Organization is a necessity in any household with young children, especially when the children outnumber the adults.
Candace and I have come to rely rather heavily upon a carefully arranged order of the day.
This is, of course, not to say that we are always able to abide by it but simply that we attempt to carve out as much structure out of the nebulous mists of time contained in each morning, afternoon, and evening.
Inasmuch as we are to be stewards of the talents, gifts, and blessings we are given (I Peter 4:10), surely it is so for the time which He abundantly bestows upon us (Ephesians 5:15-16)… for the days of men are evil.
The main challenge we have encountered is centered upon the fact that our four children are at different seasons of their lives…
Gaelynn is soon reaching her first decade, and already standing on her tiptoes to see her teenage years. Israel is but a little boy of six, with thoughts inclined towards gross bugs and building robots. Sophia is only a few months removed from diapers, yet strains to join her older siblings in mischief and revelry. Liam remains utterly dependent upon his mother, but is yearning to crawl and vocalizes only consonant sputterings.
Furthermore, I work overnight (23:00 to 08:00) and can only sleep between 08:00 and 14:00 each day. When our manifold church/family/social commitments are factored in, it becomes exceedingly important that we utilize whatever means in our disposal to redeem the hours.
Thus follows the 2009 Summer Schedule for our household…
08:00 Breakfast (Psalms)
09:00 Household Chores
10:00 Morning Outing
11:00 Free Play
12:00 Luncheon (Proverbs)
13:00 Household Chores
14:00 Quiet Time
15:00 Visual Arts & Music
16:00 Bible Study
17:00 Free Play
18:00 Supper (Gospels)
19:00 Evening Outing
20:00 Evening Preparation
21:00 Children’s Bedtime
22:00 Parent’s Sabbath
23:00 Lights out!
A few provisos and quid pro quos worth mentioning…
The first being that this schedule is meant to be a guide not a rule. Certain things may take longer or shorter depending on day or circumstance, and others might be wholly supplanted when occasion so calls. For example: LORD’s Day morning and evening worship services take precedent over regular activities, in a like manner do Tuesday night Bible studies and Wednesday evening prayer services modify our time.
Secondly, each meal is parenthetically noted with a section of the Scriptures. This is not meant to be a dull chore, but a tool to spur an ongoing dialogue and contemplation of the Word of GOD. I am often both bemused and delighted with the curious tendrils of thought which flow from my children during this time… it sure beats talking about the weather.
In addition to this, I make no apology for the large swaths of time devoted to “free play” and outdoor leisure. This is often the practical application of the things that are taught to my children in the abstract.
My belief is that it is essential to both the minds and bodies of children to get out-of-doors… to play in the mud and bitten by bugs, to get muddy shoes and calloused feet, to make bonds of friendship with other children in our community as well as our local assembly, to build ramshackle club-houses out of cardboard boxes and to sweat in the heat of the afternoon, to spend all day in the front yard selling $3.50 worth of lemonade and chase each other around the backyard while rain drip-drops down from the over-arching tree canopy.
Lastly, “household chores” are assigned to everyone within the household. While my beloved does oversee the general maintenance and care of our home (Proverbs 31: 15, 27), we are all expected to contribute in accordance with our capability and place. Even as my girls must learn how to care for a home, my boys also must learn how to love a woman in serving her (Ephesians 5:28-29).
We have adhered to this format to the best of our efforts, still challenges abide. Despite my attempts to hold Time in my sway, I am utterly undone and can only despair when yet another hour is stolen from me in one pursuit or another
This thing, all things devours.