Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kinda What We Are Doing

So.....We are all big screen people up in this house.


And I have nothing against "screen time" except that it is taking precedence instead of being an added part of our day. This always happens coming off of Winter. Somehow it doesn't get as curtailed as I would like, and then it becomes the race to get to the ipad or computer. Race through homework, a meal, or against one another if only one is available and first one there wins! (Evie.)

Also, I have this great daughter who becomes a little anxious unless there is some rhythm to her day which pretty much goes to pot once the school year ends. With camps and trips and different eating times and different flows, I have found in the past that it just doesn't work for her for long periods of time.

In walks ME! Schedule woman! I have been in school or taught in a school forever. When I was at home with babies, I craved the start of school or a schedule we could all follow. Why not have something in place now? To ensure comfort? Balance? Retention of what was learned this school year? Why not earn that screen time all the while being all Summer and somewhat loose, but grounded in the important stuff. And being a team! And let's learn some good habits. 
Tall order.

Well, this is what we are trying:

Each day- time permitting, adventure days aside- my kids (and I!!) have to read for 30 minutes or more, be outside for 30 minutes or more (and no reading outside to combo those, though, by all means, read where you will) accomplish 2 chores a day, get some brainwork in for 20 minutes or more (workbooks, online math program sent home, Reading worksheets, etc), and writing 10 minutes or more a day. However! Everyone can start their day with 30 mins of screen time if they wish. I find that reasonable as it is often a part of my start- coffee, email, facebook, shopping, whatevering.

We are on day 3 and it is going well. One child in a morning camp is having very little screen time which is causing him some pouting, but he is the worst screen offender so....whatevs!! And to avoid the repeat chores being done (seriously, the shoe closet is ORGANIZED! No one is wearing shoes!) I made this:

(Look at the time I put into taking these pictures and cropping them so well for you.)

We talk about how some of these chores should have a few days of not being done and how we should try to get to each of them. The youngest even added the last one: deck. He swept the pollen and whoseewhatsits off last night.

I had seen something online at some point that looked like this plan of action, but could never find it again. I though of my kids and my house and my laziness, and a plan was born. It also keeps me in line. Though being at our swimming hole counts for their outside time, I try to make my 30 minutes in the chaotic landscaping we have created. I get a serious chore done, make sure I am writing more on my computer and surfing less. And I think twice before staring at my phone. I should read my book. I should prep something yummy. I should get to that desk, closet, ironing.

Taking bets and wagers for how long this will last...it has got potential, though. I am shooting for the whole Summer with variations where needed while traveling or during full day camp weeks. When I was growing up we had no TV during the Summer. Mom made us reading charts and we were frequent flyers at Snow's Library. I know this is possible!
Wish us luck.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What I Learned This Year

In the ELA class this last week of school, the assignment was for the students to write about what they learned this year in Sixth Grade. I always jump at the free-write portion of this class and have made my own list, straying a bit from the exact lay out because I get to. I'm all growed up.

What I Learned This Year

What you think won’t be a good fit can end up feeling custom-made.

You can bear a loss far better than you worried you could not.

Life is better when you let go of Self sometimes and embrace Yes.

There is a regular person behind the green curtain- no matter what they portray on the big screen.

Math can be fun. Yes, it can. Just breathe.

Some people, no matter how old they have grown, remain immature.

Some people, no matter how busy, find time to listen and sit with one who needs a moment.

“I’m sorry” can be the same as saying “I love you” or “ you matter” or both. Or it can mean “I’m sorry”.

A regret will never follow counting to ten, or, better yet, counting to 600.

Change remains intimidating, but when mixed with an open mind and/or an open heart, it can be a practice in engaging with life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Piecemeal Parenting

I had a vision of it all once. I wish it could go a wee bit smoother than it is.
Stop to have babies.
Teach when the last one was school age.
Every i dotted and t crossed.
The best blending of two worlds possible.


I recently sat down with my Assistant Principal for a little evaluation chat. He is someone very easy to talk with and so I shared, "I used to be a 100% teacher. Then I was a 100% mom..." And he finished for me, "How are you supposed to be 200% anything?"


When I started back working full-time, my husband worked from home and could squeeze things in during the day like a sick kid, the dishes, laundry so the game uniform or meet leotard was ready (not his). He could greet two kids on the bus so I could whisk the third somewhere else. It could get chaotic, but it was working. And then he started working out of the house and with a commute and my head imploded.

Oh, the reality of it all.

I am doing my best to breathe through the scheduling chaos and the one-parent-three-places-to-be situation. If this is not practice in remaining calm while the world rushes about me, I'm not sure what is. When I see Rob's Ford pull up at a field or in the driveway, I dance while holding myself like a 3 year old boy. I'm not alone!! Oh the thankfulness that washes over me. How did my mom do this with five kids and no help?

And it is all so ego-based, my struggle with this. I was The Parent- cooking, cleaning, kids, kids, kids. I was The Teacher. Organized, creative, scheduled, scheduled, scheduled. Now I feel like I have the attention span of a two month old. My ability to see one thing through to the end is gone. The dryer door is open because I was folding laundry when I went to get dinner out of the oven and then swooped by a child to collect her vocab cards to test her, finding the dryer door still open as I am turning off the lights heading to bed four hours later. Wait...did I say goodnight to all three kids?

I am learning to recognize the anger that wells up when one of the kids reminds me of something I have to help them with before bed- dealing with a foot ailment that gets treated at night, or that I was supposed to sign something or why don't I ever take them to a nail salon? OK OK OK. Yes. Yes. Yes. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.

Because I used to be 100% Kate, too. Just me. Just caring for me and working on my own time and for my own needs.
Now I feel like everything is being done half-assed. (but it sounds better to say piecemeal.)
My kids sometimes hand things in late and I feel embarrassed. My child's ailment goes untreated for a day or six and I feel guilty. I ask a team parent to watch my child so I can get to another kid in another town and I feel like a loser.

And I am so honest about how much I judged the parent that is now me when I hadn't children and I was the teacher never getting the permission slip or parent-teacher form from someone. Or when my children were small and I was at home all day and everything ran ship-shape. I get it. I get it. I get it.

I am grateful to my cell phone that goes off three times a morning and three times an evening alerting me to things I can no longer hold in my head. Defrost! Pack! Sign! Mail! Pee! Deodorant!  Go! It is like having Dumbledore's Pensieve: as a thought comes to me, I speak it to my phone and set an alarm, removing it from my worries.

Next up I'm taking a sister-wife. (Apply now!)

I wouldn't change my life, though. I bit my nails through the contract signing portion of the school year, wanting to do it all again. Both girls are sold on their activities and will be continuing them for another year and I am so glad for their passion. Baseball will end for B and he will re-snap himself in to his booster seat for the afternoon as we go about our drop off and collections. I will actively look for a Fall activity for him and complain about that for you later.

I know I'm not alone. So go get your day started, and don't forget to brush your teeth. Or your hair. Or how I say it these days as I am yelling up the stairs at my kids, "Brush your face!"