This past Monday began a new spring schedule in our home. Thanks to my husband and his big-picture organization skills, we took some time to evaluate what we had done in the fall, what worked well, and where we needed to improve, and then he actually made a spreadsheet to put on the side of the frig and keep us all on track. This is something I would probably never do if it was up to me! I have a tendency to slog along, day by day thinking that something should change, and then getting caught up in the next thing that needs doing and not taking time to step back, look at the overall situation, and decide where to change. I appreciate so much that he is not like me!
So, a new schedule was made. Part of the new schedule (insert deep breath here) involved getting up at 6am. In fact, that was pretty much one of the key parts of the schedule--early to bed, early to rise. And, the morning was stacked with activities, so that getting up at 6 was crucial to using our time well. For both John and me, using our time well is an overarching goal of 2013. To help us do that, we have tried to assign "slots" of time for various activities: home school, piano practice, preparation for Classical Conversations, memory work, reading aloud, family time, etc. We tried to be realistic in that use of time, too--I tend to be too optimistic sometimes and then wonder why I am often running late! (i.e. "I just didn't think it would take that long!")
When the schedule was first made I thought the girls would really buck at having such a firm plan for life's activities, but in fact they have been totally excited! It seems to have helped them to recognize and clearly differentiate between "now this is school time" and free time, for example. They are excited about knowing exactly when their free time will happen, and I am glad that they all know that 5pm every day means clean up time before supper at 5:30. Too often in the past we had not set a specific time to clean up and then we'd be rushing around before bed trying to get things put away, bedtime would get delayed, and everybody would be cranky!
As well, one of my goals for 2013 is to maintain my early morning time with the Lord. I have to face the truth that if I don't get up early, I just don't get enough time in the Word as I need. So, 6am it is, which, if I get up right away, gives me a full hour to sip a hot cup of coffee, spend time in prayer and Bible study, and make sure I'm ready for the day before we wake the girls at 7 for family prayer time.
I've been pleasantly surprised at how this week has felt non-rushed, even though I am much more aware of the time and packing it full of activity. The truth is, when I am disciplined with my time, it actually frees up time. I got a nap two different days this week, and this afternoon found myself with a free hour, which we used to take some new Chinese friends to our neighborhood park on this balmy January day. No one even wore a coat! If I hadn't been structuring my time well recently, I'm sure I would not have had time for an outing without sacrificing something else I should have been doing.
All of this to say, a more focused, disciplined schedule is showing itself to be good for all of us. I am trusting the Lord for the strength to persevere, and trying to be wise about where I fit in certain activities. One practical change I am making is to not even turn my computer on until the afternoon, when home school is done and the majority of the day's work behind me. I also am seeking to redeem the time while nursing Charis by reading a book, rather than checking my email or doodling around on facebook. I always have lots of books I want to read but never enough time to do it (or so it seems) so this will be one way to read, even if it's just a few pages at a time.
As I get older, I think I am realizing more and more that my days are numbered. The time seems to fly by so quickly, and I really desire to redeem the time and live intentionally. I know the Lord will help me and I'm trusting Him!