Is there anything as magical in a homeschool mama’s life than some precious, silent, alone time? I love having my babies at home with me full-time, learning and reading and playing and exploring and creating together, but 24/7/365 mothering of a large family in a small house leaves little space for peace and quiet. I am very spoilt, when it comes to down time, I will confess. We live in my home town, and my mum works within the school system, so come school holiday time, the children like to abscond for a night or two. By lunchtime Monday, they had their bags packed, and were out the door with barely a backward glance. I like to pretend it’s not that they are glad to be shot of me, but rather that the menu at nanny & poppy’s place is significantly higher in sugar and lower in vegetable than at home…
With a solid 48 hours ahead of me, the very first thing I did was make a list and a plan. I am a compulsive list maker. A heap of jobs and projects swirling around in my head makes me freeze in indecision, but putting it all down on paper makes it clear and achievable.
Back in the early days of parenting, when I would get even smaller slices of time away from the rampaging toddlers, I would get stuck in to one thing, and while I would get that one thing done, all the things I didn’t do would weigh heavily on my mind, and overshadow what I did manage, and I would wind up feeling even more overwhelmed at the end. Eventually, I moved to a system of timers, and cycle through “categories” of tasks. 20 minutes of work, 20 minutes of chores, 20 minutes of fun. A bit of everything gets done, I feel like I’m achieving stuff,
High on my list of things to do? A long walk through the forest to start my days. Over winter my morning walks have dropped off, being both dark and cold of a morning, and I’ve been working on getting back into it with the help of some friends and a daily accountability challenge. With the kids at home, my walk is often a quick 15 minute loop of a morning when I can squeeze it in, or else it’s part of our school day and all the kids plus the dog join me. Fun? Sure. Relaxing and grounding? Not so much. With all the time in the world (for two days at least), I revelled in working up a sweat hiking up and over the ridge into our back valley. The cool hollow full of ferns is one of my favourite spots on our place, and it was such a nice way to start my mornings, weaving through fallen trees and blackened stumps, seeing a brown tail peeking above the fronds. The teen once found a meme suggesting frolicking puppers bouncing through long grass (or ferns) were nothing more than land dolphins, and Max did his best to live up to this descriptor. Once he’d had his fill of chasing smells and birds, we headed back down the ridge, along the creek, before swinging around and coming back up home through the vineyard. As I walked I listened to my most recent audiobook – I’m listening to The Call Of The Wild And Free – and it it was the perfect way to start my day, with some homeschool encouragement and exercise and wild nature.
Once home, it was coffee time, and what a novel experience to drink a whole coffee hot and in silence! Over the coffee I set up my days, writing out a list and setting up check boxes for my timer sprints – yes I am that nerdy. In my working life, it was satisfying to check off each stage of a job and cross it off my list as I handed it over to my manager, but in mama life, there isn’t that same underlying completeness. There’s always another lesson to plan, another load of washing to put on, another dish to wash, another meal to make. So I roll with the little markers, and the satisifaction of seeing those crosses appear on the page as I mark another 20 minutes closer to my goal is what it is in this season of my life.
I acheived a lot of the fiddly little jobs on my work list, and made good progress on other items that needed longer term research and decision making. There was a few jobs around the yard that I feel pleased to have gotten around to – branches lopped and garden bed weeded and the start of rocks picked where we moved some dirt to clear space for where we hope sooner rather than later the new house will be built. And then, with those items getting ticked off, there was also space for FUN.
If you’ve come to this blog from knowing me in real life, or via my craft blog, you will know that I am an incurable crafter and often have a variety of projects on the hop. In the slices of time dedicated to “fun”, I got busy knocking out the finishes, and trying new things. I had a go at dyeing some fabric with coffee, and pre-treated some fabric for more involved natural dyeing experiments next week. While the calico and my cutting equipment was out, I got some gift bags cut out and pulled out my block printing supplies to start printing them, kicking off my Christmas crafting prep. I had a project travel case that just needed binding, a mini pouch that I’d cut out before we moved and hadn’t gotten to. A couple of blog posts were published or at least progressed on. My book was calling me along with a hot cup of tea, and I ended up a couple of chapters closer to finished.
By the time 4pm Wednesday rolled around, I was feeling accomplished and recharged, and was missing my babies like crazy. As much as I loved the down time, I’d hit my limit of the silence, and was very glad to arrive home with three quarters of the crew in tow (Miss9 managed to back it up with another sleep over), tumbling through the front door with all the noise and mess of a category four hurricane in their wake. Barely contained chaos, after fourteen years of stay at home motherhood, is my comfort zone.