Using the 168

There are 168 hours in the week.  Once we take out hours for sleeping and eating, my goal this school year has been to use the remaining hours well. So what does this look like?

I think for our family, it means making good use of rhythm.  Rhythm is an important part of strength for individuals and in the family at all times, but I have found it even more important this year as I am working toward regaining my health and with having three children in very different levels to work with in homeschooling.

The main parts to rhythm for our family are-

  • Rest and sleep – we don’t skimp here and will cancel things in order to rest!
  • Warming meals –  I usually prep food by roasting large pans of veggies, making salad that will last several days, batch cooking any meat. We connect over our meals together and eat three times a day together most days of the week.
  • Movement, play  and FUN- movement and play is super important, so that is a priority. Play and movement most often happens outside for us, so we can lap up the Vitamin D and being in nature.
  • Work in nurturing our home (aka, chores) but also creating beautiful things to make our home lovely. Many of the chores I work around school times, bath times (ie, clean the bathroom while one child is showering, pick up downstairs before dinner whilst things are cooking)
  • School is important as well, but overall health is the greatest priority.
  • Outside activities

Something that really has shifted for me over the past  few years was a realization that I was essentially spending only one to two hours a week on me in a conscious way.  Sure, there was the downtime after everyone went to bed but there was very little conscious thought about things for myself and if there were things for myself, inevitably something else needed my attention and what I planned to do for myself was tossed to the wayside and cancelled.

So, deciding to spend up to 10 percent of the 168 hours on ME was quite a perception-changing event. That’s 16 -17 hours a week?!!   I could focus on my own health for 16-17 hours a week?  What would that look like?  Where would those hours come from?  Would it only happen at midnight (Hahaha)?  What would I do with those gift of hours? Right now I am mainly spending those hours in medical appointments and in physical activity, but I can see things expanding in the future!

Prepping is VITAL to making the best use  of our 168 hours. You can see below for what it looks like for us.  I am actually reluctant to put it out there.  Some will be aghast and say it is too much out of the home.  Remember, when all my children were under 14/15 years old, we homeschooled most mornings and went out only in the afternoons.  Now it is much more chaotic with the addition of outside classes for our high school junior that are all over the place in addition to having two horses to help care for, but this is real life, and I want to be transparent as to how homeschooling evolves the older children get!  We also have three out of five of us  in our family who are extroverts, and need time to connect with community and other people!

So, this is how we do it, and what it looks like for us!  Take what works for you and your family and leave the rest behind!

Mondays – (Crockpot meal) (Laundry)

  • Homeschool third grader at barn whilst older two are in lessons
  • Come home and finish third grader and homeschool eighth grader
  • Eleventh grader has outside class/third grader and mommy at park in sunshine/eighth grader homework
  • Music lesson for third grader with Dad; Rest for everyone else
  • Yoga at night for the mommy

Tuesdays – (Fast grilled meal/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Vaccum)

  • Waldorf homeschool enrichment program for eighth and third graders
  • Homeschool during this time with eleventh grader
  • Grocery shopping/Medical appointments as needed after 3:15
  • Rest
  • Gym for me at night

Wednesdays-(Meat/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Dusting)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Eleventh grade outside class (park time for third grader or gym time for me or meet a friend out)
  • Rest
  • Barn time
  • Exercise if didn’t happen earlier or Coffee with friends as able

Thursdays (Crockpot) (Laundry) (Vaccum)(Kitchen)

  • Homeschool third grader
  • Check in with eighth grader
  • Outside class for eleventh and eighth grader
  • Rest
  • Music for all/ music plus karate third grader (all in same place) (grocery store/errands for me)
  • Barn with Dad as able for eleventh and eighth graders
  • Yoga as able

Fridays- (Homemade pizza or breakfast for dinner)(Bathrooms)(produce and egg delivery)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Medical appointments late morning to early afternoon as needed (chiropractor)
  • Barn
  • Rest
  • Possible date night with husband
  • Some Fridays are days off with friends or field trip day

Saturdays (Clean house)(Laundry)(Fast cook chicken meal)

  • Yoga or gym early morning/ Rest/Barn or something fun with family


  • Church/Sunday School
  • Rest/Prep for week ahead
  • Soccer for third grader
  • Eleventh and Eighth Grader Music Rehearsal/Youth Group

Tell me what you do with your 168!  Make it count, and most of all, have fun!

Lots of love to you all,






28 thoughts on “Using the 168

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been trying to squeeze in 45 min 3 days a week for exercise and thus far have been unsuccessful. Love to see your schedule and the reminder we need to care for ourselves so we can care for our families.

    On Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 4:37 PM The Parenting Passageway wrote:

    > Carrie posted: “There are 168 hours in the week. Once we take out hours > for sleeping and eating, my goal this school year has been to use the > remaining hours well. So what does this look like? I think for our family, > it means making good use of rhythm. Rhythm is an im” >

  2. Fantastic post, Carrie. I really like ‘nuturing the home’ and ‘overall health’ is a priority over schoolwork. We so often forget we are raising people who will live in the world and need all of the practical and social-emotional skills to do that. I often see such a focus on getting the student ready for the SAT or college that day-to-day joy is out on the back burner.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    • Mary Lynn, right? The push is real! It is all over done here and since I have a junior we are definitely in that time for standardized test prep and thinking about college visitations….I keep reminding myself that is a small part of the total human being and family life….<3 Blessings, Carrie

  3. Wow! I’m so happy for you that you are prioritizing your health, exercise and relationships both inside and outside the family!

    Here’s our flow at the moment:
    Only child, 8 year old, 2nd grade

    Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays–
    Main Lesson
    Snack & Read Aloud
    Gym games (at a nearby school gym with 2 other families)
    Skills Practice (Math during LA block, and vice versa–this includes math and word games)
    Violin practice (Violin lesson with teacher on Tuesdays)
    Playground (with 2-4 other kids)
    Lunch (this is a very late lunch)
    Kiddo plays (mostly outside), and mommy does housework
    (Kiddo washes dishes, wipes table and sweeps after every meal)
    Mommy cooks on Mondays and Wednesdays

    Thursdays, Fridays–
    Main Lesson (During Math blocks, we use Fridays for drawing or craft projects. During LA blocks, we need all five days for ML)
    Snack & Read Aloud
    Outside–hike or long bike ride
    Painting Day–Thursdays
    Mail Day–Fridays (this is the day that we write cards and draw pictures for family and friends and go to Post Office to mail them)
    Reading (Or sometimes a playdate)
    Kiddo plays, and mommy does housework
    Cook on Fridays

    Cleaning Day! (Mommy and Kiddo clean the house for about 2 hours, while Daddy works)
    Snack & Read Aloud
    Outside (Maybe a hike or walk to visit friends or just play in our yard)
    Mail/Bills–Mommy, while Kiddo plays
    The Show! (Kiddo puts on a show for Mommy and Daddy!)

    Daddy and Kiddo watch football–Call the Waldorf Police!!! 😉
    (We tape the game and fast forward through commercials with the sound muted and daughter’s eyes closed. When the team they’re cheering for scores, they do that many jumping jacks. And when the team they’re cheering against scores, they do that many pushups. They go outside and play with a nerf football during half-time.)
    During football, Mommy preps for homeschool
    Call and/or Skype with family
    Outside for family walk
    Daddy cooks, or we have Italian Sunday dinner with another Italian family

    I do homeschool prep or reading 2-4 nights a week. I watch t.v. and/or hang out with my husband 2-4 nights a week. Friday nights–family game night. Saturday nights–movie night–we watch a lot of the same movies over and over, and an episode of “Sesame Street” from the 70s counts as a movie! 🙂 My husband and I occasionally get a babysitter for a date night, but mostly date night consists of cuddling on the couch to watch a movie.

    I get up early to work out 2-4 mornings a week.

    You’ll notice there’s no time scheduled for shopping, errands or appointments. We live in a very remote area, and we go to “town” two or three times a year for a week to do everyone’s medical appointments, bulk shopping, and swimming lessons.

    The garden is put to bed now for the winter. But in spring and summer, there’s a lot less housework getting done and a lot more time spent in the garden!

    Happy 168 to you, Carrie!

    • Chris! Thanks for sharing your schedule! I remember a similar schedule when my girls were young. ❤ I am also glad you shared for all the moms out there homeschooling only children. Its a hard job to be on all the time, and you do a great job!
      Blessings and love, Carrie

  4. This is an excellent post because this is so real and is the long game! You are inspiring me to blog what our week looks like. I can come back and share a link for anyone interested. How and when are you carving time for writing/blogging? (This has been on my mind as you know from Instagram.) And time with our partners; it is harder than I would like in this season on life and is such a priority. Warmly, Nicola

    • Nicola! I would love to see a post of your week. ❤ I think it is one thing to homeschool when you are home every day all day but another as children grow and more real life seeps in – the children get older and have things to do, outside classes, we get older and may have medical needs, our parents age and have medical needs….. I am not really carving time for writing, except I usually try to write something on Saturdays. Much of my writing is my sanguine stuff. Something comes into my head and I just sit down at the computer and bang it out rapid fire. I think everyone writes differently though, and I am sure if I was writing a book or something I would have to block out time! Time with our partners – many weeks my husband is absolutely gone and even when he is here he is squished for time. This is the season of life, early 50s when men really have a lot of pressure at their jobs I think. So, we carve out some dates, usually an overnight away a couple times a year, and try to do some of the mundane stuff together like running errands. With the age span of our children, many times we have to split to get kids places or so our youngest doesn't have to stay all day at horse shows and things like that, so children activities don't always assure we will be in the same place… Blessings, Carrie

    • Carrie, yes…this is a season of being pulled between people and stretched for time and priorities. Thank you for sharing a little more. I can relate!

  5. Great post, thank you Carrie! I love to know how other homeschoolers (and everyone really!) make use of their time. Its great food for thought.
    I was also intrigued by your 9 year old doing Karate and Soccer. Can i ask when he started these classes. Its a topic that keeps coming up for me – my Son is 7 and most other 7 year old in our area seem to be doing at least 2 classes/sports activities per week and we dont do any as yet! It can be hard feeling like the odd one out all the time. I also this article a while ago on martial arts and it certainly made me think about this more in depth….
    Would love your thoughts!
    Its looks like you have a pretty amazing rhythm though and you are an inspiration as always 🙂
    And awesome that you are prioritising some ‘you’ time, yay! i know my days are a lot better when i have this time for myself in the morning – i usually do 1/2 hr to an hr, but i do find it tricky to ensure that the kids are occupied during this time and i do utilize Sparkle stories if i need to as i figure its a worthy cause!
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Marja! He started soccer and karate at 8 1/2. I picked the lowest key programs – karate is once a week for an hour, and soccer is meet to practice and play a scrimmage for an hour a week. I have many back posts about sports and kids, try this one to see more
      ! I think we live in tough times; I would prefer pick up games in the neighborhood like I had when I was a kid but that doesn’t seem to exist for us here, and in having a very, very extroverted and high energy boy also factored into the decision. I think 7 is too young and would try to hold off till third or fourth grade and then find the lowest key programs. i9 is a sports program that runs in six to eight week seasons with practice/play once a week and seems to understand that many students, over 70 percent, quit sports by age 14 when they are pushed in the early years. I don’t know if they are available in your area, but they are an organization I would check out when the time comes. Blessings, and thanks for being here! Carrie

  6. Thanks so much for the reply Carrie,and yes i totally agree that neighbourhood games would be ideal but yes, they don’t seem to exist! most kids appear to be indoors or in classes most of the time! My son is also very high energy and extroverted (he has 5 planets and his moon in Aries), hence why this keeps coming up for us, but as hes the oldest of my 2, the holding off seems to be going pretty well so far, except for when he hears other kids talking about their sport of ninja classes or whatnot and i can see the look of envy in his eyes (ninjas seems to be all the rage at this age!). In my heart & mind (heartmind!?!) i have 9 yrs as a good age to start team sports….but we will see!
    Thanks again for the post! I love seeing how other people squeeze in their chores and also what others do for their meals (we’re a food loving household, so i do like to plan delicious food but it also needs to be time efficient!).
    Warm wishes,

    • Marja – are you on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page? I just put up a meal photo and what we have been cooking lately!
      Blessings, Carrie

  7. Our schedule is pretty intense this year, which is a new thing for me. In addition to our evening commitments, which involve two soccer practices two times a week for my two boys plus two games every Saturday, gymnastics practice once a week for my daughter, church youth group once a week, and now cub scouts for my youngest (with my husband and I as den leaders), plus weekly therapy for my daughter and other various doctor appointments, we are navigating my daughter’s being out of the home for several hours four days a week for a part-time school situation. The challenge is that two days a week she’s gone in the morning and two days a week she’s gone in the afternoon. I have to drive her to and from school, and when I get home, I have just enough time for my 2nd grader’s main lesson before returning to get her. And during the times she is at home, I really have to stay on top of things in order to make sure we do her main lessons (reduced to twice a week) and have her practice reading, math, and spelling daily. In the past, we have *always* had long days at home, not venturing out until late afternoon, with plenty of time for the child who struggles with sleep to sleep in as long as she needs, and plenty of time to account for difficult moods and resistance when completing our lessons for the day. It has been a bit of a struggle to ease into this new routine. However, I can see that in some ways it is good for us/me. It is forcing me to be more on my game and not waste so much time during the day. In the past, there were long stretches of days where our main lessons would get later and later every day as I procrastinated starting. Some days I’d not start the first of two main lessons until almost noon. That can’t happen now. I look forward to Fridays when we have a whole day with nothing outside the home, but I have to admit that we are far less productive on Fridays than we are on the days when the schedule is tighter.

    • Hi Lisa! I totally understand everything you wrote! And also being tired on the “off day” you have the whole day at home too. That is real!
      Thinking of you – lots of love, Carrie

  8. Hi Carrie,
    Thanks for sharing your schedule. Do you have any thoughts or advice on getting “ME” time when your oldest is a teen and your youngest is a toddler? I have four children ages 14, 9, 5, and almost 2. I have found it to be nearly impossible to meet everyone’s needs (including my own) for the past couple of years. I am at home full-time, we homeschool, my husband works unusual and inconsistent hours, and we practice attachment parenting. I feel this constant pull, especially between my oldest and youngest, and my needs are getting completely lost in the mix. How can I provide a slow, simple childhood for my youngest two children when my outgoing teen needs to be at all of his activities and preparing for the rigors of high school next year? How can I homeschool my older two children without neglecting the needs of my younger two? On the other hand, how can I give my younger two children my time, attention, and simple childhood pleasures without neglecting the homechooling, activities, and social life of my older two? “ME” time seems to be on the chopping block between my kids needs, husband’s erratic work life, and very attached toddler. It doesn’t help that I am a perfectionist and have a hard time deciding where I should make compromises in order to meet as many needs/wants as is realistically possible. And I’m an introvert who needs alone time in order to recharge my batteries! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and absolutely love it. Thanks for letting me get some things off my mind in a warm and welcoming space.

    • Hi Karen! Are you comfortable leaving your 14 and 9 year old in charge of your five year old and would your 2 year old survive in a gym daycare kind of situation for 45 minutes to an hour? Or do you have a friend you could change childcare with for an hour with your littles? I find the best time of day for many mothers can be right after breakfast when she has littles under 5, before everyone wakes up ( which I personally find really hard), right before dinner. Right after dinner may be getting baths and getting into bed for some families, but if not in your family, sometimes that works. I think the experiences of the two littles are just super different with a high schooler in the house. There really isn’t a way to get around that, especially if you are the main one driving. I think lowering your expectations always helps. Remember, in a public high school completion is typically 75-80 percent of the textbook they are using. And, think of all that teenagers forget in terms of history and such. If your child is going to go on to college, you are just laying the foundation. It will all circle around again. I also think of all the things I didn’t learn in high school at all! I think just by living , your high schooler is being exposed to a lot of learning that may be more intangible but also invaluable for the future. I think the other thing that helps me is to think in pockets of time. I may not get two hours together anymore with something going on, but I am never afraid to use 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there. For littles, this could be 15 minutes of verses and movement you can pull out while you are waiting somewhere. It could be fingerplays and songs for your two year old. It could be helping with cooking and cleaning and errands. This is the work of the littles, along with free play and stories for your five year old. Festival preparation is something I would not slack of on for that age, and it is nourishing to your olders to help the youngers even if they won’t admit it!
      Hope that helps stimulate some ideas that work for you and your family! Blessings Carrie

  9. the only way I can get 30 minutes of exercise a day is to ride a bike with the 4 year old in the trailer behind me. but it works for now at least. carrie I sent you a pm!

    • I love that you are doing it together! Four is a harder age, I think, and what a great idea to use a bike together. Blessings, Carrie

  10. Here is a schedule for a homeschooling mother that works outside the home 3 days a week! We have a six year old-only child-first grader. I work Tues-Thurs outside the home. My husband watches my daughter these three days, sometimes when he needs a break and we are willing to bear the overstimulated aftermath she goes to her grand mother’s house one day.these days are treated like her weekend. Lots of time for play and outside play on our farm. when I come home, I shoot for 15-20 minutes of connection time with her, and then cook a quick supper. Dishes are done, chicken chores ,then bedtime. If I’m not exhausted, I spend time with the hubs after her bedtime each night. Fridays-Mondays are homeschool days. Fridays is reserved for errands/shopping/ apts, with school where we can fit it. Saturday is laundry day, which my daughter helps with. On homeschool days that we stay home, our rhythm looks like: breakfast, quick house tidy, nature walk, snack, circle time/math practice, ML, fix lunch together, lunch, 30 min read aloud. Lastly, we do our handwork/craft/painting/modeling. Free time until supper, clean up, and bed. Sunday is church day. We go to Sunday school and services, short playtime with church friends, home for lunch, and a shortened school day. Typically, main lesson, handwork/craft, read aloud on days with lousy weather, or nature time. We head back to church for pm services with a later supper. Monday, we call clean day. It is similar to Saturday’s school rhythm but with extra time to wipe down, wash, sweep, mop,etc. My daughter helps with most tasks. I let her come and go from most chores, but she has to do at least one start to finish typically with me working alongside her. We eat and cook 3 meals a day together every day of the week. My rhythm to handle this is bigger meals on the days I’m home, and quick meals for work nights. We cook a real breakfast each morning before we go our ways. Now that it is implemented,I could not manage without a rhythm. My hubs is also standing up for our rhythm, keeping it at all times, because he sees the decreased anxiety in us all, plus the house is cleaner!! As you see there is no time for me, unless you count sleep and a cup of coffee in the morning! Something to work on,I guess! Enjoyed reading everyone’s rhythm. Go team!

    • Hey OT Meli! This is great; thank you so much for sharing. I love that your husband is so involved too. Rhythm really is a family affair! Again, thank you for sharing – really helps other mothers to see what is possible 🙂 Blessings, Carrie

    • This is such a great way to get schooling in with your work schedule. I am impressed and it looks like you have an excellent rhythm.

    • Thanks ladies! there are always the crash and burn days!!, but this is what we shoot for. I do hope it might encourage someone who needs to work but wants to offer alternate education to public school, take the plunge. At least for one year to try it out! 🙂

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