The Dreaded School Routine
Routines can feel stifling. They can also give you all more freedom.
The first week of school usually passes in a blur.
There are papers to sign, checks to write and jitters to calm. By the second week you’re ready for some down time but homework begins in earnest, sports kick into gear and there are afterschool activities looming.
I’ve been doing the mom thing for more than 20 years now. Some things made sense right away: The car doesn’t leave the driveway until seat belts are clicked. Some things took a lot a lot longer to sink in: Just because kids say they don’t care, doesn’t mean they don’t care. Some things are intuitive: No kid wants to go to bed on time in the summer. And some things are downright unintuitive.
At the top of the unintuitive list, right next to the instruction manual for assembling almost anything, is the fact that more structure results in more freedom. I’m still not entirely certain how this is the case. It may even be that it’s only the case in a narrow band of structure. All I know is that it’s true. And that it works to make life during the school year a lot easier and more enjoyable.
I used to try to adjust the schedule to fit with whatever was going on that day. I know. Insane. And that’s about how I usually felt as we ran from activity to activity with homework and dinner and reading still on the list as the sun set. Now there are clear times when things need to be done. We’re not trying to slide a few extra hours into each day. We’re looking at what we have and asking how this can be done with lights out by 9 or 10, depending upon the child.
The net result is that we prioritize more and still manage to fit a lot into each day. Afterschool clubs are a must for my kids. A sport per season too—at least through middle school. Add in religious school, midweek dinner with Grandpa, family dinners, homework and fun, and the calendar is filled.
With a schedule in place, I don’t have to be the person who keeps it all in my head. If there’s a problem getting things done on time, the kids come to me. If something needs to be juggled one day, the kids let me know. If doing something one way would be better than doing it another, that’s fine. Just have it done on time.
I haven’t been this relaxed in years!