Tuesday, August 3, 2010


This week marks a shift from the relative freedom of summer break to the routine and discipline of school. At our house yesterday, school began at about 8:30. With breakfast, dishes, and morning chores out of the way, I sat down at the kitchen counter to read through a math lesson with my 6th-grader. Lesson covered, she settled into working her problem set while I moved to the table to go over math with my three highschoolers.

School at our house works sort of like a game of tag. Math with one child, assigned problems to work on her own; math lesson with an older sibling, assigned problems....Eventually, back to the first child to read through history together and assign independent reading; over to older students to discuss material covered in literature.... You get the picture.

All of my students were done with schoolwork by 2:00 Monday afternoon. Me, I wasn't finished checking work and planning for the next day's lessons until after 4:00. An hour spent doing odd chores, checking email, etc., and it was time to start dinner. Dinner, evening chores, a 40-minute walk with the dogs, shower, and the day was almost over.

A very full day.

But an awesome day, too. I am amazed at how much time we waste when we aren't operating on a schedule. We seem to kind of piddle through the day, accomplishing nothing. But now, with much required of us, we find that we are capable of accomplishing much.

Funny thing is - with our more structured day and rigorous work demands, everyone seemed to have pleasanter attitudes, too. While one student did lament "More Spanish?", I didn't hear a single "I'm bored!" or "Can we play PlayStation?" And no fussing or crabbing between siblings, either. Amazing. At least two of my kids even commented that they needed to head to bed earlier, so they could get a good start on the day tomorrow. Wow.

When my children were very small, I used to insist on maintaining a fairly strict daily routine. Meals and snacks were at regular times. Nap time was a must. TV wasn't background music for life.

Often, when we would visit family, Steve and I would be chided for not letting the kids skip naptime or pig out on sweets. We sometimes felt like the "tough" parents - too rigid, too particular. But it didn't take many visits too realize that routine had its benefits. Sure, the family picture had to be delayed an hour until the kiddos were up from their naps - but then they were happy and cheerful for the rest of the day, while other young relatives were whiney and fussy. Waiting until after dinner for a dessert - instead of eating cookies and treats all day - made dessert something special.

Overall, sticking to a routine made for noticeably happier, healthier, pleasanter children. If you're a mother of young children and others sometimes try to make you feel guilty for insisting on naps or limited sweets, hold to your guns! The benefits to your kids and to those around them will be worth having to play the "bad guy" for a season.

Days are crazy at our house during summer. For the past four weeks, we have been racing like a runaway freight train, all of us wearing ourselves into frazzles. It feels wonderful to be settling down into the familiar school-year routine. Ahhhhh, routine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So True! Carol