Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pulling Back to Focus

It's that time again. I'm feeling busy. Too busy.
Summer brings out the nature-love, want-to-live-in-the-country desire for me.

Blackberries from our backyard, picked this morning

I want quiet streams. And wildflower covered meadows dancing with butterflies. (yeah, it's a picture in my head, and a feeling that goes along.) I want to watch the kids run through sprinklers, with no worry about how fast I need to corral them to head to the next appointment, playdate, or event. I want to pick blackberries in my yard and salad from the garden...and relax...not stress over what's going on and where we need to head next. (part of what I wrote here is missing now, because my kitten walked over the keyboard and erased it! Let me try to recap.)
I stay encouraged and excited about homeschooling (or just staying home with the kids, in the summer,) by keeping myself from getting overwhelmed. If you know me, you know that I don't get overwhelmed easily. We can have weeks upon weeks of daily playdates, church commitments, sports activities, parties before I start to feel like *maybe* just maybe we should pull back. In fact, I'd say that my overwhelm-response needs some fine tuning, as I should get to that point much sooner. Instead, it just kinda hits me-- BAM-- It's too much.

I've mentioned before that our county has more homeschoolers than any other county in the state. We have a great support network, and we're surrounded by wonderful opportunities: nature centers, summer camps and VBSes, sports opportunities, music lessons and endless field trip possibilities. In the past, we've done everything from soccer & T-ball, gymnastics to co-op, piano, Spanish, ballet, summer camps, you name it. They were all good opportunities, some better than others. But now I wonder why I said yes to so many. Why do I say yes? Yes to the kids, yes to our friends, yes to random people who ask if we want to come. I like Yes. I enjoy doing things. It feels good to have many experiences under our belt, you know? Regardless, I found too many yeses became discouraging if we weren’t keeping up with the bigger (Best) plans for us.

Now, I'm *trying* to only enroll in classes that directly relate to what we are studying. And almost all of our field trips are family trips. When we can include Daddy, too, on the weekends, I feel less overwhelmed and we are more unified.

Even after cutting out some of our "extracurricular extras," I still sometimes feel suffocated in time commitments. I do a lot of extras with volunteer work, photography, church functions (not as often anymore) and community events. Homeschooling takes up an enormous amount of time. I was in a book club, cooking club (this week will be my last time to go,) playdate group, Bible study. I'm also trying to keep up with the house (with an out-of-order dishwasher this past week)...and the garden...and my etsy... and this here blog. And facebook, emails, bills. Then there are all of the endless tasks that are involved in just keeping a family fed and clothed. And, of course, my Man wants some attention now and then. ;)

And playdates. Oh, my, the playdates. You know I love them. I love seeing friends. I love their kids. I love taking pictures and playing, watching my kids play. I don't want to stop the playdates. It's AFTER the playdate that I feel tired. Did I just have back-to-back playdates for the last 10 days in a row, all with different families, in addition to gymnastics and dinners and parties? No wonder I'm tired. Today was out first full day at home. It was a glorious day. My house got cleaned. The kids played with each other. I paid some bills and answered some overdue emails. We played a few games, read some little stories. And rested.

I have hit the wall. Must make some major changes. Again. I'm a slow learner.
I. Can't. Do. It. All. Must look in the mirror and repeat every hour: "I. Can't. Do. It. All."

I must choose the best over the good. I must decide what is important and do THAT. Not everyone will agree. Not everyone will understand. But maybe some will? And, more importantly, God knows my heart. I want to do what's best for my family. I want to help others, within God's plan, not simply because I never say no. I want to strive less for people's approval, and more for God's.

Not every season is mine to say yes. Not every job is mine.

Basically, I'm trying to clear my plate of things that don't belong right now. Book club, gone. Cooking Club, I love you, but it's not the right time anymore. No teaching Sunday School right now. I may back off from photographing others for awhile, we'll see. I'm down to one in gymnastics, and a hold on Spanish lessons. No VBS this year. No summer camps. No more sports. Yes to Art Nights and Nature Notebook. Yes to creek trips. Noooooo, we simply can't go to every single birthday party we're invited to, as much as a part of me wants to.

I DID take on the elementary coordinator position with the homeschool group, which is one thing I'm very purposefully making time for. Fred and I prayed about it, decided it was right (not just another yes) for me to step up. Coordinator means that I'll initiate and plan some things, but delegate many others. So you, homeschoolers who are reading this, YOU plan some some things and let me know. I'll help facilitate and get it on the calendar. At least tentatively at this point, try to initiate just ONE thing during the next school year for whatever age group your children are in. Just one. If everyone shares the job, the burden is light. Go in with a friend and plan something, if you'd like. :)

After clearing my plate of so many time-consuming commitments, I feel much less overwhelmed...but still too busy. And have you heard what "busy" stands for? "Being Under Satan's Yoke." Homeschooling is not something I could just add on to an already busy life. I MUST cut back. Our lives need pruning. I need pruning. And part of that means that I must reclaim the responsibility of being. Being available to the kids, available for the home, available for my Man. Not available to everyone and everything under the sun.
I mentioned that I got the house clean today while we were home. My Man noticed. He cared. It mattered. So that matters to me. (And- heck, if Fred noticed that's really sayin' something!)

Y'all, I'm cutting way back on my available time. I can't do playdates every day. I can't do ANY during the school year between Monday and Thursday unless it's directly school-related. It just overwhelms me. We rush to get school done, house tidied, before leaving to play. And so starts the rushing lifestyle and poorly done work. No more, I say. No more. I want to live a purposeful life while I have these little ones. It won't be perfect, and I accept that. I don't need perfect, but I do need purposeful. Intentional.

Okay, and as far as the blogging goes, I love it. It's my downtime, "me time" relaxation. But I also love my artwork at night, and have been spending time editing pictures, too. Because I can rarely accomplish these things when the kids are awake, I've been staying up too late to do it all. Again. Sooo, I may be doing more Photo Blogging, and less actual writing. K? Okay.

Julie & Adam, signing the wall

On that note, I had a stinkin' awesome time at Art Night last night, and that's one thing that is definitely staying on my schedule. Last Saturday of every month, Art/Music Night at the local coffee shop. If it's the only time I go out each month (ha) I'd be okay with that. Art/People/Music is a balm to my soul. :D

Bekah Karp, Tea and Art

Mark Rotramel with guitar (and me reflected (: Cool, right? Right.)


Amy said...

Strange as it may seem, I gave notice just this week at work. This will be the first time I will not have worked away from home full-time in over 4years and the first time since I've been married that I haven't worked away from home at all. Trying to get the kids everywhere they needed to be and encourage them the best way I know how didn't seem to be getting done to the best of *my* ability. I may now be going overboard with "No"...hopefully I'll get that regulated soon, and maybe by the end of this coming school year I will know exactly what I need to have in place to help my little ones the best I can and will be able to home school them (we've always wanted to home school, but aren't sure if we're quite equipped for some of it at the moment). Anyway, your post here just 'confirmed' to me that we're doing the right thing for our family. {I know, you were talking about your family and your ability to say 'yes' to so many, sometimes God uses that for other stubborn people--like me}. :)

Trish said...

If you need even more encouragement to slow down, just re-read chapter 4 in 1000 Gifts. Life is not an emergency.

Stacy said...

I was so glad to read this today. Be blessed and enjoy living live slowly, purposefully.