Mom’s Rhythm & Theme For Each Day

Many of you may know Emily P Freeman and her wonderful podcast “The Next Right Thing“.  I have loved listening to her gentle, wise counsel she shares in her weekly short 15 minute podcasts.  This March I bought her book also called The Next Right Thing, and along with my pre-order of her book, I received free access to her online course Discern & Decide where I learnt to apply many of her concepts she shares in her podcasts.  Today I want to share on how her Design a Rhythm of Work – Theme Days  made such a simple, but wonderfully freeing difference to my work each day.

In a very similar way, we have used Themes of the Day since 2012 in order to cover all the subjects that provide the richness of a Charlotte Mason education.  Here are some examples of  our themes which I refreshed each year.

Daily themes 2015

This simple daily focus reminded us to spend time on the specific subject of the day, usually before lunch, and this helped us fit in all the extras.   Here are our updated Themes for 2016 ~

I don’t know why I never thought to apply this approach to my own work days.  It is such a simple adaption which provides enormous focus and freedom.  As Emily shares,

“Designing a rhythm of life is something anyone in any season of life can do. It’s simple and life-giving and creates a beautiful and flexible framework for decision making.”

She encourages us  to look to topics rather than the tasks to allocate different theme days and says, “Theme days are not about completion, they are about focus.”

In my personal rhythm planning, I  prayed for the Lord’s guidance and wisdom, for His “yeses” in my life.  Then listed my main topics and tasks (my basic job descriptions or responsibilities) and I allocated one or two per day in the way that felt most compatible with our lifestyle, and, voila! I had my Rhythm of Work planned.   Most of these main themes are allocated for afternoons or after my daily farming activities (I hand-milk our cow Milly and I make cheeses every second day) as well as specific household chores or regular tasks which happen daily anyway.

For me this is what it looks like ~ Mondays are for laundry and the week’s planning, Tuesdays are for Lucerne Tree Farm business‘ marketing, bookkeeping and blog content, Wednesday for Practical Pages homeschool content and development,  Thursdays for town trips & appointments, Fridays to clean house & water plants, Saturdays for gardening and cleaning the chicken coop & ironing (if I don’t plan this I keep putting it off) and Sundays as a day of rest.

Because we live an hour away from our nearest town and because we don’t travel to town for shopping the same day each week, we have all learnt to be flexible and find our flow around this variable and simply shift a day’s theme.  We have always kept a 4-day homeschool schedule and we have completed all our work in this time-frame.  Having one “free” day is really very grace-giving and life-giving.

I have found that now I seem to have much more time for business development and blog content because I have a “whole day” for that theme.  As a result, I have managed to post more regularly and have seen some growth in readership and followers in both my homeschool blog and our business.  I feel much more focused when writing blog content because there are regular flow and continuity.  I find that I can delve deeper into each topic because it is the focus of my day.

This “work before play” approach and the simplicity of my daily rhythms provides wonderful peace and contentment and I love the simplicity of knowing what to focus on each day. And strangely enough, I also seem to have more time for my own interests and I have enjoyed a lot more daily art and art journaling.

Have you found the rhythm of your days?  Why not give this approach a try?  It may well be a method that helps you develop  a creative, fulfilling, life-giving work that can make a difference to yourself, your family as well as your homeschooling … even the world!

Blessings, Nadene

Routine versus Schedule

Homeschooling  works better when you have a plan, and most new homeschool moms feel more secure when they have a detailed schedule.  But in my first year of homeschooling, I was almost a slave to a very detailed schedule, and this approach produced a lot of stress and anxiety.  May I offer you another option?
First, let’s look at the difference between schedule  versus routine ~
schedule (noun) ~ a list of planned activities or things to be done showing the times or dates when they are intended to happen or be done or timetable or  list of the times when events are planned to happen.

versus

routine (noun) ~ a sequence of actions regularly followed or  a usual or fixed way of doing things.

A schedule tells you what to do and when to do it.  It is usually filled with times, lists, blocks, and boxes to tick off.

A routine is a pattern by which you live. It gives structure and order to your day, but it doesn’t dictate exactly when things should be done. It allows you to find a flow that works for you on the day you happen to be living.

By now you have realized that it may be better to follow a routine rather than a schedule as Mary shared at Parnips & Paisley, but when one starts a new educational program or curriculum, a schedule is often necessary to ensure that the work is covered in the allotted time.

If the schedule has you constantly looking at the clock and rushing from one task to the next, and feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you could easily fall into striving and performance instead of enjoying the learning journey, especially if you suffer from perfectionist tendencies,

I tried to schedule everything. I often became discouraged and felt like a failure.  When I decided to ignore the times listed on the schedule and follow the schedule as a suggestion or proposed outline, I immediately felt relieved and revived.  I gained confidence as we gradually found our own basic routine, and I freed myself from the self-inflicted torture that each failed schedule brought.

So, how does one set up a routine?

  1. Decide what is really important such as – building faith, making and eating meals together, working together as a family in caring for home and animals, reading good books, and learning about ___.
  2. Find the time-flow for your family – who is an early riser or who needs more time to wake? When does your family get their best work done? When are their creative times? Homeschooling allows the freedom to set suggested starting times for the different elements of the day.  With young children, it is often best to start early and work until tea-time, lunch and nap times.  Teenagers often move into a very different time flow and this is when it is best to give them the liberty to sleep longer and work later in the day.  Moms, remember to consider your own energy levels!
  3. Identify your important daily events which form pillars in your home such as mealtimes – where activities fit before and after breakfasts, lunches and dinners at more or less the same time each day. We are farmers, and so daily milking forms an important daily event. Create your routine around these times.
  4. Create habits – start with your important daily events and add the most important activities  around those; such as morning chores before breakfast, school seat-work before lunch, creative hobbies after lunch, pack away before dinner, etc.  Keep it simple and don’t throw everything in it at once. Once your family find their flow in those elements, you have space to add more things in. Stick to it to create habit.
  5. Be flexible. This may seem to be contradictory, but if your routine isn’t clicking and something feels off, adapt or change it. You are the ruler of the routine, it shouldn’t rule you. If one day you feel like straying completely from the norm, by all means, do it. Those days make life memorable. You are in charge. You don’t need to worry that you’ve blown it, the set routine will be back tomorrow.
  6. Daily themes 2015Offer options and extras such as different themes for each day.  This was a wonderful way to fit in all the extra subjects in our homeschooling without feeling overwhelmed.
  7. Add freedom and create space for your children to explore their gifts, passions, interests and talents.  Let them be bored.  Offer them the materials and some inspiration and see what they create!

Here’s to you finding your rhythm and flow in your homeschool days!  May you homeschool in grace.  Feel free to share your family’s routines and schedules in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene

Refreshed Daily Themes

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you will have read how we fit in all the rich and rewarding extra Charlotte Mason subjects using a Theme of the Day.

This year, as my 12-year-old daughter and I sat and discussed what and how she would like to learn (tailor-making homeschool is an absolute winner), we reviewed our daily themes and come up with a fresh version ~

Daily themes 2015 Here’s your free download with both our 2014 and new 2015 versions ~ Daily Themes 2015

Fun alliteration makes it easy for us to remember!

How do we fit in our daily themes?

I planned all these activities to follow our normal daily disciplinary studies (Bible, Maths, Spelling, English Language Arts & 2nd language studies.)   If we work well and don’t have too many interruptions, then we may complete our daily theme before lunch.  But I have scheduled this for the “1 more thing after lunch“.  Also, realistically, because we take one day off to travel to town for our weekly shopping, we will combine 2 days’ themes on one afternoon or fit it the next morning schedule.  Flexibility is essential in our homeschool schedule.

  • Masterly Monday = “Meet the Masters” in Fine Art!  Study famous artists’ masterpieces and listen to classical music from famous musicians.  We will also do our own arts and crafts and handiwork.  This year we will continue to follow Patti’s blog “All Things Bright and Beautiful” Charlotte Mason approach to art, music and poetry.  She has truly done all the hard work for us!
  • Tea & Poetry Thursday = Read our Poet of the month or follow Patti’s blog for her poet studies.  Having tea should include some fresh cookies or cake!  This is the afternoon for baking together.  We will also add Shakespeare to our afternoons.  This year we may add monthly prepared reading aloud, presentation of speeches or recitations.
  • Finally, Fabulous Fridays = For fun creative writing and journaling.  This may be a good opportunity to complete any other written narrations or projects for the week.

So there ~ a rich and rewarding education made possible by scheduling short extras and finding a way to fit it in our schedule.  Please feel free to share your schedule ideas in the comments below!

Blessings