I will be honest with you. Sometimes my days are hard. As much as I like people to think that we all wake up cheerfully and plunge into fascinating, delight-driven learning, where everyone is enthusiastic and our conversations are riveting, where my children flow seamlessly from exploring a fascinating maths concept to discussing the Fall of Rome to designing and crocheting their own blankets, all before lunch – that’s just not my life. We do have some great conversations. One day they might crochet a blanket. But often, I have to convince them that learning is a good idea. Sometimes, I know that we should be doing a nature walk, but I can’t face the thought of getting coats and boots on everyone, tramping out in the wind, to look at nature that I then have to convince them to draw or write about in their nature journals. It just seems too hard.
But you know what? Some things work, without seeming to take any effort from me. And that could be because some of my kids are now big enough to help out, and can get things done for me (I’m learning the wonderful art of delegation!). But I think that it is mostly because of the two Rs – Rhythm and Ritual.
I have discovered that when we are in a rhythm, the next thing just happens. This is totally different to the “S” word. Here in the Disorganised Homeschool, schedule makes me twitch. I just can’t keep to them. They make me stressed out (Although, I do call the girls’ bookwork lists “schedule books”. Go figure).
Rhythm, unlike a schedule, is a flowing, a beat. When we finish lunch, the girls always go and get books and head up for Rest Time. I never have to remind them and I never ever have to convince them. It’s not because they are weird or drugged – I used to have to convince them way back when. But now, it’s just so much part of our day that it just happens. It’s not discussed any more than we would discuss whether we are eating dinner that day. It’s easy.
Other examples of beautiful, easy rhythm in our family are Bible time in the morning, read alouds over lunch, Maths Drill, and our morning checkpoints. None of those things take any effort whatsoever on my part any more (Except breaking up squabbles over emptying the dishwasher during checkpoints. I may have rhythm, but my kids are still humans).
I was reflecting on all this yesterday morning. A week or two ago I talked about what our days look like. I mentioned in that post that I wanted to get in the habit of everyone running up and down the street for some exercise between Maths Drill and bookwork. I tried it, and I got arguments. Lots of arguments, and complaints. But I put on my Mummy steel-capped boots and insisted that we do it anyway. Yesterday, a beautiful thing happened. After Maths Drill, the kids got up, went and put their shoes on, and ran outside. Suddenly, it wasn’t hard, and didn’t take energy. It just happened.
The second R is ritual. Rituals are the little things that anchor the rhythm in place. Like rhythm, they take a little while to set up, but then, they just happen. They come to be expected, and appreciated, and missed when they are not there. They can be things that you do, or things that you use. Like lighting a candle on the dinner table. It’s a small gesture, but it anchors the dinner, makes it special, sets it apart from other meals.
So, here are some of the rituals here in the Disorganised Homeschool. We always start Bible time with our School Day Prayer, and we always finish it with the Grace. We always use the same pens for Maths Drill. We always use our teacups with cornflowers for poetry teatime. For our monthly movie night, we always have hot dogs and popcorn for dinner.
As you might have guessed, I am not an organised person. Being consistent is really, really hard for me, and takes a huge amount of energy. Lots of people think that I am organised. I try hard not to laugh in their face. Because I’m not. I’m really, really not. The thing that makes me seem organised, makes me feel organised, is rhythm and ritual. What are the rhythms and rituals that make your days flow smoothly? I would love to know.