April 16, 2015

Finding Balance Yet Again

There's been a lot of chatter in women's blogs and magazines about establishing a work/life balance over the past several years. Funny how most of those articles and discussions make it seem like something you set up and that just keeps on going on its own. Yet it always seems I'm having to take stock of what's going on in our lives and striving to find a way to "balance" it out every few months. Am I alone in this?

We've come a long way since 2012!
Perhaps it's simply a matter of the type of jobs Hubby and I have. Upheaval's to be expected for a teacher without tenure, owning a small business, and a failed attempt at career change. Somehow I doubt that's it though. Even when Hubby stuck with the same school for several years in a row and I was simply staying home and schooling our then preschoolers, this was going on.

Regardless, after I recently took a massive cut in hours at the day job, we've found ourselves "out of balance" once again. So over the past four or five weeks, Hubby and I have been striving to reconfigure things around the house: the schooling schedule, the cleaning schedule, reworking the  household budget, and adjusting the business plan for Contented Comfort to make the most of each day.

Things are staying relatively the same on Hubby's end besides the fact I will no longer be carpooling with him on Fridays. His hours are the same as ever, and the household chores he tackles won't be changing much if at all. If certain experiments work out, he might be taking a few lessons over the summer, but that's about it.

The girls took the re-addition of Fridays to the school week pretty hard the first couple of weeks, but they're beginning to settle into it now. The rest of the changes we have planned will be implemented slowly over the next several weeks to ease the transition for them, even though almost all of them are on my part. After all, when you are your children's main teacher, anything affecting your day will do the same to theirs.

Like any mother, I have a lot of things I'm juggling each day. My idea of balance is being able to keep all the balls in the air without dropping one or exhausting myself in the process. So, it's about breaking down everything I have to get done into the most manageable pieces possible while still being productive. In my case this means making sure the girls' school work is handled well, keeping the house at least passable, making progress in all the various projects for the store, and tending to our family's health.

First and foremost, I set out to ensure the family's spiritual and physical health. So, we make sure to start our day with reading scripture and prayer. Over the past several years, we've been working on our diet, so that's already fairly decent. We're working on establishing the habit of going for two or three family walks a week, when the weather will cooperate. When it doesn't, the kids do love playing twister or having an impromptu silly dance party. We got a water filter a couple months back, and that's encouraged everyone in the family to drink more water instead of sugary juices or sodas.

The girls' school day is broken down into before lunch lessons and after lunch lessons. Before lunch, we focus on foundational skills. They spend time building reading, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension skills with Lexia. Then they switch to good old writing repetition to study their vocabulary words for the weeks and either basic addition and subtraction drills for the youngest or the times tables for the eldest. After that, we sit together, and they read from their current books. After lunch, they go through their other lessons with subjects that vary by the day or work on projects.

Homeschool Kindergarten
Sneak working on Lexia early last school year.
For my part, I've set firm guidelines for my at-home workdays. For the day to count as a workday, I must either make a batch of soap or perfume or handle some promotional work for the store if the shelves are fully stocked. I must also write for at least an hour, sew or crochet for at least an hour, and get the "big" chore of the day done along with making sure the girls have all the help they need with their lessons.

I know that sounds next to impossible to imagine for some, so I'll explain. Lexia is like a computerized reading tutor. It allows the student to go at their own pace and offers multiple ways of thinking about a topic if they have trouble. So, questions are rare. I take advantage of this time to tackle the majority of the housework while checking on them periodically. When the girls are writing their vocabulary words and math facts, I sit with them and write too. If they get done before an hour is up, they get a break. I usually make soap or perfume after lunch. Eating leftovers from the night before means the stove is cold and clear, and the soap has time to set up enough to move to the china cabinet before it's time to cook dinner. The sewing or crocheting is usually done either while dinner's in the oven or after dinner, depending on what I'm cooking and working on.

There's still some work to be done. We're still getting used to it, but we're hopeful we've found our middle ground for the next several months at least. How do you "balance" your work and your life?

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