A little structure goes a long way…

So the summer is halfway over and the new school year is inching toward us. It definitely goes by quickly and I imagine even more so for families who are unsure of what this new school year is even going to look like. You may be stuck in limbo with decision making—and I’d say you’re most likely not alone there. It’s hard to make decisions when so many variables are not set in stone. That’s why so many families are turning to homeschool right now. There are just too many moving parts happening with the public school system and it’s too hard to say yes to sending the kids off to school when there’s many districts without a clear cut answer on what school is going to look like. And no one wants to make the choice to continue public school and then be thrown into remote learning again two months into the year and have no back up plan.

Anyway, this post isn’t about making the choice to homeschool- it’s more about getting you through the summer with some sanity left to spare when September rolls around! I wanted to talk about how a summer schedule can help with that. This summer hasn’t exactly been the norm. Most things are closed and trips, vacations and cookouts aren’t happening like they usually do over the summer months in many parts of the country. With that, the days at home with kids can be long. When I say summer schedule, I am not talking about extending the school year–so don’t run away. It’s just that some structure amidst the monotony of feeling like you’re living the same day over and over can help break things up. I found that the best way to help myself stay engaged with my kids and help my kids from going stir-crazy themselves during this time has been to give them some sort of summer schedule. Some intentional blocks of time during the day. It’s not intense and we’re definitely not tied to it—but it gives us some sense of purpose and function especially when the world is flipped upside down. As the school year gets closer, we’ll stick more closely to the summer schedule to get them more ready for the more solid structure again.

I mentioned how the schedule helps me engage with my kids. Maybe you’re one of those moms that I long to be, the type that is just naturally *on* with her kids, without having to put forth much effort. If so, this may not be helpful to you. I don’t know what makes me not like that. Maybe it’s my slow processing speeds and my kids high talking speeds or maybe it’s my introverted tendencies and my kids constantly forcing me to people from sun-up to sun-down. And I don’t know about you but when I am cooped up in the house with my kiddos for long periods of time and there’s nothing on the agenda, my tendency is to check out. Sure I answer their questions but I skim the surface, I don’t go really deep into the answers. Sure I meet their needs, fetch them snacks and meals, wash them up, do all of the *things*, but I don’t spend an afternoon building forts or painting portraits of one another. For whatever reason, I need to be scheduled to do those things!

One day, perhaps a couple of weeks after the school year wrapped up, it occurred to me that our mornings were more rocky than they usually were. I was scattered and unfocused in the morning and my kids seemed to lack direction. So we were pretty much feeling the same. I noticed that we’d let go of a habit that was essential for us starting our day off right. When the school year was in session, we always started every morning with our Bible time and prayer. Then, when school came to an end that piece suddenly went out the window. I didn’t let go of it because Bible time and prayer isn’t important to me. I let it go because I am a creature of structure and habit and Bible was tied into our daily school schedule. Not our daily living schedule. Oops, I’d put God in a school box and not a life box. I hate to say that God needs a scheduled slot in my life but it’s the only way I stick to anything. Anyway that’s what got me to thinking that we needed some sort of structure to survive and enjoy this summer. If you’re looking for a rich yet bite-sized Bible devotional to do with you kids I highly recommend the ones in the photo below. They answer common and thought provoking questions and describe different aspects of science beautifully.

You might be thinking that as an exhausted parent, a schedule sounds like just another thing to do and be responsible for. I understand that, but I have to tell you that when I spend small chunks of time engaging with my kids in meaningful ways, they are in better moods throughout the day. In my house that is worth the weight of a little scheduling! When I am on autopilot my kids sense it and they gravitate toward me even more! Autopilot is never a restful existence even though I sometimes try to convince myself of it. I have fallen off the schedule wagon for a couple of weeks after having big changes to our home life and I’m feeling the disorientation of it. I especially need the structure when there are big changes–so I will be going back!

Staying involved for designated times gives the kids the security that they’ll have time with me, they know what their day will look like to some degree and then they’re more likely to give me my time when I need to restore myself. When I created an intentional schedule to do with my kids, it gave me short spurts of designated opportunity for me to engage in a meaningful ways with them. And if I am exhausted, which I usually am, I know that I can push through and do it because the chunks of time are bite-sized and down-time is scheduled in. It keeps me going. Plus, the beauty of it is that if something more appealing comes up, we can toss it out the window on a whim and do that instead. The schedule is just there to keep us going day after day when there is nothing interesting on the calendar.

So if you’re still with me and want an idea of what our days look like, check out Our Summer Schedule

Of course your days don’t have to look like ours. You might not want it to look anything like ours. It’s just what works for our family and it gives you an idea of what you can do. You may notice I didn’t use any time stamps on our schedule. That’s simply because it’s summer and I want our days to be relaxed and not confined to the clock. We wake up at different times every day depending on how well we slept and I never want to feel like I am rushed or late for something on our schedule. It’s more of a flow. You’ll also notice we only have a small block of educational screen time thrown into the day. Sometimes I am more liberal with the length of time, most of the time I try to stick to the schedule because it helps my kids keep their screen addiction under control. Yes, it is an addiction for them! We do video games on the weekends because one of my boys really needs the strict limits. Again, it’s whatever works for you.

Well that’s enough for today, I’ve gone on long enough. I hope you’ve found this helpful and if not that’s okay too! I do appreciate you dropping by.

Stay sane,