A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how this time of year is a little overwhelming.
We’re all trying to figure out everything at once for the school year, and we feel like one of those plate spinners, rushing from one plate that’s about to crash to the next …
Am I the only one who finds those acts really stressful? A little too close to home I think …
So I’m breaking things down. I wrote that the first thing I wanted to fix here was meals and food, because in the summer we become a group of grazers – eating whenever the mood strikes and quick to startle when someone sneaks up on us in the kitchen:
“What? It’s fruit …
I’m happy to report that I’m finding a good system with meal planning, so it’s time to pick a new focus – ready?
Today I’m going to chat about finding your daily/weekly rhythm.
I say “finding,” because as much as we want to just MAKE A NEW RHYTHM HAPPEN, it doesn’t seem to work very well that way.
We must instead channel our inner Gloria Estefans.
We must let the rhythm overtake us.
We must double-down on our eyeliner.
We must stare with intensity into the camera!
You don’t actually have to do the camera part – here’s what I recommend instead:
Start with what’s working
No matter how far off track you feel, some things are probably working. You might not see them as a definable part of your rhythm, and that’s normal.
But for the next few days, take note of the times you feel at peace, times when your kids are happily busy, times when no one is yelling.
Write down those moments, even if they don’t feel “school-y,” or like what you “should,” be doing.
Note: We are telling the shoulds to shove it this year, yes?
Decide on your non-negotiables
What are the things you feel like you and your kids MUST DO on a daily basis?
I’m talking basics here friends, not “put the finishing touches on our family performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Non-negotiables are things like:
- chores that make your house run (this does not include cleaning out the garage – this is dishes, laundry, etc.)
- pet care
- School 101
School 101 is different than your dream homeschool. I define it as the things you need to do each day to feel like your kids are learning and not turning into feral barn cats.
That can include things like reading, math, X number of workbook pages, a small amount of writing, work on a larger project, etc.
Please do not make your non-negotiables unreasonable, because that is how you end up Googling nearby military schools at 1 a.m.
Decide on your other homeschool priorities
Another way to think of this is to remember your homeschool why.
Why did you begin homeschooling? Was it so your kids could have lots of time to pursue interests? Was it so they could embrace art or music?
Was it so your family could have more time together?
Those are your priorities, so make them a part of each day.
Make time for your arty kid to be arty. Make time for your wiggly kid to wiggle.
Make time for watching movies together each week, or tons of read-alouds.
Whatever is important to you, note that, because as Annie Dillard said:
“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
OK, so good news/bad news: The good news is, you only have to figure out your rhythm until December. The bad news is, December is going to flip everything on its head, and you are going to feel like it’s all going off the rails.
Rhythm changes – that’s what you have to remember.
So when you hit the Christmas season (approximately 45 seconds after you clear your turkey and pumpkin pie off the table) your rhythm isn’t falling apart. It’s changing.
Flow with it. Embrace your inner Gloria.
Consider how you want your homeschool to feel
You probably did not start homeschooling because you want to recreate public school at home, right?
If nothing else, you’d probably like to avoid the place you sleep at night smelling like a combination of cafeteria food and that sawdust stuff that schools put on vomit in the hallways.
So take some time to think about the “feeling” of your homeschool.
Are you going for warm and cozy? A lot of us are.
So ask yourself how you want your homeschool to feel, and how you can make that a reality.
It’s all about you
Homeschooling is not about what your sister is doing, or the lady at co-op, or the lady on the Internet.
It’s about YOUR FAMILY.
No one else has your exact homeschool why.
No one else knows what happens when you try to “start with math.”
No one else is a parent to your exact, quirky kids.
So read about what others are doing. Borrow what sounds good. Maybe try something new here and there.
But DO NOT try to follow someone else’s plans exactly, unless you want to end up in the wine aisle of the grocery store in your pajamas, holding a taco that you thought was your wallet.
Have a terrible day plan
This is a bonus tip. I learned this years ago when I bought a homeschool planner that actually had a page for Mama sick days.
In my head I turned it into “when everything falls apart days.”
My plan then was to pop popcorn and put in a movie.
My current plan is to get in the car, turn on an audiobook (<— our current favorite) and hit Starbucks.
Because what our homeschool needs most on rough days is a reset, but your homeschool might need something else. If you can figure out what that is, you’ll save yourself a lot of crying behind the refrigerator.
In closing, I hope that you’ll spend a few days thinking about how you want things to go this year, but I hope you won’t stress about it too much.
Our homeschool never looks the same in September as it does in May, and it sure looks a lot different now than it did 9 years ago. (9!)
Just remember to love your kids each day, even if they throw pencils, and to think about homeschooling in the long-term, which means probably no one will remember the day you drove everyone past the school in your neighborhood and threatened to drop them off with notes pinned to their shirts that said, “I’m an obstinate stinker – educate me.”
Good luck this year, friends!