I've slowly been trying to work more of a schedule, or what I've thought of as "the 'S' word" into our days and weeks. I know it's important for the kids to have a sense of routine, and it helps me too. I always feel more efficient when there's structure, like when I was in Bible school or working. I knew what was expected of me, and when, and I could fit the other things I needed to do into the framework. As a Mom, and the manager of my home, I know that apart from the main things, like 3 meals, Daddy coming home from work, and bedtime, the hours are open for me to fill as I see best. Unfortunately without a schedule being imposed on me I'm often pretty unorganized don't manage my time well. I think of things that need to be done and start in on something only to walk into another room and start something else, then wander over and check my email, then think of a phone call I need to make before smelling a diaper that needs to be changed. By then I've completely forgotten what I started with!
I know this isn't a good or efficient way to be and I've been taking small steps toward getting my home and time more organized. A couple people who have inspired and encouraged me with this are Kendra at PreschoolersandPeace and Amy and Stacy at ReformingMama. (Thanks, Ladies! And keep it up!) I've gotten back into the practice of planning my menus and shopping lists so I'm not faced every day with the what-to-make-for-dinner woes and running to the grocery store way more often than I should. I've started assigning certain chores to different days of the week, making the whole thing more manageable. I've been filling in time slots on my mental schedule for a while, but fearing to write it down lest it become something I constantly strive for only to fail.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I opened up the calendar program I do my menu on, and wrote out a daily schedule. The whole time I told myself that this was only a framework, not a slave driver, something we could use to structure to our days, but not something I would plague myself with guilt about not sticking to perfectly. And you know what? It's been really helpful. I don't even look at it very often, but having taken the time to write out a sort of "ideal day" made me think more about the way I want to order things.
Another thing that's been helpful was something I read while researching Waldorf dolls, which I'm getting ready to make for my kids and some wee friends. One of the Waldorf philosophies is that kids thrive when they know what to expect in their days. I absolutely agree, and that's part of the reason I've been trying to be more scheduled. But the way this author spoke of it really resonated with me. Instead of structuring her day by the clock, she wrote of having a daily, weekly, seasonal rhythm to life. I loved this idea of Rhythm instead of Schedule; it seems to me much more the way we already function. Every night before bed we read a Bible story, pray, cuddle, brush teeth, and then Daddy tells a story. Some nights this happens at 8 and other nights 8:30 but the important thing is that we do all those things each night. My kids don't wake up at the same time every day, and I'm certainly not going to drag them out of bed just so we can eat breakfast at 8AM. (The exception, obviously, if we have to be somewhere and other people are counting on us.) So we can get started at 7 one day and 8 the next and still have the same rhythm to our day.
This way of thinking seems more natural to me. Spring always arrives, although the trees may blossom a month earlier or later in any given year. We can count on the first frost, but it may come in September or not until November. A woman's cycle isn't always 28 days; it may be 26 or 32 or a little different every month, but it's still a cycle, a rhythm. Tides come in and go out, but the waves differ in height and intensity. A baby grows in the womb for nine months, give or take a couple weeks, and rarely arrives on his or her "due" date. The sun and moon always rise and set, but at different times throughout the months and seasons. We eat, and are filled, and become hungry again, sometimes two hours later, and sometimes four. The point is, life is predictable, but only to an extent. God set in place the times and the seasons, but there are fluctuations within that framework. Things happen when they're ready to, and we can never fully know how they'll go, not with the weather or the baby hidden in his Mama's womb.
I feel freed by the thought of having more of a Rhythm and less of a Schedule. We can have "the norm", the things that happen, one after another, but I won't worry if lunch is at noon one day and 45 minutes later the next. Whatever time it happens, when we're done we proceed to the couch; Alethea nurses while I read stories to Peregrine. After that they both go down for their rest.
I'm going to continue working toward actually completing the things I'd like to in my "ideal" day, and I'm not tossing that schedule I made, just thinking a little differently about it. I have no doubt many people structure their days more according to the clock and it works well for them, but I think this idea better fits who we are as a family. A schedule makes me think of marching, one foot in front of another, to my destination. It's a good way to get there. But Rhythm makes me feel like dancing, and that sounds even better!