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Organizational Tools, Not Dictators

Organizational Tools, Not DictatorsCharts and organizational tools can be your best friend or your worst enemy! I know this story both ways. I did not realize the challenges I would face when trying to combine “home” and “school”. The reality is these are not two separate things that I do. Home and school when put together becomes a descriptive word for our family. It is who we are. You cannot take home out of our school and likewise you cannot take school out of our home. They completely coexist at just about every minute of our wakeful hours.

So I needed to readjust the way I looked at our “homeschool”. Yes, we need a schedule for laundry and for the dishes and for science and for math…, but we also need the flexibility to be able to do the laundry while doing the math and to wash the dishes so that there’s room in the sink to clean up the science experiment mishap. I have learned that sometimes my organizational efforts in a chart look really good when on paper, but the reality is nothing that looks that good on paper ever really works in real life! :) Real life is full of surprises!

So what do you do?

I try to make the charts and organizational tools be my helpers, not my dictators. A good helper will be flexible and willing to adapt. So I try to schedule in flexibility and plan for things to take longer than they really do. For school this might mean stretching a typical 5-day schedule to 6 days. Really, we never get done in 5 days what we are supposed to and we will never catch up. So what is the reality? We can get it done in 6, mostly. So some years we have had a 6-day schedule. For housekeeping, I am learning (present tense) to let go of some of my “personal preferences”. We will not be able to thoroughly clean every room in our house every week. It is just not going to happen. So what is the reality? We can hit the hot spots and keep up with clutter ALMOST everyday. Then once or twice a week find a room that needs some deep cleaning. At that rate, every room will have been thoroughly cleaned at least once a month and it is at least decluttered and spot cleaned everyday. I can live with that – or at least I am learning to!

We have to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to get everything picture perfect whether it is in our “home” or in our “school”. Paint a picture for yourself of what you want your homeschool to look like. My picture is full of happy kids surrounding their dad and I on the couch curled up with a good book with the kids pleading for just one more page. You know the picture, right? That is a picture that I KNOW can be created on any given day. A spotless house, a perfect school schedule with all the right boxes checked is NOT something I can create on even my best organized days. Even if it were, that would make for one very boring picture! No, my homeschool needs to be a place of comfort and love and flexibility, not a place full of expectations for myself or my family that are completely unattainable. What a burden that would become!

Now, I am not saying that you should not be a good steward of your time and possessions or that if you have a spotless house that you have somehow neglected your family. I am saying there is a very delicate balance of “home” and “school” that each of needs to be seeking. If a chart or organizational tool can be your helper, then by all means pursue them! If you know yourself to become enslaved by charts, then walk with wisdom when using them.