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

Posts tagged ‘Order’

Peace made practical

Last year I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia, as I’ve explained ad nauseam (sorry for that). I won’t go into the boring details, except to say that the diagnosis launched a journey of self-discovery. I should actually say it deepened the existing journey of self-discovery I was already on. And then we moved. Into a bigger house. (Can I just say: moving sucks! But more space is very nice).

It’s been a very good thing.

For one thing, it’s forced me to respect how I’m wired in a way that I never have before. I’ve been trying to fight it all this time, as if certain basic aspects of myself are somehow less desirable than those of another person. Academically, I’ve always known this is a dangerous route, as it is hard to sustain under pressure, and a terrible example to set for impressionable young daughters.

So now we begin to make the academic understanding apply in practical ways to my situation. While this may sound unreasonably petty and very OCD, a significant contributing factor to my body’s failure to thrive is mess. I like order – rhythms and structure and logic and peace. I do not like mess. And in chaos, I wither. Unfortunately, my family does not share these compunctions. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. Things are not put away, cleaned up, turned off, tidied, washed or straightened. Things are not done.  Ever. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating when I say we’d disappear under mountains of our own rubbish in less than a year if I didn’t move heaven and earth to stop that happening.

Until last September, I truly believed that I was the flawed one; that I ought to be more accepting of the otherness of others, and not inflict my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies on such free spirits. Pah! I’m over that. Now we have order. Thanks to the genius that is Alisa Vitti, the wisdom of Dr James Wilson, and some plain old common sense (not to mention Pinterest), I am building the tools I need to have a home that is a source of peace and joy for us all.

First of all, I have defined three very simple, very clear focus areas for this year, with measurable goals for each. I’ll share these later in the week. I’ve put them up in key areas so that they are always easily visible to me.

Next, I’ve broken each month down into a schedule of deliverables for each of these three areas of my life. My guiding philosophy here is “less is more”. Whereas, in the past, I would try to cram as much as I could into every day, scheduling my life down to the last five minutes, now I am trying to see how little I can get away with in each day without chaos ensuing. It sounds lazy, but it’s actually sanity saving if you’re an over-scheduler like me. I’ve also taken things like our business, family and social commitments, and my cyclical changes, into account with these schedules, since they have a very real effect on all that I do (and how effectively it gets done).

Finally, I’ve made some rules. In our house we all have chores. Doing chores earns rewards, not doing chores earns punishment. I’d like to instil a sense of teamwork and the necessity of pulling together into all of this somewhere, but waiting for my brood to do their bit because it’s the right thing to do will require a degree of patience I cannot lay claim to. We have chores lists that get checked off every day. Completing your chores gets you your agreed reward. Not doing so gets you grounded, and may cost you something, too. And we have a chore bin: if you leave it out, it goes in the bin. You have one week to earn it back by doing a chore, otherwise it goes to charity. No matter what it is. (The bin is new and not popular. I am intrigued to see how it will play out).

I am feeling much more content and at peace, and I missing far fewer deadlines than ever before. The school bases are covered, and my clients’ expectations are managed. All while the house keeps ticking over and very few balls are being dropped there, either. Over the next few weeks I’ll share the ways in which we’re taking charge of our chaos, and how making it practical is helping us establish and maintain peace.


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.

A little humour

Well, it’s only taken two days (and counting) to even begin to get organised. I have at least another two days of planning and prep to go – and only IF I cut some serious corners. I find it very overwhelming, sometimes, trying to fit my life and requirements into my available resources, but I guess that’s what good stewardship is all about. And let’s face it, if I don’t get organised ASAP, this year will be a disaster.

On a lighter note, young Goldilocks has embarked on that phase of life that includes creating jokes. They’re works in progress, and some are pretty dire, but she keeps refining them, and her sense of humour becomes more and more sophisticated with each one. Despite the cringeworthiness of some of her offerings, it’s a genuine pleasure to watch her grow.

Here are some:

“Why do authors not like stop streets?”
– They don’t have WRITE of way.

“Why was the Pirate excited to go to the store?”
– Everything was on SAIL.

“What frame of mind do you need to be in to travel on the river in Paris?”

Today’s reading:
Gen. 7-9; 1 Thess. 5 and Prov. 3
The Message:
We have what we need. Be content and happy.

Here we go …

It’s been an awesome hiatus since Christmas, and such fun easing into the year with almost nothing but school and good books. But now the time has come to get this old nose back to that old grindstone. Work must be worked! I feel a strange, clawing reluctance to even get started, and as I compiled my “To Do” list this evening in preparation for the week ahead, I was struck forcibly by the sensation of sleepless nights and seemingly endless stress. I realise the great irony, of course: if I’d gotten back into the groove a little earlier, I’d have less to do right now. However, I’m assuring myself that this has been a much needed and well-deserved break, and hoping that I can make up the lost ground without too serious an impact on the lovely family routine we have going – especially now that the house has been restored to wonderful order.

Please hold thumbs!

Feeling better.

Today we got back into the swing of things. Since Friday the 9th of December I’ve had my nose firmly attached to yon grindstone. As a result, I finished (nearly) all my work for the year! – AND all the billing that goes with it. This is all very good news and rather rare for this frantic time of year. It means that I can chill out a bit, and spend my time chasing debts, rather than earning an income.

Actually, it means I can spend time with my girls.

The side effect of all that work is slight neglect of the children, and by last night I was feeling rather panic-stricken about the poor job I’m doing at being a home school mom. That’s why it was such a  relief to sit down this morning and assess. First of all, while I was working so hard, the kids had a holiday. All their friends are now doing the same, while they’re back at school, so that balances things out. Secondly, it only amounts to 6 days of actual school that they’ve missed, which is not a lot. During that time they played educational computer games, read (a tiny amount), drew, painted, cut, coloured, pasted and played (together and with friends). They swam and went to see a live show. They helped with meal preparation and took care of their pets. And every night I read at least one chapter of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to them. We looked stuff up and answered questions and they made dolls’ clothes and house and plans for rocket ships. So all-in-all, it’s not as if they’ve gone wild in the last week, is it?

I’ve also taken charge.

I’m reading a great book at the moment (well, three great books, but one in particular applies here). It’s called “12 Great Choices Smart Moms Make”. I’m only on the introduction and it’s already helping me. Step one is to take charge, and it means deciding what matters to your family (and what doesn’t), and using that as the basis of your family decisions. And making it clear to all involved that that is how it works.

So, yes, I am frustrated in this small space, and yes, I do wish I could give my kids horse-riding lessons AND ballet AND gymnastics AND Spanish dancing AND drama AND new clothes/toys/shoes/adventures. But I can’t. Our goal is to get debt free. It will take time. We have to make the most of the time so we will go for walks in the nature reserve down the road. (This doubles as exercise time and I’ve said the girls can both climb the trees and swim in the river). The girls will do drama next year, because the drama programme includes dance. Ballet/Spanish dancing & gymnastics will have to wait. And I’m very sad about horse-riding but it can’t be helped. Maybe later. And we’ll move when we can afford to move, and to a place that doesn’t bankrupt us. That may take some time.

*Deep breath*.

Now that I’ve made some clear plans, I feel much better about it all. The funny thing is: so does everyone else. I guess we all need to be told where we stand once in a while.

(We did some school today, which also helped. Just reading and maths, but those are the main things, right?)

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