Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘order’

The ebb and flow of peace

We live in a cottage (not in a wood, unfortunately). It’s quaint. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Apart from a suffusion of yellow, it’s fairly featureless. However, it meets our needs (close to amenities and affordable), and it’s home. For now.

When we moved here, we were in the middle of an economic crisis. Our kids were in school all day. We spent all day in an office. All we needed a house for was a place to cook meals once in a while, and a place to sleep.

Then things changed.

“School” became the dining room table. “The Office” became our bedroom. Our bedroom moved into the en suite bathroom space, and our lives became compressed. As our business has grown, we’ve taken on staff, as one does. First we had a flexible and understanding lady two days a week. Then three. Finally, five. Then another lady – also flexible and understanding. Also two days a week, then three … Pretty soon she’ll be full time, too. I work with freelancers, who come in to the “office” from time to time to work – often with home schooled kids in tow. Friends come over for play dates with my children. And we still need a PFY (pimply-faced youth, aka tech assistant) for Papa Bear!

In other words, our cottage’s ability to meet our space requirements is being tried. Sorely.

A side effect of this is that we occasionally devolve into chaos. In theory, a small space is easier to maintain, but in practice, sometimes there just isn’t a place to put stuff! We’ve debated various options (moving, storage, rearranging), and finally settled on a combination of a space rearrangement, and a brutal clean up. Then we spent about a month psyching ourselves up for the task at hand. For some reason, yesterday, Papa Bear and I both woke up raring to go. There was nothing for it but to get stuck in. We gave our staff the day off, loaded the station wagon to the gills with junk, and moved things around. We raised a lot of dust, and we all still feel as if we’re encased in a light coat of cement. Not to mention the hayfever everyone is battling. But that’ll be over soon, and for now we seem to have a working solution. We have also managed to achieve a modicum of privacy (did I mention that until yesterday the office was in our bedroom – and we have no interior doors?).

So, to the title. It seems that I manage to instill and maintain order relatively well in my space. I have a sense of peace as things find and stay in (or return to) their  places easily and regularly. Timetables are established and maintained. Dishes are done – all the time. I feel good about myself as domestic diva, and happy to entertain stragglers.

Then I get busy. I finally realise that I need to actually work for a living. I get involved in clients and meetings and deadlines and late nights and early mornings. Before I know it, it’s been a week since the girls received focused education. The dishes are done on an “as needed” basis, and meals consist of frying whatever happens to be closest to the door of the fridge. Papers pile up, toys accumulate in flotsam eddies around the driftwood of disorganised furniture, and it’s hard to believe we haven’t just been the victims of a robbery. (Actually, I’m sure this acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves. They think we’ve already been hit!).

At the back of my mind is a persistent belief that there is some kind of balance to be found here. I am sure that it must be possible to achieve a reasonable degree of personal organisation AND a reasonable degree of business organisation at the same time. Surely I can do half as much of each as I ever do of just the one or the other, on an ongoing basis, and manage to maintain an orderly home and an efficient business, with happy, educated, adjusted kids? Is there anyone out there who is doing this successfully? Or do we all do what I do, swinging from one extreme to the other, with only intermittent applications of peace in isolated areas of our lives?

I’d love to know. But in the mean time, I am putting off the billing so that I can tackle this severely overdue pile of filing. Wish me luck!

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Some days are magic.

Col. 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

Col. 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

Today is one of those days. Everything is in order. (Well, bar a couple of clutter pockets. And the Garage – looming large). My brain is in order. I have a much clearer idea of what to do with the kids next week. My man is wonderful: thoughtful, funny, hardworking, off to bring home bacon. He’s been gone for half an hour and I miss him already!

My daughters are delightful. All morning they’ve been sweet and helpful, playing together, quietly reading stories to each other and themselves, tidying up, helping out. I am truly blessed today. I have all that I need and so much more.

Yesterday I was researching Charlotte Mason’s methods and came across a post about how she would organise her day. It really inspired me and I am going to aim to do something similar. Here’s my version: I’m going to divide my days into realistic blocks of time, namely, Before Breakfast (BB), After Breakfast Before Snack (ABBS), After Snack Before Lunch (ASBL), After Lunch Before Snack (ALBS), After Snack Before Supper (ASBS), and After Supper Before Bed (ASBB). Then each block of time will have one or two major goals to be achieved or priorities to be taken care of.

I still need to list the priorities that I’ll fit into each week, but for now they’ll cover things like gardening with the girls; Sunday School and school prep; time with my man; play time with the girls. In fact, that’ll just be my list. Oh – and “blessing my house” in some way each week. (I really like this concept: each week, what can I do to make my home a better, more welcoming place? One project each week – be it large or small – will make a big difference).

Obviously mornings will be school time. Around supper time we’ll (hopefully) start having family walks. Before breakfast is workout time – both spiritual and physical. And then the rest of the day is work, and even there I’ll pick the two or three most important work items and focus on doing those to the best of my ability.

I started thinking about this last night (well, at 2:45 this morning!) before I went to bed, and I really think I’m on the right track. I feel so calm and even excited about this new, organised, productive life I’m gooing to lead. Wish me luck!

Operation: GET SORTED!

Operation: GET SORTED is well under way - and delivering results!

Operation: GET SORTED is well under way – and delivering results!

I am a creature of habit. I crave order, discipline, checklists. I LOVE to be organised.

However, I don’t often achieve this. When I am extremely busy or feeling terribly indulgent, I let things slide. Perhaps the girls have been extra cute and very good, so I “go easy” on them tidying up. Or I have a million deadlines screaming at me all at once, and I’m just happy to be left alone to get on with it. On those days, I don’t care about how neat the house is as long as no one’s breaking their neck tripping over toys! (We’ve had some close shaves).

The problem with “going easy” is that I can’t operate in chaos. As my environment gets progressively less organised, I get progressively less productive – and so does everyone else. Eventually, I snap. and nothing gets done at all. I stare at the walls in panic, exuding the faint, glowingly peaceful hum of one who has passed through hysteria and is travelling the calm, terrifying waters on the far side.

If I have a PLAN, though, then I can cope. And until now, I had no plan. I didn’t know what to do next, nor had I any idea how to do it. I couldn’t picture how to fix my mess. Where should stuff go? Where should I start? How should everything be organised?

Some time ago I shared a link with a friend of mine who is just embarking on her very own home education journey. I liked the ideas and principles on this site, but there’s a lot to read there, so I’d never taken it further. Besides, I rationalised, I have a system – one that I paid for. That must, surely, make it better. Right?

Now don’t get me wrong. I like what we have and it has worked so far. But not well enough. As long as I feel adrift in panic, the system isn’t working for us. It was time for a change.

And that’s why, as of next week, we’re switching to pure Charlotte Mason teaching, using Ambleside Online as our reference point.

Clearly, making this decision was the catalyst I needed. Since then, we have become more neat and organised than ever! I have completely sorted all but the office and garage (aka well of lost plots and disaster centre of the known universe). I’ll do those two on the weekend (if I can restrain myself!). I have also vowed that we will all stay this tidy FOREVER. I realise how optimistic and unrealistic that sounds, but I think everyone can see a benefit this time, because we have so much more structure, because they all helped get us to this wonderful, uncluttered place, and because I have promised to throw away anything that I find out of place!

It feels so good to have an ordered space, and a way forward.

I’ll keep you posted.

Past Understanding

keep calm and run on

keep calm and run on

Most of last week was spent “getting organised”. This entailed:

  • making goals – and writing them down!;
  • getting diaries ready for use;
  • updating birthday calendars (in three places);
  • putting up calendars;
  • creating ‘To Do’ lists;
  • creating budgets;
  • creating income forecasts;
  • creating teaching schedules;
  • making lesson plans;
  • planning meals;
  • planning groceries; and
  • planning time.

By the end of the week, not only was I exhausted, I was utterly overwhelmed. There is so much to achieve, so much to be done, so many non-negotiables – and so very little time!

I went to bed on Thursday night sad, despondent, and actually feeling sick. Prov. 17:22 says,

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

On Friday morning I went for a run, then I prayed. I prayed about the year ahead and cried out in desperation to my Lord, asking how I could ever juggle all of this STUFF in my life.

Within moments I was flooded with peace. I had a deep assurance that since I have to do all this stuff, I can do it. It can be done, and by God’s limitless grace, it can be done by me. Yes, I can’t do it – alone! But Phil. 4:13 reminds me that

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Faithful servants.

I found this on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing with any home educating folks out there:

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,
And I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done,
And after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though
I work with all the precision of a machine
Plus the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin;
It makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me
And I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
I am habit!

~ Author Unknown

Good things

One good thing (one of many) that has come from home school is that we are now SUPER organised. I’m not kidding. Everything we own has a Place, and is in its Place. The Places where things go are written in a book and one day (when I have time!) I’ll capture that book into a spreadsheet so that it can sorted by Item Name or Place. For ease of reference. Everyone has been threatened with sudden, instant and even immediate death if they violate the Rule of The Place. And so far no one has expired, which is always a Good Thing.

I wonder how long it will last.

Next up: implementing the Law of the DVDs.

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