I really thought I knew what busy was. Homeschooling four daughters, a part-time job, a little hobby farm, occasionally cleaning the house -> busy, right? Well, this is the thing about me. I crave the perfect balance between having things to do and having time to veg on the couch, watching tv or reading. So when some new opportunities came our way, we jumped in. It’s busier than ever around here, but we still have a nice balance of activity and veg time (because I am not missing This Is Us on Tuesdays!). And although all of our activities are just getting rolling, I’ve learned a few things.
1 – Have a plan and hold it loosely.
I live my what’s written in my two planners (one work/extracurriculars and one school). It’s literally my brain on paper. I transfer everything from my planner to our wall calendar, as needed but usually once a month. When I am on the phone and need to schedule something – I never do it without checking my planner. There is too much of a chance of double booking. This also means changes to our schedule that are out of my control can really throw a wrench in things. Over the last couple of months, I’ve learned that while I may love to plan and structure I have to equally love the opportunity to see my controlling nature stretched when plans change. And hello – it is stretching me and that’s good.
This also means I have to ensure that I have time in our schedule to work. Most of the time, I can work from home (or the car) so I can fit projects in as needed. But sometimes, this means I assign the girls work to do on their own- usually mandatory play or reading time – so I can focus on work. It forces me to be very efficient with my tasks and often means I get up and work before the girls are out of bed. For some people, working at night might be easier but night time is my brain off time that I really need.
2 – See the opportunities for fun and take them.
We live in Northern NY. It’s pretty much gray here from December through March. So when an opportunity arises to get fresh air and have fun, I happily close my planner and take the girls outside. A last minute trip to our favorite museum or a hike through the snowy woods? Winner, every time. This obviously means that lesson plans get shifted and book work delayed. I firmly believe there are things to learn that are not contained in books, that fresh air invigorates young brains to learn, and that a few hours away from responsibilities is good for the not-so-young brains.
3 – Don’t be afraid to say yes.
My daughters have seriously stepped up their extracurricular plans this semester. With three of the four girls having more than one commitment per week now, we’ve had to be creative with scheduling but you know what? They’re doing things they love and I want to make space for that as often as I can. Does it stress me out a bit when I see our calendar sometimes? You bet. It’s a lot of go,go,go. But we have some great opportunities around us and I am so thankful for them! I love watching the girls bloom as they learn new skills and discover new talents.
Did I have to take a deep breath before committing to all this? You have no idea. It’s hard to decide on which extracurriculars are good and necessary! But I want them to have the opportunity to explore their interests. That’s one of the reasons we homeschool! So don’t be afraid to say yes, let’s try it, and give your child a chance to explore something new.
4 – Find your white space and guard it.
White space. Like margins on the page of a book, it’s the space that allows your brain to balance out everything else on the page. It’s a necessary part of any schedule, especially with children involved. We have one day each week that we have no commitments. It’s glorious. We do long, giggle-filled science and geography lessons. Maybe a bit of cleaning and catch up on schoolwork. We plan a nicer meal, since it’s one day that someone isn’t running in or out around dinner time. Once and awhile, we will have to do something on my white space day. That happens, with unpredictable winter weather and imperfect people. But as often as I can, that white space day is guarded fiercely. We all need it.
All this busyness has created opportunities for my daughters to grow through learning new skills and allowed me to grow by letting go of control a bit. It might make for some crazy days, but they’re days I wouldn’t trade for anything.