This post is not to question or debate the merit of anyone's involvement in activities outside the home. Each family will decide for themselves what they choose to participate in.
Life is messy and busy. The reality is I have 8 children. Even if 6 of them are only involved in just 1 activity each, the out-of-the-house scheduling and driving quickly gets absolutely crazy.
What I'm pondering for this coming year is how to keep "home" at the heart of everything we do. How do I keep our home a safe, peaceful place rather than a mere bus station we dump things in and grab stuff out of between activities. The foundation I'm trying to lay includes these points so far:
- Prayer must be at heart of the "work" we do at home.
- If we have predictable, workable routines in place for the times we are home (such as meals, laundry and chores), plugging ourselves in and out of them is that much easier.
- The less "stuff" we have, the better. This includes just about everything. Less clothes, but quality easy pieces easy to put together means less laundry. Simple school plans with less, but quality books to absorb means less piles to move around. Simple, but complete nutritious meals are easier to plan, shop for and prepare. For me, this means letting go of my inner foodie in some regards.
- There must be some "non-negotiable" chunks of time in the week that are solely devoted to being at home. Even if it is divided into particular hours of the day spread throughout the week. We all need to rely on these times. If anything, when we all work together at learning during those times we can feel successful.
- My planner and calendar are my best friends.
- Be ready to say no.
- Recognize when we might be approaching overload, especially for my little ones, unable to articulate clearly when they are feeling stress. Get ahead of the burnout and make changes if needed instead of putting my head down and just trying to struggle through it.
- Rely on friends. Don't be afraid to ask for and accept help. Pray for each other. Listen to each other.