each activity will take me. It’s so easy to overbudget my time without those time estimates! Also, this is the time to set priorities. In a season when I have a new baby, the baby’s care takes priority for a few months. Hospice care is another of those seasons.
After you make your activity list, make one for each child (or anyone else dependent on you). This is exactly the same process as you used for your own activity list. I use vintage schedules as a guideline here too, and I schedule my babies. After 7 babies, I can tell you that most babies benefit greatly from regularity! Even if you nurse on demand and practice babywearing, a schedule will help keep you sane, especially if you start feeling stressed and guilty about getting everything done.
Expect to take a week or two to do your own activity list, and another week or two to do the children’s. Allow time for making a comprehensive list, and then spending about a week thinking about it, crossing things off, adding things, and writing down the approximate time each activity takes. Work on it for an hour a day. If you have babies or small children, break it up into smaller sessions.
Step 4: Put Your Schedule Together
This is my favorite part because I love color-coding! Choose a different color for each person on the schedule, and write each activity on to a Post-it (affiliate link). I plan in 30-minute intervals, so each Post-it represents a half-hour, and I have to repeat colors since I have so many kids. Next, take big sheets of paper, or a whiteboard (I use the front of my refrigerator), and mark the hours down the side and the names across the top.
Now, start puzzling! I use a basic skeleton housework schedule to help me plan the best times for things, and I puzzle in all the activity pieces. It’s actually quite fun. Once I have all the activities lined up (and no one is scheduled to be in two places at once!), I start trying the schedule.
Step 5: Work the Plan!
I start by slowly implementing the schedule. For the first three days, I follow the schedule until 9:00 am. Then I follow it until noon for a few days. Then 3:00 pm, then 6:00 pm, and finally, by the end of two weeks, I am following the schedule for the whole day. I give the full schedule another two or three weeks. Then, if it really isn’t working, I adjust it to meet the needs of my family. A schedule is not a master, but a servant. It’s supposed to make things easier.
Sometimes, having a schedule brings up character issues (like my own lack of discipline in staying off Facebook . . .). In those situations, I recommend taking two or three weeks to only implement the wake-up time, mealtimes, chore times, and bedtime. Drop everything else and focus the rest of your time on diligence, responsibility, and attitude. (I don’t focus on obedience as much as these other things.) After you spend some time on those things, then implement the full schedule.
That’s it! That’s how I make my schedules. I hope this helps you reclaim a little bit of sanity in your home, as well. Leave me a comment to let me know if you have any other questions about scheduling!