For the past twenty-one years, I’ve been a home school mom. I have graduated three, and my last student is just about to finish sophomore year.
A lot of moms won’t home school because they don’t feel they are organized. They worry about lesson plans and keeping up with housework and a myriad of other things related to organization. I am here to say that, as much as I am trying to organize my life, if I stopped living it until I was organized I’d be 47 and not even out of the starting gate yet. I certainly wouldn’t have home schooled, and that has probably been the biggest blessing my family has had.
Here are a few ways I handled being disorganized as a home school mom. The point of this post is to show that, while organization isn’t a bad idea, a perfectly acceptable life can happen in the mean time. A really great life, even.
First, I get bored easily, so even though I taught four kids, I seldom used the same curriculum twice. This meant I didn’t need to keep my books pristine. We could write in them, cut them up, do whatever we wanted, and next year I’d get something new. Sure, if one ends up in good condition I can sell it, but I don’t pressure myself to keep my books in new condition. Wayward spaghetti sauce or cat pee aren’t life disasters. They’re just life.
Second, I’m a failure at lesson plans. In the writing world, there are two kinds of people. There are plotters, who outline their books down to the minutiae before they ever write a word. And then there are pantsers, who have a general idea what they want to write and let the story unfold while their fingers are on the keys. (Fly by the seats of their pants. Thus, pantsers.)
I am a pantser in my whole life. I tend to glance over new books from cover to cover when I receive them. Then I plan what to teach the day before. Or, now that I’m down to one student, often the day of. I open the book and decide on the spot how to tackle it. So far, my kids can read and sound coherent in conversations, and all of them can hold jobs, so I’d say the method worked for me.
I don’t schedule holidays along the way. Some are obvious, like Christmas. But sometimes we’ll take a day here or there because we need a break. Sometimes we have snow days, because every kid should experience the elation of waking up and finding school has been canceled during the night. Sometimes we have spring break, but some years we push on through and finish early. Then we can laugh because everyone else is still in school. (There’s a chance that after 21 extra years in school I’ve regressed back to childhood myself.)
Then there’s the last day of school. For the first decade I put it on the calendar. But never once did I follow that. For some reason, there is always this magical day in May where I wake up, and the sun is shining, and the flowers are out, and I look at the school books and say “Hey, everyone, yesterday was the last day of school. We’re done.”
Then we put away the books, and I print up grades and all the paperwork for the year, and it’s over. Now, lest you think I’m completely crazy, this day usually happens when we are finished with most of the books. For instance, right now my sophomore son has exactly two subjects he hasn’t finished. I’d say our yesterday is on the horizon.
Normally I don’t celebrate the final day of school, but this year I will. I want to include more celebration in my life. We’re half dead around here when it comes to celebrating life. I saw that on Mother’s Day, and I realized that they aren’t going to celebrate me until I start to celebrate them again. So, when I wake up, probably in the next week or so, and realize yesterday was the last day of school, we’re going to have a party. My son and I will probably go out to eat. Maybe we’ll think of something else to do. But we’re going to celebrate what we accomplished and the fact that it’s behind us and summer is ahead.
I’m not giving up my dream of being a little more organized. Some things, like taxes and book promotions, need a little bit of preparation. Things get lost. Life can get messy if it’s all left to chance. But, disorganization within limits can be fun. And it’s life, whether it’s organized or not.
I hope this post finds you with fun celebrations to look forward to and interesting stories to tell about the disorganized parts of your life. There’s a good chance that by next Simple Living Friday, we will have had a party around here celebrating the fact that Yesterday was the Last Day of School, and I can tell you if I followed through. I hope I do. Life is too short to worry too much about getting it right. Too short to skip the celebrations. And one day, yesterday won’t be the last day of school. It will be the last day, and I want to enjoy the days we have.