Welcome to Part 2 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’ll chat about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the proper placement of priorities. But where do we go from there? How do we take the vision and turn it into a mission, executed in day-to-day living?
As for a typical mid-week day…my kids and I use a flexible schedule that I’ve tweaked many times over the years to our present needs. I think in terms of blocks of time rather than a down-to-the-minute agenda. Here’s a look at our typical, daily rhythm (at least for the moment):
Before 7am – Everyone’s up…ideally having some quiet time…and our kids work on their “lists” (age-appropriate responsibilities…such as making their beds, emptying the dishwasher, taking out recycling, and wiping down their bathroom).
7-7:30am – Family breakfast
7:30-8:30am – “Bless the House” (a concept I’ve borrowed from FlyLady, which sounds much more pleasant than “chore-time”). This is when I make my bed, tidy the kitchen, do a quick declutter around our living areas, toss in a load of laundry, and remind the kids to finish their lists.
8:30-10am – My time to exercise. This is new to my schedule (at least in this time block). I’m on week 4. The at-home program I’m using lasts 3 months. I see this more as a kick-in-the-pants to up my energy and intensity. After I’m completed, I imagine this will go down to a daily 30-45 minutes which, for me, is more sustainable long-term. The kids get to play or workout with me.
10am – Snack time for all! Often during snack time we have family devotions. This could mean practicing our verse for the month (based on our family values) or discussing what God has been teaching me lately. The kids eat faster than I do, so once they’re done, I usually give them something school related to get started on, like some independent reading.
10:30am – We head over to our comfy spots in the living room and school time officially begins with our read-aloud. Currently we’re working our way through the Little House on the Prairie series, using an online unit study to dive in deeper to the many opportunities to discuss new vocabulary, science topics, geography and social studies, and to check on their general listening comprehension skills. (We also use the Five in a Row curriculum for this same sort of thing…we’re just on a break for this series.) I’m all about school-time that involves reading and snuggling.
11am – We now walk into our (brand new!) homeschool room we recently (mostly) finished, renovating a small portion of our garage. It’s a fun combination of purple walls and sleek, white counters with turquoise, polka dot chairs. I pull out our spelling curriculum (we use All About Spelling)…which also works on handwriting and listening skills. It’s meant to be used individually with each child, but since my kids are so close on their spelling levels, I teach them together and save myself 20 minutes. (Win-win!)
11:30am – Time for math. No official curriculum here. (I tend to think of us as “eclectic” homeschoolers.) We’ve used all kinds of workbooks and now I’m ready to start teaching them together (again, the blessings of having them so close in age) using logic puzzles and printable math worksheets.
12pm – Official school-time is now over. I know…simple, right? We do life together, so there are plenty of other learning opportunities on the go. And, as they get older, our formal school time will certainly be an area we expand and tweak. But, for now, this is where we’re at. Kids get to play for a bit and then must clean up their rooms and toys before we get lunch going.
12:30pm – Lunch time for the kids. I (finally) go take a shower since I’ve been teaching in my sweaty workout clothes this whole time.
1-2pm – Free time for the kiddos. Lunch time for me.
2-4pm – Naps. Yes, my elementary-aged children still take naps. Most days they last about an hour, and then they can play in their rooms quietly. This is my time to either be super productive and write or edit, call a friend and catch up, or totally veg out and watch TV.
4pm-6:30pm – This is our most varied time of day. Sometimes, we’ll run errands. Sometimes it’s a free-for-all time to play or read. Sometimes I actually cook dinner.
6:30pm (or thereabouts) – We eat dinner as a family and the kids get ready for bed.
8pm – Our ideal bedtime for the kids. Sometimes it’s earlier, sometimes later. But this is our ballpark range. Then Steve and I chat a bit, perhaps have a snack and relax for an hour or two before it’s our bedtime.
That’s our schedule, for now at least. It’s changed more times than I can count and it, certainly, will change again. But having a rhythm to work with rather than just winging-it is a huge help to me as I try to make sure we get the important things done.
And yet, I’ve found that the schedule itself isn’t nearly important as is my Source. If I’m just going through the motions of our schedule – without tapping into God regularly, chatting inwardly with Him, taking the time to jot down gifts in my gratitude journal – then I burn out…fast.
Some days I start off great, fully ready to dive into all that’s on the agenda, but one or both of my kids require…ahem…a little more focus on character development that day. If I’m only focused on the short-term agenda, it feels like we’ve totally derailed. But, if I keep in mind our big picture goals, the larger reasons why we homeschool (to put discipleship, practical training, and academia in their proper places…and most of all to help our kids hear the Voice of God for themselves) then I see the value of those interrupted moments (or hours).
It’s all about my Source. Who or what am I relying upon to walk through today? Who or what are you relying on?
The schedule will change. The ebbing and flowing of life necessitates that. But the Source is what remains secure, anchoring the years and seasons and moments.
Continue reading Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions to see what keeps me secure in my priorities when the stuff of life tries to sway me.