I’ve had a few people approach me over the past week or so, inquiring about the idea of balance.
“How do you manage working outside the home, inside the home, volunteering AND homeschooling?!”
These folks have seen the pictures I’ve shared online and on the blog of our family enjoying life to the fullest and, really, honestly… no “Fakebooking”…. we do have a ton of fun. We laugh far more often than we cry, to be sure!
But the truth is, it isn’t always easy. Balance is difficult when you have 26 hours worth of “to-do” in every given 24 hour period. I know that other homeschool moms (well… moms of all sorts!) have exactly the same dilemma so I thought I would lay out an easy step-by-step tutorial of how to organize your day, using a day of my own life for an example. Of course, you will need to make a few adjustments according to the needs of your own family.
STEP ONE: Give yourself a helping hand by planning the night before.
Before bed, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. I find that each day includes tasks that I really need to work on in peace and solitude and tasks that I can do while my children are up and about. Plan on doing the “quiet tasks” early, before the kids wake up. Calculate how much time you’ll need.
Accept that you won’t get that much time. Compromise with yourself and set the alarm fro 4:00 am.
Laugh at the idea of getting up at 4:00 am. Change the alarm clock to 4:45, acknowledging that you will hit “snooze” at least once.
Be sure, in planning, to jot down notes about starting the day with a great breakfast. Nothing will set you off on the right path like a nice hot plate of organic bacon and farm-fresh eggs with a green smoothie made from home-grown kale!
STEP TWO: Go to sleep.
Now that you have your schedule all worked out you can sleep soundly without giving a single solitary thought to the 400 tasks looming over your head. Be sure to fall asleep as fast as possible because your alarm is going to ring in… like… 5 hours. But don’t think about that or you’ll keep yourself up all night. Really, just don’t think about it all. Easy enough, right? Shut your brain off and go straight to sleep.
STEP THREE: Rise and shine!
Start by ignoring the alarm. I mean, it’s 4:45 am. What kind of insanity is that?! The sun isn’t even going to START to rise for 3 more hours for the love of God. Turn the alarm off.
Burst out of bed like your butt is on fire at 6:45, realizing with horror that you’re already 2 hours behind schedule and the youngest child has been awake and roaming around the house unsupervised for an unspecified amount of time.
STEP FOUR: Don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
For the love of God why did you think, yesterday, that you would have time for bacon and eggs this morning? Toss a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter on the counter and yell at the kids to eat something.
*TIP – you probably planned on showering but, since you’re already behind, you’re going to have to skip that. Use a baby wipe to tidy up the stinkiest spots and grab a hat. It’s fall. Call it “cool weather fashion.”
STEP FIVE: Check in on social media.
Be sure to write a post about how crazy your morning is.
STEP SIX: Get the family dressed and ready to face the day.
What?! You just spent AN HOUR on Facebook?
How did that happen? Oh, crap. Quick! Get the kids dressed! Wake up the husband! Feed the animals! Collect the eggs! Choose 5 things off your “to-do” list to move to tomorrow. You know you’re not going to have time today, right? Surely tomorrow you’ll get off to a better start and you’ll be able to get those things done then.
STEP SEVEN: Be prompt.
Work starts at 9:00am. Or 9:15… ish.
STEP EIGHT: Take care of the errands.
Work is done at 1pm. Co-op doesn’t start until 2 and it’s 30 minutes away. That means you should TOTALLY have enough time to grab a few staples that are running low.
Yes, the 93 year old woman in front of you has 42 cases of Ensure and a lifetime supply of Banquet Frozen Dinners in her cart and she is standing in the “12 items or less lane.” But she’s old. She’s paid her dues. It’s going to be OK.
And, yes, the 15 year old cashier is talking to her co-worker about next weekend’s party which is causing her to take a LONG pause between scanning each of those frozen dinners. We were all young once.
And…. OH, MY GOODNESS! SERIOUSLY?! SHE IS JUST NOW PULLING OUT HER 46 COUPONS AND READING THROUGH THE FINE PRINT ON EACH ONE TO SEE WHICH SHE CAN USE.
Try to stay calm. You can use this opportunity to catch up on important world news. I hear Kate is having morning sickness and Kim’s butt got 2 inches bigger since last month’s photo. These are crucial world events. It’s good to stay informed.
STEP NINE: Be prompt (part 2)
You should now be arriving at the co-op class. It’s exactly 2pm. Er… well… 2:08… ish.
STEP TEN: Re-evaluate.
OK. One kid is at co-op and one is sleeping in the back seat. Take a moment to decide how best to approach the next part of the day. Look at your list. Is there anything on there that is really, truly, seriously VITAL?
Tip: Keep in mind, here, that “vital” means “critical to life.” Making sure you pick up insulin is pretty vital. Unfolded laundry? Not going to kill anyone. Therefore folding laundry doesn’t really need to be done at all. It’s not that you didn’t accomplish it. It’s more like… you’re become ever more efficient!
Cross off everything that isn’t an issue of life and death.
Look at that! You’re already 90% done with your list and it’s not even 3pm! Buy yourself a pumpkin spice latte. You deserve a reward!
STEP ELEVEN: Take time to play.
Life is too short to be so busy! Toss the list. Go to the park. Don’t just watch. Swing from the monkey bars with your kids. (Hey! Turns out you DID fit a work out in today!)
STEP TWELVE: Order pizza.
There will be no 4-course dinner tonight, but there will be happy people with full tummies.
STEP THIRTEEN: Bathe the children.
Since “bathe the children” is one of the items that has, for 3 days now, been moved from a previous “to-do” list onto the current one it probably really should be done.
STEP FOURTEEN: Read stories.
Silly voices and wild, illustrative hand motions are strongly encouraged. Though not, perhaps with the pictured book.
STEP FIFTEEN: Tuck everyone in.
STEP SIXTEEN: Tie up the loose ends.
OK, so the day didn’t exactly go as planned but you kept the kids alive AND they are clean. Well done! Go you! And, since you had pizza, there are only a handful of dishes. No worries about that. It’s not so late just take a moment to….
STEP SEVENTEEN: Clean up pee
The toddler just peed all over the bed so fresh PJs and sheets will be required. They are probably in the clean laundry pile. See? Aren’t you glad you didn’t waste time folding them?
STEP EIGHTEEN: Tuck everyone in.
STEP NINETEEN: Tie up loose ends.
The pee pee stuff really is fairly stinky. Just drop it in the washer and… aw, crap! The stuff from last night is still in there and all musty? Ok. No worries. Just run those one more time while you knock out those dishes. Once the dishes are done, you can switch the laundry over and start the new…
now what are they doing up there?
STEP TWENTY: Get in touch with your inner theologian.
It is extraordinary the deep and thoughtful questions young children think of late at night. Of course, they couldn’t POSSIBLY be able to sleep until they have reasonable answers to things like, “why does God let bad things happen?”
STEP TWENTY-ONE: Tuck everyone in.
STEP TWENTY-TWO: Tie up loose ends.
Since the children so graciously helped the time pass you can now switch the laundry. Just forget the dishes. Tomorrow is a new day.
Now is a good time to start working on “STEP ONE” for tomorrow. Using pretty paper and a fun, glitter-colored pen may…
Are they SERIOUSLY out of bed again?
HOLY CRAP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET THEIR LITTLE BUTTS IN BED RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME GOD THERE WILL BE SWIFT AND TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES!
STEP TWENTY-THREE: Just go to bed.
Seriously. Sleep. And rest well knowing that no parent in the world had a perfect day but if you loved and laughed and lived life you did very well. Some day the house will be tidy. Or not. Who cares? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re doing just fine.
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
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