"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little . . . This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest . . ." Isaiah 28:10 and 12
When I first came home from working in my own business outside the home, I was amazed to find that I did not know how to manage my own time. While working, I set hours to fit the clients' needs. Staying home there were no outside demands on my time; just some wee ones ready to absorb any time I would give them.
I remember the first several weeks of my homecoming. I would wake up in the morning and want to pull the covers over my head. My thought was, "What on earth will I do with these children all day long?" Discouragement lingered around every corner. Determined not to let it win, I scheduled each minute of our time.
I invited other mothers with children in the pre-five set to join us at the park. The activities we zeroed in on were: the park, sometimes the beach, hitting the local fast food joint for lunch and enjoying their playground. We bought a family membership at our local zoo and went weekly, meeting other families for fun and fellowship. My little ones joined the Children's Choir at church. We were busy, busy, busy. But, a stirring was occurring in my soul. Going was fun; hitting all these places was exciting. We were really living. However, it was also very tiring. Moreover, it was bringing on a new pressure. A different pressure. Almost a pressure to perform. What's new today, Mom?
I realized that not every day could be a three-ring circus, nor a day "on the go." I wasn't trying to run away from the home. I was choosing to come home, so I had to find a balance.
I realized that I had this fantasy that every day needed to be meaningful. Each moment a memory. Treasures for a future generation. But, life is not always so. No matter how you look at it, cleaning the bathroom is not a momentous occasion! Dirty diapers are not my idea of a good time! But, they are necessary. Sometimes life is just plain old hard work.
I felt God tugging at my heart: "Treasure the simple. Make life uncomplicated. Rest. Have peace. Bring peace." How could I introduce a balance to our lives? What would bring an equilibrium to going and staying, excitement and calm, up time and down time?
Each day before my husband went to work, I would walk around the block and have my quiet time. I would remind God, "Your world is so orderly. Every day I know when the sun will rise, where it will be at noon, and the location of the stars and moon at night. Your world doesn't fall apart every Thursday, or once a month. Gravity doesn't fail. The rules are always the same and I know what to expect."
I remembered the verse in Isaiah which talks about order (precept) and rest to the weary. I wanted my life to be that way as much as possible: orderly, predictable, routine. Not boring, but consistent, so that the children would know what to expect. I wanted life to be peaceful.
Making a plan seemed to work best in my business, so I attempted it on the home front as well. Writing down our activities helped, so we made up a weekly list: chores, extracurricular activities (outside the home), and fun activities at home.
I started very small with something the children and I could be successful at. At the end of the day, I wanted us to have:
- Known our goals
- Accomplished them
- Enjoyed each other in the process
This was simple, focused, and attainable.
We started our first routine when our oldest children were preschool age. I used the term school very loosely. It involved preschool activities, simple science studies (let's watch this worm crawl), music appreciation (everyone sit down and listen to this song), etc. In other words, basic "school readiness" stuff--fun stuff that could be interpreted as educational. But then, to a child, what isn't educational? They are so ready to learn and absorb the world around them. I was tuning in and learning so much.
As I worked within the structure of a schedule, the gloominess lifted, we seemed happier working together, life ran smoother, and it appeared to work! In her book The Stay At Home Mom, Donna Otto says, "If I could only tell you one thing about order, this is what it would be: In everything you do in your home, ask yourself, 'How could I be better prepared for this event?'" I use that not just for my home, but for everything in life: thinking through, planning, and being prepared.
As the children grew, the schedule grew along with them, as did the chores and list of "To Do's" for each day. No longer did they nap, and school became serious study, so our schedule looked different.
Up at 5:30 AM, our children do chores like picking up their room, vacuuming, emptying trash, and putting dirty laundry in the laundry room baskets. From 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM, we exercise. Then comes breakfast, and school begins at 8:00 AM.
In her 1984 book Teaching Your Children at Home, Virginia Baker, a pioneer homeschooler, tells about her "Magic Clock." When they started school each day, it was rarely exactly the time they should have been there. Usually they were a few minutes late, due to farm chores or some other exciting activity. So, they would lift the clock off the nail on the wall, and turn the clock hands back to reflect the starting time from their schedule. It took the pressure off of them to catch up. We've adopted this magic clock, and use it often.
School goes until noon, then we lunch and each child has an afternoon schedule of activities to include Boy Scout work, reading, piano practice, homework, needle arts, baking, origami and other things.
There is a debate between the schedulers and the unschedulers--and there will never be a solution which fits everyone. But, we have lived with and without a schedule, and everyone in our household knows they accomplish more with less stress when we have a schedule in place to make time for all we want to do.
Having a schedule is just another way of being prepared, of organizing one of our most precious commodities: our time. And that tends to make everyone happier!
This article originally posted December 27, 2006.
Twenty-year homeschool veteran, author and speaker, Kym Wright pens the "Learn and Do" Unit Studies, written for or with her eight homeschooled children. You can visit her websites at: www.KymWright.com and www.Learn-and-Do.com. She can be reached by email at: Kym@KymWright.com