I am fascinated by schedules. His, hers, theirs. I like to see how others do it, and gather ideas to improve my own. A blogger mom I follow recently posted her daily schedule. I soaked hers up, marveled at what she is able to accomplish in a day, and — again – thought about what I could apply to my own. It’s a weird hobby of mine, I guess. Along with following college rankings, containerizing everything (term stolen from HERE), and adding as many layers of complication to our chore rotations as possible. Type “A” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Freakish as it may sound to some of you, I actually find these activities very calming. Raise your hand if you understand…
One of the rules that works in my home, is what I call my “Brain Rule”. The kids know it well, as I have used it to my advantage for many years. This rule maintains my sanity during my otherwise hectic life. It alone is what allows me to accomplish the things that are important for me before- and after-hours.
The rule goes like this: My brain turns on at 9 and off at 9.
My children know, whether they’re doing school work at 6:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m. (indeed I have children who do both), I won’t help them until 9:00 in the morning, and I’m not available to help them after 9:00 at night.
Disclaimer: This rule doesn’t work when children are very young. Obviously. Wait until they’re old enough to understand, and stay out of harm and mischief on their own.
Why did I create this rule?
In our home, some wake at 4:00 a.m. and are ready to work by 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. while others need to sleep in and can’t focus on any significant task until 10:00 a.m. Others can do many things in the mornings, but are completely unsuccessful at things like writing essays or taking math tests until late afternoon. And some of us are just all over the place, leaving laptops running with half-started and partly-finished work on the screen all day long, hopping back and forth to it throughout the day until it’s done.
Due to everyone’s different work schedules and personal preferences, when I began homeschooling, I learned from experience that homeschooling this way (all day long) was much too exhausting. Long, drawn-out, full-day homeschooling was just too much. There was no time for anything else, and as I tried to be the perfect mom and homeschool parent for each of my children, I was on the verge of becoming a total wreck.
So, I came up with a plan for me. For my family. I am sharing it with you now.
I decided I could only be available to my children — ON DUTY so-to-speak – at certain hours. My hours — on school days – would be 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and that was it.
Further, I was only available to sit beside them, read dictations, administer tests, and things that required me to “be present” in the mornings, up until lunch (for us, since we snack around 10 or 11, that’s usually no later than 2:00 p.m.).
I explained to the kids that my office hours didn’t mean I would sit beside them and work with them all day long, simply that my brain would be available for help and questions during that time. (Of course, I totally help them whenever they need me, but overall, I require them to PLAN when they need me most, for times when I’m most likely available.)
It worked brilliantly.
They learned it quickly.
We settled into a pattern early on. And it has lasted for some 20 years.
My kids know if they need me, I am most likely going to be available (barring anything out-of-the-ordinary) full-time in the mornings and that “my brain” is available the entire rest of the day as needed until 9:00 p.m.
If someone decides to work late, and runs into a problem, they wait until the next morning — at 9:00 a.m. – to ask me for help.
Though 9:00 a.m. can be crazy around here on some days, by then, I have had time to exercise, photocopy pages for the kids, get a head-start on dinner, walk the dogs, check my emails, eat my breakfast, make phone calls, or whatever I need to do to start MY day out right. I work early in the mornings, too. By the time 9:00 hits, I’m ready for whatever the day brings. And our days usually go rather well.
For those who ask what the kids do before 9:00? They start any kind of work they can do on their own. For mine, it can mean reading, grammar, penmanship practice, phys. ed., typing, history lessons and more. Depends on the child. But they know that the must choose independent work until 9:00 when I am available to supervise and help.
Do you have “rules” in your home or homeschool that make life more manageable? Please leave a COMMENT. I’d love to hear about them!
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