As I wrote this title, I realize it’s not just parent routine that’s important for homeschool success, it’s parent self-care.
I remember when I didn’t have kids. I could spend a day in bed with a cold. A week in bed from a bad menstrual cycle. A month in a stupor from a bad breakup.
I remember when the kids went to daycare and I paid for a nanny and I worked such long hours that no one begrudged me for a few days in bed, moping. And honestly, I’m not sure the kids noticed.
Homeschooling ended all that. There is not another adult to take care of the kid all day when I stop functioning. Then I told myself the kids are old enough. And they’d be happy if I left them alone for a day. No forced wake up, no mandatory meals, no practice. They complain about that all the time. They would be thrilled with my absence. I told myself that and then I stared at the ceiling a day with the dog on my belly.
The boys asked what’s for dinner. They did not think a pizza party was fun. Kids in turmoil do not want special days. They want regular days.
So I made them dinner. Well, first, I made the dog a little bed in the kitchen. Then I did the pile of dirty dishes. Then I made dinner. Canned soup.
The boys didn’t say “this is not dinner” and they didn’t say “why can’t you really cook for us?” Which is a common refrain during canned-food meals.
I thought the bar was high for routine. After all, I need to make sure they do something during their childhood that makes them feel their time was well spent. (Whatever that means.)
But routine has a ripple effect. And actually, any routine is better than no routine. I first heard this when I read a study from economist Richard Easterlin about walking with a book on your head. Students who did it for 15 minutes a day were more conscious about studying well and eating well.
If you create routine for kids, you accidentally create routine for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a routine to change the world. It just needs to be consistent.
I’m moving from consistent schedules for the boys to consistent schedules for myself.
And I’m inspired by this description of Eleanor Roosevelt in Modern Mrs. Darcy:
Mrs. Roosevelt never took a day off. Her first “My Day” column appeared on December 30, 1935, and continued to run 6 days a week, year-round, until 1962. Her readers could count on her to be in their newspapers every morning. (She did make one exception, and took 4 days off after her husband’s death in 1945.)
Mrs. Roosevelt’s column ran 500 words, but she usually managed to complete each column in an hour. She had many obligations to attend to as first lady, and she made getting her column done quickly a priority. Readers didn’t complain that the quality suffered for it.
Eleanor didn’t have a consistent column as much as she had a consistent relationship with her readers. I want that. I started this blog because I didn’t want to homeschool alone. I already have so many places I write where the writing has to be remarkable. I want this blog to be a place where our relationships with each other are what’s remarkable. And that requires consistency.