Help! My Family Needs a Schedule!

How to create a family schedule that works for YOU.

Are your kids running your schedule ragged?

Naptime. Bedtime. School. Meals. Sports. Clubs. There’s a lot to keep track of. And without a schedule, you can feel as if life is spinning out of control.

In this episode, Carol and Anne share scheduling patterns and pitfalls for all 4 Types of parents. Listen in to get a handle on your schedule, so your whole family can breathe easier.

This episode’s Parenting Practice

First, identify WHY you want a schedule. We don’t schedule for the sake of scheduling; we schedule to create an outcome. What outcome do you want?

Once your motivations are clearer, make adjustments to your schedule to serve your goals. (Use tips from the episode to customize for your Type.)

Transcript of podcast episode

Carol: Well, that whole paid factor, and then the fact that there was this plan around it, I’m impressed. I mean, a lot of Type 2 mothers are right now, are going, “Huh!”

Welcome to “The Child Whisperer” Podcast. I’m your host Carol Tuttle, author of the best-selling parenting book “The Child Whisperer.” I’m with my co-host, Anne Tuttle Brown.

Anne, what’s today’s question?

Anne: This question comes from a Type 4 mom. She says, “I thought I’d be good at getting my kids on a schedule, but I have not been good at it. Maybe it’s my all-or-nothing approach to life. After three and a half years of being a stay-at-home mom without much of a schedule, I am feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. Since my second child was born, I’ve let my kids dictate the schedule. My husband is a Type 1 entrepreneur without a set schedule, so I don’t know when he’s leaving for work or getting home from work. I’d like tips on creating a schedule for my kids, ages 3 and 18 months, so I can have some alone time and get things accomplished.”

Carol: I think the mom’s correct in that the all-or-nothing is playing out here, and that’s a quality and tendency of a Type 4 person in their black-and-white approach to life, either/or. There is this, “I’m either successful, and I have the perfect schedule, and it’s all working to my preferences. And if that can’t happen, then I will have no schedule.” So, that “aha” I think is serving her to see that. In this case, I’m sensing that she’s waiting certain things to shift or present themselves so she can create that perfect schedule. She’s ignoring the fact that she’s the most gifted, in her nature, to bring the schedule to the family. It’s like, “What are you waiting for? Do the schedule and perfect it as you move along.” You won’t get it perfect initially, do something, get a schedule in place. Don’t wait for your Type 1 husband, who has less tendency to be structured, to adapt. So, suddenly you can say, “Ah, the opportunity for schedule has presented itself.” You’ve gotta create that opportunity, you just have to choose, “I’m gonna start getting scheduled.”

Anne: Your kids, ages 3 and 18 months, they certainly aren’t the ones to be creating this schedule.

Carol: No. “Mom, just have a schedule.”

Anne: Your family is screaming for a schedule, and the mom is feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, something is out of balance, and she is the one most capable. I agree that…she said, “After my second child was born, it’s been 18 months.” But definitely, having just had a baby recently, it kind of throws everything out of whack, and it takes a minute to recalibrate. The time is now, there’s no a better time to create that schedule because she sees like, “That would help me.” And so, with her husband being a Type 1 entrepreneur, there’s no set schedule, that can be hard as a Type 4, I think, when it’s like, “Well, what time are you leaving? What time you’re coming home?” Maybe sit down with your husband and say, “Okay, what does each day look like? Will you be leaving early? Will you be coming home early or late?” So you have an idea even if there’s variables.

Carol: Even if it’s not an exact time, maybe it’s, “I’ll be home on the early side of the day,” and that may change. Well, you can continue with the schedule as planned, even if you’re feeding the kids. So, let’s look at just what we’re scheduling. Well, you’re scheduling…what are you scheduling your day in? What’s on your schedule?

Anne: What time are the kids getting up? Who’s getting them ready for school? Who’s driving them to school or taking them to school?

Carol: In her case, nap times.

Anne: Nap times. What’s for lunch? What time is lunch? When does dad come home? What errands need to be run?

Carol: Possibly there is a schedule presenting itself, she’s just not put a reference in her mind or on paper. And so, maybe she’s waiting… maybe she’s going too far in thinking what a schedule needs to look like.

Anne: I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll write a schedule to the minute, you know, to the hour and the minute.

Carol: The minute?

Anne: Well, it’s like from 8:30 to 9:00, dah-dah-dah, and 9:00 to 9:30, you know, these small chunks. And then, it kind of goes out the window. But I think that practice of writing it all out, and seeing what’s done, and kind of seeing patterns, like, “Okay, this is kind of what every Tuesday looks like, this is what every Wednesday look likes.” Really, as a Type 2, it brings me a lot of peace of mind, seeing the details laid out. I think, as a Type 4, the same thing, seeing the big picture, writing it out can be very helpful, “Okay, this, I’m seeing patterns now.” And then, it can be very unnerving as a Type… I think maybe any mom. But as a Type 2 and I have my schedule, and my baby wakes up from their nap 20 minutes earlier than I expected, “I don’t hear you. Oh, no, this is my schedule.”

Carol: I think that is true for a Type 4 also.

Anne: You have to realize this is the family schedule and to go with the ebbs and flow that come along with raising young children, and a busy household if you have older children.

Carol: Looking at the patterns that are already presenting, what would the family be supported in to create more of a schedule? Is it that chunk in the morning of getting up, and there’s a predictable getting up breakfast routines? We’re looking at schedules that involve a lot of routines of the day, and then the commitments. Just start more broadly if you’ve not been practicing a schedule as a mom or as a parent, what are the routines you want to get scheduled, so you have more order? When there’s order to a household, there’s more harmony because there’s just things flow more smoothly.

Anne: She says, “And I’d like tips on creating a schedule so I can have some alone time and get things accomplished.” I think she knows the motive of why she wants a schedule is there, so that’s a great first step. Why do you want a schedule? How would it benefit you? As a Type 4, she wants alone time. We’re looking at the schedule right now as it is, where is she most likely to get that? Also, getting things accomplished will probably happen while you’re alone or while your kids are busy doing other things. Then, working backward from, “Okay, these are my motives. How motivated am I now to get that to create a schedule and support me in that?”

Carol: That would be routines that are included in a schedule. When certain things are happening, that need to happen every day, from feeding, playing, bath time, naps. Then, we’ve got commitments go into a schedule. And then, personal needs can be put in a schedule.

Anne: And housekeeping things, dishes, laundry, cleaning the house, when are those happening on a daily basis, so, weekly basis?

Carol: So, those are the building blocks of a schedule. Now, let’s look at how each type can bring their best gift and how that same gift can turn into an issue when it comes to scheduling. So, our Type 1 parent, that has a more random unstructured quality to life, can never really stay committed to the schedule because…

Anne: They will… I’m talking with my Type 1 sister. She’ll come up with really good ideas for schedules and routines and then implement it. And about a week or two later, it’ll look completely different or has fallen out. And so, sometimes she’s beaten herself up about that. But I think go in it knowing like, “This feels really good right now. This is adding lightness and excitement to my life having this schedule.” And when it doesn’t anymore, abandon it. You’ll have a new great idea come up. Rather than saying, “Why couldn’t I stick to my schedule for a month, or this next quarter, or three?” you know. Just go with it, move through it.

Carol: I think a Type 1 will feel trapped and strapped down with too detailed of a schedule. So, to me, the bookends of the day, when you’re prepping for the day, getting ready, you’re supporting children getting to school, whatever it…

Anne: First one or two hours of the morning.

Carol: That is a really fabulous time to have a schedule to support your family. And then, the other end of the day, when children are showing up from school, and at dinner time, and you’re usually typically may have extracurricular activities now. That space between, there could be more of a, what we call, an open schedule to say, “I’m gonna do housework.” Maybe you don’t have to jot down every exact thing, perhaps you’re just going to say, “For the next hour, I’m going to see what I can get cleaned.” And you just spontaneously start to choose into that, or you do laundry. Do you see what I’m saying? I think that hour, by hour, by hour through the entire day can feel like a trap. You’re not going to want to keep it. So, what segments of your day would be supported by a schedule? And then, have that open schedule with just a basic theme. This is what I’m using this time for, but I don’t have to like write it down in a specific way. Then, a Type 2, you’ve got the details. You very easily can think of all the details you want to put into a schedule. What’s the gift to that, and what’s the drawback that can actually make a schedule an issue?

Anne: The gift is that you can see the schedule and move more fluidly through it. If I don’t take time… Well, I’ll have a lot of things swirling in my mind, “I’ve got so much to do, so much to do.” If I take time to write it out, it actually appears to be less to do. And then, I’ll write everything down on a sticky pad, and then I’ll kind of number it, “Okay, this is I’m gonna do first, and second, and third.” And so that writing and seeing is very supportive to me. I have a tendency to spend a lot of time writing and planning. “Okay, I’ll write it here. Now, I’m gonna write on this paper even neater, and then spend a lot of time…”

Carol: Oh, you love the art of making the plan?

Anne: I can spend a lot of time in that phase of planning. And then, I’m just like, “Okay, well, nothing’s gonna get done if I just don’t get up and do it.” I can get too detailed in the planning phase, I can also start to manage more other people’s details. And as a mother and a family, like obviously, you’re going to be taking my…my daughter has piano to do, but if I start to…

Carol: Type 2 parents to pay attention to this, and even Type 2 spouses. Because I experienced this on the other side of it, of my husband starting as a Type 2, micromanaging my plan. If he’s aware of my plan, he’s telling me, “Don’t you need to be getting ready for this? What about…” And I’m like, “Got this covered,” you know. I find that fascinating. You’ve tuned into this, tell us more about that.

Anne: My husband, he likes to go and play basketball in the evenings sometimes. And so, in my mind, I remember, “It’s every Tuesday night. Okay.” And as Type 3 have it, “Oh, yeah, that’s tonight.” So, I’ll remind him, and I’ll want him to go because I’m like, “I know you love it. Let’s plan to do that. What time do you need to leave?” And then, it won’t happen, then I’ll feel frustrated, like…

Carol: Why didn’t he follow his plan?

Anne: Yeah, exactly. I’m like, “It’s just so simple, just make the time, go do it.”

Carol: That’s great.

Anne: And I just have to let that to let that go. And he’s an adult man; he can decide if he wants to do that or not. And same with my kids, like, “We have this playdate planned.” Oh, we had gymnastics planned for a whole month, I’d paid for it. And my daughter was like, “I don’t wanna go anymore.” I’m like, “Oh.” Like mostly because of like I paid for it, let’s go do it. And she just was determined to not go anymore. “Okay, whatever. I don’t have to pack up the kids and go.” So, I just kind of let it go.

Carol: You did buy it?

Anne: We did, yeah.

Carol: Wow, that’s amazing.

Anne: She was very persistent. I like, “You sure you don’t want to go? You sure you don’t want? You wanna go to gymnastics?” Yeah, it is.

Carol: Well, that whole paid factory, and then the fact that there was this plan around it, I’m impressed. I mean, a lot of Type 2 mothers are right now, are going, “Huh! Seriously? Is that okay?”

Anne: So, know when enough is enough, I would say, enough details and enough managing of other people’s plans. You can use those gifts of really getting down to the nitty-gritty details in your own schedule, in your own plan. But as a family, you have a great gift to be able to plan it out, and then go with the flow.

Carol: For Type 3 mothers, you’re going to have this schedule that’s practical, that’s, right, yeah, if you’d like to jot it down, make your list, an idea of kind of bullet point your timelines. In your mind, you’re going to come up with 10% to 20% more than you can throw into that. And you have to catch yourself because what will happen if you keep putting more into the schedule and what you can accomplish, you’re going to create a pace of life that your family will feel pushed by because you’re trying to get so much in, it doesn’t serve them. And so, catch yourself in doing the, you know, do the practical schedule, the more realistic one, but catch yourself just mentally trying to add more to it. And you got to suspend that. Your nature is to feel overconfident and you can accomplish more, but the side effect to that is your family will feel pushed. And it does not serve them to feel like they’re being driven by their Type 3 parent’s energy.

Anne: I would say, too, similar to the Type 1, have your morning schedule planned where you are expected to accomplish a lot. I think that really motivates and excites Type 3s, but, you know, “9:00 a.m., boom-boom-boom. Look at everything I’ve done, this day’s off to a good start.”

Carol: I especially put your fitness routine or get out, walk, run, whatever you do to keep your body engaged. Even if it’s for 20, 30 minutes, if you’re working with a fitness app, you’ve got equipment, you gotta, you know, go to a class, get that done right away. There’s just a sense of accomplishment with that, you go, “Check that one off.” And it’s invigorating to the mind and body for a Type 3 since we have such a strong physical connection with expressing ourselves that way. And the Type 4, I find this interesting. I actually had this “aha” as we were talking through the show notes before we recorded this show. There’s the family schedule and there’s the Type 4 parent’s ideal schedule. And the two aren’t compatible. And so, Type 4 has a natural ability to be structured, they love efficiency, they love to operate to a structure. And I have seen this play out, where a Type 4 mother will enroll her family in such a strict structure of every, you know, in a….

Anne: Tight schedule.

Carol: … tight schedule that’s not serving the family at large. Now, that might be their personal preference to operate that way. So, you have to consider and ask yourself the question, “Is the schedule that I have put into place serving me first or is it serving my family?” And so, you want to focus on serving the family. And within that, there are spots that you can schedule yourself that serves you. So, I hope you can see the difference there. It’s like asking that question, “Is this serving my needs and my preferences or is this what supports my family?” And so, you might need to just take some structure off.

Anne: Yeah, what are the parts that you’ve really… I mean, as a Type 4, that’s frustrating to…that’s probably where this mother is, that all-or-nothing, “I see the perfect schedule, but there are other people in this family, and so, it will not work. So, I’m abandoning it completely because I just can’t get that perfect schedule.” So, what are they, like, what do you see that would work well with the other people? Like take that, write it out like I did. Minute to minute, what would that ideal schedule look like? And then, be real with yourself and go, “Okay, this would work really well for my family. This, okay, that’s extreme, that’s too tight.”

Carol: Just like a Type 3 will convince themselves, “I can get more done, then it’s realistic in the time allotted,” a Type 4 will convince themselves, “This is ideal and I just have to train everybody to now cooperate with this.” You will be really convinced that your perfect schedule is the preferred way, the ideal way.

Anne: Well, probably, if everyone functioned according to that, but it does not happen that way. Because you see the big picture, you think about it, you put all the, you know, very efficient, but…

Carol: There’s a good chance that it’s not ideal though. See, that’s where you have to trump yourself and go, “Oh, I so talked myself into this because this is how my mind works. You know, this is just our tendencies at play that we have to watch that can play to extremes that aren’t serving the balance that can be served by making adjustments.” So, that really brings us to this week’s practice. What adjustments need to be made in your schedule to support you and your family? So, a Type 1, are you overscheduled? Do you try and create such a tight schedule that you feel strapped making adjustment to that? Bookend your schedules in front of the day.

So, this week’s practice is to first identify why do you want to schedule, how will it support you? It’s a means to an end, not the means in itself. “I’ve scheduled for the sake of scheduling,” it’s meant to create an outcome. In this question of the week, this mom wanted more time to herself, and she wanted to accomplish things that the schedule will serve her in creating that outcome. So, don’t get scheduled for the sake of scheduling, use it as a tool to support the outcomes you’re seeking as a parent.

Anne: So, once you’ve identified, maybe you lose one or two things in what’s motivating you to create a schedule, take these tips that we’ve talked about for each type. And what adjustments can you make to your current schedule, or moving forward to create a schedule, how can you make it perfect for your type, and the perfect schedule for your family?

Carol: Use your schedules to serve you rather than you serving your schedule. Make it a tool to support family harmony, family order, family success. And it’s a great resource for you.

Thanks for listening. For more support, go to, where you can purchase the book, subscribe to our weekly parenting practice email, and find a transcription and audio of “The Child Whisper” Podcast.

Anne: If you’re listening on iTunes, thank you for leaving a review. If you have a parenting question, please send it to [email protected].

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