Schedules should free time, not fill it.
Get in the Groove
I need to let you know, right out of the gate - I lean on the hyper organized side. I love me some organization. I’m the kind of girl who wants labels on everything and I’d rather be in a container store or an IKEA than any department store anywhere.
When we first began to homeschool 20 years ago I was very structured. If you did a side-by-side of then me with present, relaxed me now- you would think old me was whisked away by body snatchers.
To give you an example of my mania - at one point during those first three years, I had our day scheduled in 15 and 30 minute increments. Insanity. I was nuts. It caught up to me. It was after that semester that I began to walk away from scheduling or in my case, hyper-scheduling and discovered a way of life that focuses on rhythms as opposed to schedules.
Rhythms vs Schedules
Creating a rhythm in my home and abandoning a schedule has been blissful. The time I have enjoyed with my children and my spouse as a result is nothing short of luxurious and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It’s a critical step in embracing a Relaxed Approach.
My daily rhythm is very simple: Early Morning, Morning, Lunch, Early Afternoon, Late Afternoon and Evening.
Certain things happen during certain times, because it is natural for that to be the case. We ease in and out of those times and the day flows. Also for the record if we are fully engaged and embracing something awesome, we don’t stop because it’s not Early Morning and we have to get to the Morning stuff.
Early Mornings tend to be quiet time or when they were little play time while I had a cup of coffee. Mornings we did a bit of housework, if they had bookwork they did it during this time. Early Afternoon saw naps when they were small, chores and dinner prep. Late Afternoon brings the house back to order and dinner. Late Evening is for family and then couple time. Errands were generally limited to one day a week. For example: Tuesday Mornings would be when I would schedule doctor appointments or run errands. Not during nap time. Not during family time or interfering with dinner. If something is going to get bumped it’s going to be bookwork. We limited activities that took us far from home for a significant portion of the day. We weren’t running like crazy. This provided calm and allowed me to focus on running my home not my van everyday.
We're moms. We have so many opportunities and we don’t want to miss them. We love schedules. I get it, I do. I LOVE planners. I love color coded calendars and colored pens, my bullet journal and menu plans. I have loved me some schedules. I am obsessed with office supplies.
Organized is not the same as scheduled.
Those tools help me organize my world in a way that frees up more time and energy because I am able to work more effectively and efficiently. This is work, running the home is my work and I treat it as such. But scheduling has a dark side and I don't just mean over-scheduling, which seems to be the only concern people have with regards to schedules. I think there are at least two important pitfalls in scheduling people often ignore.
Whom Do You Serve?
The first pitfall in my estimation is becoming a slave to the schedule. Women too often place themselves at the bottom of the priority list. (I may have once held the title in this event) Sometimes we have to, that's reality. But as a way of life? Not okay.
Trying to do everything and be everything to everybody at all times is an impossible task. Hear that. It is impossible. Even when you think you are killing it and you ARE Wonder Woman. I can guarantee you, something somewhere is falling through a crack. Maybe it's prayer, church attendance, exercise, health, meals, charity, kindness, time with friends, free time, play time, sibling relationships, spouse time, or getting the oil changed and the water heater drained. Stuff WILL get missed. The schedule is supposed to help us remember the things we need do to, but what we normally do is write down every single thing and fill that schedule up to the brim. That's not how a schedule should work.
A schedule that is bursting with a flurry of activity, service, fun, work even when it's all good things and responsibilities can work well for only a time. If you aren't careful you can find yourself serving the schedule. Contorting yourself like a pretzel to do it all and there are consequences.
Health, both physical and mental, suffers when schedules rule our lives. Marriages are most often the silent victim of schedules. Marriages that end after 20 years often do so because couples grow apart. Schedules drain the women breaking their backs to stay on them. The rigidity and pace takes root in a woman’s heart leaving their spouses starved for a spot on the schedule. Marriages sometimes end because the children's schedules drained all the time, energy, money and enthusiasm out of life and when the kids start leaving or reach high school the parents look at each other and find there is nothing left.
Schedules Should Free Time, Not Fill It
I used to sigh a lot. I used to stand by silently and pray for lots of busy moms in my midst. When our homeschool group or co-op moms would gather for a meeting, event, or field trip the planners would come out. It was almost a competition. Oh who am I kidding - it WAS a competition to see who was the busiest. Because busy equaled successful supermom, right? It was a badge of honor. I say this because it was my badge once before I gave it up. She who accomplishes the most and whose kids are in the most activities, wins.
One gal many years ago, probably ten at least, loved to regale us with all activities her two kids were doing. It was clear how much she loved her family. No one doubted that and it was clear how important she felt by doing all this stuff for them. But I watched her and prayed for her, because she was getting lost in it all. She was frazzled. She neglected self care, her marriage, all things on her quest to be, or appear to be Super Mom. Attempts to encourage to scale back, skip the specialty teams, and tourneys were lost on her. A few years later, to our great sadness that marriage ended and the children have long since dropped out of the sports that ruled their lives.
It’s Not For The Kids
Those insane schedules we try to keep; we convince ourselves it’s for the children. Have you considered the consequences? Children who must be entertained, engaged in organized activities and surrounded by peers all the time are easily discontented. Expected to spend and entire day at home, hanging out with siblings can be a series of meltdowns.
All this activity is wiring their brains for discontent. A life, and I don’t mean an afternoon, I mean a life spent in their own company, pursuing a simple life is a good thing. We have a world filled with people uncomfortable in their own skin. Restless, frustrated, medicating themselves to cope.
We have lost the ability to enjoy the simple, ordinary pleasures of a normal life.
Children struggling with attention deficits, behavior issues do not need a brain fueled by adrenaline. They need more calm.
Busy people need schedules. Dump the schedule and create a rhythm for your life and for your family. Reclaim your peace of mind.