Sometimes I am on the Mothering Community Forums. What I see in some of the threads over there is that mothers who want to homeschool recognize that they have a “restless” toddler (ie, the 18 to 24 month-old) whom they think needs more stimulation – and then they try to channel that into a curriculum or some sort of head-oriented work.
Possibly another place to start is to consider a rhythm to your day.
The easiest way to start a rhythm is to work around waking up times, rest/nap times, bedtimes and meal times. After these things are down and consistent, then work towards regular times to be outside daily and what practical work one does on what day of the week. Then one can work toward festival preparation for whatever festivals speak to you and your family.
A rhythm is not a scheduled noose around your neck but rather an idea of what occurs when and a way to keep a balance in your day of in-breath and out-breath.
Many wee people under the age of 7, because they are or should be living in their bodies, do not get nearly enough outside time. I would say four hours a day is not in the least too much for the under 7 child! This time is out-breath, but there should also be time to have quiet time, listen to a story or other in-breath activities within the day. There needs to be a balance for the small child who often is prone to excess in either wanting all out-breath or all in-breath activities. You may need to look at yourself and see what you tend to model as well! Do you display a good balance of in- and out -breath?
There are two other issues that frequently come up with the subject of rhythm. One is that the mothers themselves who have irregular rhythms and perhaps have childhoods that were devoid of rhythms have difficulty with the whole concept. They truly feel it is like the noose around their neck! Remember, a rhythm is not a schedule with times – it is a flow of the day, of the week and of the month.
So, I would say to those mothers is that a rhythm is adjustable, but also a great opportunity to work on YOURSELF. Can you get to bed at the same time every night? Try it for ten days and work on your own self-discipline! Then work on your morning routine, your meal times and the whole notion of quiet time. Baby steps!
The second issue that comes up is “How Do I Fit Everything In?” Well, here is the rub. You cannot do it all! I still find mothers of children under the age of 7 are planning too many things within their homeschool, and also too many outside activities.
Can you run your errands for groceries once a week either on a weekend when your husband can keep the children? Or could you go at night after the children are asleep? Or could your husband do the grocery shopping? Can you have dry goods delivered to your door? Would a friend be willing to do part of your list at one store if you do part of their list at a different store if you feel you must go to two stores?
What about health-related errands? Many folks have chiropractic or homeopathic appointments or allergy shots or something that has to occur weekly. How will you fit those in?
How many things are you personally involved in? And how many things are your children involved in? Because let’s face it, whatever your children are involved in are also your activities (on top of the activities you feel are really your own!) Do you have anything for yourself at all? I think this is important as well; something to call your own!
What age do your children get to start activities in your family? Many mothers seem to sign their smaller children up for something because the older children are doing something. This is not a good reason to sign a four-year-old up for something! It may be better to say, “Yes Jimmy, and you will do something like that too when you are seven like your big brother!”
I have also written on this blog before about how a four-year-old, a five-year-old, etc can be very content with simple things as opposed to lots of outside “field trips”. They will get so much more out of excursions to places when they are over 7. When they are four, a whale shark at the aquarium may hold their interest for ten minutes and then the kid down the aisle who has a piece of gum, the woman’s red sweater and the whale shark all register about the same on the Awe Scale. Think about it carefully and watch and observe your child.
The caveat to all this is that children who are 7 and 8 years of age and older, while still needing protection from fatigue, DO need to start getting out and seeing some things. Every family will handle this need differently as they balance the needs of the younger children to be home, but it is worth thinking about!
There are many, many posts on this blog about rhythm and creating rhythm. Have a look under the rhythm tag in the tags box.