With a few months of this new homeschooling lifestyle behind us, I feel much more confident. Sure, we have problems – the kids have meltdowns, I have panic attacks, we all lose our minds now and then – but we’re in a much better position to deal with those bumps along the way. We’re spending more time together, we’re learning more about each other, and we’re all willing to make changes to better our lives. Despite our successes and optimism, one major road block remains in our path. We’re lacking a daily schedule, routine, or any sort of order to our days.
Now, I know we could easily flit from one subject or activity to another and never follow the same order of operations twice in a row and everything would still be perfectly fine. Believe me, I’ve done my best to embrace that idea and get my kids on board. Unfortunately, no one else is buying my laissez-faire philosophy.
I like to describe myself as chronically random. I never do anything in the same order, and I seem to lack the habit-developing gene. On a good day, I can’t remember if I put on deodorant or brushed my teeth, so I do those things again, just in case. On bad days, I’ve forgotten to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, only to discover the greasy mess several hours later in the checkout aisle.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to do anything the same way more than two or three days in a row. While I am perfectly fine living this way (most days, the rest of the time I’m afraid I stink or have soapy hair), the kids need order in their universe. They don’t handle transitions well, they want to know what they’re up against each day, and they fall apart on unstructured days. Many days, I feel like I must be the wrong mother for them.
But I know in my heart that I’m not. I’m their mother and I know what they need, so it’s time to put my big girl pants on and figure this thing out. Here are some specific areas I plan to work on:
Ditch the schedule, work on routines – I need to forget complicated charts and spreadsheets with time slots. They never work, they’re overwhelming, and they just fill me with guilt. I need to work on the order in which I complete tasks each day, not filling time slots.
- Acknowledge my strengths – I’m really good at feeding the girls at the same time every day, and I rarely let them stray from a half hour bed time window. I should give myself more credit for those routines that I do manage to nail, and cut myself some slack on all that muddy area in between.
- Prioritize – There are certain things I will not let slide – learning, reading, meals – so I don’t need to focus on those. They will get done no matter what. Instead, I need to put my energy into sticking to a plan for incorporating those fun, extra but completely necessary activities that seem to slip away from me – outside play time, art activities, and science projects, for example.
- Add one new routine each week – I plan to start with the first three things we want to do each day (breakfast, family reading, morning chores) and focus on doing those consistently. It doesn’t matter when we do them, just so we do them first and in that order. Next week, we will add half an hour of lessons (math and French) to that list. The following week we will add half an hour of outside time. We’ll continue that way until we develop some sort of regularity to our days without even thinking about it anymore.
- Maintain some flexibility – I don’t think I’ll ever fall into such a static routine that I don’t feel like I can throw the plan out the window to do something completely different, but you never know. I always want to remember how important the spontaneity is to all of us.
Hopefully, within a couple of months of following this plan, we’ll have something that resembles structure in our lives. Make that rhythm. I like the sound of a life of rhythm instead of conforming to some rigid structure. I have a feeling we’re all going to enjoy the feeling of a little rhythm in our lives.
Michelle is a wife, mother, writer, and Cajun who prefers everything extra spicy. Follow along at Lagniappe Academy, as she tries to bring order to the lives of her two little girls while maintaining the flexibility and fun they all love.