This morning my eldest slept in until 8.45am. We were supposed to be at Playtime by 9am. In trying to rush my boys out the door in fifteen minutes I asked my eldest to get dressed while I got breakfast ready… Bad move Mum.
“But I eat my breakfast in my jammies!”
We didn’t get out the door for another 45 minutes.
Underlying the chaos of our lives there is a strong and steady rhythm that beats. Sometimes, we don’t even realise until we unintentionally change it and everything falls apart. It turns out, my children always eat breakfast in their pyjamas and then get changed. Now I know.
As a homeschooling family, indeed for any family, I find it so helpful to try to form healthy and helpful rhythms for our lives. Deliberate rhythms help us to prioritise our vision and goals. They help us to be thoughtful about what we are doing with our children and why. They challenge us to ensure that the things we believe are the most important are prioritised and that they don’t get lost in the busyness of the day. Rhythms knock Mum-Guilt and Mum-Worry out for six. That thing you are feeling guilty about? If it’s important, then how can you incorporate it into your rhythm?
Recently, I was overwhelmed with guilt about my second child. I felt like I was never doing anything proactive just for him. Everything was targeted at his older brother and he just got taken along for the ride. So… I changed my daily rhythm! I changed my Morning Time to start with a few things just for him. His Bible stories and some picture books. Then, when the big boy and I move on to the rest of our Morning Time, he gets to play with some puzzles and games set out for him at the table. Take that Mum-Guilt! Since this is now part of our rhythm, I don’t have to feel guilty any more, even if the rest of the day is awful.
Rhythms help us to keep our schedule simple. They stop me from trying to add unnecessary busywork to our lives. Our eldest can tell you what we do on every day of the week, he owns it. The days have a flow.
Rhythms are self-sustaining. We don’t have to start from scratch every day, every week, every term. We just know what to do. When everything else falls apart, the rhythm keeps us going.
Lastly, rhythms are flexible. If we choose to do something different it doesn’t matter (as long as I don’t spring it on my unsuspecting child with a time schedule). No schedule is ruined. No checklist is impacted. Life happens. Kids get sick. Have meltdowns. Friends come over. It rains. Sometimes we go on an unplanned adventure. Sometimes everything is thrown out the window and we watch DVDs all day. It’s a fluid structure that works.
So, what are our rhythms? What do we do all day? Let me share with you.
Firstly, when you look at our year, we run on a 5 week on, 1 week off rhythm (approximately). During our week off I rest, review the term, plan ahead and reset the house. Often this week off coincides with school holidays when there are special kids’ events and also friends and family are on holidays too so extra catch ups are fun. This week off also coincides with all our birthdays! Hooray!
Next, when you look at our week, we try to have just one or two key things each day. As I said before, my eldest knows what happens every day. He excitedly announces to me every morning what we will be doing that day. This is what our homeschool week looks like, I’ll write on most of these later on, because they’re so important to us and lots of fun!
Sunday – Church
Monday – Poetry Teatime
Tuesday – Playtime and Painting
Wednesday – Adventure Day (Alternates Nature/City)
Thursday – Project (My Flexi Day)
Friday – Swimming and STEM
Saturday – Soccer and Family
Finally, our daily rhythm. This is the hardest to explain because there are more little details, some of which I am apparently not even aware of (like getting dressed AFTER breakfast), and a lot that is just the nature of the day (like eating meals, bath, bedtime etc). There are a few very deliberate parts to our day. These don’t happen every day by any means, but they happen more often than not and therein lies the rhythmical nature of it.
Our morning rhythm is driven by Morning Time and Tablework. Morning Time is where we read the Bible, pray, read picture books and our set read-aloud (at the moment we’re reading the Muddle-Headed Wombat by Ruth Park, it’s delightful!), and whatever poetry, artwork or music we have chosen for the term.
Tablework is when we work on “schoolwork.” At the moment we are focussing on Maths and English learning areas. Next term we will add in some history. All up, we spend about 45 minutes to an hour, maybe 4 times a week. Then onto play, reading books, going to the park, eating lots of food (seriously, these boys can eat!). If it’s Monday, we’ll do Poetry Teatime. If it’s Tuesday we go to Playtime and then do painting. If it’s Wednesday… well, you get the idea.
So that’s it. That’s what we do. It’s thought out. It’s planned. There’s so much to it, and yet hardly anything at all. It has room to grow and change as the boys grow. It’s structured and yet flexible. It’s rich and yet simple. It’s perfect for our family.