I’m floundering just a bit over here, friends.
Which feels a little odd to write since my life essentially hasn’t really changed. Our home school schedule looks pretty much the same. My husband’s work schedule is the same. My project list and laundry pile look about the same. But it all feels odd and unsettling regardless. Today I read in Emily P. Freeman’s e-mail newsletter:
We are all beginners.
Yes, you may homeschool your kids. But you have never homeschooled your kids during a pandemic. Yes, we may have worked from home for the last 20 years. But we’ve never worked from home during a pandemic. Yes, we may have 100 productivity hacks. But we’ve never had to be productive during a pandemic.
This is all new, is what I’m saying.
If your days kind of look like they’ve always looked and you wonder why your’e not thriving, be kind to yourself. You’re doing a new thing in a weird day.
None of this is normal. But we are not alone.
I feel like she understands what my heart is feeling. This is not normal. And that’s okay. Others are feeling this too, and I’m so glad not to be alone.
The word that keeps coming to mind as I try to manage through yet another unsettled day is rhythms. There is so much information floating around online right now about schedule and routine and plans. But really I’ve found what works best–in a non-pandemic world and now in one–is having a rhythm. And our family’s rhythm is helping life keep going in a calm way right now.
We don’t have many set times for activities in our home (except for lunch at noon and snack at 3 p.m. so that I don’t have to field a million when-will-it-be-time-for questions). Our days don’t run on an hourly schedule. Mostly our home runs on a rhythm: we get up, we do this, and then we do that. The morning rhythm looks like focused school–Mom works with the younger kids first and then the older two. The afternoon rhythm feels like free/play time and cleaning and dinner-making and going on walks. And the evening rhythm is for reading and quiet games and getting ready for bed. A rhythm is comforting and consistent and calming.
People who have visited our home often comment on how smoothly things seem to run, that the children know exactly what the plan is . . . and I think it’s simply because we have an established rhythm to our days.
Here are some helpful strategies for these days when you find yourself and your family all at home together:
- Give each child one drinking cup for the whole day. My kids each have their own color and their cup sits on the counter so they can help themselves to water all day long.
- Make a daily schedule with general blocks of time versus hourly. For example: early morning, morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and evening. Fit your activities into these blocks; don’t tie yourself to a rigid hourly list (otherwise it’s easy to get behind and become frustrated and overwhelmed).
- When the kids are getting on each other’s (or your) nerves, mandate a 45-60 min quiet time. Each kid gets their own room/space (I spread mine out all over the house since they don’t have their own rooms), and they are to play/read quietly for the time that you set. It’s a great reset for the whole family.
- I know it feels counter-intuitive, but no technology/screen/TV time actually makes for happier and more-content-to-play children. I may write more on this at some point, but we’ve recently limited our children’s screen time even more (just once or twice a week) and the results have been amazing. Let them be bored and play and create. It’s difficult up front, but the rewards are immense.
- Declutter the house regularly, especially the main living areas. At least twice a day, either the entire family or just I run around for 10-15 minutes and put everything away. It’s like a deep breath–the children play better when things are cleaned up and mom breathes easier.
- For our family, early bedtimes have been so life giving. The children benefit from a consistent rhythm of good sleep (they all sleep 10-11 hours a night). Mom and Dad benefit from time to regroup and to reconnect (and to get things done!). It’s a blessing for all of us.
So teach us to number our days,Psalm 90:12 (AMP)
That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.
May God help us order our days with a rhythm that glorifies Him, bringing calm consistency to our children and also to our own hearts. These are unsettling days, yes, but God is a place of peace for us. May we anchor our rhythm in Him.