Alicia Hutchinson circa 2008: She was organized, regimented. This girl had a running partner and nappers. Alicia from ’08 had an errand day, a library day, a change-the-sheets day, and all other days were spent doing their thought-out, planned-out activities. She was amazing.
I’ve been missing her lately. Over the summer I was actually reminiscing about her in the worst way. Like, what happened to her? Because I don’t have those things anymore. All of the above still happens, sorta, but in a much more sporadic way. Library day is about every other week, squished in between the grocery store and nature class. Activities are still planned out, but it looks very different. That circa 2008 of me has actually been grinding my gears quite a bit until September hit. I realized why I’m still sane after all these years.
What does that even mean?? It means two things to me. This whole summer while I’ve been longing for the old, more organized, me, I forgot the tides of the year…and of parenthood.
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Parenthood, a big picture seasonal routine
Let’s look at the big picture, the seasons of parenthood. This has been hard to wrap my brain around, honestly. I’m not the person I was 8 years ago, and my days certainly don’t look the same. As hard as it is for me to accept–because, dang, if I didn’t love those afternoons of quiet while everyone was napping–a household of four-and-unders is going to look a lot different than a household of 14, 11, 8, and 3. So while I’m being hard on myself, feeling like I’ve lost some sort of edge I might have had before, the edge is this: bigger kids means busier schedules. I didn’t lose any sort of skill set I had before, I just got busier.
I have more kids!
We are involved in more activities, because of said kid increase.
I work more.
There are no nappers in my house!
These things all play a part in my feeling like I have lost grip on the daily runnings of my house–but it’s still there, it just looks totally different…because my season of parenthood is so different. About every two years, things seem to shift in parenthood. It might seem subtle at first, but in hindsight the shift is always there.
So, parents of wee ones–can I offer some advice? Those little tot classes for your diaper-clad baby you have to pay 100’s of dollars for? All those empty boxes on your calendar that you feel like you should fill?
Don’t do it.
Enjoy your free schedule and use it for free park days or walks or just playing blocks with nothing else to do. Save your time and money. You’re going to be so much more busy before you know it. Trust me.
The seasonal routine and the yearly tides
The changes out my window through the year is by far my most favorite thing about living in Minnesota. Right now, the leaves are oh-so-subtly changing every day, reminding me of the shift that’s happening from a lax routine of summer to a more structured one of fall.
When I sat down to plan out what our weekly routine would look like this year, I got a little nervous. This quarter only allows us two full days at home during the week, which changes the way we do school. But then I remember the shifts of the seasons and how it will all shift again in a couple of months. Sports seasons will end, seasonal classes will be over, and we’ll shift our routine again for winter.
School then, will shift too. We’ll do more in-depth studies in the winter when we curl up for hibernation. For fall, we’ll work harder on the workbook-type work like math that we can finish quicker, creating this nice transition from the non-routine of summer to the more structured routine of fall.
To plan for this season, I sketched out a chart for the school week and filled in the classes and activities we have going on. I shifted some things around so the two free days we have at home would remain free. Then I plugged in our subjects to each day, putting more labor-intensive things on the free days.
Why seasonal routines are for absolutely everyone
When I stopped comparing myself to the Alicia of 2008, things became so much more clear. That smart woman is still here, she just looks different. Because now she’s the mom of a teenager, and because she’s lucky, she’s the mom of a preschooler at the same time. That is so much different than having a kindergartner and a 2-year-old!
Beyond those big shifts in the seasons of parenthood, the yearly tides give me clarity too. Being ok with shifted bedtimes in the summer, the shift back to more regimented routine in the fall, setting things to cozy for winter, and then swinging back to busyness for spring is the key to staying sane through all these changes.
And guess what? Everyone’s year looks like this. Every season, the routine needs to be adjusted, just a bit. It might look a little different from one family to another, but every season the tides change.
Learning to sway with the tide is teaching me to be better at this homeschooling mom thing. I see things more clearly under this lens. And I’m most definitely more sane.