But, since I had the chance to borrow it from a friend and wasn't out any money I did read it and was pleasantly surprised. Now, this won't be a raving, hearts and rainbows review, but I thought it would be nice to share what I liked and didn't like. I hope I can help other people like myself know if it's a book they want to look into or not.
First- the price. I think I have seen this book for $25 or so at various sellers around the internet. That's fairly reasonable I think considering the cost to produce the actual book. But, you should be aware that probably half of this book is testimonials! All down the sides of each page are testimonials. The actual content and sample schedules could be put together in a book half this size. I just wanted the meat of the book, not the testimonials, so be aware of that.
Second- The actual system. Really, all this book is telling you to do is to schedule out your day and keep the schedule up where you can easily refer to it. You can easily do that on a spreadsheet and print it out! I've done that myself and it's very easy. The tricky part is listing what every member of the family needs to do in a day and then putting together the puzzle pieces until you have a schedule that fits in everyone's items. (Or you realize they won't all fit and drop some!)
Third- Is this system too rigid? I've read reviews that made the Maxwells out to be child abusers who schedule their baby to the extent that it's harmful. I don't know what book those people were reading because I found none of that in this book. Yes, they recommend scheduling the baby- but to a completely reasonable extent that works for them and their baby! The idea is to schedule, but you don't have to follow their schedule. Make your own! If your baby feeds every 2 hours, not 3, schedule that. If your baby can't sleep through the night yet, plan on that and schedule in a nap for you during the day. If your toddler will absolutely NOT nap, plan for that and put him to bed earlier or something. Really, I was on the lookout for anything that seemed too harsh and didn't find it.
Fourth- The authors' attitudes toward each other and who has what responsibilities in a marriage. OK, this is one area I was concerned about. I know for many Christians, there's a belief that a wife should be completely subservient to what her husband wants. He leads the home and a wife is to listen and follow. I can accept that and I hope it works well and that husbands are not abusing that. BUT, in my faith as I understand it, we are to be EQUAL partners. Yes, the husband is to be a leader in the home, but he should be making decisions WITH his wife and not just telling her what to do. Perhaps, that is in essence what other Christian families believe too. I honestly don't know as I haven't had the opportunity to speak with them. Hopefully it's always a healthy partnership.
Anyway, I was concerned at one point in the book where Teri is answering a question she's been asked. The question was, "What do you do if your husband is very supportive, in words, of your schedule, however, in practice he brings many disturbances to it?"
I really didn't care for some of the options she suggested when dealing with that. One of them was to talk to your husband and find out if,
"He hasn't liked life with the schedule and really wants to not continue using it. Then of course, ditch the schedule and go back to what you were doing before."What? So the wife should just completely ditch her schedule that she's worked so hard to come up with to help with her day just because the husband doesn't like it!!!???? That's bothersome to me.
She also wrote,
"When Steve asks me to do a project for him during the day, I will say something like, 'This is my phonics time with Anna. Do you want me to do it now or may I do it later?' Then he is aware of the impact and can make the choice as to the importance of his request."Again, that kind of response bothers me. And not because I'd be unwilling to do what my husband asked. But I'd probably say, "Sure, I'd love to help you with that project during my free time later. Right now I'm working on school with the kids." Unless it was urgent and then of course I'd do it. I can't see any reason a husband should just ask his wife to do something while she's in the middle of teaching her children their school work and expect her to just drop everything and do it!
BUT, here's where it got better:
The last chapter of the book is for fathers. And it was REALLY good! After reading what Steve had to say I was more comfortable with the overall message. Here are a few quotes from this section that I liked,
"Each husband (...) has a unique opportunity to show his wife how important she is to him. As she undertakes to develop a schedule, he can lift her continually in prayer, and ask how he could help. If she would like to spend time discussing issues, he makes it a priority to be available."
"Another way to own responsibility for everything in the home is for fathers to hold their children accountable to staying on the schedule. (...) The schedule must have the full force of his approval..."
"I have purposed to not ask Teri do do any errands. I do all of them for the family, to include grocery shopping. For errands and shopping, which I do in the evening, I take the five younger children with me. It's great 'fathering time,' and it allows Teri to be undisturbed at home."
"I have found that I must be sensitive to what Teri has scheduled for herself and the children. For example, I know there are times when a telephone call from me is a schedule wrecker. (...) 'Am I aware of what she is doing, and willing to limit my freedom, so as to not hinder her implementation of the goals the Lord and I have given her for the family?'"After reading Steve's chapter I was 100% for this book!!! What a great man he must be. I don't know a single husband who would take 5 young children and run errands or do the grocery shopping. Now, I'm not saying all the men I know are slugs because of that. But, what an amazing service that must be for his wife and I'm sure the kids enjoy that time with their dad. Boy, if I didn't have to run all the errands and do all the grocery shopping and if I had some time here and there without all the little ones, I'd be in 7th heaven! (Again, not trying to disparage my own husband just because he doesn't do that.)
This section for husbands canceled out the worries I got from reading a few of Teri's comments. From what little there is in the book it seems to me they have a great marriage partnership and are in this together. That is as it should be and something I want to work at doing better in my own home.
Fifth- There are lots of good little tips and tricks in this book. After reading it the first time, I skimmed back over it and took notes of things I wanted to try with my own family. I ended up with 2 pages front and back of notes! Some things were just ideas spurred by the book that related to my own family. In fairness to the authors I'll only share a couple to give you an idea.
- Make a master list of all the chores that need to be done around your home and how frequently. From there, divvy up the jobs and schedule them in. Even if you miss a time here and there you'll still see more chores getting done on a regular basis than before!
- Schedule in a small amount of time each day to work on a project of your own. Even though 15-30 minutes seems like such a small block of time to work on something, it WILL add up. Eventually you'll get that scrapbook done, that shirt sewn or that book read!
- Don't stop naps at age 2-3 when lots of kids seem to want to stop. Continue to have them take at least a "rest time" then and they will likely get over the hump and go back to napping. Most kids really do need a nap up through 5 yrs. or so.
"It takes a conscious decision to be in charge of our homes and children rather than letting them be in charge of us."For the last several years, probably ever since children entered my life, I have felt like the children and household needs have taken over my life. I have felt so helpless to change anything because I was at the mercy of every crying baby and every little thing that needed to be done at home. Add to that the stress of homeschooling and you have one crazy mom. (Not to mention I already struggle with depression!)
I really needed to step back and realize I could take charge of my life, my children, my homeschool, my family. Together with my husband we can take charge and create a schedule that will actually bring more joy and freedom than we've had since our children came along.
I don't know that I'll ever plan out my entire day in 30 minute increments- at least not until I have older kids to take turns with the younger ones. But, finally forcing myself to create a schedule for my family with at least some "anchor" points throughout the day has already been a big blessing for us.
Although I didn't really need the actual method as outlined in this book, I did gain a nice list of good ideas to try, and I felt inspired to push myself and my family to manage our home and time better.
I think ANY family, not just Christian, homeschooling families can benefit from scheduling their family in a more organized way. I think I can honestly say I'd recommend this book to anyone searching for ideas that will help them gain control of their lives.