Posted by : Karen Sunday, August 26, 2012

I've found the timing of this carnival quite funny, as in the last few weeks this is the area of my life that is facing the biggest challenge!  Thankfully, this month's carnival host did me the kind courtesy of sending out a reminder two weeks before it was due, and as I sat down to write this, I thought, "Hey! That's an important tool to 'getting it all done', reminders!" Having a reminder, be it on my cell phone, in my diary, or on a hastily scribbled note pad really help me to get it all done.

So, having been reminded for a while, I've been able to think about getting it all done. How do I do that? What is helpful? Here are a few of my 'tools'.

Let's start with school. I think another important tool for me is having a schedule or a plan. The curriculum we use in our home (Sonlight) comes with a schedule provided for 36 weeks. Now in the one and  half years that I've been doing this I have grown immensely in this area. I'm learning constantly how to make the schedule serve me, rather than becoming a slave to it. I've learnt what parts of Sonlight work for us, and what parts don't; I've learned to let those parts go without feeling guilt, and to make it suit our family.

Sonlight's Instructor 's Guide

Here's how:
  • I take 10 weeks of the Sonlight curriculum guide and consider this my framework. Then I make a term plan on scrap paper, with blocks, rather than days (so day 1, 2, 3 etc rather than Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc). Sonlight's separate schedules for the Core/LA/Science were too cumbersome for me, but I believe that has changed now. I've found this helpful because when life happens, and we are delayed, I don't feel guilty looking and seeing that it's Thursday and we haven't done any 'school' yet, rather, that we just need to pick up where we left off, on day 2. I streamline our selected learning from this broad guide: for example, I'll look at all the suggested LA  assignments, and select some of them to do, I'll leave out the spelling, and make sure I add in more books for him to read. 
  • Then in pencil, I write in my daily journal what I want to achieve that week. As we do it on the day, I tick  off what we actually manage to do with a colored pen. This way I can adjust our week's load easily, but also have a final record of what I've done (which I draw from when I write my son's mid term and end of year report). 
Getting this done takes me a couple of solid evenings at the beginning of the term, and that sacrifice of time is so worth it. On a weekly basis, I try and do the weeks plan on a Thursday during down moments in the morning, or latest by that afternoon (we use a 4 day school week), so that it's ready for us on Monday (I used to do it on a Sunday evening and that was awful!).

my weekly planner

Having a schedule or a plan is essential to my sanity! 

Another tool that works for me is having a predictable routine. Again this is something that happens naturally in our home. My kids and I are early risers, and so we're all awake, fed and ready for the day by about 0730. When King Arthur and I get home from dropping the others at school, we start within minutes of walking through the door. It's just evolved into this over time, and now my son knows what is expected of him. Predictable routines lead to this - children knowing what is expected of them.

In terms of the details of our day, over time we've learnt, through much trial and error, what works for us (we're still learning this: as King Arthur grows, as I learn, as life changes...being open to this change is important!). We settle down to do seatwork first (Maths or Handwriting). This works for us as King Arthur is fresh, and at the end of the day it just doesn't happen well! I've learnt with Maths to keep the lessons short, and with Handwriting, I vary the assignments from day to day: copywork, creative writing,  letters to Granny... anything that is written! Then we move from the table into the lounge where we do Science, Reading and History, and then at the end of school we do all our read-alouds.

However, in my grand plans, I've realized that I even need to schedule in the fun - the art, the experiments, the nature walks etc (perhaps this is even the real school stuff, just a thought!), because I have a tendency to want to tick everything off on the list, and by the time I've done that, I've run out of steam to do the fun things. This is an area I'm still working at, so there's much room for improvement....and watch this space, as it's likely I might throw out everything I'm used to in the coming months! I've been sensing change afoot!

To compensate for this, I've found it really helpful to share school with friends, or to run my own workshops, where I can get around to doing all the fun things I never seem to get to! I'm also fortunate to be around women who are also running things - King Arthur attends a friend's Art club, and music with another lady -  areas that are not my strength.

I find it helpful to use this morning, when Elijah is at Art, wisely. It's the one morning every two weeks where I have my own head space for two hours, and I try to make sure it is used well. For me, having some personal head space on a regular basis, just to be still is also essential to getting it all done.

It's also helpful to be accountable to someone to get it done - Braveheart is amazing in listening to me week in and week out, when I relate to him our progress. Other times I just need a different perspective, and sometimes friends are able to offer that to me.

But life is not just about school! Over the last few years I've learnt some tools as to how to get "life done"! Time management is my golden key:
  •  I schedule things at the same time - so whilst Aragorn is swimming, King Arthur does his reading, or whilst King Arthur does his gymnastics, we visit the library. 
  • I've learnt how to plan my meals for a month, and do one monthly shop (which saves me both time and money), and then only shop once a week for fresh things. I'd love to tell you I cook two meals at once and freeze regularly, but the only time that happens is with spaghetti bolaignaise! This used to be the frozen for a meal on nights when we get home after 5. (I must add here, in all fairness, that Braveheart has blessed me by taking this meal on board, as it is his *meal* (he has a knack of making a delicious one!), and he makes it for us now)
  •  I've learnt how to streamline buying birthday presents by keeping a birthday list year after year - so, for example, at the beginning of September I know how many presents I need to buy and I try and do that in one go.
  • I'm very privileged to have a lady to help me with housework, and her work is such a blessing to us. I've learnt though on the days she doesn't come, to first do what will make it feel like I'm on top of things before anything else. For me, making the beds, a tidy lounge and tidy kitchen counters make me feel like my house is in order, then as the day wears on, I can get to all the other little things. My kids also know how to pull their own weight in tidying things too.
  • I guard my time on the computer carefully, and with how I spend it in general. 
Before I go any further I feel it quite important to share something with you. I like being organised. I like order. These things make me feel comfortable, and I like knowing what to expect. But sometimes, even  for me, the best intentions of getting it all done can vaporize in a moment. I've been there these last few weeks, with launching Cape Explorers, attempting to run two blogs, managing family life, and investing in relationships.

What does one do then, when everything seems to go pear shaped?

I simplify. I strip down our life to the bare minimum. What are the absolute essentials I need to get done today?
- for me? (shower, eat?)
- for the house (dishes bathrooms, beds?)
- for the family (get them fed, quality time?)
...and get myself back together with a few days like that. It's no good getting myself into a nervous break down trying to get it all done! And after a few days like that, my perspective shifts and I am on an even keel again!

I do hope you find the time to read this month's carnival, and that we can learn and be encouraged by one another!

Here's to getting it done!

One Response so far.

  1. Taryn says:

    so identify with so much you've written here :-) especially the bare minimum bit - although, I don't think I've really thought much about it, other than I get to a point where I can't see people or do anything other than the bare minimum! Methinks I need to see it as a good strategy for staying sane rather than feel guilty for the "time wasted"! So THANKS for that! :)

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