Thursday, June 07, 2007

On Daily Routines

I revamped our daily routine recently. I happened sort of by accident. We’ve started having Elizabeth’s home school lessons in the afternoon, starting while the little ones are asleep.

I have to admit, it feels strange. Even having been homeschooled myself, I have a hard time breaking out of the idea that our school day should look like a traditional one. That if I start at a different time of day than people who send their kids to traditional school, I’m somehow giving in to a low standard. Never mind that it works better, we get more done in a shorter amount of time, and she learns more! An efficient and productive day is meeting a high standard!

I’m also learning to be flexible and change things up every now and then. This wouldn’t have worked a few months ago. I really want a “forever” routine. I want to establish a schedule and never have to re-vamp it. Of course that is totally unrealistic. It’s a balancing act between establishing structure and routine for the sake of our sanity and good habits in our kids, and being flexible enough to recognize when a change is in order.

Here are a few benefits to our new routine.

I don’t feel rushed and pressured in the morning. No matter how early I got up or how fast I worked, there was no way to get everything done that I needed to do before 8AM. I was upset every single morning, because I just could not finish before it was time to start lessons. Consequently, I kind of gave up on my morning tasks. They weren’t going to get done anyway. Now it does get done, because I haven’t placed unrealistic expectations on myself. In the near future, when my kids are a bit bigger, they’ll be able to shoulder more of the load. Till then, since I’m mostly doing it alone, this works better.

The kids can play outside early while it’s cool. I found that when we had school all morning and naps after lunch, by the time they had free time to play outside, it was too hot. I think it’s important for kids to have lots of time to play outside. My kids weren’t getting that, but now they are.

The house is more or less tidy when Billy comes home for lunch. That’s a big plus.

School time is more peaceful. People have asked me how I manage school with toddlers. I haven’t had a really good answer. Honestly, many days I was doing well to just grin and bear it…Um, bear it anyway. Now we can get the bulk of our school work done without distraction. Yesterday I put the little ones down, fixed Elizabeth and me some tea and a dainty snack, and we had school—with no interruptions. Yay! I’m so much less stressed, and so is she!

Elizabeth and I have one-on-one time, so she is learning more.

I feel almost guilty that school is not a struggle every day. Is it supposed to be this fun and easy? Of course it is. I just had to change my conventional ideas about our school time. I’ve heard people say for years that one of the greatest benefits about home schooling is the flexibility, but I didn’t really understand what they meant. Now I do. It's a no-brainer, but I'm kind of slow sometimes. A side note: I had to give up my time to myself during the kids’ nap time. But it is so worth it for greater peace in our day!


Erica said...

Hurray for you! I'm going to have the same problems with flexibility and schooling Gabriel... I like a planned day and I like it to always be the same. I think it has something to do with be an eldest child?!?! lol

Have you read Dr. Lehman's New Birth Order Book? I'm loving it!!

Rebecca said...

I wonder if the desire to have a perfect, forever schedule is about our future in heaven. Whenever I think I have one, I realize it is going to have to be re-vamped in another season or so. Just because things change!

Charity Grace said...

Erica, I haven't read The New Birth Order Book, but I'm going to see if our library has it. Birth order, personality, and the like have always fascinated me. It very well may be a firstborn thing.

An aside to that: You and Ryan are some of the very few couples I know who are both firstborns, like Billy and me. Do you find that that makes your relationship interesting?

Rebecca, you are probably right, I think all longing for things to be "just right" reflects the inherent knowledge that we live in a broken world, a world that's not the way it's supposed to be. And things do change. I can already see that this new, improved schedule won't work for long. But it's working for now, so I'm thankful for that.