Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On Your Mark...Get Set...

Every week feels like a battle...or maybe like a race...as I try to balance my time between kids, household, marriage, me, and the ever-present h/schooling.

I have realized in the past few months that although my home is generally doing well in one basic area it is simultaneously doing poorly in another basic area.  If school with the kids is going well, the house is a disaster and I feel panicky about looking throughout the rooms that have suddenly become tornado-like in appearance.  On the other hand, if my house is looking pretty tidy and if there aren't too many piles sitting around on horizontal surfaces and if the dinners I put on the table are looking pretty darn awesome, that means school this week has sucked.  It really doesn't seem possible to find middle ground between the two extremes.

I'm not sure what to do about this polarization, other than take a one-week-on-one-week-off approach towards school, so that I can reorg the house every other week.  But I don't want this kind of schedule.

As I write this, it's noon and the kids and I have just finished school for the day.  I just shipped the kids upstairs to play for fifteen minutes and told them that I need fifteen minutes of quiet before I was going to get lunch ready.  The first five minutes I spent updating my records as to what the kids actually accomplished this morning, because I track everything we're doing in school.  My last ten minutes are being spent here, blogging, as I regain my equilibrium after getting through an intense but productive morning of school.  In a few minutes, I'll head upstairs and make lunch to feed the ever-hungry masses.

After lunch, I'll shepherd the kids upstairs to finish the lists that they usually do after breakfast but which we didn't do this morning because everyone was wanting to do school.  So while they work on room tidying and face-washing and clothes-donning, I will hop quickly into the shower that I didn't get up early enough this morning to take.  Then we'll scramble to get out the door because we're meeting friends this afternoon to glow bowl and do hot chocolates with.  After a quick stop to pick up pumpkins for tomorrow's carvings, we'll head home and by that time I'll need to turn my thoughts towards dinner prep and trying to clear the stack of breakfast and lunch dishes piled beside the sink.  While I'm doing dinner prep, the kids will do some tidying and crafting and as soon as dinner's in the oven, I'll read out loud to the kids for a half hour.

Then Geoff will arrive home at 6:00 and we'll all set the table fast so that dinner can make it onto the table.  Dinnertime usually takes quite a while, as the kids aren't generally fast eaters.  By the time we're done and the table is cleared, it's usually after 7:00 and Geoff will play with the kids for a half hour while I charge around doing a little clearing and cleaning in the kitchen, and then it's time to start bedtime routines.

When the last kid is in bed, shortly after 9:00, that's when I usually turn my attention to prepping for school the next morning, doing any online research I want to do (last night's research was on caring for long, natural hair - ie. Lizzie's - and how to make organic hair and body creams with shea butters and various oils - ie. Lizzie's and Seth's hair and bodies), blogging, responding to emails, catching up on my adoption yahoo forums, and reading until sleep overtakes me.

Left undone downstairs:  The messes in the rec room and family room (which was tidy before dinner but turned upside down again shortly thereafter), several piles of accumulated paper that I only added to today, laundry and laundry folding (oh, the laundry folding) and about a zillion other things that remain on my to-do list.

I heard recently that for h/schooling moms, the first three years are spent worrying about curriculum choices; the remaining years are spent worrying about household management and keeping up with all of the stuff that needs doing.  Have I mentioned that I've just started my fourth year of h/schooling?

My ten minutes are up.  No time for edits...sorry.



  1. Not sure if there is a specific solution. We go through phases where we seem to do it all, and do it reasonably well, and then phases where we do nothing well at all. I actually maintained the house better than ever the first summer the kids were home (go figure), because I knew if I let the house descend into chaos, I would follow. It hasn't quite stayed that way, but a few things that help us maintain baseline order and sanity are:
    1. Insisting that the kids pick up ANYTHING they have had out, and put away one toy before getting out another (this involves periodically stripping down access to toys, and sometimes closing the play room for a while when they need a reminder that we mean business).
    2. All children have a 2-hour rest. I either work, do personal business, or catch up on house projects, etc., during that time. It helps to be able to focus for a while without multiple distractions and a 2.5 year-old cyclone dismantling the house.
    3. I mappped out our homeschool outline (including printing worksheets, etc.) for 18 weeks, so there is barely any daily prep. It is our first term, however, so I won't claim perfection in that area yet. Will see what happens over time, and as learning needs become more complex.
    4. We don't go out on weekday afternoons or evenings, pretty much ever. I expect summers in particular will look a bit different once we start baseball and whatnot, but it keeps the routine simpler for now.

    Ultimately, though, there is always tension of some kind. When we maintain the basics, then I feel like we are neglecting other things (like garden maintenance, or home repairs). When things get busy out-of-home, for sure things get disorganized on the home front, which starts a vicious cirle of stress and playing catch-up.

  2. Thanks Joy - always lovely to hear from you!

    The thing that I can't stop thinking about is your comment about two hours rest times!! Two hour rest times??? How on earth do you manage that??!!! I'm not sure what's up with that, but that simply would. not. happen. in this house! I'd be breaking up more fights and having to intervene waaaay more than I would otherwise have to be. They also have huge energy levels (the boys in particular, to the point of (my) exhaustion, but Lizzie too) and I would have destroyed rooms if I were to leave them in their rooms for a quiet time. Wow - I hope it lasts 'cause whatever you're doing to induce such lovely quiet times, all power to you!! I lift my hat to you!!

    I'm not sure about your kids, but mine are highly social and they LOVE their friends. We typically do school in the mornings, and the afternoons are spent in some combination of reading together/errands/clean-up/playdates... We probably get together with friends 1-2x/week and I have to say that those are some of our favourite parts of the week.

    Re: h/school prep, I have our outline and schedule planned for the year. I am finding that Matthew is much easier for me to prep at this point - I did virtually all of my prep for him for the year in July and August. It's the daily prep for the younger kids that I find more challenging. Their learning needs are changing so rapidly at the moment that I had to learn the hard way (ie. with tons of unnecessary work and paper wasted) that I simply can't do all of the day-to-day prep way in advance. I've got all of MY stuff printed and organized into binders but the stuff I print for the kids I either do weekly or daily...depending on the week.

    ANyway, it's interesting to hear how other households function and keep/get themselves and their kids organized. I'm sure I could be doing a whole lot of stuff better/differently!

    Thanks Joy...always love hearing what's going on in your household!!