My oldest daughter and I had a nice little rhythm in our life that worked really well for us.
When my second daughter was about to be born, I figured this new addition was going to shake things up a little bit.
Everyone told me that having a toddler and a newborn is no joke. They warned that I should say goodbye to my schedule because our routine was going to get rocked in a big way.
They would give me those “aren’t you adorable” and “you’ll find out soon” looks when I would say that I wasn’t too worried and I knew we would find our schedule again.
So when my younger daughter was born, I braced myself for the worst. Expecting our life to be turned upside down.
Only… it wasn’t.
Sure, there was a lot more nursing, changing, and napping going on in our house, but our basic rhythm stayed the same.
How is that even possible??
Block Scheduling, my friends!
Block scheduling is the best friend of productive minimalist moms. Why?
Because it’s simple.
It provides you with the predictability and structure that you and your children crave, while simultaneously giving you the freedom and flexibility to live a stress-free life. When put into practice, Block Scheduling be there for you through the good times… and the tough times of motherhood!
Do you feel like there are never enough hours in a day? Like you’re always trying to keep up with the clock?
There’s a Block for that!
Feel like you are always running but never get anything done? Are you stressed about your never-ending to-do list?
There’s a Block for that!
Do you struggle to get your chores done? Do you never know when to schedule appointments so your kid’s naps happen at different times every day?
There’s a Block for that, too!
Do you want to spend more quality time with your family instead of feeling like a bystander watching them enjoy life while you clean up after dinner?
There’s even a Block for that!
Every curve ball that life can throw at you, you can tuck neatly into one of your blocks.
This system has worked for us when I was working outside the home, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a newborn, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and a newborn, and now that I am a work-at-home/homeschool mom with a toddler and a preschooler.
And it’s even working for us currently with a my husband working at home full time as well (Coronavirus, anyone?).
And today I’m going to share it with you, just because I like you! Plus I’m going to give you some templates and examples for making this work in any situation.
Let’s dig in!
What is Block Scheduling?
Block Scheduling is basically where you take your day and divide it into neat little sections.
It isn’t too different from any other daily schedule, except for one major thing:
Instead of focusing on individual hours, you focus on blocks of time.
Why does this change everything?
Because blocks of time give you enough time to get things done without feeling rushed.
They provide breathing room between activities instead of making you feel like you are scurrying from one task to another.
And the blocks provide predictability. When you need to schedule something, you already know where it goes.
Here’s an illustration about the difference.
Picture Christmas Morning. Your children have a pile of gifts to unwrap and they are excited. You are excited too and you want them to enjoy them all as much as possible.
So you decide to let them open them all right away. One right after the other until they are finished.
They are of course elated about this and proceed to open each gift as quickly as possible!
Only, they can barely be excited about the one before it is time to open another. And when they are all opened, they aren’t sure which one to play with first, yet they are reluctant to share until they have finished their “job” of playing with everything until they are “done.”
No picture that same Christmas again. The same presents and people are there. But there is one small change.
Instead of opening all the presents at once, they are spaced out to allow each gift to be fully enjoyed before moving on to the next one.
They receive on gift first thing in the morning on Christmas Eve and play with it all day. Before supper, on Christmas Eve they get to open another.
On Christmas Day they open their stockings in the morning, then wait until after breakfast for another present. All through the day, they receive one gift at a time until they have enjoyed them all.
Which scenario sounds less stressful?
The one where there is time to be in the moment instead of rushing from task to task.
The occasion was the same, the gifts were the same, and the people were the same, but the feeling was different.
*Please note that I’m not saying you need to change how you open your gifts. There’s no wrong way to enjoy Christmas!*
How to Create a Block Schedule
Ready to dig in? Grab a notebook and a pen, or you can grab my Autopilot Workbook if you want to use the same templates that I use.
1) Divide Your Day Into Blocks
The first thing to do when are building your block schedule is to…wait for it… divide your day into blocks!
Do you prefer to have fewer, longer blocks in your day, or shorter, more frequent blocks?
Do you work outside the home so you have a couple of long blocks with some shorter ones sprinkled in?
Do you want all your blocks to be the same length?
Divide your day into as many blocks as works for your routine and life. I recommend using 4-7 blocks to start with. (I personally use 5 in my routine.)
2) Decide on the Length of Your Blocks
The blocks can be any size that fits your life.
But I recommend having your blocks be anywhere from 2 hours long to 4 hours long, but I wouldn’t go any shorter or longer than that.
As a general rule, If your blocks are too short you won’t get everything done that you need to in that block (or if you do you will feel rushed). If the blocks are too long, you will feel like you have so much time that you procrastinate… and won’t get anything done!
The only exception to that rule is that if you work outside the home or are a student, you typically have a one-hour block for lunch and errands.
If you aren’t sure what size of blocks to have, start with equal three-hour blocks throughout the day.
But remember you can adjust it if you need to. 🙂
3) Name Your Blocks
Next, give each block a name or a label.
Don’t overthink this, just use whatever makes sense to you.
For example, my first block of the day is named my Morning Block…shocking and creative, I know.
The reason that I name my blocks is so that it’s easy to remember which activities belong in which blocks.
4) Divide Your Daily Responsibilities
Now decide what types of activities will go into each block.
For example, our second block of the day is our Out and About Block and goes from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Here are the activities that would go into this category: Grocery Shopping, Trips to the Park, Doctor’s Appointments, Music Lessons, Dentist Appointments, Play Dates, Trips to the Museum, Going on Hikes, Going on Walks, and anything else that involves us…. you guessed it!… getting out of the house.
Beneath each block, write down every activity that will fit into that block.
My Block Schedule
Want to see an example of a block schedule?
I’ll show you mine!
Keep in mind that our schedule works well for us, but your blocks/activities/needs may need to be completely different, and that’s totally ok!
That’s the beauty of the blocks! They can be tailored for every situation.
And by every situation, I mean every situation!
Block One: Morning Block 6:00-10:00
Our morning block is one of our longer blocks of the day because I get up before the girls do to get started on my Morning Routine.
After the girls wake up, usually between 7:00-7:30, and my oldest daughter completes her Morning Checklist.
Then we do the first step in our Laundry Routine.
After we start the laundry, we eat breakfast (check out these quick, healthy breakfast ideas). As the girls are eating, I read a Bible story to them, work on their memory verses, and listen to a hymn.
After breakfast, we clean the kitchen and do our morning chores.
(Check out My Minimalist Weekly Cleaning Routine, if you want to see how I only spend 15-30 minutes a day cleaning. And look at Five Steps To Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine if you want to set up your own cleaning schedule.)
If your kids are home from school right now, this is an excellent time for them to get more involved in household duties. You can check out my post How to Teach Your Children to Enjoy Doing Chores if you need some ideas and checklists to get them started.
Block Two: Out and About Block 10:00-1:00
Our second block of the day is when we do things that require us to leave the house or see people.
With the Coronavirus quarantines and social isolation going on, this block is currently changed to the Get Outside | Learning Block.
Here are the things that went into this block Pre-Coronavirus.
Grocery Shopping, Trips to the Park, Doctor’s Appointments, Music Lessons, Dentist Appointments, Play Dates, Trips to the Museum, Going on Hikes, Going on Walks, and anything else that involves us getting out of the house.
Now that we are in Mandatory Social Isolation in Oregon, this block looks a little different. It’s now our Get Outside|Learning Block and has the following things in it.
I still do my best to get the girls to spend some time outside every single day, even if it is just in the backyard. If you want to get your kids outside every day too, I highly recommend getting some good rain jackets and rain suits which make playing outside in all weather more fun!
Currently in this block are also things like piano practicing, learning games (you can look on YouTube or Google for “fun ways to learn _________” if your children are home from school or if you are homeschooling and want to mix things up.
Another great activity to do with your kids inside is to make bread with your kiddos! Your house will smell great, you will keep the kids busy for a while, and of course, you’ll have homemade bread!
And there are some things that we do whether we are in quarantine or not.
Block Three: Nap Block 1:00-3:30
Basically, the Queen of England would have to be coming over for me to schedule something during this block.
It might be my favorite block of the day… but don’t tell the other blocks I said that!
This is the shortest block of the day because kids only sleep so long, amiright?
This block is really basic. The first thing that we do is get ready for a nap. Everyone uses the potty, brushes teeth, and then we do some solid storytime!
With the Quarantine’s in effect and the girls not getting a lot of social interaction, we now try to finish up our previous block a little early so we can get to the stories sooner!
If you are getting sick of reading the same books over and over while being stuck at home, here are a few suggestions for you:
If you have toddlers, you can check out my favorite Toddler Books That Will Keep Your Toddler’s Attention.
I try to let each girl pick at least one book before their nap. Usually, my younger daughter will listen to her story then play on the floor while I read the older books.
After we read, the girls go down for naps.
My oldest daughter has been on an A-B nap schedule since she turned four. She now alternates nap days and quiet time days.
She gets too tired and cranky if she skips naps for two days (which happens from time to time) but yet if she naps every day she is too awake for bedtime.
During quiet time, she has to play quietly in her room until I come to get her so that I can still get my work done.
I may make phone calls occasionally during this block, but the majority of my time while the girls are napping is used for work.
Block Four: Evening Block 3:30-7:30
The Evening Block is our second four-hour block in the day.
This block encompasses everything that happens between when the girls wake up and when they go to bed.
The first thing we do when the girls wake up is to fold and put away the laundry that has been washed, dried, and is now ready to go!
And I say “we” because all three of us do it together. I fold Ross’s and my clothes, while my oldest daughter folds all the girls’ clothes, then my younger daughter helps her put everything away.
Before the quarantine, we would also do any lessons that we can’t do in our Out and About Block. But the place that we do our swimming lessons doesn’t offer lessons during the day. So we take the earliest session that they offer in the evening so we can get back to family time.
During this block, Ross and I workout. We love to do P90X3 because it is only 30 minutes and needs minimal equipment. When the weather is nice, we load the girls into our double bike trailer that converts into a jogging stroller and go on a family run or bike ride together.
Then we will eat dinner as a family, clean the dinner dishes, and have a family worship time.
We also give the girls baths if needed (we don’t do baths every day… it saves water (which saves $$). And they don’t get so dirty every day that washing their faces and hands can’t take care of it.
Block 5: Work Block 7:30-10:30
Once the kiddos are in bed for the night, we usually get back to work!
We finish up cleaning the kitchen if we didn’t get it done in the previous block, then we grab our laptops and work for a couple of hours.
What to keep in mind as you build your schedule:
1) Give yourself enough time to accomplish your tasks.
2) But don’t make the blocks too long or the urgency is gone.
3) Allow for flexibility: Since no two days are exactly alike, make sure your schedule will work on your busiest day as well as your least busy day.
4) Schedule in Down Time: If you feel like you are always running and never have time to enjoy life, schedule in some downtime. That might be part of your morning routine before everyone else wakes up, it could be at nap time, or it could be in the evening when everyone is in bed.
Self-Care is so important for moms and it is often overlooked!
I’d love to hear how the block schedule works for you. Let me know in the comments below!
Ready to Start Easily Managing Your Home?
If you are ready to get organized and make a plan that will help you run your home without stress, check out my course Put Your Home on Autopilot!
This course walks you through the steps to get your home practically running itself!
In Put Your Home on Autopilot, you will learn how to set up effective cleaning systems, set up your day for success, and start making time for the things that matter most.
In just one month you will go from feeling overwhelmed to in control. And if you have any questions along the way, I’m only an email away!
I hope to see you inside the course!
(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can just grab the Autopilot Workbook and work through it yourself. 🙂
You May Also Enjoy…
If you want to add an entire minimalist cleaning routine, to your daily schedule, check out My Simple Weekly Cleaning Schedule.
Check out How to Create a Morning Routine to get your days started right…even if you aren’t a morning person!
And head over to How to Create a Bedtime Routine and Get Your Kids to Bed On Time if no matter what you try your kids don’t get to bed on time!