Updated: Oct 31, 2019
(this post contains affiliate links to Amazon, please see my disclosure for more details)
Most of us that home teach using the Charlotte Mason method at home quickly find the philosophies of Charlotte Mason not only occupy our "school hours" but also our "family time" hours. You see, Charlotte Mason's methods cannot be only confined to hours...it's a way of life.
One part of the Charlotte Mason lifestyle is schedules and routines. Charlotte Mason's schools (for ages 6 and up) had planned out days of activities. Charlotte Mason herself kept a schedule that included daily nature walks in her own schedule! 2:15 – 4:00. (Essex Cholmondley, The Story of Charlotte Mason)
Charlotte Mason as our example, we wonder how to fit a routine/schedule into our day with babies and toddlers under foot. Is it even possible?
As a disclaimer: I know some moms will not agree with me. That's okay, we don't have to agree on everything and still be friends. I respect your ideas and expect the same type of respect.
For a home to function with a routine/schedule: Babies and toddlers have to have some type of routine. There are many "thoughts" on scheduling babies. In my 15 years of raising babies and homeschooling, through fails and successes, scheduling is the one tool that has consistently helped me and my babies. Believe it or not, children love a routine ( I am not talking about a strict schedule). Our babies feel secure when they know what is next.
To make this work, you will have to say, "no" to extra activities at times. My tip is to schedule 1 day per week for a lighter academic day (a home management day) and 1 day dedicated to nature study and errands.
Ideas to help you if you feel overwhelmed RIGHT NOW:
Lay academics aside for a week or two and get your home "in order". That means purging items you no longer need. I have categories I work through during a deep purge of our home.
I always start with clothing/linens/anything we wear
Put all of these items in a huge massive pile, go through ( touch ) each item and discard whatever doesn't fit, has holes, or stains. This process may be quick for you or take a few days. Repeat this process with: books, kitchen items, toys, tools, bathroom toiletries, cleaning products in your home...everything that needs to be purged. Work on this for a solid week until your home makes YOU feel relaxed and in control. I know this is hard with babies/toddlers but do what you need to do for this week to get your home in order again. Spend time with your babies in the morning ( get them dressed, breakfast, read aloud to them). When children get some mommy time in the morning, they are more calm throughout the day. Make sure to do this step.
After your home feels organized and more manageable
Write out a plan for chores that will help you keep your home in order. I suggest one day per week for a deeper cleaning day, 3 days to maintain and one day of errands/nature outings.
I have 6 children (ages 15,14,12,10,5,and 2) Chores are evenly distributed in our home. I keep my 5 and 2 year old with me as I do my chores. The 5 year old helps and my 2 year old playfully helps.
I enjoy keeping our kitchen clean so that is my job. ( I will share our chore schedule soon )
Part of managing routines and schedules is home management.
When I first started homeschooling, I planned our curriculum out but never thought to plan out the home management part and I was drowning. Something I found out early on is, homeschooling and home management are hand in hand. As home educators, our homes are our classrooms!
I've had so many moms tell me they were never taught how to exactly manage a home. That's okay! God is giving YOU this period of time to learn and establish a beautiful thriving "center" for education, health, and growth for all the members in your family.
Word of caution: Please remember we are not striving for perfection, but progress. We will never live in a perfect environment. But I promise we will work harder, and achieve a home that hums along and is a true resting place.
Now it's time to write down your rough draft routine for morning. Is is possible for you to get up a little earlier? ( If you have a new baby, sleep is your friend and don't attempt to get up early!)
If you are able to get up earlier, take this into consideration. Waking up an hour before your children will give YOU time to think clearly and get ready for your day. As home manager, you have an important job. Just like any business, managers have to be ready to start their day.
Take this time to:
Take care of your own hygiene
Personal devotions (ask God to help you through your day)
Drink a cup of coffee/tea and reflect
Write in your journal
Prepare YOUR heart for the little hearts that will soon be around your table
Schedule a time for your children to wake up. My younger children currently get up at 7 A.M. That includes my toddler. I know this may not be popular, but I do wake up my toddlers when trying to establish a new routine. This does not mean they are not getting enough sleep. After a period of time, they will naturally wake up at the time you set.
We start with cleanliness in our home. Clean our hearts (to God), clean our home, clean our bodies.
Next is nourishment time. Nourish our bodies and souls with wholesome food and wholesome ideas. (we use the Enchanted Kindergarten morning time as our guide)
Finally, we practice the habit of attention on our most difficult task of the day. I have found children at their sharpest first thing in the morning. For my youngest ones, this may be puzzle time or coloring time. We work for fifteen minutes with full attention on a certain task. (this varies depending on age group)