A Year of Habits, no. 36

Thirty-six weeks.  Crazy.  That means there are only sixteen weeks left in the year and I’m afraid I’ve got more than 16 weeks of work to do in that time.  Sigh.

It was a good week but a tough week at the same time.  I have chosen to place emphasis right now on the habits my children most need for a successful academic year.  In this area I feel that we are coming along nicely.  Homework habits are progressing, including better reporting and communicating with my oldest son about what is upcoming in his classes.  This is a huge victory.  I’m learning some lessons about helping my kindergartener with his homework.  He needs my 100% undivided attention and I need to hold him on my lap while we do it so he can’t walk away after every math problem.  We did have one insane day of homework noise and battles.  It happened to fall on a day when I’d planned to spend some time at a little party with my sister and as the intensity built I found myself looking forward to a break much more than I usually do.   I had a great time with her (thanks for inviting me, Kris!) and cleared my mind enough to see some ways to improve.  Thursday and Friday went much more smoothly.

We’ve also resumed piano lessons, which means we need 2 hours of collective piano practice to happen every day and 30 minutes of violin.   By the end of the week I had things running well enough that we are doing an hour of piano as well as the violin in the mornings before school.  Our house must sound interesting to someone walking by at 6:30 a.m.!  This leaves only 2 practices on the piano to nail down after school and it’s manageable.   I feel really good about this arrangement.

I’m taking my little girls on more walks in the morning.  Go ahead and laugh, but this is my first discovery of the simplicity of putting two children in a stroller!  I’ve never had just two at home before and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to exercise.   It’s been so interesting to watch my two youngest deepen their friendship during the kindergarten hours.  They’re enjoying that time immensely and my three year old, after only two weeks of kindergarten, is already moaning about getting in the car to pick up her brother.

This was the week when our fall school & sports schedule went into full swing.  The driving has begun.  I feel like I’ve handled it well but there is still much to improve.  Yesterday I had to shake my head in frustration at the cavernous gap between life on paper and life as it plays out.   It amazes me how I can work everything out and have it seem relatively simple the night before, yet the day turns out so much more complicated and stressful than I intend for it to.  There are the precious minutes spent negotiating with one or more children who refuse to cooperate, detours to find bathrooms for any number of children, events that run on past the allotted time and so forth.  Life on paper was nothing like life in reality this week.

So there is much to feel good about.  If we can maintain these things and really turn them into habits I will be thrilled with our progress.  So far I’ve been able to be mentally on my game in the after school and before school hours.  For the first time in a long time I feel like I’ve got a shot at making it all work, and work well.  I like that feeling, but the other side of this investment is the fact that my time for housekeeping has been woefully decreased and it’s showing.

More than once this week I looked around and wanted to cry.   More than once this week I looked at my list of urgent additional projects and felt discouraged.  More than once this week I’ve thought I could scurry around and pull things back together but it hasn’t happened.  The kindergarten pick-up costs me 45-50 minutes in the middle of the day.  This week I had all eight of them at the dentist (no cavities to take care of, hooray!) and we made two additional trips to the doctor to work on a mysterious health concern with one of the kids.  I’m learning how to tape my daughter’s ankles for every soccer practice and game which has thrown the schedule off a bit.  Life is life and it’s full of curve balls.  Somehow I have to find a way to get it all done anyway.  I don’t know how yet but there must be a way.  Again, life on paper seems so reasonable but life as it happens is another story.  I’ve got to simplify even more, but where?  How?  What do I cut out?  I think the big pieces are in place, but we need a lot of fine tuning.

When I’ve felt like crying I’ve tried to rally quickly before my fears kill my hope.  Prayer helps.  Talking aloud with my children about how pleased I am with their efforts and our overall progress has helped as well.  It gets harder during the school year to require the children to work around the house because they’ve got homework, activities to get to, and they need some down time too.  I’m trying to respect these considerations but also keep them working because there is just too much to do.  I can’t do it all myself anymore.  There are too many of us and too much going on.

So as another week begins I’m being mentally disciplined and not allowing myself to worry too much about what’s not getting done.  I will just keep at it and do my best, feeling grateful for the progress the Lord has helped us with.  And let’s pray I get the house clean, too.  That would be a really good thing.

God bless you in your week.


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