I realized over the summer that I was very busy, in an unhealthy way. I was trying to keep up with too many things around the house and the garden, as well as my more primary duties to the Lord, my husband, and my kids.
As fall approached, I began to settle into a bit of a depression, which culminated in what I fondly think of as my "freak out". The girl child is now in 5th grade, and the boy child in Kindergarten, and I realized that if I was going to do any justice by these children this year, I was going to have to get more organized, and make (horrors!) a schedule.
I have always kept a rudimentary calendar, and I have always had a lesson plan of sorts, but I realized that I needed more. So, in bizarre fits of motivation, I made a daily schedule for the whole family, lesson plans, curriculum arrangements, etc.
I also went through every room in the house and gutted them. I got rid of so much junk, I am embarrassed to look our garbage men in the eye. I gave my self a goal--September 19th. This was 2 days before my birthday, and the Friday before we started our official school year. It was a mess. A huge mess. I made some very unfortunate discoveries, such as the fact that I actually owned over 60 bath towels. How shameful is that?! I didn't actually buy more than 3 or 4 of them. People know that I really enjoy my baths, and so bath towels seem like the perfect gift. But four people definitely don't require 60 towels. And most of them were on their last legs, or threads, or whatever. That explained why my linen cabinet was so hard to keep tidy, I guess.
The towel thing actually co-relates to the schedule thing, though. I went with a color-coded idea. In the past, Jim and I have always purchased the same 2 colors of toothbrushes--his is always purple and mine is always pink. So I started there. I gave a bunch of those towels to my mom for dog towels, which she uses a lot of, and I gave a bunch of the nice ones to my friend Tami, who for some reason did not have 60 bath towels. I saved about a half dozen for emergencies, and for the YMCA and the pool. Then my little troops and I went over to Wal-Mart, and purchased 8 new bath towels--2 for each of us. Jim is purple, I'm pink, Stella is orange, and Gabe is green. Everyone got to pick out what they liked, color wise, and everyone got 3 new matching wash cloths. Thus, my linen cabinet became manageable.
But I took the color thing further, as well. These same colors are the ones that I now use to delineate everything related to that person. Our daily schedule is color coded, and things are labeled in these colors.
So far, the organization thing has really helped. We have such a small house, and any little mess looks awfully big in here, so we really had to minimize the amount of "stuff" we had, and make sure everything has an actual home. The kitchen is still a hot spot, because we do everything there. All the cooking, school work, projects, etc. It also serves as my "office", and the computer is there.
But, we have successfully completed our first really good unit study, on Agriculture, from Christian Cottage Unit Studies, and I have to say that if I hadn't organized all of my school things so completely, I would have found the activities daunting. The kids really enjoyed the things we did, and I am excited about the next unit on the Constitution which seems appropriate in an election year.
The schedule has also made a difference in how the kids respond to school work and chores, etc. I've always known that Gabe was a more schedule-y person, but I thought Stella was more of a free spirit, and I have always been somewhat dismayed at her reaction to schoolwork, because I felt like I was approaching it in a way that would appeal to her, kind of off the cuff. With a clear plan of expectations, though, she is thriving. Recently, Jim and I had a bunch of things to do outside during school time. I thought I would come in to find Stella dawdling around, perhaps weeping gently over her math book. To my delight, she had followed the lesson plan and was just finishing up her Mavis Beacon typing, which was her last task that day.
I should have listened to my mother when she said "those kids need more of a schedule"....
Praise God for wisdom gained while it can still be applied!