At the end of our Christmas holiday, and in the days following New Years, I roughed out our winter schedule. The week after that I revised the schedule. The week after that I tweaked it again and wrote about it, with the plans to publish about that this week.
I, like many mommy bloggers, take a somewhat perverse pleasure (I say perverse because it always seems to bite me in the bum when the schedule doesn't go as planned) of publishing schedules, routines and organizing tricks. I do this because FIMBY is family story blog and I like looking back on these schedule posts.
And I do it also because I love reading homeschool schedules and routines, and so do other homeschoolers. Even people (maybe especially) who don't homeschool want to know "how you do it?" What does it look like to educate your kids at home? And in our case work at home also. I think it's interesting and so I was going to publish our winter schedule this week.
And then I hit a low point emotionally and my vulnerability sky rocketed, and the schedule, well, I've been struggling this week to find my equilibrium in that.
Like I was telling Damien yesterday, tissues near at hand, it used to be that when I felt pulled in too many directions and wondered how to manage I simply dropped things from my schedule. Lower your expectations was one of my early years parenting mantras.
I knew exactly where my priorities were - food, kids, love - some combination of those things. Even on a bad day meeting my kids needs was pretty simple - stories, tickles, lunch, playing outdoors together, a video in the afternoon. It wasn't always easy (as any mother with young ones will tell you) but my responsibilities as a full time stay at home mom were clear cut. I like clear cut and well defined spaces.
Things are not so well defined anymore. Or so I think.
My work contributes to our family's income. Damien is taking over more homeschooling responsibilities. This was the plan, I remind myself. And this is the direction we want to move in, the sharing of these responsibilities. As such, the activities in our home flow through the day. Eddying sometimes around my leading and other times around Damien's.
I've tried to schedule this flow (please don't laugh) because, like I've already mentioned, I feel most at ease with well defined boundaries. But when the boundaries blur and responsibilities flow how am I to know if I'm doing well? How do I measure this?
Last week I wrote (I am embarrassed to bring this up) "this shift has not been a difficult one for our family in terms of time management or family dynamics." Um... What the heck was that all about? Wishful thinking?
I think what I meant to say is we're not running around like crazies trying to "fit it all in". We've never tried to do it all or have it all, and we're not starting now. I think what I meant to say is that one of us is almost always available for our kids because we're not working the equivalent of two full time jobs. I think what I meant to say is we're not relying on take-out because healthy eating is a non-negotiable for the majority of our meals.
But "not...difficult... in terms of time management or family dynamics" Ack! I didn't mean to lie, honestly. But it appears I have. Because this week has been difficult, on top of my emotional vulnerability (because of my emotional vulnerability?) for that very reason!
Families are always changing, growing and moving through life stages. Always in transition is not a part of life I'm particularly at peace with. I make an uneasy truce with it simply because I have no choice. But mostly I try to box up my life and make it conform. And when this works, it works really well. And when it doesn't, I struggle.
I struggle to let go. I struggle to shift. I struggle to accept what actually is happening vs. what I had planned to happen.
A schedule that served our needs the first week of January, did not serve us so well this week (when last weekend's emotional crash necessitated more margin in my life and also tapped my creative energies and drained me work-wise). Which is why I just couldn't post that schedule this week.
And so I've been thinking about this. How to make peace with this reality.
I love our schedule. I love planning a season and fitting the pieces together to meet our family's needs. The kid's learning needs, my learning needs, our goals for outdoors and adventure, healthy eating, meaningful work and creative projects. I love putting it all together. But when it doesn't play out the way I think it should I struggle with feeling like a failure.
I'm guessing you can relate.
And so here, mere paragraphs away from the end of this post, is the point. Schedules are great. They help us meet our goals. They are necessary even to get certain things accomplished. But...
Schedules are built on values, and when your schedule fails you, your values still remain intact and provide solid footing.
A household schedule is a tool, nothing more, for putting your values into action. When the schedule falls apart one week, or two (I'm publishing next week, hopefully, some tips for creating family schedules) life itself doesn't fall apart because underneath that schedule are solid values. Which are more important than a good schedule in the first place.
We have a bunch of values, but at the core there's only a handful. They are our faith in Jesus Christ, lifelong learning, family & relationship, health, and the outdoors. (Imagine those as a circle, with Jesus Christ as the inner core to it all). On top of those, like the next layer of the onion and in no particular order we add simplicity, adventure, creativity, plant-based eating, community building, freedom education, hospitality, physical fitness, stewardship, and a few more.
These values are more important than the schedule. And when I expressed my concern to Damien this week that I wasn't "doing a good job of this" ("this" meaning the next stage of family life where we share our responsibilities more), I came back to these values.
The values are what we're trying to live. The schedule is just the tool.