Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Too much, or too little, trying to find balance

We seem to undulate between feeling that we are doing too much, and feeling that we are doing too little. Trying to find that balanced rhythm between the two is really a constant struggle for me. I can observe the kids needing more time at home, and then observe them needing to reach out and expand into new things. They fluctuate, as do I. Currently we are a bit busy, opportunities to do things and participate in classes have come up and they are all very much enjoyed and loved by the kids, however I feel it is too much. Our homelife suffers a bit when we are running about too much. This morning my husband laughed when I was complaining that we have to be "somewhere" everyday this week. Including this evening when we have dinner at Great-Grandma's house. He asked me if simply having to leave the house counted as having to be somewhere, I thought, well yeah!! Having to be somewhere means that we have this thing hanging out there that I have to build our day around. It means that if we have to be at Grandma's by 4:30pm that I have to begin the getting ready to go dance at about 2:30 or 3:00 at the latest. Including showers and baths, finding outfits, being sure I have last weeks tupperware to return to her (may mean I have to do dishes) helping the kids choose something to bring to play with their cousins and getting out the door by 4:00pm. Its not a big deal, but it is an outing, and it counts. I had to laugh when he asked me that, because I could see the confusion on his face. I remember when going somewhere meant grabbing my keys and running a brush through my hair too, but that is not the case right now. I feel like I'm complaining, and I'm really not, Im just clarifying that getting four people ready for dinner at Grandma's can certainly be an event in itself.
Other than that this has been a busy time for us, we started back with Science Club this week, and I did our African Animals unit, which I think went really well. Tuesday we had Science at Explora, which the boys love and while it sounds like we are doing science twice a week, and basically we are, they are sooooo different. One is a coop of people who the kids enjoy seeing and that has grown into our sort of support system. We get to visit other families and participate in something that is very much created and nurtured by its members, very different from the very schoolie science classes we do on Tuesday. They are really great because they are at the science museum, and they have such wonderful resources that I cant possibly create in my home. The kids curiosity and excitement about it is thrilling and they are definitely feeding a different interest there than they are on Mondays. Normally that is our week, we are out on Monday and Tuesday mornings and then home for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Then comes our second portion of the week where we have lessons each morning (Wed, Thurs, and Fri). With Wednesday we try to bake something to take to Grandma's to share and we head over for dinner with the extended family. This leaves us Thursdays as our home day (ugh I would rather be having only one outing day). However this week we have tickets to the theatre so we will be out yet again!!! Fridays are usually nice and mellow with my husband working a half day and our trying to get our lessons done before spending time cleaning the house up from the week and preparing for our weekend. BUT, for the past few weeks, and a few more to come, GM and I have training at the museum all afternoon until dinner time. We love it so much and have a terrific time together, but again, we are out of the house.
So why are we doing all this stuff, well I dont know, it just evolved. We initially only had Science Club once a week and then some Tuesday afternoons we would go to the park to meet friends and run around a bit. But then this opportunity came up for the classes at Explora, GM is a science fan, and he loves Explora more than I can explain, he always wants to go, and rarely wants to leave. It is such a great thing for them both, that well.... we signed up. Its fourteen weeks long. I NEVER sign up for things that last more than 6 weeks, its a number I found works for us, but again, such a good opportunity...
Great-Grandma's for dinner, well I mean isnt it obvious how great this is for my kids to be a part of a weekly dinner with extended family, and feeling such a part of something greater than just our nuclear family? Cant pass up that one!
That leaves Friday Trainings as the other ongoing thing. GM is flourishing with this, and literally wakes up excited to go in the morning. We both love it.

So, where do I find the balance? How can I bring my homeschool family back HOME?? How do I learn to forsee the opportunities that may arise and not get over committed in the beginning of the year. Each of these "outings" feeds a different part of the kids lives, some more for GM some more for GD, but where to trim and get back to balanced, I just dont know?

Of course if I was planning things I would have the outings be at the end of the week, and in the afternoons only. Then we could have a regular morning routine, and start our days with a nice rhythm that could energize us and help us maintain a sence of balance. I would also have things be every other week, so we could have home based weeks and weeks where we are out and about more often. But I dont plan all these things. I plan Roots and Shoots and it is twice a month in the afternoon.

Im so looking forward to summer when we can be home or move in a more fluid way through our days. I really regret feeling this sence of constantly trying to fit our home life in between obligations. I have set out for it to be the opposite, yet somehow we are running about at least four times a week. Its just too much. This summer GM will have a Gardening class every-other week and he and I will volunteer every-other week as well at the Naturalist Center. I will time them to be on the same week, so we can camp and travel on the the other weekends. We will be doing a lot of work on the house and that is all. We wont be signing up for anything else accept maybe things that are one time events. An owl lecture at the Nature Center or a hike with our Roots & Shoots group to view some local animals in the mountains.

Now to only figure out how to avoid this situation next year. Where do I cut the activites? How do I balance our time at home with our excitement over an opportunity?

In just a couple of weeks we will be finished with our Naturalist Center training, and we will only have something out of the house three times a week (including Grandma's). Also I can opt out of one of the upcoming units at our Science Club. They are all so cool, but I will see what the kids are interested in first. Maybe I just need to allow myself to be more picky and not worry so much about feeling obligated to go. That is the story of my life. Constantly trying to balance a sence of obligation with a sence of what is right for me. Homeschooling sure is a great way to work through your own crap!! :-)

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