All right, friends. I know you have them: invisible victories, those moments where you triumphed over a challenge that nobody else even saw. I’ve been reading them in your blog posts and seeing them when I lurk on fb. Will you add them here?
Some of my children do really well with a checklist of their daily work. They get up in the morning, get their work done, and then have all day to think and play and read. But two of my kids look at their list and think, “I’m never going to finish it all!” And just the thought of that makes it come true. We had a little meeting two weeks ago, and I asked, “What would help you get your work done?” and “What would make your day better?” We all answered, and I heard everything from, “Get rid of Math,” to “Make cookies every day.”
The practical suggestion was, “What if you made us a calendar for the day and put it up so we could see when we had to do each thing?” Everyone piped up and said that was a good idea.
I can’t tell you how long I have resisted doing this. Years, probably. When they were little, all the homeschooling blogs I read (because those were the only homeschooling models I had at that time) had complicated spreadsheets that showed where each child was at any given moment of any day. I tried it, but my kids were more like water, or quicksilver, than columns on a spreadsheet. On top of that, every day was different. My work day looked very different from the day we had piano lessons. That meant five spreadsheets.
The bigger issue had always been that when I wrote down a schedule, I felt like I had to follow it. To the letter, despite diaper blow-outs and kids who needed longer naps (or a mom who needed a nap)… The schedule I made was a manacle on my ankle. It chafed.
But here were four kids, all agreeing (when do they ever all agree?) that they wanted a daily schedule. So I tried it. I made one day’s schedule on the white board, so I could erase and change it easily. I made sure that only one person had “practice piano” at a time. I eliminated squabbles over the school computer by scheduling their Rosetta Stone in different blocks. I wrote in when we would go outside so that it would actually happen, and when they would have a snack in order to eliminate the nineteen daily trips into the kitchen that stemmed from boredom, not hunger. I wrote in the chores I wanted done that day.
And amazingly, it worked! It’s been working now for almost three weeks. Oddly, if I write that we are going for a walk, everyone puts on their shoes and we go for a walk. [Almost] without complaining. If I write that we’re cleaning bathrooms that day, the bathrooms get clean. The biggest change of all has been that my daughter looks at one block at a time and does what’s there, instead of freaking out about the whole day at once. And so far, it hasn’t felt like a shackle to me. (We’ll see what I say in 6 months.)
Your turn! Let’s hear them and celebrate with one another.