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Monday, August 30, 2010

Can Google organize my life?

The hardest part of homeschooling last year was planning... lesson plans, scheduling, getting everything done.   My strength has always been organizing things but it falls apart when it comes to maintenance.   I tried several different systems that I either came up with myself or "stole" from other homeschool moms.  Nothing stuck, nothing made life easier for me.  When I started using workboxes it made me be more organized but by the end of the school year which also correlated with the end of my pregnancy I couldn't keep up with filling the boxes each night and that fell apart as well.  So,  much thought has gone into what I can do differently this year.  Now with four little ones to manage, it is important for me to get this under control.

There are some lessons I learned as I look back over the year which I hope will help me as I gear up for this school year:

1.  First and foremost, I MUST commit each day to God and allow Him to direct my path.  There is a direct correlation between whether or not I spend time with my heavenly Father each morning and how much yelling I do during the day.  When I get up early, before the kids and spend time in His word, God gives me the strength and patience to deal with what comes my way.  I have come to realize that  the kids are pretty consistent, but it is my attitude towards them that can make or break the day.
These last few months I have made the excuse of lack of sleep to stay in bed a little longer... and I do know that God understands when I have been up all night with the baby... but how many times do I use that as an excuse and miss out on a blessing God may have had for me. 

2.  KISS- Keep it simple Sistah!- as much as I love to create elaborate systems of how something is going to work, it only works if I can then use it consistently. At this stage of my life the less I have to do to keep a system going, the better.  It also works for the kids if the routine is uncomplicated and easy for them to learn and follow.

3. The schedule is there as a guide and is not written in stone.   Last year I had a pretty strict schedule when we started but because I hadn't planned for it to be flexible, I felt like a failure each day that we didn't stick to it exactly.  As a result that schedule went out the window about 2 weeks after we started and for us the pendulum swung completely to the other side.  This also left me feeling like a failure because I had to think on my feet all day.  Things came together a bit with the introduction of workboxes in January.  They forced me to be more organized but still without the right balance of schedule and flexibility, I was constantly fighting against feeling inadequate as a homeschooling mom.  I also didn't keep it simple with the workboxes and I began to find the planning and filling of them monotonous.  Through it all I learned that for us, having a schedule  is better than the absence of one, but the BEST one is a flexible one.

4. My children, especially the oldest,  love routine.  They thrive when they know what is coming.  I, on the other hand like things to change up and I had been trying to manage their day based on my preference.  It occurred to me late in the year that it is okay with them if we do math the same time every day and even though I may get bored of that, they won't.  I had tried to make each day different but I now see the value in having a big part of the day the same.

So what does this look like for this year and what does Google have to do with it?   I am using Google Calendars!  Did you know that you can create many different calendars that can be viewed all together?  They are colour coded and you can view or hide which ever calendars you want.

I had been using a Google calendar for our appointments and day to day events but at some point this summer it occurred to me that I could use one calendar for each child and plug my lesson plans in there for each.  I would then have a snapshot each day of what each child should accomplish which I could view by day, week or month.  It would also be a record of what we did each day if I needed to go back and refer to anything. Using the things I learned that I listed above, I created a daily routine for each child and although I assigned a time to each(since that is the only way to add it to the calendar,) only the order needs to be followed.  For example, Micaiah's calendar has math from 10:50 to 11:30 and then reading from 11:30 to 11:50.  He will do those things in that order, but we will not be a stickler for time.  If there is something he doesn't get to for that day because he took more time than we alloted somewhere else, that's okay, we will catch up another day.  This way everyone knows what is coming.  I will probably still use schedule strips for Eli and Eden so they can have a visual, but Micaiah will have access to his Google calendar and will be able to monitor where he should be.

Because I can view all the calendars at the same time I will easily see when there are conflicts or appoinments that will get in the way of school time. 

I have even added a calendar for meals that I have been using for my meal planning.  I print that calendar out each week and stick it on the fridge so that anyone who wants to know what's for breakfast, lunch or dinner on any given day can see it.  Again,  I can view it with all the other calendars so I can see which days I don't have time to cook a big meal or if we will be out of the house at lunch time.

Here's a snapshot of what a day looks like.  It may look like a lot on one calendar but I can hide as many or as few as I want at any time.  I like being able to see everything at the same time...

click on it to make larger

I am really praying this works for me.  It seems simple enough to use and maintain and with God's guidance each day I feel confident that it can work!


  1. LOVE this post, my friend. Lots of good thoughts and words of wisdom. "I have come to realize that the kids are pretty consistent, but it is my attitude towards them that can make or break the day." This hit me over the head (in a good way!) - THANK YOU for pointing this out. May seem so obvious to others, but this was a light bulb moment for me.

    Also love your idea about using Google calendars. I've used them in the past for personal scheduling, but never thought to look to it for school. I'll keep it in mind! I agree that the best schedule is definitely a simple, yet consistent schedule.

    Even though I don't see you much, it comforts me just knowing you're here on the island going through the homeschooling process, too! :)


  2. I am just starting homeschooling this year, but posts like this are so helpful, because I know that I will have days like you described and I will know I am not alone!

    I look forward to following you!

  3. I just love Google calendars!

    Thank you so much for joining the Hip Homeschool Hop today.

    The Homeschool Chick

  4. Google Calenders.... hmmmmmm... this will make my life easier you say? I am sold.

  5. I love the comment about the kids being fairly consistent but how we respond to them is what can make or break the day. That is SOOOOO true and I had never thought about it that way! Reading this was so timely for mean I am not the only mom who yells at her kids?!?!?! LOL Seriously, I am totally with you on the patience level being directly correlated to time spent w/Him in the Word! Thanks for the encouragement and I hope Google calendars works for ya!!

  6. Hi Rusheika, I am catching up on your blog posts and thank you for this one! The google calendar seems like a great idea and I may just give it a try myself! Totally hear you on the link between how the day goes and how we start it...inviting our Father in or being to busy to do so xoxoxoxo


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