The Shedyool

August 28, 2012

That word in my title is not misspelled. That is how my husband pronounces it when we are attempting (and usually failing) to leave the house early. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, when I feel frustrated about what we have not accomplished, in my head I hear him say, in what might be supposed to be a British accent, "We must stick to The Shedyool!" This is a good thing because it makes me laugh and then I feel less like screaming, crying, throwing things, or otherwise acting like an overtired two-year-old.

When we decided to homeschool, I thought I would set up a rigorous schedule and stick to it. That is what needed to be done and that is what I would do. I might have succeeded were it not for Strawberry, who was just a baby and did not get the memo. Well, she may have received the memo, but she probably ate it. In any case, she was not buying into this whole schedule thing. Then there was Cookie Monster, who was a 2-year-old with only two speeds, Fast and Stop. The boy did not stop moving until he crashed from exhaustion. Polar Bear was a mostly compliant 5-year-old who was trying to learn to read with little success. We were never on schedule. It seemed like I would get up, get the kids fed, start school, change a diaper, feed the kids again, blink and it was 5 pm, time to start dinner and I had accomplished nothing related to education.

The Shedyool 4

Cookie Monster, at age 6 in this picture, is too old to nap.  Mmmhmmm....

I was certain my homeschool efforts and my children would amount to nothing. Polar Bear would never read, Cookie Monster would probably get himself killed, and Strawberry would be raised by wolves. I know, assuming Polar Bear would NEVER read is a bit much, but when I am sleep deprived and overwhelmed that is the way my brain malfunctions works. Believe me, at the time, this was a very logical and calm thought process – If I can't keep a strict "school schedule" my children will be ignorant or raised by wolves and at least one of us will die. If anyone ever thinks I don't take school seriously enough, just remember that thought process.

The Shedyool 2

Strawberry, age 4 in this picture, is not napping because she is not tired.  Very convincing.

A much wiser, more experienced friend gently suggested I consider structuring my daily life as a routine, rather than a schedule. I could pick a few sticking points for the day, and plan to fit the rest of the necessities around those. There was also some sound advice about lowering my expectations to something a little more realistic. I was skeptical that something as basic as changing the way I look at the day could really make a difference in how the day goes, but I gave it a try.

So, here is my family's "At Home Routine"

Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast.

School time starts at 9 am.

Lunch is around 12:30 pm.

Nap/Quiet Time runs for two hours sometime between 2pm and 5 pm.

Dinner is at 6 pm.

Children are in bed around 8:30 pm.

That's it. We don't have a wake up time, not really. Some mornings we are all fed and ready to go well before school time starts, some mornings some of us are still scarfing Cheerios in our jammies when we start our Bible study. It's all good. This routine lets the children know what to expect next, keeps us moving forward throughout the day and is easy to keep.

The Shedyool 3

Dinosaur, age 2 in this picture, is sleeping with Bebe, and he has his shoes and hat on.  That's the way to be comfy.

Yes, most school work is done in 3 hours. Polar Bear's work sometimes spills into the afternoon. If we have to run errands, we try to do that in the mornings and be home in time for Nap Time/Quiet Time and on those errand days the big kids might have a little school work to do in the afternoon. However, we try to keep that as down time. I learned early on in my mothering career that I enjoy my children a lot more if I get a little break from them during the day and they seem to need a break from me too. That break keeps us all happy.

The Shedyool 5

Apple Blossom, around 18 months in this picture, is perfectly comfortable.

This idea of a routine rather than a schedule did not change the fact that I had a sweet baby on my hip and a busy toddler on my hands. It was simply the mercy I needed to do this enormous job I have been called to. That mercy is something I try to make a point of sharing with other moms now. Whether you school your children at home or send them to a school, we each have signed up for the hardest job we will ever have. Forgiveness for our perceived failures and mercy as we go on with the job are the best gifts we can give ourselves and others. It is room to breathe in what would otherwise be a suffocating space.

The Shedyool 1

Since my favorite part of The Shedyool is nap time, I thought I would share photos of all my little ones when they have succombed to sleep.  Polar Bear, age 11 in this picture, says the best way to nap is with a Ducky (at 2 months) on your chest.{jcomments on}

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