Earlier I shared how I have to have at least one day (preferably two) at home during the week. Nothing gets scheduled on those days, unless I have absolutely no other choice. This is a sanity thing. There are just too many worthwhile activites that pull at our attention, but it all sucks time and more importantly, energy.
A few years ago, when I first decided that we just had to have days at home with no outside obligations, I kept accidentally over-scheduling. With 4 homeschooled kids, a business, and numerous pets, it’s very easy to do. I had to come up with a better way.
Now, a few times a year, when it’s time to plan for the next school year or term, or sign up for activities, I use a weekly schedule spreadsheet like this to help me SEE where our time commitments are.
In Excel, I’ve created a weekly schedule spreadsheet (which you can download below), that I use as a template. Using color coding (one color per child, plus grey for drive time and whole family activities) I can very easily see where our time is commited. My goal is to create at least one to two days during school week (Monday-Friday) with NOTHING in it.
To start, I put in all the activities the kids and I wanted to do that term, then seeing the conflicts, I start whittling away (talking to the kids about it as I have to cut things.) Sometimes, if an activity (like Ballet) has an alternate time slot I’ll insert it on the calendar like this: (see the pink slots for Ballet)
That allows me to take a closer look at really what is possible. My goal is to create activity days, where if I’m going to consume energy running about, let’s just make it that type of day and if we can schedule whatever activities we can into it.
But sometimes it just doesn’t work out. For example, my nearly 7 year old’s speech therapy is offered through the public school system, and they only offer it to homeschoolers at one time during the week. That’s just the way it is. So we work around that.
I’m also looking for conflicts – where schedules overlap. I can’t be in two place at once and I refuse to run around with my head chopped off trying to get one child to one place and another child to another place. It’s not a productive, healthy mind-set for any of us. Using the chart, I can show the kids where there’s a conflict and we can discuss possible courses of action.
For example, my sons really wanted to take fencing this year. But fencing was only offered on Monday and Friday nights. My 9 year old son had to choose – fencing or cub scouts. He chose cub scouts. But having the visual helped him see what his choices were and how he wanted to spend his time.
Once I’ve figured out what the activity schedule is, I note each day as to whether it’s a Full schoolwork day or a Light schoolwork day. And then in the bottom part of my spreadsheet, I mark what subjects will be covered (in an ideal world) on each of those days.
Obviously I’m looking for balance and reasonable work load. It’s not fair to the kids to ask them to do 3 hours of book work on a day where we are only home for 30 minutes. Those are light schoolwork days – which for us means they must read something, write something, and do some sort of math. Most of the time that’s all done through act of being out and about and in the car.
This system has been great for saving my sanity and keeping the HOME in our homeschool.
If you are interested in trying this out for yourself, feel free to download and use the forms that I use. I’ve included a sample for you to get a better look at what this looks like.
Download the PDF Weekly Schedule Template
Download the PDF Weekly Schedule Sample
Download the Excel file with both the template and the sample (two worksheet tabs in the workbook)
Note: You need a PDF reader to use the PDF file. You can get one free here. To use the Excel file, you’ll need Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, or will need to upload the file into a web-based spreadsheet tool like Google Docs in order to work with it fully.