As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Busy Week

We're finishing up our fourth week of school, and this week has been the busiest so far.  They won't all be so crazy, but right now I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to pick up and do things a little bit easier than I could this time last year, when I still had a little-ish baby to work around.  This week, for the first time since school started, we had something to do every single day.  On the average week I try to make sure I only go out two days of the five, and I try as best I can to make sure they aren't in a row.  Today we were out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, today and will be again tomorrow.  It's been exciting and exhausting.

My kids have been real troopers, and getting out on each of these days has been seamless all thanks to them (believe me, when they decide they don't want to co-operate it makes things nearly impossible, so I really appreciate when they pitch in and make sure they're all where they're supposed to be when I need them there, and finished everything they're supposed to be finished).  On a normal day I split the schooling up for my oldest son, leaving his most difficult subject (Math) until later in the afternoon, when the rest of the kids are free and my oldest can have my undivided attention.  When we go out in the afternoon however we have to do it in the morning, and he needs to work twice as hard as he's used to.  We did that just about every day this week, and he's been a real champion - doing great work and not even complaining a bit.

Wednesday is the craziest day of the week, but with a few adjustments this year it has been so much better than last year.  We do most of our school at the library in town during a 1 3/4 hour break between piano and ballet for the kids.  We still do Math at home before we leave, because it's nice to have the hardest subject out of the way earlier, but it's teaching me that things can be better when I'm flexible with my school day.  This week in particular has helped me be grateful for the ways we can change our schedule around to suit us when there are things going on, so that we can take advantage of the great opportunities that come up, for the kids and for me.

And yet, as I arrived home mid-afternoon from a 1:15 pm appointment for school pictures across the river, I had to admit it was nice to be home too.  We squeezed a lot of school into those hours before lunch, and even though some of the kids had homework to do, I told them they could play first.  They had been on the go all week.  Then it hit me - this is why routine is important.  When my overachieving self gets a little too anxious to do every little thing, my trusty routine is there to remind me that 2:00 is free time - no matter if you didn't finish school this morning.  Homework can come later.  I had worked so hard to get us out the door for our appointment that when I got home I found myself in the unusual position of having nothing pressing to do.  So I turned on the music, opened the windows, and drank in the sounds of the beautiful fall sunshiny day, filled to the brim with my children's playfulness.  Having missed my baking day due to a doctor's appointment, I decided to take advantage of the free time to do a little baking.  But I didn't do our usual repertoire, I switched it up and made apple crisp with some apples we had picked on an outing last week.  I had no schedule, no task list, and neither did the kids.  And I realized that this, too, was one of the biggest reasons I decided to homeschool - because I wanted to give my kids an opportunity to be kids on a kids' schedule.

It's nice to be able to do things that are fun, but I need to remember why I'm doing them.  I get so wrapped up in doing everything for the kids that sometimes I forget to take into account just how hard it can be on them to be in the van every day.  To be always rushing through school, squeezing everything in, shovelling their meals into themselves or eating in the car just to be somewhere on time.  I'm not saying it's never worth it to do that, in fact I can guarantee you that for at least two days every week we will, and that the kids will look forward to both of those days every time, because they love them.  But I think they also love being home, just being able to be kids and do whatever happens to land on their heart.  And I like that too.

And then of course, sometimes really really great opportunity happens to pop up.  For me, today helped me to realize that while I don't have to say no to every single thing that comes along unless it fits perfectly into my schedule, I also don't have to feel that I need to drop everything every time either.  I talk myself out of things for me all the time, but when it comes to the kids I want to do everything.  I'm realizing that it's just about finding a balance, and realizing that "yes" to one thing automatically means a "no" to something else.  Maybe the "no" has nothing directly to do with the kids - Mom being home to make supper, for example.  But if I do that too often I know I'm going to crack, and that most definitely affects the kids.  So the question then becomes not "is this a good opportunity," but "is this something worth doing at all costs?"  If the answer is "yes", then I can go with it in complete freedom, like I did this week.  Knowing that every week won't be like this, planning ahead to make it as seamless as I can, and trying not to sweat the small (and not-so-small) stuff that inevitably will come up on a week like that.  But I also don't need to feel bad about passing up an opportunity because it's too much for us to handle either.  Saying "no" to that really great extra curricular may not seem like such a big sacrifice if it allows them more time to play in the yard with their friends, and a more patient Mom who isn't ready to blow her top trying to manage an overbooked schedule.

We've had a really, really great week - but next week, I think we'll be back to our usual routine of staying home more days than we go out.  That is, unless something really great happens to come up... ;)

School at the library in the afternoon makes for a much less stressful morning on piano day.

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