Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Perpetual Quest for Balance...

Something interesting is happening in the nature of how we schedule our time to play.  We have gone from having long stretches of time to play and play to short bursts of time   that usually fall in between activities.  Our weeks have taken on a steady rhythm that was missing in the fall.  
The fall seemed chaotic.  Too much activity.  Too many playdates.  Too many activities.  When I had a day free I did not do my best to honor our time at home like I promised myself I would.  It is so easy to say yes to tea with your friends and conversation that can stretch on for hours.  In fact, there are times when we should say yes to this.  Being home with our children 24/7 is a blessing.  However, just like they need to be with friends their own age, so do we as mothers, need a chance to interact about things other than grammar, medieval history and fractions.   But what was happening is that my only free day at home was taken up by playdates or appointments and the housework was not getting done, the meals I wanted to cook went uncooked and the dogs were getting lonely.  
When December arrived and with it a much needed break from coop and Girl Scouts, the ending of Meteorology and a month long hiatus from Sunday School, I had the change to re-evaluate how I wanted our days to look like.  I became frustrated with myself because I have had this conversation before.  “I will honor my time.....I will not overschedule....blah...blah..blah.”  If I continued to break my promises to myself I was threatening to compromise the one thing I set out to do in this homeschooling journey which was to give my children the time to explore their interests and the opportunities to learn as much as possible in a setting that is both peaceful and stimulating.  While we certainly had stimulation, the peace was lacking a bit.
Now we have a flow to our days of work in the morning, play in the afternoon with a few activities thrown in for good measure.  The girls kept their dog walking job.  They have had this for two years and it is very important to them.  They wanted to keep our artist/writer’s workshop, although this too has been on an extended break until the end of this month.  They are keeping coop.  They have added basketball.  We still have Girl Scouts but we added Destination Imagination, which is a huge commitment, especially since the girls are on different teams that meet in different towns (each at least 30 minutes away).    
To keep all this balanced we have to be very intentional in our scheduling.  Through these activities the girls get time to play with their friends.  What must be scheduled is the time to play with those friends that are not involved in the same activities as we are.  I am eternally grateful that my iPhone allows me to sync my calendar with my computer.    It is the first time I have been able to successfully manage our busy lives with ease.  And so, rather than have the spontaneity of impromptu playdates that turn into sleepovers that result in lots of fun but also a bit of stress over missed math and incomplete stories and unfinished geography programs, we now have playdates that are shorter and definitely less impromptu but still magical in that these children can play.  They take the time they have and make the most of it.  
This is good for us.  This is balanced for us.  This is why I work so hard.  Not a day goes by that I am not at my computer emailing asking about free time, trips to local places and dinner dates.  We are spending quality time with people we care about.  And if we have a play date at 2:00, it is a great incentive to get that math lesson finished!  

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