Friday was a lovely day. I signed my daughter up for a community dance class that was held in a community center building next to a park. After her class started, the boys and I took a walk around the park. Since Toddler Tornado was strapped into the stroller, we only briefly paused at the play structures for my oldest to climb and jump and slide. X-man plucked dandelions and we tossed them into the waters of the pond. He climbed a hill to see what was on the other side and we saw many, many geese.
After Princess K’s dance class was over, we meandered over to Farmer’s Market that is held in the parking lot of the mall in town. We picked up mushrooms and garlic for the pizza we would make that night. We purchased pita bread for our lunch and pears for a snack. We also got kettle corn to keep them occupied while I purchased all of the above. My kids really enjoy going to Farmer’s Market and it is a nice Friday morning outing for me.
While we were at the mall, I decided to stop in at the Payless Shoesource for K’s needed tap and ballet shoes. Right outside the store was a collection of cars and a little tiny merry-go-round that they wanted to climb on. Since I was in no hurry and I was delighted that Z-urchin could finally be let out of the stroller, I let them climb and play. I had enough coins for each to choose one ride and they were ecstatic!
We had passed a Coldstone’s on the way to Payless, so I asked them if they wanted to share an ice cream with me. You can imagine their response. K requested chocolate (that’s my girl!) and we all gathered ’round a small table to consume the tasty treat. The older kids desperately wanted to ride the escalators up and down, so when we finished our ice cream, I let them go for it. Then we went home.
The morning was lovely, simple, and relaxing. One of the reasons I am so glad to be homeshooling is that I get to share so many of these quiet, precious moments with them.
I have been thinking a lot lately about balance in our homeschool and in our life. We as a family are at our worst when we are in a rush, trying to get somewhere on time with diaper or potty emergencies, boys’ clothing getting covered in mud or paint as they play, and trying to locate all of the things we need: socks, shoes, papers, keys, sunglasses. We as a family are so much better when we are relaxed. This makes me want to cut as many things as I can out of my life. But many of these things are very, very good- or necessary: church, doctor’s appointments, play dates, nature walks, Awana, birthday parties. We should be in community- how can we teach our children to serve others if we are never in a community where we know what needs there are? How can we be encouraged and uplifted if we never fellowship with others?
In homeschool too, balance is needed. I want to give my children structure and do Kindergarten with them. But they also need plenty of free time to explore and play. There are so many good ideas out there that I want to do them all this week! But Friday really revealed to me how beautiful it is to take things slow once in awhile. This year especially, as it is only Kindergarten- a grade not required in my state- I need to relax and let us do a lot of playing. On the other hand, the more they learn and the more structured activities I carry out the more they discover that they like. If we do a few art lessons or play with several different types of art, they may discover some things they would really enjoy doing.
Finally, personally, I have many, many things I want to do and need to do. My house is not yet fully settled or organized the way I wish it to be. I love to scrapbook and plan school. I have so many projects that I’d like to do- like creating toddler activities to occupy Z-urchin while we do school and creating portable activities for when we go to the doctor’s office or travel north to their grandmother’s house. And there is always some area of this house that needs cleaning. I can’t keep up. But I also need to rest and relax and have fun and spend time with my husband.
Since I started homeshooling last month, I have been very anxious about all these things- how to make decisions on our activities, how much to try to do in a homeschool day, how to do all the things I want to do. I have been very frustrated that I seem to have no time for things. I have been very impatient- I want everything done and decided RIGHT NOW. I have wracked my brain, trying to come up with a system or idea or routine that means I can fit more things into each hour of my day. As I try, my anxiety mounts because there is no way I can fit it all in.
The conclusion I have come to, as I have prayed over my stress and longed for a more peaceful approach to life, is that the key is patience. My house may not be completely settled and decorated until next year. There is no rush on travel activities; we are not going anywhere right now. We do a lot of school while Z-urchin sleeps, so I can work slowly on creating activities for him. If there is an outing I should go to, or people we should invest in, patience helps remind me that all the things at home can wait. People are more important. People are eternal.
I do have a routine, a planner, and checklists (I am a planning queen- I love to plan, I cannot resist planning!), but the most important thing is that I do the tasks that God wants me to do and choose the outings God wants me to attend. So I am endeavoring to do two things: pray over my plans and when I have a free few minutes, pray and ask the Lord what I should do. If I am frozen in indecision because I can’t tell which of my one hundred projects I should focus on now, prayer does end up unfreezing me.
Patience and prayer- two very good things.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Provers 3:5-6