On New Year’s Eve, I left the house at 7:00 am and headed to our one local coffee shop. I spent the next six hours organizing all the ideas that had trickled in as 2016 came to a close. I had lists and lists. I did a massive brain dump, and then slowly organized ideas onto lists until all the lists made sense.
We are only three weeks into the new year, but it feels like forever to me. And indeed, so far the year has not gone how I envisioned. (Imagine that!) For one, getting sick after a trip was not in my plans. (Although, I should have expected it!)
It’s easy to look at my grand plans and feel a little defeated that I haven’t gotten more done. But in reality, for the most part, I have stuck to the priorities I laid out, and that is what is important. Two priorities in particular have been getting ingrained in our every day: keep the home tidy and clean (clean being my current standard, which is not the highest, but realistic) and have more together time. I’ve accomplished that by tweaking our routines and adding some things here and there.
I’ve given up trying to start school as quickly as possible, or by a certain time. It’s simply a part of our day now and so it still happens, even if it’s not the first thing. Instead, after breakfast we do what I call “Daily Tasks.” For me this is cleaning up after breakfast, wiping the table, putting away any laundry that hung to dry that night, take care of the chickens, get Ella ready, start laundry, and direct the kids with their morning tasks. For them this is getting dressed, making their bed, tidying their room, emptying the dishwasher, and wiping the bathroom (Mia) and sweeping under the table (Michael). Also, one of them will help prep food for supper while the other plays with (or keeps and eye on) Ella. Sometimes this is putting a crock pot together, sometimes it is just chopping veggies. In a way, I prioritize these things over the school lessons. These are life lessons. They are learning to care for a home and contribute as a member of the family. Once these things are done, we start school.
One thing that was lacking in our days was time for me to be with the kids that wasn’t school. Fun time. I’m a firm believer in having a Quiet Time, but I used to let it linger on and on (at least for me) until I’d finally come out and start supper. This meant they’d eventually be playing together and I’d just keep doing “my thing,” be it Quiet Time or cooking, and we didn’t spend time together. I wasn’t reading anything fun to the kids and I missed that. I realized I just needed to buckle down and stop Quiet Time when the time was up. The hour after Quiet Time is now “Together Time.” The kids put their Legos away, we all have a snack together, and I’ll read. If we have time, we’ll do a craft, play a game, or make art. Most days, it’s just the snack and reading, but it’s leisurely and not rushed.
The hour after Together Time, is EHAP. This stands for Everything Has A Place, and I got it from Mystie Winckler, who is my current mama/homeschool/organizing inspiration. This is when we put the house back together. It’s also a time for vacuuming, as needed, watering the plants (a little every day), folding laundry, gathering the eggs, and general straightening up. The kids actually (usually) enjoy it and are excited about it. After it’s done, it’s time to finish up supper and then Papi’s home.
It feels so good to have these structures in our day. It enables me to make my priorities a reality. I feel our days are more about being a family together and less of me doing the homemaker things, and them just playing all day. Of course, they do play, and I do some of my own things too. But there is much more togetherness, and that is one thing I really want more of this year.
I share all this because maybe there is something important to you, that is not happening in your day to day. Take some time to think about what it is you want to happen, what that would look like in your day (when, how long,etc.), and then what you can do to make it happen. For most of us, we determine how our days go. Be intentional and make that priority a reality!