The title may throw you as these two things are rarely seen as complimentary. I spent most of my life that being meant throwing out the day planner. In order to be truly present it seemed a given that you couldn't organize your life. Wonder if you missed being in those moments written on a dotted line. But my life without my day planner was always a bit of a disaster. I'm not so good without plans, and things dont' get done unless I write them down. I hated this aspect of myself. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be cut away from the chain of my day planner.
With the addition of children, I found myself ever more swinging wildly between these two extremes. Because we homeschool we have both a little more freedom than schoolers and an absolute need to make sure we plan. But planning sucks and doesn't allow us to be in the moment! So I'd throw planning aside and we did nothing. NOTHING. Maybe one day we'd have an adventure but the rest of the week we sat around and ended up bored. This spurs me to create a schedule which would be so super anal that there was no room for surprises and let's face it, life with the beasties is often filled with surprises. After a few days of everything getting off schedule, I'd just stop doing anything, and we'd back to where we were before. But bitter because there was always lots of fighting with the super anal schedule.
The dilemma is that it is clear to me that the beasties and I benefit from knowing about what's expected from us each day. And a simple check list is not going to cut it. We need a schedule, an order laid in front of us. But because we are crazy wild free spirit types we need it to be flexible. How do you create something that orders but provides room for disorder? I pondered this last night as I sat down to map out our week.
First, I needed to be organized. The beasties do better if their work is laid out already in their folders. Camille likes this because she can work ahead if she wants. Piper does much better if she has her craft stuff in one place. She's more creative when everything is at her fingertips. Umberto needs the discipline of knowing exactly what he needs to finish each day. Having their work means less frantic mornings for me.
Second, I needed to make sure we had time to get out everyday. Even if it's just for a quick walk it's important that we are outside of our house. But I want this time to be flexible. Like if someone calls out of the blue or if we're having such a good time we don't want to leave. I choose a three hour block in the middle of the day. If we don't use all the time, it opens up that time for the kids to play or game or read. And this involved more than just a notation on the paper. It involved a mental shift. I had to stop looking at my schedule as the way things were going to be and more of a way the things could be. It was important that I reminded myself of this the whole time I mapped our days out.
Today it was tested. We had agreed, happily, to meet with some friends at the Nature Center. I was thinking one, they decided on two which was FINE because my map had a three hour block carved out of it. I was determined to not rush through our morning work figuring that we would simply do what we could. We had to get out because it was too beautiful to not go out. And was I glad that I had made this mental shift because today was one of those amazing, magical days.
We walked a pretty decent but short hike to a pond where the kids spent nearly an hour climbing logs to get to these islands close to the shore. They had so much fun relishing the danger of crawling across logs over the cold water. Piper was scared at first but with the encouragement of the other kids she ended up crawling out to splash on the little island. Camille, Umberto and their friend, A, took an more dangerous route to another small island. On the way back, Camille fell off the log and into the pond but managed to hold onto the log. She was terrified but we all talked her back on the log (she can swim don't worry and it wasn't that deep). Again the pride of doing something on her own! Her face was shining when she returned. The kids ran around and explore an old brick works. They climbed and slid down embankments. They were filthy and glowing by the time we got back to the van. Even Umberto who had not wanted to come was laughing and covered in dirt.
As we walked back, I look over my shoulder to watch Camille walking with her friend. This was important. This was learning. This was why we homeschooled. These adventures. These moments of friendship. And they don't happen when I loose that balance between schedule and being. The schedule tells us to get out there and do something. It makes us do things at home, making those moments out even sweeter.