How to Make a Daily Schedule for Your Family

Sisters making chore list on whiteboard in living room
Hero Images / Getty Images

A daily schedule benefits both younger and older children by providing a structured environment. While it's unlikely that you'll follow the schedule every day, year in and year out, even a weekday schedule for the school year can make a positive difference.

For elementary school students, the structure is a critical part of developing a sense of security and mastery. If you spend any time in a kindergarten or elementary school, you will marvel at the teacher's ability to organize the children's day.

For attachment in older children, shared communication and goals replace the attachment patterns of very young children.

The daily schedule communicates the family's shared goals and allows children to contribute to their accomplishment. Each time he follows the schedule, your child has a small, but cumulative, experience of mastery of his environment.

Follow these simple steps to create a daily schedule for your family.

Step 1. Analyze Your Day

Do a simple, but consistent time study. The easiest way to do this is to print a daily calendar. Note what each family member is doing at each time of the day. Look for the problem times, and think about how the schedule can be structured to eliminate problems related to behavior, stress, fatigue, hunger, and disorganization.

Step 2. Brainstorm What You Want

Are you hoping for less confusion in the morning, homework completed by dinner, children in bed by a certain hour, family playtime, relaxation, a clean house? This is the time to think about what you want in your family life. Focus on a balance of activity and rest for your family. Take an honest look at both parents' and children's needs.

Step 3. Write It Down

Get a poster board and a marker, and write down your schedule for all to see. Post it in the kitchen, and tell the kids that you will now be following it. You're likely to get some opposition, so parents need to stand firm.

Step 4. Follow the Schedule for a Week

Check the schedule often, and let it guide your days for at least one week. Instruct the children to check the schedule and follow it. If you must remind them, do so; but your goal is for the children to learn to take responsibility for their part of the schedule.

Step 5. Tweak the Schedule

After the first week, take a look at what is working and how the schedule needs changing. Make changes in the schedule, and write it on a new poster. Continue to follow your daily family schedule until it is second nature. In a few weeks, you'll marvel at how this simple tool has changed your family life for the better.

Of course, there will be times when the schedule simply won't work. Emergencies, special events, traffic, and even weather can put a monkey wrench into the best-laid plans. But even if you get home late, go out early, or need to buy take-out instead of cooking dinner together, try to get back to the schedule as quickly as possible. A traffic backup at the grocery store shouldn't stop your family from getting to bed on time.

Was this page helpful?