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Christine Field - Christian Homeschooling, Home Education

Chaos Control: Drowning in the Domestic Dumps

  • Christine Field Author, Attorney, and Home-School Mother
  • 2002 3 Mar
  • COMMENTS
Chaos Control: Drowning in the Domestic Dumps

I woke up wanting to run away. I had a dull headache from too little sleep. Although I was up until 11 PM doing chores, the house was still a mess. I stepped over toys and dirty laundry in the family room. "Maybe I can pick up before the kids wake up," I thought to myself.

But that was not to be. The two-year-old in soggy diapers and pajamas was perched on the couch with his diaper leaking into the upholstery. "Juice, Momma!" he screamed.

I looked past him to the laundry room where I spied the piles of laundry waiting for me. The other children were waking up and wandering into the kitchen. "Where’s breakfast?" one of them asked.

I pushed my nearly empty lesson plan book aside and began to brew the coffee. It was going to be another long day. We were "behind" in math and grammar, but it was supposed to be a lovely, sunny day. The kids had been reasonably cooperative lately and we all needed some fresh air. "Do we seize the day and dig some joy out of the fresh spring weather, or do we plug along with our lessons?" I wondered.

Just then, Grace wandered over to me and said, "Momma, could you read one more chapter from this book last night? It’s so good!"

Soon, she won’t fit in my lap. I grabbed a cup of coffee, asked the eleven-year-old to change the baby and whisked Grace off to read more of her story. The rest would get done - eventually.

Home schoolers walk a schizophrenic tightrope between being ultra-organized and super flexible. There is peace for Mom in some degree of orderliness and organization. First Corinthians 14:33 tells us, "God is not a God of disorder, but of peace." (NIV) He scheduled creation and he orders the seasons. He can help you to make sense of your day. There is hope for the organizationally challenged!

A lot of life is maintenance. It is full of dailiness. The things that are routine and done automatically and which require little thought are the things to focus on getting organized. The things that require your heart and your mind (like relationships and important lessons) are the things that have to be prayerfully flexible.

Organization brings peace. Don’t confuse it with rigidity or inflexibility.

Schedules

When your home is the center of learning, home learning is more than phonics. It is about living and learning in life, which is not always predictable. Children get sick, the phone rings with callers who need your help and family and friends experience crises. You can count on your own share of crises as well.

There are so many demands on a home-schooling mom. Here are some things a schedule can do:
~ helps her focus,
~ relieves the stress of daily decision making,
~ helps her concentrate on priorities,
~ gives freedom and flexibility.

A schedule for children tells them who is doing what, when and with whom. Organization and routine help our children to feel secure. Have you ever thought about that? When your surroundings are reasonably orderly and your child knows what to expect next in the day, they will feel more secure and more able to focus on the task at hand.

Spending a season on organization may mean the difference between survival and giving up home schooling. The frustration caused by disorganization is a major stumbling block for many home schoolers. Being organized is a tool. It’s a blessing, not a prison.

If you like the way things are going in your home, if you feel like you are accomplishing what needs to be done, if the children are productive and self-motivated, then you probably don’t need an organizational overhaul.

On the other hand, if you are stressed out, your children are at loose ends and whiny, if you can’t even remember your goals for the year, then a season of organization is in order. Debra Bell, author of The Ultimate Guide to Home Schooling, advises, "Make a rut to run in."  It will keep you on course.

To help you to set your track, consider these pointers:

~ Set a flow to your activities for the day in blocks of time. You don’t have to be rigidly tied to the clock, but you need to know what comes next.
~ If you have multiple children, make sure they know who does what, when.
~ Buy an answering machine and make a sign for your door which reads, "Home Schooling: Do Not Disturb."
~ Schedule a down time or quiet time at midday so everyone can recharge. Mom needs this, but your kids need this too.
~ Stay home more and decrease television-viewing time.
~ Don’t forget that Saturday can be a teaching day! Dad can get involved or family field trips can be scheduled then. Weekends are for family learning.
~ Buy or create an organizer. I bought an expensive one once, but did not use it. I ultimately put my own together with odds and ends from my computer and from the Internet. I created a section for each area of my life: family calendar, to-do lists, menu planning, shopping lists, chore lists, lesson plans, and writing projects. I also have a box with hanging file folders near the telephone. One file folder has medical records; another has support group newsletters and calling lists. By taking time to put together your own organizational system, you can custom make it to your family and your needs.

This is the first in a series on Chaos Control. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Christine M. Field practiced law for eight years before becoming a full-time Mommy. She and her husband live and home school their four children in Wheaton, Illinois where her husband serves as Chief of Police. Three of their four children are adopted, one through a private adoption and two are from Korea. She is the author of several books, including Coming Home to Raise Your Children (Fleming Revell, 1995), Should You Adopt? (Fleming Revell, 1997) A Field Guide to Home Schooling (Fleming Revell, 1998), and Life Skills for Kids (Harold Shaw/WaterBrook, 2000). Her fifth book, Help for the Harried Home Schooler (Shaw/WaterBrook 2002) will be available in January 2002. In addition to her contribution to Crosswalk.com, she writes columns for several magazines, including Home School Digest and Open Arms Magazine. Her work appears regularly in Hearts at Home Magazine and others. Her articles on life skills have appeared in Focus on the Family Magazine and Single Parent Family.

Christine loves to encourage others. She has spoken to many groups, including small fellowships and large conventions. To contact her about speaking to your group, or to share your tips and ideas about home schooling, you may email her at FieldFamily@HomeFieldAdvantage.org or visit her website at www.HomeFieldAdvantage.org. You may write to her at The Home Field Advantage, P.O. Box 261, Wheaton, IL 60189-0261.