Monday, August 15, 2011

Protecting the Blank Spaces

I think I've mentioned that I like planning.  I mean, really like planning.  I make calendars and schedules and meal plans and gift lists and well, you get the idea.  It's just the kind of brain I have.

During the summer I plan our upcoming homeschool year.  In general, we aim for lessons in the morning and leave the afternoons free for quiet time, activities, and outings.  But I hate to see a really full calendar or schedule; we need breathing room.

Now that we outsource PE that is something we have to go to each week; it is worth it because the boys are learning team sports and because they thrive in the class.  In general I think you can teach just about anything yourself, but team sports are hard because you need other children to be on a team.  Two children cannot a soccer match make, or something like that.

We also have a weekly park day, a time to get together with our local homeschool community.  We do this on Friday afternoons and it works out so well ~ everyone is ready to relax and let the week slip into the past.

This year we may or may not have our first outside of the home weekly class.  A friend is planning to teach a science class based on Harry Potter and I am going to tutor her daughter in reading in trade for having my boys attend the class.  The plans are slightly up in the air now, but if it works out that is yet another afternoon away from home (or partial afternoon, but out is out).

Those three afternoons leave us only two free, and one of the free afternoons was our weekly library outing.  Eeeks!  I'll have to switch that to another day that we are already out if I want to make sure we have two full at home days each week.

Why do I try so hard to have empty spaces on my calendar?  Why not fill up every available time slot as so many of our friends do?  Because we do it differently.  We need free time and days that we don't leave home and I notice the difference when we don't get it.  The boys are cranky, I'm cranky, and our lives are less pleasant.  I don't have a more-is-better philosophy when it comes to activities for children.  I have a more time at home is better philosophy.  A more family time, more quiet time, more free time philosophy.

In truth, the Harry Potter class may not work out for us.  It may be that leaving home only two days per week will work best.  It creates less stress for me, and less for the boys as well even though they would say how much they love going places.  And that is the problem; they do love going out but sometimes it is too much and it is my job to figure out where the balance lies.

Fun things can be stressful.  Important, fantastic things can be stressful, which is why getting married or having a baby are considered major life stressors.  Anticipation and excitement cause cortisol to run through our bodies just as fear and frustration do.  When my boys are waiting for something like leaving for a birthday party or waiting for cousins to arrive they are impatient and antsy.  They pace, they look out the window repeatedly, the fret over the clock.  It's stressful.

But they are kids, and they can't figure this out on their own.  That's my job, and that is why I protect the blank spaces.

2 comments:

mamaof4 said...

I agree so much with you. We try to have more home days than away days and our last week was a perfect example of why. My In laws took their week off work last week and they had so many things they wanted to do with my kids that 3 of the days in a row were filled with the kids going and doing "fun" activities. The first day it was enjoyable but even the start of the 3rd day they were miserable as well as I. That was a daay planned at an ammusment park that was more whining and fighting children than anything. My inlaws couldn't understand why my usually well behaved kids were acting out the way they were and I tried to explaine to them that is was just too much. They are used to only having outings once or twice a week and no matter how much the kids seem like they want to go do more, they really can't and not turn into they did. We have been spending this week home with calm activities trying to restore what we lost last week.

Sunshine Alternative Mama said...

Oh, aren't day with grandparents some of the hardest? It is easier now that my boys are older but even still I know that we will need time to decompress each time they spend a day or several with their grandparents. I do think it is worth it though, to have those relationships. My mom always threw our rhythm into chaos, but she was close to my boys, and now that she is gone I am glad that I didn't put my foot down too often.