Time is a valuable commodity
Time is one of those few precious things that you can’t get back once it’s gone. Ask anyone who has watched their children grow up too fast. They know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m at that stage in my life where I’m feeling baby fever because my littles are getting way too big and aren’t exactly thrilled with cuddle time. I have learned that there is nothing I value more than my time (family excluded). I absolutely hate it when my time is wasted. I also hate seeing my children waste their time. Let me define that a bit… I like to see my kids prioritize their tasks/activities. If my kids want to veg out in front of the TV for a little while, I completely understand that. If they want to sit in front of a video game, I will silently tell myself that they are just taking the opportunity to further develop their hand/eye coordination skills. However, they both know… the older and the younger one… that there are certain things they must do before they partake in these relaxing pastimes.
As much as I’m all for time management, I cringe every time I hear the word schedule. As a child, I vividly remember my mother making me and my sisters follow a schedule. Her idea of scheduling was intense… literally, down to the minute. She would have us waking up at some ungodly hour (like 5:30) and write out the time that we were supposed to brush our teeth, comb our hair, and get dressed (we had 10 minutes). Then, the schedule would proceed with about a 20-minute time period in which to eat breakfast. So on and so forth… all the way to bedtime. It was exhausting and nearly impossible to follow that kind of schedule. Let’s just say that the phone rings. If you decided to answer it, well… there went your schedule for the entire day and you spent the rest of the day trying to get back on track. That was so beyond stressful (mainly for my mother). I refuse to take on that kind of responsibility.
There also seems to be some evidence that overscheduling your kid’s life can cause some developmental issues. Overscheduling is when you keep your kid so busy that they don’t have time to process their own thoughts, find the things that they enjoy, or just sit and enjoy the moment. I could see how this would cause a child to become overstimulated. Just thinking about that kind of busy-ness causes me to want to take a nap. We can’t plan out every second of our life… or our child’s.
Scheduling I can support
The kind of time management skills that I’m talking about go back to that word I used before. Prioritizing. My kids know that there is a list of things that I expect them to do before they indulge in their favorite lazy activities. Their day looks something like this:
- Wake up, Get Dressed, Brush Teeth
- Eat Breakfast
- Do Chores
- Clean room
- Do school work
- Eat lunch
- Go outside
- Enjoy yourself
This allows us so much room for variation. And, as a homeschooling family, we definitely need to be able to have flexibility in our day. With this loose (but all inclusive) type of schedule, we have the freedom to wake up later in the day if we went to bed late the night before. If we have doctor’s or dentist’s appointments, we have the freedom to attend those without it completely knocking us off track. It also encourages my children to get their school work done sooner than later because they know that the sooner they finish their school work, the more free time they will have later. Also, that go outside item on the bulleted list, it’s important. They know that if the sun is shining, they better have spent time outside my playing. Otherwise, my children would gladly be the zombies that sit in front of a TV screen all day.
And this absolves me of ruining their day. Every day, they know what tasks they need to accomplish, and it is up to them to get it done. If they wait to get their stuff done at the end of the day, then when they cry that they haven’t had time to play, I am able to say, “Well, why not?” Their response is usually along the lines of “I wasted my time.” My oldest (8 years old) goes into instant focus mode if I so happen to mention at any point of the day that he is wasting his time. He knows that even a little bit of time wasted is time taken from him to play his video games. My youngest (4 years old) is still learning this concept.
Out of time…
As always, life is all about balance. Managing one’s time is about finding what works for you and your family. Sometimes, you may need a more detailed schedule; like if you’re going to Disney World and want to catch all shows, ride all the rides, and eat all the things (which still failed for us because our kids were ready to go back to the hotel and go to bed by 2 PM!). Other times, it might just be more beneficial and less stressful to just learn to go with the flow. Organize your day by what’s important and make sure that gets done. As they always say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…” There will be plenty of time to stress over that tomorrow.
Erin T. is a military wife, mom of two homeschooled boys, and works PRN at a local hospital. She has lived in multiple states incluing NC, VA, and KY. She enjoys writing articles about her homeschool journey and different life experiences. If you would like to email Erin directly, please do so at email@example.com.