Back in August, we had a date night. We talked about lots of things. I spewed words and stress and asked for insight and help making sense of the fall schedule. He turned my confusion into clarity. He helped me figure it all out. It was very good. I was able to pull out the common themes in all my rambling and wondering about ‘what to do about_____?’. The important things emerged.
One of the biggest was the desire to not be driven by a crazy and unattainable schedule. Living where we do and being wired the way I am, this is extremely hard to actually live out. We had a list of things in the wings, fun activities, all enriching and wonderful. But they all required something that asks a lot of me…leaving the home with a handful of children. Maybe this seems simple, but honestly it looks like this:
Get myself clothed and ready to go (this happens long before the sun or children get up). Get two little people fed, clean(ish), clothed, shoed and ready. Supervise the older two doing the same things. One puts on all dirty clothes. Talk about why we wear, in general, clean clothes. Little kids take off pieces of shoes or clothing. I put them back on. Spills. Someone fills a diaper. Anticipate all the needs of where we’re going, how long we’ll be there, what we are doing. Pack snacks, drinks, perhaps a whole meal for 5 people that travels well. Make sure there are diapers in the car and extra clothes for guaranteed messy diapers requiring new outfits. Tie someones shoes-again. Remember the dog’s not been let out all morning. Let her out. Accidentally let the indoor cat out. Chase the cat and bring her back in. Step in gum. Clean my shoe. Answer a phone call. A text message. Realize its pouring and no one has their jackets. Find everyones’ jackets. Resolve minor sibling argument. Throw a load of stuff in the car. Get assaulted by a smell that tells me I left old food and/or a diaper in the car yesterday. A mass exodus out to the van. Someone loses a shoe in a puddle. Wet socks. Sadness. Back in. Someone has to go potty. Back in, then out. I contemplate sitting on the front porch for a minute while they are all buckled in waiting for me.
Really, it’s not much of an exaggeration. It’s a big ordeal leaving. So when I started to hyperventilate over all the comings and goings of fall and tried to figure out how they would jive with my heart to pursue simpler days and a life that was grounded and stable – it should not have been a surprise that I realized too much was on the docket.
So we cleared the whole docket. We said no to all of it. Then we thoughtfully prayerfully talked about what mattered most and honestly looked at our motives for wanting to do each cool thing. And not much was left. But there was great peace. And ten weeks into our homeschool year, I still feel a great sense of relief that we don’t have a daily ‘something’ to get out to. I haven’t had even a pang of regret. It might sound crazy to you and like we’re all missing out on so much.
But this has left me free to go to the park on sunny days and play in the leaves. Free to let our general schoolwork happen throughout the flow of the day, not being in a crazy frenzy to squeeze it in when we’re home. Free to spend an hour cooking with all hands on deck teaching my 6 year old boy what it means to deglaze the pan with red wine as he pours it into a pot. Free to play puzzles on the floor for almost two hours like we did one rainy day last week. Free to have friends over for lunch and not stress about if we’re behind on our schedule.
Yes, some days like last Wednesday felt more like totally crazy than perfectly simple. I had asked too many times for people to do things and they weren’t getting done. I felt like steam was literally coming out of my head. I tossed a perfectly good bowl full of my favorite lunch into the sink and left lunch early I was so frustrated by poor table manners.
However, even with ‘totally crazy’ days, having sat down and taken inventory of what we were doing, the big picture of our year (a baby coming, a vacation, our involvement in our new church starting soon) was one of the best things we could have done. It took a few years of saying yes to too many things and of doing things out of sheer obligation for me to come to this place.
Living and learning…every single day.