Another tip: change it up.
This January, as we “hit the books” (in our 2nd grade and kindergarten way!), there was the need for something fresh. A new book wasn’t gonna happen this time around, so a tweak to the schedule it would have to be!
And so we did.
Earlier, quicker breakfast means earlier start to devotions means earlier start to our chore hour means MORE TIME BEFORE LUNCH! Last semester, we only spent an hour or so doing math and English/handwriting/reading before lunch, and then did history and science in the afternoon. Except that I’m at my absolute worst by afternoon. I need to just schedule “Mama totally crashes” into the day around 3pm. It’s all over. Dinner can make itself, because I’m just looking at bedtime. So, with all of those morning tweaks, we now have time to all meet at the table around 10am for a fun, energetic history lesson! We have a nice long hour to read, color, write little reports, look at globes, and whatever else we have that day. Then we have still another hour for the other stuff (stuff that also allows me to bake granola, take a shower, clean my bathroom, or whatever tasks need my attention.)
We all eat lunch, and then, for the best part of our new routine:
EVERYONE goes outside! The boys rush through lunch and clean up, because they know that Mama is coming out with them! We check the thermometer to determine how many hats and socks we should wear, but otherwise, no excuses! That’s the plan, anyway. Fiona slips into the Ergo, and Ryan’s big down-filled coat fits over both of us just perfectly. Beatrice is the trooper-est of a two year old — she’ll tromp through woods and frozen-over swamps and under branches and over fields for the better part of an hour. Altogether, it’s just the right thing to do in this season of our lives.
We come back inside with pink cheeks, exhilaration, and joy — and a hankering for hot cocoa! (Not every day, but as often as it seems okay!) Beatrice gets quickly whisked off to bed for her nap, and then the boys and I have been settling into our sun-warmed family room for a chapter or two of Narnia. I actually can get through a bit of reading without falling asleep mid-sentence, thanks to a good romp in the snow.
Thus ends the “structure” of our days. The rest of the day gets filled with piano practice and lessons, dinner prep, coloring or letter-writing, and good old-fashioned play.
So simple that sometimes you have a nagging thought, “I am doing something, right? Right?”
Sometimes it’s as special as seeing them just eat up the exhortation their father shares during morning devotions, their hearts in their eyes, hanging on every word about Jesus. Sometimes it’s taking away a Lego Star Wars book because it’s causing friction in their relationship and we have to love one another. Sometimes it’s reminding a two year old to sit like a lady. Sometimes it’s standing at the counter and not slamming your fist on it, but instead, taking a very long breath and staring at the ceiling and begging for the Holy Spirit to come.
It’s feeding and clothing and nurturing and educating and training and enjoying, and doing all of that while pointing to Jesus. He’s that awesome, that relevant, that needed.