When I taught school and even when I was a student myself, February was like pulling taffy with straws. Now as I homeschool my Kindergartener I see that not much has changed for me and for my now young, budding scholar.
I am a proponent for habits. “A little bit, often, for the long haul” is my motto. I love routine. But I am finding that some time between the New Year and Easter routine begins to feel mundane. It is difficult for me to break patterns, because once something feels comfortable for me, I set life on “auto pilot” and relax on effort.
Because I am weary.
And so are my kids.
My five-year-old is trying to take a nap as I write this. We take two hours in the afternoon for rest and independent play, but no one except the toddler really naps during the day. There are those days, though, when one or both my girls shut down and need to recharge. Today happens to be one of those days. When I push myself or my kids beyond our level of endurance, I am setting us up for a breakdown. Mommy loses her temper, kids throw tantrums, the family becomes fatigued, and at times ill simply from being worn down.
Life does not slow down, but life is not driving us.
I have a very predictable, comfortable, and carefully tweaked schedule for my kids and me during the week. On most weeks and months, this schedule makes life manageable, but some time after Christmas, the schedule seems to derail. Well, not the schedule so much as my kids from the schedule. They buck against it, and in a way, I do as well.
Because we are bored.
So, I am learning to uncharacteristically loosen my grip on “the plan” and insert spontaneous, creative adjustments to our week while maintaining what is essential.
For my kids and me, this is what essential looks like:
- Family meals (breakfast and dinner around the table together)
- Read aloud (read as a family and one-on-one aloud daily)
- Get outside (if the weather is nice, at least an hour outside to play daily)
- Schoolwork (For my K- math, phonics, memory work, and handwriting daily)
- Morning time (weekday mornings the kids and I gather around the table for Bible, memory work, poetry, singing, and even the calendar and Pledge of Allegiance)
- Independent leisure (coloring, reading, listening to music, even dancing- for my girls, anyway) =)
As long as we maintain the essential, we are free to incorporate out-of-the-ordinary activities into our routine.
For February, here is how we are breaking the monotony from our day:
- Countdown to Valentine’s Day. Every morning at breakfast, I read one of the Valentine’s Day Countdown Bible verses from Happy Home Fairy. We say how many more days there are until Valentine’s Day and we talk about God’s love and loving others.
- Change nonessential plans, and do something special. Travis surprised us to a Chick-Fil-A lunch after our Classical Conversations Co-Op on Friday, and it made our day! We plan to go to the museum with friends instead of the library on Monday. Also, we had lunch at the park this past Monday because the weather was nice enough for it. These are just a few examples of how we are adding some spontaneity to our February.
- Make a special dish. I made these easy breakfast casserole bites Monday morning to jump start our week, and they were a hit! I made them once before when we had breakfast for dinner not too long ago. Everyone seemed to perk right up when they had a break from the usual waffle/cereal and fruit breakfast.
- Changing the details of our day. There are small things that I am doing to help keep my girls engaged. For instance, during morning time we always recited a prayer from memory, but this week I started reading prayers from a book on prayers for children, which seems to help keep my kids’ attention (helps, not perfect…important to note.) 🙂 Another thing that I need to do better with is getting my girls to move, and they love to move. This is especially important when the weather is cold or yucky outside. They love to dance, so sometimes we will dance while we recite memory work. They recently discovered kids Zumba on YouTube, so I play videos on the Smart T.V. for them to dance to- great workout and great for burning off energy!
February is what it is. The weather may or may not be nice, the kids may or may not feel well, mom may or may not feel well, and everyone may or may not be into the norm. I am giving myself permission to break from the norm. No one will be ruined for this. The world will continue to spin, and God is still on His throne. It may take me until all my kids are grown and out of the house before I relax into this whole motherhood gig. But until then I can at least loosen my grip on the calendar, the curriculum, and the routine to make room to breathe and let life in my home, and to let joy fill it up full.