And so comes the time to look back at the last few months and assess what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what to change and what to keep. I probably wouldn’t be doing this except that we tried to make a monumental change and I’m not sure we’ve managed it well. In my former career, “continuous process improvement” was actually part of one of my job titles. It’s something I fully embrace.
Yeah… I think this is going to work out–not being part of the Young Philosopher’s group that was meeting on Fridays from 11:30am-1pm. I mean, that’s lunchtime. Seriously? And it’s kind of far. And it falls on the day that BigGuy and I are supposed to hold our big Socratic white-elephant-in-my-head discussions… which might be too much heavy conversation for a day.
But Fridays are really, really open now and I think that’s going to work well for us. For one, it’s the day we prepare for the weekend. We do our “weekly home blessing” (thank you, stronghold of The Fly Lady) which is a set of two chores per family member that help get the house cleaned up before the weekend. This started long ago when we hosted “Wine Night” at our house every Friday night for nearly a year before relocating. Taking care of cleaning up the house before the weekend set in meant that we enjoyed a clean house all weekend and company dropping by wasn’t an issue. We could just relax.
Well, we are returning to that. And I think having the review of the week’s work and the Socratic discussions on Friday are going to dovetail nicely into preparing for the weekend. Because we can also have these discussions WHILE we work on stuff.
So each day the kids have all kinds of responsibilities…
Make their bed
Put their laundry in the hall basket and one of them takes the basket down to the laundry room (or one of the adults do)
Pick up toys in their room (which usually happens twice/day–once before going down to breakfast and once before bed… but we’ve removed a lot of toys from their rooms)
Pick up whatever toys they were playing with all day before getting their screen time or going out to any cool play dates
Set the table and get drinks. Honestly, I have no idea who does what part of this now except that at a prior family meeting, Girly wanted to put out the plates. That meant someone had to get them for her. Apparently, not anymore. She’s pushed her kid chair to the cabinet, stood up on it, got down four large dinner plates, and put four forks on them and then carries it all to the table. Whaaaaa…..???
Clear the table after every meal
BigGuy has to clean his bathroom and the master bathroom–and doing that is broken down so that he does a different part each day. He often forgets this chore or forgets to include my bathroom… but this is a new one.
At the end of the week, it goes like this (or rather, IT. IS. PLANNED. to go like this):
BigGuy vacuums the entire first floor and upstairs hallway. With his complete failure to master vacuuming, we are now sweeping.
Girly is supposed to dust and put away whatever toys are left out.
Papa is supposed to empty EVERY. GARBAGE CAN. IN THE HOUSE. including the laundry room and powder room; and mop the first floor
Mama is supposed to clear ALL of the horizontal surfaces–desk, kitchen island, counters; and sort/purge all papers–bringing the keepers to the office.
Honestly, the kids are the only ones being held to this right now and BigGuy bears the brunt of it. So add this to the list of “things mom should really get better at”. To be fair, Girly is WAY more helpful in general than BigGuy so I kind of don’t feel all that horrible about it. At 5, she tap dances rings around him in the helpful category. I love my son and he has his amazing qualities. I’m just saying that being helpful isn’t one of them.
And then there’s the general keeping things in their place crap. Shoes go in the closet, not out and about. Pencils have a place. Library books have a place. Board games have a place. My core sense of self is only at rest when “everything has a place and everything in it’s place”. With this house presumably the final place (until retirement), sh*t’s gotta get put in it’s place and that needs to become a habit.
Friday is also farm share day. So if we can get the rest of the house clean, by the time we get our farm food later in the day, we really don’t have anything standing in our way to deal with the vegetables. We get two shares from a farm in town; but then another farm uses our house as a drop-off point (it’s complicated–they started using us mid-season when we were already midway through a full season share with the other farm. Although to be fair, last year we did 4 shares total–two from each of these farms; and we’re likely to go back to that next year since we will not yet have our own gardens to the point of supporting us. Wait-wait-wait… I digress..
I’m looking forward to Fridays. Especially if they’re sunny. And clean.
Planning work that BigGuy found interesting and engaging
Planning around events we scheduled
Reading our character building book
Working (unexpectedly) a consignment sale fundraiser (for a friend whose kids were sick) and although EX. HAUST. ED. I really handled all my responsibilities well! WOOT!
And on that note, bought some good shirts for BigGuy at above-referenced sale.
Nearly kept up on our new (or rather, return-to-former) laundry routine where nobody has hampers–all laundry is collected every morning and a load is done every day. BAM!
Not losing my sh!t on anyone. This is actually an accomplishment because my PTSD therapy in the last week was rough.
Things I did not do well this week:
Having backup plans when primary plans fell through–which left us kind of in a not-great situation sometimes.
Finding engaging things to do with Girly because truly, I didn’t realize how this whole new “wake up and work with Papa” thing would pan out
Reading to either of my kids
Doing the socratic discussions with BigGuy. To be fair, this was partly my not wanting Friday to be C O N S T A N T discussion/analysis and partly because we had an emergency plan-change for Saturday that left me missing Girly’s soccer game (and a night out for someone’s 40th birthday that I was really looking forward to) and canceling attendance at a kids birthday party.
Apparently I may not have enforced the deodorant rules well enough to BigGuy because his Friday discussion group leader sent out an e-mail to all of us parents requesting some body odor enforcement. I’m not sure if it was BigGuy (since I didn’t notice offensive odor… this week) or someone else. But note to self: bear down on this one.
Definitely did not enforce the bathroom chore routine well enough with BigGuy. But also didn’t enforce any chore routines with Girly, either.
Keeping my grumpy on the down-low at times. Like when there was a detour for a field trip and I had zero contact numbers to find out where to go. I’d been told “the big main entrance–parking lot is right there, you can’t miss it” only to find out 1) there were no less than 6 parking lots; and 2) we weren’t going to the big, main entrance. And my car was out of gas. In an area I didn’t know well. And I was really, really grumpy about it to other people including adults.
Other things that happened this week:
Girly has become a brick wall goalie. I seriously cannot even…
BigGuy decided that he would start going to bed without a parent laying down with him “so that he could start doing sleepovers”. This is simultaneously an awesome day and the worst day of my life. I knew it was coming just like when you KNOW someone is going to die of a terminal illness and yet, it blindsides you anyway. So far, we have discovered that we need a “goodnight” routine as I wound up without a kiss goodnight.
Girly decided to start doing HER OWN hair. Have you seen this kid’s hair, folks? This is a picture of what it looks like for her to “do her own hair”. She pretty much flattens the top with water and I’m not really sure what hair “utensil”. She does it often and is VERY proud of herself… so I compliment her every time and remind myself that we will absolutely HAVE to REALLY do her hair the next morning rather than slack.
We went on a crazy awesome field trip to a municipal airport and aviation school that included the control tower.
We wound up with 4 shares of Community-Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) farm shares to manage. Two that we normally get from our farm plus two more that people did not pick up from our house (which serves as a host site for a local CSA farm). This would normally be an awesome thing.
BigGuy and Girly are clearly fighting off illness. Between Illinois being one of the 6 states with confirmed cases of Enterovirus and close friends kids coming down with Coxsackie… I’m concerned. Last night, BigGuy let out a few coughs in the middle of the night (for more on why this is a big deal, see BigGuy’s background)
Overall, I think it was a decent week. I would love to be downtown drinking with a bunch of happy women celebrating a 40th birthday right now, but I will take a hot bath and soft bed after this day of being on my feet ALL. DAY. and up since early (for a work-related meeting before covering at the sale).
Upshot is that BigGuy is happier and feels like the dynamics of the household have changed for the better with this recent change in who is getting up when and doing what.
I can’t lie that there is a very, very tiny part of me that is sad that Papa gets to connect with the boy instead of me. I mean, I know he loves me and all. I just wish I had the resources right now to connect with him more meaningfully. Or that I was at least gaining something else in the absence of that connection. Like maybe connecting with Girly. They grow up so fast. I just need to focus on the gratitude for having a husband that gives them that rather than my kids lacking it completely.
Usually we are up for whatever. There’s no “Oh, we can’t–we have to finish math” like some of my homeschooling friends. So this morning when my cell phone rang at 9:30am and the little voice belonging to a family that we adore asked us to come over at 10:30am (pack a lunch)… I didn’t even give it a second thought.
This schooling thing is going to take some getting used to.
But today is scheduled to be our “finish and review” day. It’s the day where I check through all of the assignments, make sure they’re actually done (and done right), finish anything that wasn’t done and then, something new. We’re going to recap the week and talk about how we each felt it went, and then talk about the week ahead and what’s going on. I kind of like the idea of building in this review and planning as part of habits of mind. Which reminds me that I have “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind” sitting in my bedroom waiting to be read… hmmm.
But today we played. And it was good. And I was reminded about CLEP exams. And suddenly my challenges around biology seemed completely resolved.