A little while back Christy wrote a great post about her daily routine as a SAHM and how it’s changed, and hasn’t changed, through the years. I’ve been meaning to write my own thoughts on the matter, so here we are, three months after Christy’s post with my Jack Handy deep thoughts. THat in itself really speaks to my current vocation as a mother; without a pressing deadline, nothing non-essential gets done in a timely manner. Heck, even routine healthcare only became routine because my kids all started needing camp physicals a few years ago. I’ve spent so much time getting specialist appointments for my special needs kids that taking my healthy kids to the doctor for nothing fell off my radar for a bit.
My oldest kids are teenagers and the last few years have seen a shift in me controlling the schedule and routine to me letting go of much that I liked about our days in order to accommodate their needs, like camp and sport physicals, sports practice, music lessons, trips with friends, etc. I could also no longer pick up new clothes for them during a routine Target run because they want certain clothes and they care about how they look. None of their requests have been unreasonable, but it’s been a slow and steady change from the laid back routine based from our home, to a schedule with more outside influences; more essential deadlines.
When I started homeschooling, I oversaw everything; every book, class, material, field trip EVERYTHING. Now, I have two kids in school and one in an online school and despite loving year round schooling, I gave it up so we could all have our summers off together. I help my sons complete school work in the morning before the bus because I hate having busy work encroach in our evenings as a family. I take field trips around my oldest daughters classes or try not to be disappointed when she can’t leave her studies for one of my last minute beach trips.
It is now that I realize how lucky i was for so long to be able to have such control over our schedule, even though things often felt out of control with so many little kids and their needs.
Big kids want a say in things, and as I prepare to send them out into the world I know that I need to pull back control and bring their wants and needs to the forefront. I still feel out of control now, but not because my little kids won’t stop yelling or needing me, but because now I am giving over more parts of my life, and my kids lives, to outside activities; to someone else’s influence and control.
Our daily schedule is now less dictated by the schedule I’ve hung on the refrigerator but by my kids own rhythms. My night owls stay up late to read and finish school work. My early birds awake and start math while it is still dark. Fulton’s careful routine is now passed onto nurses and scheduled around a school day that requires preparations begin at six and end when the bus drops him off late in the afternoon. We’ve each settled into our own routines, coming together at certain parts of the day, but also increasingly moving in our own spheres the rest of the time.
I feel blessed that we do all still come together, and not begrudgingly, at meals, prayer times, and various family activities like board games and movie nights. We still all enjoy one another’s company but are finally able to exist in the same space without constantly annoying one another. We can all give each other space, it’s not the constant suffocation of tons of needy little children, but I don’t look around at everyone off in distant corners of the house and wonder what happened to my babies.
They have been here with me, and grown and continue to do so while I learn to pull back in some ways, while sacrificing myself and my desires more to help them do so. Christy talked about having control over our time and while yes, I agree too many people give up control of their time with little thought, there definitely comes a time when we give up control of our time as parents because our older children’s needs demand it. For that reason, parents of younger children should protect the time they have with their children while they still can. You don’t need to do traveling sports teams and dance competitions with a six or seven-year old. When you have a teen with a passion and the drive to work hard, it’s another story. Build relationships with them while they’re young and happy to be home with you (either during the day, or in the evenings after school or your job), so when they’re older and juggling school work, athletics and possibly a job, they appreciate the time they can spend with you and their siblings, verse wanting to spend it alone in their room.
I know in a short time I will have more of my schedule and routine back because most of my children will be out of the house. As quickly as this phase appeared, I’m sure the next will seem even more sudden. So I’m trying to make peace with losing control, even when it means three activities in one day all in different directions. I know I still have plenty of time for my teens to rebel and hate me, which makes me even more aware of the limited time we spend together now and the attitude I bring to it. Christy mentioned her way of life being “So weird and un-modern!”, and I certainly think the world does view families like hers and mine as unusual, but thus far, spending our early years “off the grid” as she put it, seems to have worked for our family. I’m glad we embraced it as long as we could.
How do you manage outside influences on your family’s schedule?