It is a cold morning in rural Arkansas. We've finished most of our school day and it's just about noon. As I sit here, writing this post, I feel pulled in a thousand directions. I have housework that needs to be completed, some sewing that should be done (if I could find my missing presser foot, that would be great!), and papers to grade. On top of that, I need to prep for dinner, make the bed, clean out the car, tidy the laundry room, clean the homeschool room, file some papers, complete our next unit study, make out christmas cards, finish updating our site, I'd love to get passed chapter 4 of the book I'm reading, finish the last episode of the new series I'm watching on Netflix, maybe grab a shower, trim my nails, put on a little make-up, spend time with my husband, FEEL HUMAN...
And those are just a few of the things at the top of my mind. I'm sure if I thought about it for more than thirty seconds, I could name another twenty or thirty things that either need to be done, or that I'd like to do. But why? This is going to sound pessimistic, I do not intend for that, but why finish all of those things, only for them to be replaced with 'other' things. Things that are going to weigh me down just as these do. But why?
Then it hit me. If I were a 12 year old, I wouldn't be harping for more time. I'd be ecstatic to go upstairs and play for hours in my grandmother's attic. But the attic is gone, and I'm certainly not 12 years old. So what can adults do to curb this feeling of needing more time. We can't make time appear. We can't make an hour longer than 60 minutes. But we can be more rational in our approach. We can set up times to work on certain things. We can make to-do lists (I dislike the name - it's too demanding), but we can make Success Lists - a list of items to be done/completed/checked, a box to happily checkmark when completed... And an accountability space: a space used to explain what you did instead of doing that task.
And there is the key! As adults, we feel like we can do what we want, when we want, and for however long we can or want to. We can spend hours on facebook watching videos and justify our actions by saying, "I've worked all day", "I haven't been online in hours", or "I pay the internet bill, I can do what I want!"
But the DEVIL is a Liar! Honestly, can we expect our children to hold themselves accountable for things they failed to accomplish because they were "lollygagging", "piddling", or otherwise "wasting time"? No. We absolutely cannot. Yet, we do, and in doing so, we fail to acknowledge that we are the example our children see. We are part of the problem. We can talk to our children, set rules, provide chore lists, and punishments for them should they not complete their tasks. But what punishment do we as adults receive? You got it.
We need more time.
Think of all the things we do each day. For many, the list is simple.
1. Wake up
4. Go to work
5. Come home
7. Go to bed
For the homeschool family, it might look like this:
1. Wake up
2. Skip shower - have coffee
3. Check facebook/twitter/pinterest, read bible or other brief leisure activity - have coffee
4. Make breakfast (or get out the cereal) - have coffee
5. Start lessons, a load of laundry, fix lunch, put dinner in the slow cooker, clean up the spill, wash breakfast dishes, intervene in fight, nurse a wound, clean up another mess, answer the repetitive question of what's for lunch for each child because they didn't hear you the first four times, serve lunch (as you grab a bite out of the pan), go to the bathroom - breathe - watch out for young intruders who don't care that you are using the bathroom, flush, wash, check e-mail, help husband find missing shoes and socks, answer the door, answer the phone (twice), field questions about history, science, and math while encouraging correct grammar.
6. Switch laundry, hug child (then hug all the others because they seen you paying too much attention to their siblings), hug husband and apologize for the chaos [and for not waking up when he wanted you to so he could love up on ya ;) ], finish lessons, pay bill online, check status of online order(s), run to the grocery store because you haven't been in a week, see a friend and visit (for too long), dig out coupons at checkout, receive dirty looks from patrons in line behind you, answer the phone because child 1 hit child 2 when fighting over the remote, discipline both children while on the phone, through gritted teeth to prevent yelling in the store, pay for groceries, get back in line, buy that chocolate bar you said no to originally but now, you can justify that purchase, drive home, deal with idots on the road, remember when you pull your car onto your street that you needed to go by the pharmacy for vitamins, turn around, go to pharmacy.
7. Finally home, clean up milk, field questions about what's for dinner, explain that chicken is also in chicken nuggets, they are just small piecs. Debate over chicken for twenty minutes. Cook chicken nuggets, too. Run bath, bathe little one. Monitor shower times for big kids. Pray the water is heated back up for your own shower. Brush hair, trim nails, brush teeth, read stories, get drinks, check for monsters, get more drinks, go pee, ask 5,847,326 questions about random things that pop up in a care-free childs mind. Smile and thank God for the moments.
8. Eat cold chicken nuggets as you put away left overs, then climb into a cold shower, attempt to watch a movie, fall asleep on the sofa. Repeat.
Yes, the second is *mostly* an overexaggeration. But more often than not, it can happen in any given moment and when least expected. These unorganized random days make for lots of memories, cherished conversations, and some of the silliest laughs imaginable. But the "chaos" that is experienced can be prevented with a little accountablity and structure.
My goal with this "program" is to help you see passed the "lost time" and gain a renewed sense of "accomplishment" when we give it a go. Not to mention, we might just become that relaxed 12 year old once again! Stay tuned! This is going to be fun!
Watch for: "Part 2: Gaining Time" coming this weekend!