Now that we’re at the end of our pre-planned schedule, organization is getting muddy.
Yesterday I took an hour to get our Christmas cards in order and it threw off our whole Thursday. Days that we leave the house are troublesome always, and that’s exactly what we have to do today – again, which will likely push us even (at least a little) further behind. Because I’m responsible for the health and upkeep of five people, four mice, two cats and a house, I have to pack us all into the minivan and pull out of here a lot.
I just can’t wait for things to get back to normal. Which is like, exactly the opposite of what my holiday spirit usually sounds like – or especially, what a homeschool mom’s is supposed to.
Being a mom is a lot of work on it’s own. Being a mom on the holidays is more work. Being a novice homeschool mom on the holidays to three kids is quite literally maddening. There are harder things that I could be obligated to, I know that and I appreciate it, believe me. But this season in this phase of my life comes with a lot of pressure. I am responsible in so many ways for keeping the magic alive, and I’m sorry, it’s fun – it is. But it’s just a lot to live up to right now.
Today I have to get a shower before we buy a new broom, go on a nature walk and do the library.
Speaking of which (real quick): have you ever walked around for three days on a floor that usually requires sweeping 3 times a day, but hasn’t been swept at all? I don’t know how a broom handle actually snaps in half, but ours did. The crunch under my feet, when I’m already feeling behind on so much, has me ready to blow a gasket – and I don’t even know what that is.
I’m positively dreading that I have to take time for something so unrelated to school. Oh, I don’t mind nature walks, having to buy things for the house or spending quality time at the library because each one is school-related, and that’s my number one priority right now. It’s the shower I begrudge, which, to a younger me would have been unfathomable. (And even to the older me is still kind of gross.) It used to be that I couldn’t function without a shower. Now I wake up on the days I don’t need one celebrating that it’s one less obligation I have to plan around. There are already so many predictably unpredictable deviations that happen as a natural consequence of working with kids, that throwing in my own personal hygiene is what always seems to tip the scale.
Wow, that sentence was depressing.
Anyway, the holidays are making it especially hard. I hate to be one more person in the world bitching about something that on every level, should be slowed down to appreciate, so I’ll make this quick. Bare with me for just a paragraph.
I have to design, print, embellish and mail out holiday cards because ordering them is too unnecessary an expense right now. I have to keep up with the tree that is destroyed on a continuous, nightly loop because of our new kitten. I have to “find” Elfie every morning before the kids are awake – which Mary always reminds me in secret code I could be doing better. I have to decorate, which makes me feel even more obligated to have the house presentable enough to fully enjoy. I have to shop and wrap and plan in preparation for the holiday itself, while keeping an impossible number of presents well-hidden from snoopy children. I have to do holiday crafts and baking with the kids and not cuss at the mess left for me to clean afterward, because that would kind negate the point of doing it in the first place. I have to make time for spiritual lessons surrounding the holidays. I have to cart them around to holiday activities (visiting santa, making gingerbread houses at the library, themed skating), not to mention a THOUSAND birthdays that all seem to fall in December – not the least of which is my husband’s. (Seriously people, whatever aphrodesiac about March is so coercive it actually causes you to think: hm, Christmas falls exactly nine months ahead of today and I STILL want to do this with you right now — I’d like to know about.) And there’s a lot of pressure to do it all, while surfing the everyday wave of chaos, with a smile. It’s not just exhausting, it’s just flatly impossible to keep up with entirely, day after day. So to top it with a cherry, I finish just about everyday, feeling like I’ve still fallen short.
If I devote myself to everything at once, my heart just isn’t into any of it all the way. If I try focusing on a few major priorities at once, whatever I didn’t have time for STILL taunts me until I get to it. Yes, laundry, I SEE YOU, I GET IT.
But the one thing that I won’t let myself let slide on is school for the kids. Or at least, that’s what I told myself just before I did.
Yesterday was something I don’t want to repeat. I was so frustrated with how disorganized everything suddenly felt, that I decided to let nothing stop us from getting caught up – on housework, on schoolwork, on holiday stuff, on everything. We were still doing spelling after dark while I simultaneously jumped from cooking dinner to wiping down neglected appliances around the kitchen. Mary was a good sport about it, but that’s exactly my problem. She’s finally at a place where she doesn’t hate being homeschooled. Her behavior and general enthusiasm is what I’ve dreamed of working with from the beginning, so she’s the last thing I want winding up at the mercy of my struggle to keep up. I’m extremely proud of her… She’s a big priority to me right now.
My plan for the day is pretty simple and straightforward, but one that I know I have to keep chipping away at in order to not fall further behind.
I’ll wake her up early enough to be showered and fed by the time Matthew and I are done with preschool. There’s leftover sausage gravy from yesterday so breakfast should be quick and easy. Elfie is already situated, so that’s done.
Matthew and I will do our usual morning routine: calendar, phonics, math, and reading while Scarlett plays at our feet.
Scarlett will join us for read-aloud just before an early nap. We’ll read Scooby-Doo and the Egyptian Treasure Something-or-Other, and then the Revolutionary War picture book before they go back to the library. I really wanted Mary to do a book report on Miss Peregrines House for Peculiar Children, but we just ran out of time. The books area already a day or two late so they can’t be renewed either. Meh.. It wasn’t even part of her curriculum material – I just thought it would fun. You win some, you lose some. At least reading it was fun.
Mary and I will do grammar, writing, and mechanics before going to the library. Ideally, Matthew will clean his room while this is happening, but that’s aiming pretty high. While we’re out, we’ll pick up the new broom that we desperately need, I’ll take out cash to get those pesky library fines off my back, then we’ll stop at the park near the library, where we can take a little nature walk. On our walk I’m hoping to let the kids collect a bag of small treasures, like berries, pine needles and cones for a “nature wreath” craft I pinned last night. We’ll get home and do that, which will count toward art. Afterward, we’ll sit down to really focus most of our energy on science — which is, coincidentally all ABOUT energy today. Last week we did our first lapbooking activity, and I’m hoping to make it a weekly Friday endeavor for physics so that at the end of the year, we’ll have a cool, 3-D display for each lesson. (From this point on, anyway.) I also have a little video about energy set up and we’ll do our regular, weekly experiment while the baby takes a second nap.
Having kids on the holidays is literally, in every sense of the word, priceless. I cherish it like nothing else in the world but this could possibly be loved. There’s nothing I’d trade it for: no amount of carefree nights out with childless friends, no romantic wintry dates, no ostentatious gifts that my husband and I could afford to exchange between ourselves. I wouldn’t trade my mess-making time with these brats for all the free time or clean floors or phone calls made in peace the good Lord could have offered me instead.
I’m frazzled, but it’s just because living up to everything that they deserve means so much. Really, that sentiment alone – just typing it out, kind of helps to pull it all back into perspective.
That, and knowing that pretty soon at least, I’ll be able to sweep the fucking floor.