You’ve heard of unschooling, right? That method of educating your children raises a lot of eyebrows in our hyper-scheduled, goals-driven culture. Unlike in most schools–where students are timed, tested, rushed, and graded to death–unschooled students are lovingly guided by their own interests, at their own pace, and allowed to learn “naturally”. I’m not a big fan of this method for my family. I think it is a perfectly valid way to teach your children, but I can’t think that way. Even though I prefer a more traditional curriculum, I think the unschooling philosophy has a lot to say about the way life should be lived.
I am deeply chagrined to note that, as soon as I blogged that life wasn’t meant to be doled out in hours and half-hours, like an envelope-based budget, a certain very successful blogger revealed that she was, indeed, doling out her life in hours and half-hours. Yes, the brilliant Crystal Pain uses a budget for her time. Well, of course she does. I mean, look where budgeting her money has gotten her! Why on earth wouldn’t she budget her time, too? Here’s where I very unprofessionally insert an ROFL. ‘Cause that there is funny. It’s not funny that she uses one, but it is a hoot that I was actually clueless enough to think that no one could have possibly thought to budget her time like I do my money.
Well, to each his own, I guess. I will never be that organized. I’m not sure I’d want to be, either. Maybe you’re like me, and you prefer things to be just a little bit more off-the-cuff. I have something I like to call an unschedule. There aren’t any particular times that things must begin or end, but there’s a rhythm to it. We eat when we’re hungry, rest when we’re sleepy, take a break when we’re cranky or bored with what we’re doing. In short, we take it kind of easy around here. And that’s OK! Here’s how a day at home unfolds for us, most of the time:
- I get up sometime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. I prefer it earlier, but sometimes I need more sleep. I don’t like to go without the right amount of sleep, and my needs are not so predictable that I can get up at the same time every day. (Unless all the kids are sleeping through the night. Then, I have no trouble getting up at 5.) I use whatever time I have before the little ones get up to pray, read my Bible, read email, mark posts and articles I’d like to read later, and generally goof off. I need to goof off. This is not unimportant. I hope to add a workout in there someday.
- Breakfast, start a load of laundry, get the kids dressed, quick straightening up. I can’t work in a pigsty, so we clean before we start school.
- School While we do have a curriculum to follow (TOG is our core), I do not schedule certain things to be done each day. I have an unschedule for schoolwork, too. It’s really just a rolling list of each lesson and activity I’d like to get done that week. I start with the first item on Monday morning, scratching things off as I go. I never finish the list, because I make an ambitious list. At the end of the week, I roll whatever didn’t happen on to the next week’s schedule. It’s probably a little too open-ended for some folks, but I find it relaxing to know that if I don’t get to the next thing now, I will surely get to it later. The best part is that I don’t have to re-arrange a schedule every time something doesn’t go according to plan.
- Lunch and clean-up. Yes, we clean up again after lunch. We are messy.
- Housework and finish up independent work After lunch, I fold laundry, load the dishwasher, and tackle whatever housework is driving me nuts while my oldest finishes up his independent assignments. Sometimes we even do another lesson–something easy and fun, like science or P.E..
- Children’s chores The kids put away the laundry I’ve folded for them, make beds (if I remember to make them do it), clean the bedrooms. If the small ones are getting tired, I sometimes move chores to after quiet time so we can rest earlier.
- Free time/quiet time/computer time
- Dinner prep/dinner/family time
- Baths and bed for the kids no later than 8:30. I’m not a firm scheduler on the daytime stuff, but bedtime must be observed. I want those kids to be fresh in the morning. They need a lot of sleep. Also, I like to be sans children sometimes.
I will be the first to admit that my house is not the cleanest in the world (4 kids under 7 and a blogging habit will do that), but otherwise, I’m extremely happy with the format of our days. We have a routine, but a break in the routine isn’t a difficult thing to handle.It’s very low-stress, and I like it that way.
If you want to live without overly complicating things with charts and schedules and (sigh) envelopes, just decide what you most need to accomplish, do those things first, then use whatever time is left to do the less important things. Sometimes it doesn’t all get done. If you’re not OK with that, by all means, use a schedule or whatever else you think will help. For the rest of us, though, who feel more comfortable allowing life to unfold the way it wants to, an unschedule is plenty.