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Editor’s note: read the full series here.
“I need a break!” I uttered repeatedly in my head as I kept on trolling forward to my next meltdown.
Being an entrepreneur, single mom, and dealing with a school commute, fundraisers, events, homework, and everything else that comes along with educational institutions would jam-pack my schedule to the point of the monthly explosive meltdown.
I honestly felt like there was no other way than ineffectively doing too much.
Some of the weight was lifted as I decided to homeschool my two girls. Yet the time I saved from no longer having a commute, participating in school events and fundraisers, or spending endless hours on homework, got swapped out for the overscheduling of classes and activities.
Choosing to take the nontraditional route of homeschooling brought along a lot of fears and doubts at the very beginning. Like not having done what is best for my children, the fear they will fall behind, not getting the “right” education, and what about socialization, just to name a few.
This created, for me, the overscheduling syndrome. I needed to make up for the world I thought they were missing out on instead of focusing on the world we were living in, the world I was attempting to create for them and the world they wished for themselves.
My life had always been dictated by the world around me. The nine-to-five, Monday through Friday world with some vacations thrown in here and there. And instead of realizing the freedom that came with being an entrepreneur and a homeschooling mom, I just gave in to my old programming when creating our schedule.
Several years later, I have learned to let go of the preconceived notion of how many hours a week we should work or do “school” work, what being productive is supposed to look like, and what growth really entails. Now, as I coach parents starting their homeschool journey who are in the process of creating their schedules, I always bring attention to some specific factors.
No matter what you choose to put in your family’s schedule, always make it a point to schedule adult activities first, with the learning or kid activities around the parent’s, and leaving enough room not only for yourself but also for life to flow.
Organic life does not stick to a schedule—things always happen unexpectedly and sometimes out of nowhere—but schedules are great for staying on task. My girls and I create loose schedules in which we can flow within set boundaries and desired timelines. We each have a calendar with a plan and tasks written on sticky notes that we can relocate if the task does not get done on the day it was assigned. Together, we create deadlines, choose in which format they will present their learning, and what areas of knowledge they want to explore. All these go onto the calendar, and then they will assign themselves the smaller tasks that will help them accomplish their plans. Since they have vastly different personalities, they go about smaller tasks in vastly different ways, creating their own effective routine.
Non-project-based daily activities are also part of our daily schedule, and our daily scheduling has grown to become part of our family agreement.
My daughters will choose their own mealtime and prepare the food themselves. When they were younger, they would have assigned snack compartments that they could help themselves to when they took their breaks, always making sure to be clear on what, how much, and how many times a day they could access their snacks.
Personal time, “me-time,” or a goddess day (a day off for personal care) is also something we lightly schedule. It is an activity or lack thereof that we feel strongly helps our family dynamic. We will also allow it to organically present itself into our day, when one of us is feeling unexpectedly tired, emotional, cranky, or just out of sorts. Personal space is something we highly respect each other on. When we need impromptu space, we just give a heads up to the rest of the crew when we need it, and the length of time varies depending on age and circumstance. It is a great tool for keeping us balanced.
Having time for yourself daily creates a life in which you don’t get to the point of meltdown before you cater to your personal needs. Allow things to flow to the next day if it’s too much or if life throws things at you unexpectedly, and don’t overfill your schedule.