The Struggle is Real...

.. and oh how I am struggling!

How's that for an opening line? Ha!

My struggle is not new. Moving from full-time employment outside the home to all the time stay-at-home mom has been the hardest thing I've ever done. It has been nearly 20 years, and I am still sorting myself out. I get bored. I get lonely. I get a lot done. I lose motivation and get nothing done. I just don't know what to do with myself! So it's been 20 years, why write about it now?

I'm writing about it for a few reasons: 1) I'm sure I am not the only one with this struggle - feeling totally overwhelmed, and at loose ends at the same time. 2) I'm not happy living this way! It's not fair to myself, and it's not fair to my family. 3) I've been doing a lot of thinking and writing the last couple of days which has resulted in some self-awareness that is going to make the changes I make stick this time.

What I knew about myself before is that I function better with structure, so routines and lists were always my go to when I needed help. And they do help, until I forget to write a list or get distracted or bored. Then it all falls apart, and I have to start again. Very frustrating.

Living in the world of homeschoolers, I constantly hear things like "Oh, we don't have a schedule. We start our days about 10 and get all our school work by about 3. Who needs a schedule?" or "I'm so busy with so many kids. They keep my jumping all day long." or even "We tried a schedule but it didn't work for us so now we just do school in he morning and play all afternoon." Now, I don't know if they're all just blowing smoke or if that's really the way they're all living, but I do know nobody is owning up to using a schedule. And I get it, schedules are kind of frowned on in the homeschool circles. "Children need to play!" I've even said it. But I also know that I function better when I have structure, a schedule. And I'm confident I'm not the only one. Plus I'm only homeschooling one! Typically our lessons are done in an hour or so. The days can be soooo long.

What I've learned in the last couple days of self-reflection is that I need the boundaries of a schedule and the accountability that comes along with them. Last summer, while Isabelle was on swim team, we had to be up and out the door by a certain time each morning, and I LOVED it! When the season ended, I was back at loose ends. I lack internal motivation. It's not enough for me to just tell myself to get more done. I crave acknowledgement from others. (That's not easy to admit.)

Add to all of this being in a new country where I have none of my regular people to check in with and activities to go to, and I'm finding myself at a low spot. I have limited resources at hand to keep myself busy, entertained, and motivated.

Over the last 20 years, I have tried to create structure. I've written plans and schedules over and over. And they do work, for a few days, until I stop focusing, forget about it, or just get overwhelmed. But, I was always trying to do it all by myself. I felt like this was my problem and I had to solve it by myself. I didn't share my struggle with my family or friends to recruit their support. I lacked support and accountability. So this time, I'm doing it differently.

This time, I am writing the schedule on poster board and putting it up in the kitchen, Supernanny style.

This time, I am including my family. (Isabelle is excited. She is already looking at the schedule and telling me it is time to start supper.)

And, this time, I am telling all of you, my extended support team.

Here it is -- our daily schedule (M - F)
before 6:30 - Kenn and I get up and do our morning routines
7:00 Kenn leaves for work. I start the laundry and prepare for the day.
7:30 Isabelle gets up, does MR, chickens, and breakfast
8:00 Homeschool
9:30 morning tea, play or go for a walk. Try to get outside.
10:00 Homeschool
11:30 Make and eat lunch. Clean up kitchen. Play outside.
1230 Homeschool
1:30 Independent time. Pursue individual interests inside or outside.
3:30 afternoon tea and board games
4:15 fold & put away laundry
4:45 computer time
5:30 make supper, eat, clean up kitchen
6:30 family bicycle ride or walk
7 Dad and Isabelle time. Mom alone time
7:30 Isabelle bedtime routine, read stories, in bed by 8, lights out by 8:15
8:15 Kenn and Ann time

And there ya go. Of course tomorrow, our first day on our new schedule, we're going to blow the morning out of the water by spending most of it at the library. But hey! That's how it goes when you're a homeschooling family.

And I am going to have to plug in a bit more homeschooling to fill those time slots, but I think Isabelle will thrive with more structure and focused activities.

Thanks for reading my blog.
Cheers!
Ann

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