Tuesday I got hit with the information that schools are out until April 29th. Honestly, it could be a lot longer. Since I’m a substitute teacher, I’m out of work. I did get some excellent leads, however, and Tuesday, in my existential dread, I didn’t work on them. Wednesday was different. I saw what some people were sharing about finding peace through time organization, and I tried it out. I also read what some people posted about how it is better not to have schedules. The two seem to contradict. But do they? A summary of various thoughts is below.
With a stay-at-home life that hasn’t been done before, the human mind can feel like it is floating in the air with no way to ground itself to the earth. A schedule helps a person deal with anxiety. It gives structure and a way to ground oneself. Studies have shown that school kids who play outside will use the whole field if there are fences and stay in the middle of the playground if there aren’t; the fence gives more freedom. Indeed, humans need structure in order to truly be free; just as if we didn’t have gravity, we’d simply be floating without the means to do a thing. Without any sort of boundaries, one can get lost in the void of Netflix of Facebook and feel like mush afterward; the human spirit doesn’t thrive there. Children push for boundaries naturally; there is something to the human mind that needs it, and kids need a sense of normalcy, a sense of what to expect in order to avoid anxiety. Grownups do too; without it, many feel lost. Nature sets the days and seasons. There is a reason for having compartments in our lives. one can be freer with them than without. Having productivity makes sure important needs are met, and learning helps the mind exercise.
Freedom from Schedules
It is better not to worry about schedules right now. Forcing one’s kids to learn math when they are sensing crisis might not be the best thing — just play with them. It is not the time to focus on productivity; give yourself a break. Use the time to teach your kids to plant, cook, etc., and don’t restrict the time. Children are scared. Hug them and spend time with them right now; don’t worry about when you do what. For those who aren’t parents, give yourselves a break as well. Watch TV if you need to. Rest.
Scheduling is a way some people are finding freedom from anxiety. Freedom from schedules is another way people are finding it. I want to share a few things that I’ve seen in schedules friends have posted, that show me a way to have peace in this scheduling category. These are shared with permission.
The first one is from Cirra. I’ll put the link to this at the bottom of the page if you want to read more about her philosophy; she has a lot of wisdom here. If you look at the list, you’ll see something: Recreation time. The family has two small children, and they make sure they have time just to spend with them. Later, the couple makes sure they have time to spend with each other.
This one here is from Trista. I love how bright it is! I also love how, in amongst the education (which is not just necessary, it can be fun) is a lot of free time. What large school gives you an hour of recess and snack in the morning and two hours of free time and recess in the afternoon? Even in preschool, the breaks weren’t that long. The kids know because of the schedule that free time is coming. I love this one.
I’m guessing that most people will do it the way you see below from Artie. The whiteboard makes sense, the materials are probably already there, and it can be changed per day. I love again how much free time there is in this. The kids have structure and education, and a lot of fun stuff too. Not pictured is the family menu for the day, which is posted at their house and adds to stability for the kids. The kids in this family are older so the mom can say, “Play and don’t fight,” and do what she needs to do as well.
I also saw a schedule with time in it for taking those virtual field trips, zoo tours, etc. There is so much available for free right now! I am working on compiling a list.
Tuesday night, there were things I wanted to do, but I was much too tired to do them. Instead, I made sure to make a schedule for the next day. In that schedule, I had a hoped to video chat with family members (I need outside interaction daily, and I missed them). I went through the day, I found that certain things weren’t happening as planned. What did I do? I changed my schedule. There was a different job that it was more important to apply to first; the other would have to wait until the next day. I had scheduled story writing time, but the blog ideas were in my brain and needed to come settle on “paper,” so I switched one for the other. I was hungry later, so I moved lunch later, and I moved outdoor time a little bit later too as I was pretty focused.
I forget this a lot, but I do enjoy having a plan. Having one, I wasn’t stuck in that, “I am lost on FB now, but I really must be doing something” mode. I don’t lose hours of time just clicking. If I got done with something, I rested without any guilt or worry, knowing that I had scheduled the things that need to get done; I would get to them; it didn’t have to be right now. And when it was time to do something important but difficult, I felt better, knowing that I had planned rest time. It is also nice to have an order to the day. I feel more at peace.
At the same time, things happen. My household needs to verbally process COVID19. My 11-year-old nephew could use some one-on-one time with Auntie and vis versa. It is important to have that freedom. And taking it, and moving things I need to do around, I don’t have that, “Oh but you need to do this…” in my head persecuting me. It’s on paper and my brain can be free. Neither do I have the guilt of, “You didn’t follow your schedule…” The schedule is there to help me. I am not here for the schedule. As needs change, it can change. I don’t find rigidity helpful right now. But I do find frameworks very helpful.
I have found this in Substitute teaching as well. If the schedule gets interrupted by a fire drill etc., kids are ok with things changing a bit; they just want to know what is happening.
Thursday was a holiday. I prayed the rosary and made a pie, and watched a movie with my family. I put things I knew I needed to do on the schedule for the next day, freed them from my mind, and I rested.
If you’d like to share what approaches to time you find helpful, please comment below. May your day be filled with beauty and healing and peace. May God bless your day.
Related Blog: A checklist approach: Doing the Thing https://facethedayok.com/2016/01/17/doing-the-thing/