A reset is a wonderful way of restoring rest in our lives. Our days are a rhythm of routines that form resets; waking and sleeping, eating and working. When homeschooling and raising young children, it is vital to reset throughout the day and especially, I find, the most important, at the end of the day.
Make it a habit to clean up and pack away at the end of each day. Involve everyone, even toddlers, as they pack away the toys, books and papers, clear tables and surfaces, tidy up and move furniture back into place. My young kids loved to sing Barney’s clean up song, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere ….” as they packed away their toys before bath time. This prepares a clean slate for the next day.
May I offer some practical advice to moms with young children ~
- Make it fun! Sing songs, play upbeat music, talk with an accent or silly voice instead of barking out instructions, Think of fun ways to toss soft toys into baskets, scoot small objects with a dustpan, find and pack items by colour, hide a special toy secretly and ask them to see if they can find it while tidying.
- Work together – Teams, partners, helpers makes the job easier. Assign an older child with a younger child.
- Simple predictable schedule – young children feel secure with routines and schedules and love repetition. Use what works again and again! Keep it simple. When your days are too full, too many outside the home activities, children become stressed and start to resist and refuse routines. Pare back your activities, stay home to reset for at least 3 days to re-establish basic routines.
- Use a timer – Set a timer for 5 minutes to 15 minutes to do a chore or clear a room or pack away things. There is so much momentum created when children know that there is very little time left … and then the reward!
- Use rewards – “Yes, you can go play outside — as soon as you pack all these blocks into the basket/ as soon as we have cleared the carpet/ as soon as you have put … away.” Food, snacks and drinks make lovely rewards. I would prepare some popcorn and a DVD for afternoon rewards. Free time, play time, outdoors time, playing with friends are all marvelous options other than screen time. Screen time is a very powerful reward tool if not over-used or abused.
- Do it all through the day – young toddlers create constant chaos. Clean and pack away as they move on to the next thing. This way you aren’t left with every room filled with scattered toys and stuff.
- Get physical – let your young child get rid of some energy by skipping rope, mini-trampoline or swinging. While they play, you can reset the room for the next activity.
- Let them choose – ask your child where they would like to start, “Do you want to clean the carpet or the table?” Giving your child options makes them feel that they can take charge.
Early morning quiet times is a crucial reset for me. I love to wake and spend time alone before the family wake up and the demands of the day begin. Sitting at a clear desk, with calm and quiet, I focus on my spiritual walk, journal, read the Word and pray. I would also spend time planning and writing out my to-do lists. Here’s a wonderful verse that spiritually resets my heart!
"Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
When homeschooling, I found that my children loved to come to their schoolroom that was all tidy and ready, rather than flounder through chaos, mess and muddles. I loved to surprise my kids with new lessons, new books, posters or art materials laid out ready for them. As a professional school teacher, I learnt that preparation was essential to good classroom discipline, and it is the same when homeschooling. A mom who is lost in mess and confusion, hunting for the CD or book, gives her children that time to play, chatter and even disappear before the lesson starts! After the last lesson, I would rather spend 15 minutes filing and packing away my papers, books and school prep in the late afternoon than arrive at my cluttered desk the next day and feel overwhelmed before I even started.
Meals form natural resets and homeschooling allows for these times to be family times. In our family, we would all help prepare the food and then eat together before the children that were responsible for certain chores cleared the table, washed the dishes and cleaned off work surfaces. Meal planning when I use our AGA or slow cooker meant that I prepared the main meal early in the day that would simmer away while I worked and taught.
Late afternoons before bath time was a big reset when my children were young. The children helped take washing off the line. fold laundry and pack clothing away. We often sorted and folded laundry while watching a DVD. Then bedrooms were tidied and they all went to bath. Bath time was a wonderful time to calm everyone down, preparing for evening and bedtime. After supper, we had read-aloud time, bedtime routines and one-on-one with the kids before we ended the day.
Reset your house at night. Before I go to bed, I spend a few moments in the lounge and fluff up pillows, fold blankets and take any coffee mugs to the kitchen before switching out the lights. I loved to have my kitchen work surfaces cleared and cleaned off. Any dishes or mugs that didn’t make the evening dishwasher round, I would quickly rinse or, on a “bad” night, simply soak them in the sink. I would check the bathrooms and tidy up, hang up or straighten bath towels. Then I would go to bed feeling as if my home was in order. (I used to follow the Fly Lady routine for many years.)
An intimate evening reset is a wonderful habit. My children and I wrote special notes to each other. I love to spend time chatting with my hubby, giving thanks for the day, planning for the next day and the week, problem-solving, finding perspective, talking about finances, business, dreams, wishes, praying together, being intimate, is the most rewarding way to reset and end each day. There were seasons of keeping a gratitude diary.
Trust that your family has blessed times of resetting. In what ways do you reset your lives? Please share with us in the comments below.
P.S. Here’s a very relevant related blog post that I wrote several years ago – Unrealistic Expectations
All In Grace, Nadene