Friday, January 6, 2012

Back on Schedule

The clock and I are not friends.  It's usually saying, "You're late!" adding sarcastically under its breath, "Again...," each time I glance its way.  However, living without a schedule for almost six months has me respecting the clock a little more, if not fully liking it yet.

Always enjoying a day without a place to be, I thought a year schedule free would be an ideal living arrangement.  With nobody waiting on us and no where to be unless we were traveling, a typical day of home school went much like this:

Sometime around whatever A.M.....(Daddy/teacher is already up and at 'em, but Mommy/teacher is just facing the day.)

Mommy/teacher:  "When you get up, get dressed and clean your room."
Kids: "Snore."

Five (or so) minutes later...

Mommy/teacher: "Get up.  Get dressed and clean your room."
Kids: "Snore... grunt...Huh?"

Mommy/teacher:  "Get up!  It's time for school.  Get dressed and clean your room."

Kids get up, stumble around, put on clothes that don't match and basically throw the comforter over the top of the bed hiding their pajamas and toys underneath.

Mommy/teacher:  "Breakfast is ready.  Did you brush your teeth?" Continuing as kids walk back towards bathroom,  "We need to get started.  You have a lot of work to do today."

After kids are finally washed and fed they meander to the "classroom" on the dining table.  They are given a meticulous list of assignments for the day. Each can work at his or her own pace with no timetable for each assignment or subject area.  They finally start working around 9:30 A.M. (maybe), but no one's really checking the clock.

Cut to around 6 P.M. (approximately) and kids are still working, having taken breaks whenever they wanted and eating snacks and lunch whenever the fancy struck.  Daddy/teacher, usually losing it by this time, asks the kids why are they NOT finished.  The kids complain that Mommy/teacher has given them way too much work and it is all her fault.... and it is.  It is all her fault for thinking life (especially life with kids) could be lived without a schedule.

my well worn copy
When my first child was born, an old and dear friend gave me the book, Dr. Denmark Said It! by Madia Bowman, as a baby gift.  Being a relatively new mom herself, she claimed it saved her life.  She advised me to follow Dr. Denmark's schedule for babies to the tee.  I smiled and thanked her, but had every intention of deciding for myself what schedule, if any, my baby and I would follow.  After reading Dr. Spock, What to Expect the First Year, the American Academy of Pediatrics baby books and countless internet and magazine articles, I was more confused than ever.  They all differed on scheduling and they all seemed, honestly, a bit wishy-washy about it.  I needed an authoritative voice telling me what to do because I didn't want to screw it up. After five years struggling with infertility and two devastating miscarriages, I was scared.  I needed a grandmother figure whispering in my ear, "Do this and all will be well."

Can you believe
she'll be 114 on
February 1?
I opened the Dr. Denmark book and found my grandmother. (Actually, she could have been my great-grandmother.  Dr. Denmark is a 113 year old pediatrician who was still practicing medicine in Alpharetta, GA when my first two children were born.  I had the great fortune to take both of them to her for her one-of-a-kind check-ups.)

In the book, she outlined every schedule for children beginning at birth and continuing through the school years.  She was a clear and commanding voice much needed by this new mother.  Her schedules* not only saved my life, but they guided my life for eight years.  I was the household drill sergeant and the bedtime bugler playing taps at the same time every night. No quarter and life was good.  I had three happy, healthy babies in less than four years and our marriage was stronger than ever having nightly alone time with each other.  The kids thrived secure in our family schedule.

Unfortunately, as the kids got older, school, sports and other extra curricular activities started dictating our schedule.  I started listening to other voices and tuned out the wisdom of my "grandmother's" ways.  We were running ourselves ragged and violating every one of Dr. Denmark's sage dictums.  Sound familiar?

After the past six months of a willy-nilly lifestyle, I realized how much I missed my Dr. Denmark household.   Of all the items I discarded when packing for Fripp, something made me bring her book.  Looking it over again, I couldn't help but wonder... Would we have needed this sabbatical if we'd stuck to Dr. Denmark's schedules?

And so I am pleased to announce that Mommy the Drill Sergeant is back and things are changing.  Greg, can you play Reveille on the guitar?

*This is a blog with all of her schedules listed.  Parents, I highly recommend checking these out.


  1. A special thanks to my friend, Kelley, who gave me the Dr. Denmark Said It! book almost 13 years ago. You were right.

  2. Hi, Jenny! This made me smile - Dr. Denmark was Martin's pediatrician (along with his siblings), and his mom still tells us stories about going to see her. Cheers!


  3. Thanks for sharing, Susy! I would love to talk to Martin about his memories of visiting her farmhouse office. What an amazing place! What an amazing woman!

  4. all 3 of my children went to Dr. Denmark as babies. After having twins, I really needed a schedule and advice just to survive. She was my lifesaver and I followed her advice for years. I was also a drill sargent like you. Yes, as they got older we gave in to the rat race. I can say, my kids are all in college and doing well. They know how to set their schedule and prioritize their studies, etc. I contribute it all back to the early childhood schedule and good ole common sense advice from Dr. Denmark. I wish there were more like her still around but her legacy does live on in our children. S. Turner

    1. I agree so much! How I wish there was someone so soothingly wise as Dr. Denmark! Thanks for sharing, Ms. Turner.

  5. Dr. Denmark was amazing..She doctored my dad and his sibling, me and my siblings and all three of our boys. Her book, Every Child Deserves A Chance, was wonderful. We stuck to her schedule and even today my boys are darn good eaters. She left quite a wonderful legacy.


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