How I learned to like discipline and set myself a schedule

How I learned to like discipline and set myself a schedule

One of my goals this new year is to get myself and my children on a schedule so as to make my days more productive.  I wrote this in my journal entry back in November at the height of  frustration with my self and my inability to get anything done.

Discipline is my estranged friend who I pretend to not like. As a matter of fact, discipline has never been my friend. Oh yes, she’s always there, mocking me, telling me life will be much better if I just include her in my day.  But I don’t want her. I want to live free.  Or maybe it’s because it’s work to bring her along and I’m lazy.  I have a love/hate relationship with discipline.
I go through periods of time where I am very disciplined: journaling after my Bible studies, planning every moment, etc.  Then the unexpected happens and my life goes into survival mode.  All the plans, all the journaling, everything goes by the wayside and I live life moment to moment.  Stressed and wearied.  Those are the times I need discipline more than anything else but those are also the times I discard it.                        I had so many things to do today… Now it’s noon and I’m sitting at speech therapy with my son, I should’ve at least worked on all these things, if not completed them.  Not only did none of those things happen, but I didn’t do two of the school subjects I intended to do.  What did I do?  I studied my bible, got distracted with the chicken, conversed with my kids, laundry, and wandered around wondering where to start.  If I had had a schedule then I would’ve known.

I feel certain in saying that I am not the only one who has had days like this; days where nothing goes as planned and you come to the end and wonder what you have to show for yourself.  I had way too many of these days last fall.  We had just moved into our new house at the beginning of the new school year, so all my energy went into quickly unpacking and then figuring out what our routine would be in the new place so that we could begin and not be too far behind.  When we finally began in mid-September I was a harried mess.  I didn’t have a chore system or a school schedule in place.  I didn’t have a system for how the day-to-day tasks were going to occur — we just did things as needed.  This meant that every moment of my day was spent running from one “fire” to the next.  I was exhausted and felt like I was spinning out of control.  It’s no wonder I didn’t write a single blog post in the last few months; I just couldn’t make the time.

Soon after this journal entry, I decided that enough was enough.  It was time to take action!  I decided that I needed to get through the year and the week after Christmas would be my planning week.  We would still be on school break which meant that I could dedicate all my time to planning and making sure that this semester ran smoothly.  I blocked the time out in my calendar and made sure nothing was able to sneak in and rob my time.

Delegate Household Chores

My first step was to delegate all the jobs that need to be done so that our house will run smoothly, i.e. assign chores.  I have done several different kinds of “chore charts” over the years, differing as our needs and the ages of my children demanded.  I made a new kind of chore chart.  One whose goal was to serve me, this house and the needs of our family right now.  My children are old enough and responsible enough to do several necessary household chores on their own; they simply need to be told to do it.  The chore chart does that for me.  I made a list of all the chores that they can do, and put them on laminated, assignable cards which told the owner what to do and when to do it.   Allowing me time to work on other matters without having to think about what they need to be doing at any given moment — they know what they should be doing.

chore chart CollageAn individual chore chart

Plan our School Day

Next, it was time to make my “chore chart.”  The lesson planner that I had purchased in August had boasted of space to write my daily to-do’s as well as my children’s lesson plans.  And, while it is a good planner, and does provide space for menu, shopping list and financial planning, it didn’t have adequate space for my daily to-do’.  I considered purchasing a separate planner dedicated to my schedule, but, as I read some blogs on schedule make-overs, a lot of them discussed using Google calendar.  I already had discovered the benefits of Google calendar as I use it to manage our family schedule, but hadn’t thought of using it for my personal, day-to-day schedule.  I didn’t want my daily, recurring schedule crowding our family schedule so I made a homeschool/blogging calendar on my personal email account instead of on our family email.

Screenshot of my Google calendar

I dedicated time to spend one on one with my youngest students — something I hadn’t succeeded at doing everyday and they have been suffering because of it.  I also dedicated time for a few subjects that we do together.  When there is no scheduled time, then those subjects are the first things to be set aside for tomorrow.  Much like Scarlett O’Hara I would say, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”  But, alas, tomorrow never comes!

Plan Time to Focus on My Interests

Lastly, and most importantly, I set aside time to work on things for my self.  Personal ventures.  Writing on this blog and learning all the ins and outs of the blog world (a subject that makes my head spin!). After all, school will get done without a schedule, my husband makes sure of that, it just happens better with a schedule.  But bettering myself and following my goals and dreams, that doesn’t happen without me pursuing it.  And having six children that I homeschool means that I have to make the time for it or it doesn’t get done.

We are a week into this new schedule, and so far it is flowing pretty smoothly.  Prayerfully, and with much self-discipline, I can break my pattern of poor follow-thru and keep it going throughout the year.  Only time will tell.  Do you have goals to stick to a better schedule this year?

discipline cover

2014 Goals: My Triumphs and Failures

2014 Goals: My Triumphs and Failures

I’ve never been a big New Year’s Resolution maker/keeper. It felt cliché. Besides, I knew I wouldn’t keep them. However, in the fall of 2013, I started reading Crystal Paine’s blog. She is big on goal setting and I as the end of the year drew near I felt challenged to do so myself. After all, if you never set goals you reach them every time! So as 2014 began, I felt compelled to make several life goals or resolutions.  Here is a look at how well I did or did not accomplish these goals.

Reading Books

One of the biggest ways I was inspired was to read more. In 2013 she had challenged herself to read 50 books!! I was in awe. I used to read … before I had kids. Then life got crazy and I was either too busy or too tired. I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a book from cover to cover. I had started several, but that’s it. I could count on one hand how many non-picture books I had read in the last decade.

But my kids are getting older; the youngest is almost 5. I’m entering a new season in life. Besides, if I want to be a writer I need to be a reader. So I talked to my husband and we challenged ourselves, not to read 50, but to read 24 books in the course of a year — two a month. It seemed do-able. An even mix of fiction, nonfiction, and biographies to keep us balanced. (I tend to gravitate toward nonfiction and my husband gravitates toward fiction, though we  want to read both).

Well … I didn’t read 24. I read five. But I still feel successful! I read five more books than I had in many years — I’ve stretched myself, I’ve opened my horizons, I’ve learned new things.

Here’s what I read:

  1. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
  2. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
  3. George Mueller by Faith Coxe Bailey (I tried reading GM’s autobiography first,  but it was difficult to get through because of the language so I opted for an easier read rather than drop it altogether.)
  4. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Payne
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

Health

Yes … the ever-present weight loss resolution.  I really wanted/needed to.  I had dieted off and on the last few years to no avail and I figured that what I was missing was exercise.  I was eating right, but lacking the cardio needed to burn calories.  So … I bought an exercise bike right after the new year.  I lowered my carb intake; cutting out grains (mostly) and limiting sugar.  I ate a moderate amount of potatoes and rice.  It was the most successful diet I had ever done.  I felt good, and I wasn’t depriving myself of anything but bread — and when I ate bread I felt bloated so I really didn’t want it.  By summer I had lost 2 sizes.  I was down to a size I hadn’t been since before my second child.  It was great.

However, this fall I have not been so good.  I stopped exercising.  I added a grain here and there.  Since Thanksgiving, I’ve had a severe lack of discipline, eating everything in sight!  I feel pathetic and the jeans I bought in my new size are tight!!  Ugg!  So, come January 2 (because who wants to start on the first when all the good food from last night is still there) I’ll be starting all over again.

Finances

I wanted to take a hold of my spending by starting to use a sort of cash budgeting system.  Yes, I had a budget, had one for many years.  But I don’t keep it very well; it’s more like a suggestion.  It’s too easy to swipe that card when we need milk and I know there’s money in the bank, even though I know I’ve gone over my grocery budget.

I did do that a couple times, but not very successfully, and I didn’t keep at it.  I’m looking at some new ways to budget for the coming year.   On the other hand, I did do one new thing this year that helped us tremendously.  We receive a few small payments in cash on a monthly basis.  In the past, I would just use them to cover whatever was needed at the time.  This year, however, I decided to be proactive.  I took the cash and set it back, calling it my “christmas account.”  I had never had a christmas account, and I always barely scraped by each year.  This year it was so comforting to know that I already had the money for all the gifts I wanted to buy and none of it had to come out of my regular budget.  I never want to go back to the old way of doing it.

 

So there are my triumphs and failures for 2014 in a nutshell.  I am currently working on a list of goals for 2015 which I will publish soon.  I really like being able to look back at how I well I did or didn’t do and how I can challenge myself in the future.  Did you have any triumphs this year?

 

 

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