Homeschooling your children means they are with you 24 x 7 x 365. This reason alone is an excuse for many not to homeschool, claiming they need a break from their children during the day and by the end of summer they can’t wait to send them back. This is a very sad but true statement for many moms and even scarier is that many will boldly admit it publicly. For those parents who have been bold and brave and true to their parental role, it is possible to have your children with you most all the time without pulling out your hair and having plenty of personal time for yourself and your spouse.
In order for this to be so, it does take some structure by maintaining a regular routine or family rhythm while at the same time remaining flexible. It also requires a narrowing down of activities or involvement in outside pursuits. I have never experienced a family that was sorry for having these parameters in place.
So let’s take a look at each of these and how you can begin implementing them in your home for greater every day success in your homeschool and the raising of your children.
1) Regular Routine: I like to call our regular routine a family rhythm because I don’t go by a strict hour by hour or 15 minute regimented schedule. We’ve divided our day into four quadrants including morning, afternoon, evening and night. Each quadrant has an anchor which helps us transition from one to another and get back on track if our day requires more immediate attention such as working through character issues, learning a new academic process or the needs of the younger children. If we get “off track” from what would be our normal routine our family rhythm naturally picks up where we need to be so that nothing is ever lost or left behind. We are always right where we need to be. Routine is good to help children remain balanced which is achieved through regular sleep, meals, naps, open play time and reading a lot of good books. The routine shouldn’t be so strict that it squeezes out inspiration and novelty. Children remind us that novelty, playtime and exploration, are all essential for our every day.
2) Flexibility: This goes hand in hand with the regular routine. When working with children you must at all times remain flexible. It is only right to honor each of our children with the space they need to grow and learn. Rushing about or demanding only creates undue stress which leads to other issues to handle. Being flexible takes understanding your child’s highest values, observation, doing your own inner work, learning about yourself and many times preventing issues from ever arising in the first place. It means moving at the speed of nature, sometimes waiting on the child’s timing and at other times the child has to wait on the parent’s timing. As you are flexible with your children they too can be flexible with you. Flexibility is written into our family rhythm so I am no longer looking at the clock running a daily race. This is a big stress reducer.
3) Narrowing Down or Focused Activities: Children are young and small for a very short time. There doesn’t need to be engagement in activities outside of the home on a daily basis. What children under the age of seven needs is purposeful engagement with others outside of the home with upstanding characters in the family and community. Perhaps one activity or class otherwise they are getting plenty from the regular interactions you make in everyday living through going out to meet with family and friends, engage in the community and take care of the household errands. As you have your children by your side, they will grow to trust you which is extremely important as they enter their teen years. This is especially beneficial when they begin coming to you for guidance as they step out more on their own. A child will gleam much from being with you as you work and do your own chores. This also gives them more space for imaginative play and projects. When you’re no longer running at break neck speeds, stress for the entire family is reduced.
Structuring your day in such a manner will positively influence your children to grow up in this habit and adopt it as a way of life. Once you have your family rhythm you can relax and have time to yourself knowing your children are well cared for and getting everything they need. As mentioned above this will greatly reduce stress and improve relating.
At first glance, many people mistake seeing children as demanding or too much work, however it is through establishing a family rhythm, maintaining flexibility and focusing on letting go of the need to do it all, that we find ourselves experiencing greater insight and balance, without which attempting such insight without children in our lives seems virtually impossible.
“Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!” –Og Mandino
Parents Inspired to Action:
Create a family rhythm instead a trying to keep a rigid schedule. Set up your quadrants and anchor times.
Notice when the need for flexibility arises and make the necessary adjustments.
Be more selective with the amount of outside activities you choose to be involved in. Guard the open play and project time so your children have time for exploring, imagining and creating.
As we parent there are so many insights and lessons we can see in our everyday. What wisdom can you pass on to other parents you’ve learned about creating a family rhythm in your every day? Please leave a comment below.