On Schedules and When to Keep Them
Read this on galpod.com.
This week, the kids have been home from school. As this was anticipated, the school sent them home last Friday with a full curriculum for this week, including activities in maths, English, and "curriculum". "Curriculum" is apparently a code word for "all other academic stuff that are not maths or English". I will rant on education systems in the Western world if you buy me a virtual coffee. I took a peek at these activities and estimated my kids would finish them in two hours, and they have so far proven me right (thanks, kids). That meant I needed to figure out what we're doing the rest of the day.
I talked to the kids about a schedule. My daughter had put it beautifully. She said, "I feel much better when I know what I'm supposed to be doing". We sat together and looked at a sample curriculum and then we talked about what's important to include in a day, what qualifies as each of the activities, etc. Here's the schedule we've come up with, and it's mostly based on the sample curriculum.
One thing we quickly discovered is there is no time for an afternoon snack which my kids are used to, so the 3:30-4:00 slot became snack/go out in the garden. Both kids were happy with this schedule, and my son said there's a bit too much free time on there (he is using his free time remarkable well). I feel like there's not enough creative/experimental time on it. However, I have absolutely no intention of scouring the internet in search of exciting activities for them to do and then walk them through it as I would invariably have to. I'm happy with them reading and talking to their friends on Skype.
Based on this, I decided that I need a schedule, too. So, on Monday, I had devised this schedule:
6:30-7:00: wake up, yoga/physio, meditation.
7:00-7:30: walk Apollo
7:30-9:00: run/home exercise + stretches, shower, breakfast
9:00-10:00: out with the kids
13:00-14:30: kids quiet time - read/nap/meetings
14:30-15:30: creative with kids (art projects, help daughter with dance classes, etc.)
15:30-16:00: out with the kids
16:00-18:00: cook dinner, bake, stuff around the house, read
18:00-20:30: kids showers, dinner, etc.
You know me too well. You know this never happened. It was never going to happen. For instance, yesterday, the schedule was going pretty well until 10:00 when the kids started their school work. I organised my workspace (the kitchen), then made tea, then my daughter had a meltdown, and I needed to hug her and calm her down. Once she calmed down and was ready to continue with schoolwork, my son had an assignment in which he had to interview someone (me, apparently). Then my daughter had the same assignment. In short, there was very little writing happening yesterday morning.
In the afternoon, my daughter didn't feel very creative, so I told her she could read instead. And she did: she finished a book and a half yesterday. She jumped on our trampoline, and both kids played in the back garden for a bit and then disappeared into their bedrooms with their friends on group Skype calls.
Here's the thing. The kids and I need a schedule. I also feel much better when I know what I'm supposed to be doing. And I've been working from home long enough to know that if I don't have a schedule, I will invariably bake (best case) or play stupid games (worst case) rather than write or read or do something productive. BUT. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway. These are not ordinary times. Everyone is stressed, and it's just generally weird. It's ok to have a day of less creativity and more vegging out on the couch watching TV. It's ok to have a week like that. It's ok to be unproductive because there's a friggin pandemic going on.
So, for now, I'm taking this one day at a time. My partner has been incredible in taking over the kids' morning routine and giving me the early mornings to myself. I could have been writing during this time, but, for me, the exercise is more important. And I write as much as I can in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons as well. A writer called Fiona Melrose is doing a weekly newsletter teaching some basic writing skills. A good friend has given me a free pass to Masterclass, so I started taking a writing Masterclass with Neil Gaiman, and that helps to keep my writing going, keeps me writing every day. And I try to read when I can, and not give myself too much of a hard time about being unproductive.