Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Rhythm

Planning is not for the faint of heart. And usually, it's not for me, either. But as we contemplated the coming school year with eleven children needing to be fed and laundered, a twelfth child joining them, a teen entering the high school years, and various and sundry chores and sicknesses and outside duties making their siren calls...

it became abundantly clear that some sort of schedule/routine/rhythm/PLAN is in order.

That sounds so neat, so structured.

I'm not sure whether I had truly grasped the work and disorder and chaos involved in creating a routine for this tribe of kids. It's a mess! First there is the school planning -- who will do what. Then there is the logistics planning -- what will be done where and when. And then there are the 3yo and the 1yo and the coming newborn, who are the living, breathing, crying wrenches in the works.

It's enough to throw one into a panic, or at least an extended nap.

But then I re-read this:
When planning routines, priority must be given to the most important things. The person matters (be it child, husband/wife, or friend). We’ll need time to talk, read, relax, and work together. Our relationship with God matters. Where is the time to be found for that? I am a part of this creation. Where will I find time to get out and enjoy nature? There is too much work to be done, and I am finite. I need to accept that reality, and plan the time and priorities carefully.
~ Susan Schaeffer Macauley, For the Children's Sake

and also this:
We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavours become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.

~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

and then, also, this:

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would be able to hold herself in 'wise passiveness,' and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye––she would let them be.

 ~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

and my morning readings, which this week have been in Ecclesiastes, where Solomon again and again urges that the hand of God gives pleasure in your toil.

And that got me to thinking.

  1. I need to schedule Rest/Outside Time. I really, really need to view the REST and the OUTDOORS as necessary components of our day. Seriously. Our health and well-being demand it.
  2. I need to be so careful about our margins. If I do not give myself margins throughout the day, I will drive myself and everyone else crazy. Margins, I think, are what will make a schedule/routine doable for me. Block scheduling is one thing that will greatly help *me* with this, as the time it takes to get stuff out/set up/etc. is minimized due to having to do it only 2-3x a week (or so) instead of every day.
  3. If I cannot figure out workable margins, then I have too much going on. I will have to scale back. Too much of a good thing is still too much and ruins the good thing. So if meals are taking me too long, I will have to figure out how to simplify them even further. If history is taking too long, I will have to figure out the priorities (for me, the living book portion) and cut out the rest.
  4. Especially for my youngers, there is no real need to get history done in one year or all the literature done in one year, etc. I may try doing a timed lesson with them instead of trying to get through such-and-such material, especially as I have varying ages and can never predict what questions will arise/what explaining will need to happen.
  5. The goal of this year for me is to help my children grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to help them glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If my attitude is a harried, frustrated one; if I cannot speak with kindness and wisdom on my tongue; if I have no time to seek the Lord first in my day...then I am in error and must adjust the routine accordingly.

And then, just like that...I can breathe again. The daily rhythms are still being made, the simplified menus are being configured, the checklists and reminders are finding their places. But included in them is a sense of peace, not of urgency and fretfulness.

There is a place for Rest.

And that is sweet.


  1. Such good thoughts. Love this!

  2. This is great, Rachel!!!! I love those quotes.

  3. Love this Rachel. You don't know it but I come here often and am always cheered, challenged, and relieved to read your thoughts. Honestly, I can't wait to read your first book... someday. :) In the interim, thanks for pointing me again to my place of need and to glorifying and enjoying God in the every day - happily - Kim


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