I’m a little like Anne Shirley. I love the idea of a new day with “no mistakes in it yet.” I love mornings, mondays and new years. Any chance for a new start, new goals, or a new schedule feels like a refreshed take on life with more hope and possibility. But the idea of ‘no mistakes’ can keep me a little stuck, especially when thinking about how to structure (or schedule) our days. I know what I want to do and what we should include, but every little bump in the day can throw us off schedule and leave the rest feeling a little pointless because we already messed up. I know, big feelings.
But here’s the truth, every day is going to have something happen. It’s never going to be perfectly executed. I have to remember that even at the end of that struggle-bus day, God is offering us grace and hope that doesn’t have to wait until the next morning, the next week, or the next year. Beginning, middle or end, God’s got this. So let’s remember that even as the daily “learning opportunities“ pile up or life seems crazy.
I am like Anne Shirley, but I am also a planner. I love having those goals, dreams, and objectives to chase during the day. Especially as we’ve begun our homeschooling journey, I’ve found it increasingly important to be at least a little intentional with our time. It is useful to make some sort of daily plan or set of routines for you and your kids as you all learn and grow, but it can easily become a real emotional drag on days that don’t work. So here are five things I have to remind myself of in the process of figuring out how our days might best be structured (i.e schedule). I’m starting to think of this strategy as Inspirational Scheduling.
Here are my tips:
- Really know why you want to create a schedule. For us: It’s just there to create more space for things we want to do. Normal routines save energy for unavoidable interruptions and fun spontaneity while taking into account all the fun we can plan on participating in. Sometimes I can get a little stuck, but if I can remember my the why behind our routines (and also prioritize them for the right reasons) than I can be more easily flexible.
- Call it something different. Call it a Flow. It’s amazing what changing the name of something can do for your mindset. Something about schedule or routine sounds inflexible and boring, but if you call something else you get the feeling that it’s more changeable than not and it just moves in and out alongside you instead of chasing behind you every minute. Just moments you move in and out of throughout the day. Rename your schedule. Give it a new feel.
- Include the things you want to do more often, but structure your day for flexibility. I’ve learned it works best for me to just have the expectation/idea of a plan available. We follow it and don’t follow it pretty freely. It’s something to riff off not to live by. If we don’t have anything going on and the kids are acting like they need more direction we jump into our schedule. If we have too much going on and everyone needs a break we lean more towards free at-home time. For a while when the kids were really little the most schedule we had was when nap time happened and maybe a library visit to pick up more books.
- Add movement and follow their lead. I can’t always force the day to work how I want it to, but by listening when their bodies need a more accommodating space to learn through wild play I can create space for more freedom and room for my goals for the day later.
- Organized activities are the spice of life, not the string cheese (that’s a staple, right?). What you choose not to include is just as important as what you do choose.You don’t have to do everything the neighbors do, everything a friend suggests, or everything your church offers for kids your kids’ age. Conversely your family might enjoy doing a little more than other people might. Be discerning for your own family with all your unique needs in mind.
In closing here’s a poem I wrote when thinking about how we homeschool. Hopefully it inspires you to approach your schedule a little more lightly, too.
Let’s. Let’s do today. Let’s sit around the table and experiment with words. Let’s build all the creations and then make up our own. Let’s take our time and make our own plans. Let’s try something new, rethink something old, and delve into interesting. Let’s see what happens.
I’d love to hear your take on it all! What’s your biggest struggle with choosing how to spend your time with kids at home?