One of the reasons my family needs to redo our household routines schedule is because who we were in June 2011 is not who we are in July 2011. Our son has started preschool and, as benign as that might seem, it has completely changed our lives. The biggest revision is that now there are parts of our day subjected to a schedule we didn’t design.
The last time anyone in our house had to commute somewhere on a regular basis was 2004. For the past six years we have followed a daily schedule, but it has been one completely of our making. Being subjected to an external schedule isn’t an inconvenience or frustrating, it’s just different. Obviously, we chose for our son to attend preschool, so it’s a change we eagerly approved. We simply didn’t realize how much it would transform the way we get things done around the house.
When creating a new household routines schedule or revising one you’ve used for years (like we are), follow these seven steps:
- Make a list of all the things that need to get done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Use four columns (daily, every other day, weekly, monthly) and also identify when during the day these tasks need to be completed. For example: Daily — Assemble son’s lunch while making dinner. Weekly — Mow yard in early morning or evening when it’s not blistering hot.
- Keep your list of regular chores to the bare minimum. You and your housemates do not have superpowers. There is a difference between things that have to get done and things you want to get done. Cross any item off your list that isn’t essential. The would-be-nice-to-do items are more appropriate for your daily action items, not your regular routine chart.
- Once the list is created, decide who in the house will be responsible for each chore. If you live alone, you can probably skip this step. Assign responsibilities fairly.
- Using a spreadsheet or calendar, enter all of the activities that need to be completed into the appropriate time slot. (Feel welcome to download this Excel Chore Chart: Hourly template.) You may find that an hour-by-hour schedule doesn’t work best for you, so consider using a less-rigid format if it better meets your needs. (Or download this Excel Chore Chart: Blocks of Time template.)
- Younger family members may need additional guidance. Make a to-do list (or seven daily to-do lists, if necessary), laminate it at your local FedEx Kinkos, and put it in a place your little one can access. A washable dry erase marker can be used to check off tasks as they are completed. (Melissa and Doug also makes a nice Responsibility Chart that uses magnets.) Really little family members who can’t yet read can benefit from image chore cards displayed on a wall or magnetically to the front of the refrigerator. (Etsy has some adorable ones. Search for “chore cards.”)
- Practice the new routines. Research has found it takes close to three months for actions to become habits. You’ll have to make a concerted effort for 90 days for these new routines to become second nature.
- Adapt as necessary. Life is full of surprises and conditions in your home are constantly changing. Evaluate and revamp your regular routines when they stop meeting your needs.