Does Your Life Work? Need Examples of Family Schedules That Work

Updated on February 08, 2011
M.K. asks from Issaquah, WA
12 answers

Hi Moms,
My husband is going back to work! Yippee! He's been unemployed for 18 months, since my second son was three weeks old. We are thrilled he got a job, but suddenly it occured to us that we have to get on a new schedule that accommodates both our work schedules. I'm looking for examples of family schedules that work, that enable balance, time with kids and time with husband. Send me the details.

My husband and I will work 9-5ish daily. We generally pick up the kids by 5:30p and home to prep dinner by 6:00p. Dinner finished by 7:00p, bathtub at 7:30 and in bed by 8:30 (I'm ALWAYS behind schedule!). Start it all again the next day at 7:00a. Its a whirlwind.

--What time do you get up in the morning? What time do you get the kids up? Feed them breakfast?
--what time do you get home and get dinner on the table (for that matter, what on earth do you prepare in so little time???)
--What time are the kids put in the tub, into bed?
--Do you split the time with hubby? Does he take morning and you take evening?
--Do you get yourself up and ready before getting the kids up?

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answers from Lexington on

When my kids were younger, for a while, I went in to work extra early - got there at 6am. My husband and I both had jobs with some flexibility about starting and ending times. I missed seeing the children in the morning. They helped lay out their clothing the night before. It was so cute - them asking about the weather forecast. My husband got them up and ready for school / preschool. I always had a phone call with them. Now-a-days we would've had video too!

Then, I got off work early and picked up kids, ran around with them, walked and played with my dog & them, had the older do homework, and had dinner ready by 6pm. Hubby got home around 5:30.

This worked amazingly well for us.

Every Saturday morning, right after breakfast was major chore time - everyone cleaning house (yes - right down to the 3 year-old ) they had daily chores as well).

My husband did a lot of the chores on the weekends, and always cleaned up after dinner since I made it. That was really nice for me because by then, I'd had a long day, and of course, it wasn't over.

I always started preparing for dinner the night before. I'd do things like prepare a meatloaf and put it in the fridge so all I'd have to do the next night is stick it in the oven. Or I'd get a crockpot full of food ready for the next day. We always had lunches ready and in an extra fridge in the basement (this was when we had 5 children in the household) so all the kids had to do was grab their lunches in the morning.

So, I guess key was teamwork and really prepare each evening for the next day. Which also means weekly planning for the week ahead. We did not have chaos in the mornings, and they were relatively peaceful. At least they were when the kids were young.

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answers from Phoenix on

We are up at 6am every morning and have to leave by 7:20 am. to get to school by 8. We are all home by 3:45 which is a diff for you...... we have dinner at 5:30 and bath is at 7:30 and bed right after.
We switch off who cooks and we wait to clean everything after the kids are in bed so we can get homework and family time together.
We make simple meals for dinner and pretty boring and repetitive. Spag, Las, meatloaf, stirfrys, soup/salad/cornbread, chili/bake pot, pf chang meals frozen, thing like that.
I would guess getting up at 6 will help you organize your morning much better before the kids go to bed. We do switch off making lunches and stuff . Depends who drives the kids in the morning. Time with my husband is from 8 to 10 most nights. It is a lot to do when your working.

There is no easy way to do it. Sometimes getting up early is better, or all going to bed later is better to get it all done. It will be a big adjustment I am sure. Good luck and congrads on the job .

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Schedules??? :)

We have "different" schedules since I work days and my husband is home but works evenings/weekends. I did find that after a change, or after my second was born (and now I'm sure it will be the same when I go back to work after my third) I HAD to have a "before bed" checklist which I went through every night. It was the only way I was "ready" for work in the morning. Fortunately, I am the only person I get ready--the kids stay home during the day--but I still usually leave clothes out for them, clothes out for me, earrings, etc. out, and sometimes pick makeup if I think I'm going to wear any. I have to have my purse ready to go since I tend to forget things like my cell phone or a list if I have errands to run at lunch, and in the winter I wear boots and bring my work shoes, so have to have those by the door, too.

On Sundays, I do get the kids up for church. I get up first, relax with coffee (I NEED a few minutes), have their clothes out the night before and sneakers/coats by the door, get them dressed in their room, brush their teeth fast, and give them Cheerios in the car on our way to church. That would not work for me every day, but it never hurts to have an emergency plan like "easy" breakfast food they can eat in your purse for those mornings. Congratulations on him having work!

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answers from Boston on

Great questions. For background, we have 4 kids ages 5-13, grades Pre-K to 7th grade:

--What time do you get up in the morning? What time do you get the kids up? Feed them breakfast?

I get up at 6:30 and get the older kids to school by 7:30. Younger kids get up on their own at around 7 or 7:30 and they get dressed and have breakfast. I log into my laptop as soon as I get up and start working. I walk one to school at 8:45 and drive the other to pre-school (M.W.F) or daycare (Tu.Th). Hubby gets up at around 7:30 and leaves the house by 8. He's totally useless in the morning, just gets up and goes lol. On M.W.F I work from home so my day continues at 9:30; on the other days, I go into the office and arrive at 10.

--what time do you get home and get dinner on the table (for that matter, what on earth do you prepare in so little time???)

On days, I pick up the youngest at 1 PM, then the oldest come home at 2 and the last one at 3:15. I work while they're here and try to do slow-cooker meals or roasts that I can start early and let cook while I work. I log off my laptop somewhere between 5 and 6. Hubby comes home at 5ish. We have dinner at 6:30 or 7, and split up thing like hockey practice and drums. I try to go to the gym at 5:30 a few times a week, and these days are usually when I have PTA meetings or such at 7. On Tuesday and Thursday, hubby picks up the little guys at 5, comes home and cooks dinner. I either get home at 6:30 and bring one to hockey or I sometimes tutor and get home at 10.

--What time are the kids put in the tub, into bed?

Older kids are on their own, younger ones bathe every other night (at most - we can forget lol) at around 8. All are in bed by 9.

--Do you split the time with hubby? Does he take morning and you take evening?

I do mornings and he does evenings. School starts absurdly late here for the youngest kids (9 am) so most families here split the morning and evening up.

--Do you get yourself up and ready before getting the kids up? YES! I don't get all the way ready, but I am at least up, logged in, and having a cup of tea before they get up. If I'm I get dressed early but if it's an office day, I wait until breakfast is over before dressing. I went to work with a big pancake hand print on my butt once and that was really enough. I have an easy hairstyle and bring my make-up bag with me and do it in the ladies room when I get to work.

Congrats on your hubby's job - just remember that you have to be flexible and keep trying different things until you find what works. Then something will change and you'll have to figure out something new. Meal planning is a huge help - never, ever hit the grocery store on the way home from work! is a great website with wonderful tips on establishing routines and keeping a calendar so that you don't miss anything. With the right routines, you will be on auto-pilot for the everyday logistics and then you can spend your time and energy on your work and your family.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi there,

Congrats on the new job! My husband and I both have careers and long commutes, so I can commiserate. I really recommend having back up time and alternate plans built into your schedule. I also recommend planning all meals during the weekend- cause even microwaving dinner from a meal prepared over the weekend tight!

Here's our schedule for our 4yo and 9mo.
6:00am- Our alarm goes off. Mom gets in short shower then Daddy. Or, if baby's up, I nurse while Daddy showers. Sometimes we shower together and get a little us time in (puts us behind schedule 15min).
6:45am- Daddy's in the kitchen packing lunches (PB&J, apples). Mommy's getting the baby changed and in fresh clothes. If 4yo son isn't up, I start the wake-up music and open blinds. I'll pick out his clothes and put them on his bed. Fully expect him to reject clothes and pick out new ones, but it gets him fired up and out of bed.
7:00am- First call to breakfast. My son really likes eating with Daddy, so when he's in a good mood, it's motivating. If he doesn't, remind him that Daddy has to go to work at 7:30am, so get dressed so we can do blast-off! (counting down from 10 to 1- "blast-off" while Daddy drives off.)
7:20am- Daddy packs Mommy's car with the lunches, backpacks, nap stuff, cloth diapers. Out the door by 7:30am. (Tantrum b/c 4yo didn't get in gear to eat with daddy. Mommy makes cinnamon toast or grabs cereal bar for the car ride to daycare. Make that two, so she eats as well.)
7:40-8am- Getting the kids in the car, grabbing the things we forgot (homework, last minute stuff).
8-8:30am- Drop off at Daycare. Enjoy commute traffic by listening to music or NPR. Breathe, prepare for work day so I hit the ground running.
4:30pm- Daddy leaves work for home (45min-1h commute). I start to wind day down, make sure I'm out the door by 5:15pm. Daddy picks up kids.
6pm- Everyone's home. Kids play with neighbors/ watch TV if we need more than 10min to prep dinner. Again, having a casserole to warm up saves the day. 4yo helps set the table. Eat dinner. Sometimes 4yo doesn't last the whole hour. Parents can squeeze in 15min of conversation.
7pm- If it's a bathnight (every other night), kids and I head to the tub for the next 45min. If not, Daddy and kids play in living room/watch TV. I catch up on mails, bills, update calendar, etc.
8pm- baby in bed
8:30pm- 4yo in bed
9pm- Either Mommy's in bed or if enough energy, out with Daddy to watch TV. Daddy folds laundry while watching TV (a little bit...). Sometimes, with enough planning, we can cook the next night's meal.

I highly recommend alternate nights for the parents. That gives my hubby down-time while I bathe the kids, or me time to catch-up while he plays with the kids. I also catch up with Hubby on the commute, sneak in 15min of talking at lunch. It's mostly strategizing and updates, but then we have a plan and we're on the same page.

We also love the crockpot, check out

Good luck to you- I hear that this only lasts a few years and you miss it when it's gone- the house is too quiet and lonely!



answers from Portland on

Congrats on the new job!! That's a good feeling. Our schedule is wacky, since I work full-time from home, but one thing that really helps me is getting up before the kids. I tried getting up at the same time for a while, but I feel so much more rushed and disorganized when I do that. So, now I get up at 5:30am and work a bit, exercise, shower and then the kids get up and get ready for school with me available to help motivate and enjoy them. We leave for school by 8:45am.

The evening is crazy, we aim to finish dinner and dishes by 7 so we can get up to start the bedtime thing at 7:30pm. Husband sometimes helps with bath/shower time or he'll finish dishes when I'm upstairs with kids getting them ready for bed. DH and I spend time together in the evenings, usually exhausted and watching a show and working on our computers to get caught up. So romantic. lol

The other thing that really helps us and I notice a big difference when I don't do this. I plan my meals. Usually they are quick and easy, spaghetti, tacos, chicken and rice, crock-pot beef roast, etc. If I have the ingredients for a week, we manage to eat healthy meals all nights. If I don't plan ahead, we have to find what ever we can find...nuggets, mac and cheese, and the like. The kids don't mind, but I like to serve them healthier foods as much as possible. I started doing grocery delivery and love having everything for the week delivered on Sunday evening. Then I'm done with shopping and can use that energy on cooking.


answers from Redding on

Totally sounds like my life! My husband works 7-4 and I work 8-5.
Wake-I wake at 6:10am and get in the shower. Then I start breakfast (egg and toast everyday) while hubby showers. Our 6 year old wakes up before 6am everyday so she is watching cartoons when I get up. Our 3 year old gets up somewhere around 6:30. I never have to get them up. They have a "getting ready chart" that they follow in the morning to get themselves ready to go and they get fruit snacks in the car if we get out of the house on time. Hubby leaves for work at 10 mins to 7 (we only live 2 miles from work :)). I leave the house, kids in tow at 7:30 and drop off at school and daycare.

Home-I get home at 5:30 with the kids and usually start dinner while 6 year old does homework and 3 year old feeds dog. Hubby gets home at 6ish because he is a wrestling coach also. As for what I make: anything easy! I bake a lot of dinners and I make extra meat so we can do different things with it. My best advice is to do that. Cook a bunch of extra chicken when you make it and then use the leftovers to make Chicken tacos, quesadillas, soup, etc...throughout the week. I used to obsess over cooking Martha stewart meals and no one would eat them and I would be furious by the end, so I quit! Eating together is more important than what you eat! I also just joined a produce co-op so I am always getting new veggies and fruits to try in stuff. I made Eggplant Parmasion (sp?) last night and it was SUPER easy!
Tub time: right after dinner (usually around 7) My kids bathe every other night on opposite nights (one goes tonight the other tomorrow). We take the time that one is in the tub to spend quality time with the other. Books, easy board games, TV whatever they want...
Bed Time: is at 8pm everynight. We read stories (they each pick out one) then they are off to bed and we tuck them in.
Split time: i do everything in the morning because he doesn't have time to help, but nighttime routine is a team effort. He helps with homework and cleaning up dinner, packs daughter's snack for school the next day, he gets jammies out and helps the kids get in them, he reads the stories to them. I make dinner, do the dishes, bathe the kids, and tuck them in.

My husband and I have lunch together everyday, which is a HUGE bonus! It is time we have just the two of us. We also stay up till about 9:30 everynight and spend time together. We usually watch TV together, but it is shows that we both enjoy, no Housewives or sports Center.

You are right, it is a Whilwind!!! :) You just have to do your best. Set a schedule that is easy to follow for everyone. Don't try to add more to it that doesn't have to be done (i.e. don't try to get that one extra load of laundry in before you make breakfast). Give your children ownership of the tasks that you know they can do on their own and praise them for pitching in. BREATH! :)



answers from New York on

Quick background... I work 8-4, but an hour from the house. My husband also works 8:30-4:30, but much closer so he does the "drop off/pick up" most days.

- I get up at 5:15... yes, it's early, but I have to be out the door by 6:50 or I hit massive traffic. My husband is up at 6:00 and in the shower by 6:15 and we get the little guy up at 7:00.
- He has "real breakfast" at daycare, but I make a juice and he will have a cereal bar when he wakes up (sometimes in the car)
- If you don't already have one, buy a crock pot. I use mine at least once a week- soups, stews, roasted meats, etc.... all ready when you get home! The "Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book..." is a great source for recipes, as is the Real Simple magazine (also a great source for quick and healthy meals).
- We are all home by 5:15 and dinner is on the table around 6:00. Then "play time" until 7:00 (ish)... bath time, jammies and then cuddling with books until bedtime at 8:00.
- We don't split time, we split responsibilities
- I have to get up and ready before my son. He's two, so once he's awake he's at my feet at ready to play, which I love but I can't get ready for work with him!

**Do as much as you possibly can at night- pack lunches, prep breakfast, prep dinner for the next night (chop veggies, defrost meats, have everything laid-out), pack bags and even the car if you can!**


answers from Chicago on

I have a 2.5 year old and a 5 month old.

We're up between 5-6 each day. I'm the early bird, so I take the kids until 6am, then DH takes over. (Kids play in our bedroom/bathroom while we get ready)
DH has mornings with the kids and waits for the nanny to get to our house at 7. The nanny does breakfast, so we don't worry about that.

I'm home around 4 to finish work, and the nanny stays around until 5 to help me.

Dinner for DS is around 5:30.
Once he's done, I start bath for the baby around 5:45. She's in bed by 6.
DS plays until around 6:45, then bath.
By 7:15, DS is in PJs, and DH comes up to read him stories and put him to bed.

One on one time with DH after that, and we're all in bed around 10.



answers from Portland on

if you want more kid time and to get them in bed earlier, we have had success with a few different dinner strategies:
1) make dinner the night before. for example, make dinner after they go to bed for the next night. that way when you get home all you have to do is heat it up or bake it and enjoy sone quality time with your kids.
2) freeze meals. for example, once a week we make a double recipe of, say, enchiladas; eating half that night and freezing the rest. then we try to eat one frozen meal a week, giving everyone the night off from cooking. once you build up a few meals the system works well.

i hope my hubby gets a job soon too, so we can get back into our dinner system. good luck!



answers from Portland on

Sounds like my life 7 years ago! My husband had been laid off when our youngest was 3 months old and was out for about 18 months. I am a morning person and my husband is a night owl. I would get up before the kids and get myself as ready as possible (shower, hair, makeup, etc). Then I would get the kids up, dressed and fed while my husband got ready. He would take our oldest to school while I dropped the youngest at daycare. (We both had to be at work by 8am and my drive was a little longer.) I had a slightly shorter workday (4:30) and would pickup the kids from daycare and get home just before he did. We would take turns cooking dinner. Our youngest was bathed at 7 and in bed by 7:30. My husband would help the older one bathe while I got the younger one down. Our older son was in bed by 8. That gave us a little time together in the evening as I would go to bed at 10pm. My husband came to bed around 11:30. We would take turns getting up at night if the kids needed something. By that time it was just an occasional bad dream so we were getting up very often. The routine has adjusted over the years as the kids have gotten older. Good luck and congrats on his new job.



answers from Seattle on

Yeah for you and your husband!!

My husband and I both work full-time as well. Here is what works for us:

--What time do you get up in the morning? > 5:45AM
What time do you get the kids up? > They often wake up on their own by 6:30, if not I wake them by 7:30.
Feed them breakfast? > They eat usually as soon as they wake up.
--what time do you get home and get dinner on the table (for that matter, what on earth do you prepare in so little time???) > Start dinner by 5:30 to eat hopefully around 6 or a little after. As for what, that list is a huge one but I would say the "norm"...chicken, beef, pasta, potatoes, veggies, salads, etc.
--What time are the kids put in the tub, into bed? > Shower the kids right after dinner every other night. Bedtime is 8:00.
--Do you split the time with hubby? Does he take morning and you take evening? > My husband is in charge of baths so that I can clean up dinner. Otherwise we just co-parent and there is no set morning/evening schedule.
--Do you get yourself up and ready before getting the kids up? > Yes! If not, I will never stay on schedule. :)

The other thing we do is homework right after school. My first grader usually has anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes a night plus after showers, we read for at least 10 minutes every night. My other two children have the option of listening to him read or they can read their own book. It's a great way to settle down right before bed. I have also learned that if I do not keep them on their bedtime schedule of 8:00 (everyone's is different) they usually have meltdowns and by 8:30 it's too late.

Good luck as you create your new schedule :) Whatever you do, just be consistent.

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