Several people have asked me where I find the time to do everything, so I am going to try an answer that question.
First of all we homeschool. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and education choice that we have made for our family. This is the beginning of year number 14. The fact that its an education choice is evident. But, many may not know its also a lifestyle choice. We are together (for the most part) morning, noon and night. We eat 3 meals together, at least 6 of the 7 days. We run errands, do chores, play games, laugh, cry, argue and make up..sometimes all in the same day. The kids are friends with each other and with me. We are learning many things together such as quilting and canning. We usually get the school work done in the mornings which leaves the afternoons free for other projects or classes.
Second, the kids aren't involved in many different sports and activities daily. Katie and Amy take dance, one day per week. The only time this schedule changes is when its recital time and then its 4 days that week. They also take a homeschool quilting class for beginners, 2 mornings a month. They both love to sew and are learning alot in this class (me too!). Will is doing archery with a group of boys in our homeschool group. This is 2 afternoons a month. Our homeschool support group offers co-op classes for history/geography and science and all three are involved in those...2 mornings a month. Those are the outside activities. This leaves us time to do other activites together such as our food preservation classes we took at the county extension office.
Third, we set up a daily schedule for the kids and I. It has worked out great and we have freed up lots of time by sticking to our schedule. I even scheduled in reading and crafts. So I don't feel guilty sitting down and reading in the morning with the kids or sewing in the afternoon....its in the schedule! I used the book by Steve & Terri Maxwell "Managers of Their Homes" to help set everything up. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be more organized.
This is what we have chosen for our family. I realize it may not be for everyone, but even one or two changes could help the busiest of households. So here are some of my suggestions......
How many activites are your children involved in? Baseball, soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics, music lessons, afterschool care, art classes, etc. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but too many is hectic. A question to ask yourself before you make any changes or add any activities to your childs schedule is...does little Johnny really want to play football (or whatever) or does Dad have dreams of little Johnny playing in the NFL and he is going to play football or else. If little Johnny is passionate about the game and lives, eats and breathes football, then that is the game for him. If he would rather pick clover in the football field, then let him lose in the backyard and save your money. Evaluate why you do what you do. Keeping up with the Jones' is exhausting and unimportant.
How many outside the home activites are you involved in? These also add stress to your life, even if they are wonderful activities. No, I am not saying that you should stop doing things you really love, but is it really worth time away from the home? If you are involved in several different ministries at church and you don't have time to cook dinner, then you probably need to re-evaluate your schedule. At this time in our lives, we are involved in 3 ministry opportunities. 2 are at our church and both occur in Dec. The first is our church's huge Living Christmas Tree Production, the first weekend of the month. Greg programs the lights for the tree and 5 of our children sing or play an instrument or perform in the ballet. We all love it, but it does take lots and lots of time. In fact, the first planning meeting for this years production is next Sunday night. The 2nd is our church's Christmas Store for families who need extra holiday help. The kids love shopping for the gifts with the money we set aside for this. The day of the store, I work in the giftwrap and Greg and the older boys help load the cars. My 3 youngest will tell you that shopping for the store is one of their favorite Christmas activities. These 2 busy-filled activites are the main reasons we have no school December. There just isn't time or energy for school this month. The 3rd ministry is our Mission Trip. Greg & I have gone to Honduras twice and this year we did a family trip to Oklahoma to help with VBS at 2 Choctaw Indian Churches. We had a wonderful time with each other and the rest of the team.
We are able to do many things together because we homeschool. They are a priority for our lives and our family. But, every family is different. If your children are in a public or private school, you may need to look at the extras that are on your calendars and evaluate why you are doing them. Do they need to sit in school all day then come home, go to football, eat dinner in the car and then head to karate or wherever. Do the kids really care about all the activites or do you as the parent want them in something everyday? Only you can make the decisions for your own family...but in doing so you are carving out time that could be used for something else.
Honestly, I look at schedules of people at church, family members and neighbors and wonder how they do it all. And these are some of the same folks who say to me...I don't know how you have time to sew or read or blog or cook from scratch, or take a walk. We all have our own lives and we have to live them according to our convictions for our family. The Lord made us all unique individuals and it would be really dull if everyone was just alike!