Finding a Routine in the Midst of Chaos

How many times did I hear it?

What you need is a routine – you might not think its important now, but just you wait. Once they are older, it’s nearly impossible to establish a routine. Get started now!

The variations were endless, but the message was the same.

And as for a routine? The only thing routine about my life was the fact that there was no real routine. At least not on the surface. At first glance, life seemed to change every day.

So I was stressing over the lack of routine and the recognition that I needed at least a portion of one for my own sanity. Now figure in a child who had decided to stop cooperating with all things homeschool related. She dug in her heels, refusing to read aloud, refusing to learn lowercase letters, refusing to practice counting by 2s (she had memorized 5s and 10s by this point), and refusing, refusing, refusing. It was maddening.

I was approaching a crisis point.

Again.

How many crisis points can one person have before the dam breaks?

Up on my blackboard wall went my angst and confusion and stress…

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I was feeling frustrated, unappreciated, pulled in way too many directions and so much more. And that’s when I said it, really SAID it and MEANT it, “If you don’t start cooperating with me and actually working at some of your homeschool activities, I’m putting you in school in the fall. PUBLIC school! So help me, you can work with me for less than an hour a day, or you can spend seven hours PLUS homework at the school down the street.”

My mother-in-law, other mothers and grandmothers from our Story Time group, and even my own mother asked me, “You wouldn’t really do it would you? Put in her public school, in Kansas City?!”

Yeah.

Yeah I would.

In a heartbeat.

And then I would hold my breath and hope for one of two things – for her to be happy beyond measure in the public school (it is possible) or for her to do an immediate about face and beg me to homeschool her again.

For a day, maybe two, my mind wandered to the thought of having hours, literally hours in the day to write. To write without interruption, to create worlds and characters on paper that currently only exist in my mind. I thought of not having to argue, to struggle with an unwilling child (well, pawn her off on someone else to struggle with), and to have my days free of constant questions, constant requests, snack times, distractions that cause me to take wrong exits or forget where I am going while I puzzle out the answers to her endless questions, or wheedle just a little bit of time alone from her to do with as I please.

The other day? At breakfast I finished my cereal and said, “Okay, I’m going to read by myself for just a few minutes.”

Emily beamed at me, “Read for as long as you want, Mama!”

This lasted about fifteen seconds before the first question. The second question followed about one-half minute later. That was followed up by a monologue.

I closed my book. “I think I’ll read this later.”

So, yeah, the ultimatum was real and tempting (still is), even as Emily has jumped back into homeschooling. “Please don’t send me to public school, Mama.”

“Please don’t force my hand and make me send you to public school, Emily.”

Last weekend I announced that we would begin doing a few workbook pages each day at breakfast time on Monday. Between the establishment of a cleaning routine and the ultimatum, a routine of sorts has come about.

Each weekday morning Emily and I eat breakfast together, I ask her the Question of the Day, and write my own answer in my own Q and A a Day: 5-Year Journal
book. I pull out the workbook pages and we go over each one – talking about what needs to happen.

I had recently watched a video by my future grandson’s teacher, Ms. Green, in which she describes the positioning of letters (sky, fence, ground, water) and talks the parents through how to teach kids proper printing technique. So I shared this concept with Emily, “Look the lowercase e starts halfway between the fence and the ground and then when it reaches the fence goes around in the shape of a c.”

Emily was excited. Apparently sky, fence, ground and water are the way to keep a child’s interest long enough to learn a letter. She did quite well the first day, lollygagged around the second day (THREE hours it took to do three pages!), and then zipped through the next three days.

And so here we are at the end of the first week of a ROUTINE. An honest-to-God ROUTINE. Better yet, Emily’s showing an incredible improvement in her writing skills (and attitude). Between my marvelously clean and decluttered house and the homeschool routine, I’m on top of the world. Now I can add back in another ball to this bit of juggling fun…writing.

No excuses. Just another ball in the air, moving, dipping, soaring, repeating.

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