Thursday, December 10, 2009

Agile Scheduling

So, it's the middle of the night, and--again--I can't sleep.

We were managing a pretty stable routine around here for a while, we really were! I was feeling great about getting up a couple of hours earlier each day (although I am not a morning person) to meet some personal goals. I was pleased (although exhausted) with being able to juggle the needs of an infant, a rambunctious toddler, and two elementary-aged children. We were even managing to get the household chores done on most days. My schedule was working, and I felt so effective!

But then came the time change, more darkness than I am happy with, and the advent of "hibernating" weather, along with illness for most and sleeping pattern disturbances for too many. Even something as wonderful as holidays and family coming in from out of town send my delicately-balanced plans for our day toppling over like so many wooden blocks.

So, what's a mom to do? I love schedules. I find great satisfaction (and, honestly?, a little bit of magic) in orderly charts that show my plan for each segment of the day. They make me feel prepared for any eventuality.

The truth is, though, that such rigid pre-planning is far too easily thwarted in a setting as unpredictable as a home. Teachers in a school setting have the luxury of specialization--unlike me, they don't have to balance all the roles of mother, teacher, mentor, curriculum developer, educational researcher, playmate, caregiver, nurse, activities director, sanitation manager, efficiency coordinator, referee, menu planner, nutritional adviser, spiritual guide, and so many others it makes my head spin!

Although I'm not discounting the challenges they do face in the classroom, they just aren't the same challenges I face as a homeschooling mom, especially one with very small children. So WHY do I keep expecting to be able to keep a similar schedule?

I know the answer doesn't lie in completely letting go of all schedules and expectations. (That situation will happen sometimes, but I've found it can't sustain itself for long.) It also isn't to be found in fighting harder for my precious schedule, demanding that everything fit neatly into pre-planned half-hour slots on my chart. (I've learned all too forcefully that it leads only to further frustration.)

What I'm working toward is an agile attitude toward scheduling--being able to roll with what comes instead of feeling cheated because it wasn't on my chart. Isn't that really what I want to teach my children anyway? To drop everything to come to the aid of another person? To put others' needs before my own plans? To seek the Lord's will for my day instead of my own? Won't that lesson serve them better throughout their lives than all the academic subjects put together (which we can study tomorrow just as well, anyway)?

I find it far too easy to forget that life is the point here. Yes, schooling is important and schedules can be a great tool, but only as a part of life. If they are getting in the way of living and loving, then something needs to be re-evaluated. I find it helpful to remind myself periodically of this truth:
It doesn't matter what we are accomplishing. It only matters what we are becoming.
Things go much better when I remember this. Even on a day like today when I will need to manage with almost no sleep!

(This post was inspired by some questions posed by Carisa at 1+1+1=1.)


sharon said...

Very well said! I love your description of your job. May I use it too?
I struggle just like Carisa does. Schedule or not? If I set one, it feels good for a little while. If I have to vear from it I get so frustrated. We are looking for a happy flow of events. Perhaps if I set a few morning and afternoon goals and aim for those instead of a time schedule..... ah I can't bend my mind around it all. By the way I have a 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 5 week old. Blessings.

Tarasine said...

Thank you, Sharon! Yes, you are welcome to use my "job description"--there are so many title to add to the list, aren't there?

I really feel like scheduling is more difficult with very young children--they have no concept of time, only of the immediacy of their needs. As my oldest two get older, they are beginning to understand schedules and waiting and deferred gratification better and better, so I have great hope that, in the future, we will be more able to stick to a schedule! Thanks for your comment!