Happy March! (and my steps toward balance)

I think I always give a big sigh of relief when the first day of March rolls in.  Another February survived, and here we are just weeks away from the first day of spring, and of course, already I am feeling behind.  Flying by the seat of my pants has been the motto of my past year, and it is time for some healthy change, some healthy routine and structure.  So when Nicola started her series on taking steps toward balance, I was quick to jump aboard.  I very much need to make some changes that help me to balance all those things that I have to do with all of those things I want to do.  Really it’s not just me though, There are seven of us here full time as Jonny works from home.  So as a family we have to set our priorities and find a way to achieve all that we would like in a way that promotes peacefulness,effectiveness, and happines.  DSC_0058
For the month of February I chose to spend less time on my computer in order to shift my focus inward.  The challenge for me is that I am always thinking of something that I need to “look up” online which leads to checking my email, visiting a blog or two, etc.  I am trying to concentrate my computer time to twice per day:  a quick check in the morning, and a longer period in the evening during which I respond to emails, comments, and post to my blog.  The computer can be a great escape from all that needs to be done around here, but my time would be more effectively spent making our lives more meaningful rather than looking at how lovely everyone else’s are.
For March, my step toward balance is making an effort to organize our days around a work then play mentality in addition to doing a better job of planning when both work and play will occur.  This is very challenging for Jonny and I because we are responsible for setting all structure in our life, and we are pretty laid back, he more so than me.  The only things on the schedule every week at a definite time are Mass and piano lessons.  There is no train to catch or school bell ringing.  This gives lots of room for spontaneity which is very good on the one hand and results in lots of adventure, but on the other hand sometimes it is necessary to buckle down and get some work done, and honestly that is hard when no one is making you do it at a certain time.  For example if mid morning our children want to go back outside to play, but the house is a mess and lessons aren’t completed I typically say “okay.”  I have a  hard time saying no to the outdoors and I think to myself that we can always finish lessons later.  The problem is that many times those lessons don’t get completed which creates worry, stress, and playing catch up.
The same thing has been happening to our house.  Too often we are saving messes for later, choosing instead to play, craft, read, head outdoors for an adventure, etc.  Sometimes this is a good thing.  However, the mess level in my house has ceased to be a good thing.  With five children (and two adults) making messes in a small space (1495 sq. feet to be exact) things can start to get out of hand rather quickly.  The chaos that comes with all the mess really disturbs my thinking making me less effective in my roles as wife, mommy, and teacher.
While I do want a cleaner home and a more effective system in place for getting all of our work finished,  I know that I am not open to having a schedule that dictates what we do at certain times throughout the day.  Those sorts of things tend to cause stress rather than alleviate it because they are impossible to follow (for me.)  Today I set a loose goal of finishing with breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, and math lessons for all the boys before a certain time but one tumble and one baby with a nosebleed later, and we were a half hour behind.  So saying we must be finished by a certain time doesn’t really work.  I do want to start writing goals down more often, such as assigning a certain week to be the week I get the garden plan made and seeds ordered rather than walking around thinking “man, I need to sit down and plan the garden” until I am late getting started.  Routine I suppose is my aim, rather than a schedule, with a few more things being written down on the calendar, things I wouldn’t typically write down:  After eating you clean up your mess, before playing outside you finish your lessons (with the exception of the early morning time my children spend outdoors while breakfast is being made.  I think it is healthy for them to start their day with fresh air), and oh it’s the second week of March, I need to get those seeds ordered by tomorrow (according to my calendar 🙂
Today, we did manage to finish all lessons by mid day, in addition to cleaning the kitchen as a team after breakfast.  I can’t tell you what time it was, but just that at some point we were finished with our have-tos and free to do what we wanted.  I want my children to understand that if you do your work, and do it well the first time, there is usually (but not always) time for play.  Work is not a hardship, but a gift, and the peace that comes from doing your work and doing to the best of your ability overflows into all areas of our life.  To achieve this, we will be following a simple routine, but nothing more elaborate than that.  Flexibility is important if we want to succeed.
Once our work is finished we are free to head out into the woods,
visit our favorite tree,
take a peak at the raccoon sleeping inside,
and sit down for a new group photo.
Or maybe not.
So, I’ll let you know how it goes…


  1. For the month of February I chose to spend less time on my computer

    I don’t believe you 🙂

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