I’ve been thinking a lot about balance since I read the book In Search of Balance by Richard Swenson last fall. (His book Margin is an all-time favorite of mine, by the way.) As much as we hear about being driven by passion and living on the edge these days, we would do well to look around and see how the world God created is beautifully balanced. Veer too far in one direction—get out of balance—and problems occur, whether in the orbits of the planets, in the natural food chains, in our eating habits, or in our day-to-day living.
I think balance is one area in which we homeschool moms often struggle. If we are not careful, we spend our days running from the most-urgent child to the next-urgent event, and we lose sight of the big picture. It’s hard to maintain your balance when you have tunnel vision.
As I have read Charlotte Mason’s writings over the years, again and again I am struck by the balance she advocated and lived personally. Those little reminders have always been welcomed taps on the shoulder to me. So this year I would like to share some gentle reminders to help us keep our balance as we walk (and sometimes sprint) through the months and weeks ahead.
The first reminder is about our weekly schedules.
Reminding Yourself of Priorities
Too often on Saturday night we look back through the week and wish we had made time for this, that, and the other. So take an evening to jot down those wishes and hopes and dreams. If you could make your life look any way you want it to, what would it look like? What things would you want to include?
At the end of last year I did this exercise and discovered that what I wanted my life to look like and what it was in actuality were two very different things. I wanted a well-balanced, meaning-filled, intentional life. Instead, my week was full to the brim with just one or two necessities that were monopolizing all of my time.
My week (and my life) was drastically out of balance.
For example, hanging-out time with my older children was something that was being pushed to the side. I told myself I didn’t have time, but the truth was that I wasn’t making the time to just sit and be with family members and friends. I needed and wanted to make that a priority.
I was also getting tired of that nagging seasonal cleaning job that hadn’t gotten done and that pesky organizing task that wouldn’t go away. A regular time (besides the weekly chores) to bless the house would be helpful. Oh, yes, and too often I had been caught unprepared at the last minute, so some intentional planning time would be a good thing. You get the idea.
As I looked at my wish list of things I would love to have time for, I decided to make a Priorities version of a weekly schedule. I did not want a master time-table, dictating exactly what I must do during each moment of each day. Rather, I wanted a friendly reminder of those things that I had wished to make a priority in order to keep a balanced life.
So I listed each day of the week and divided it into four time blocks, arranged around meal times: before breakfast, between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and supper, after supper. In each time block I listed one or two priorities from my wish list. That’s all, one or two. Not twelve.
Of course, “school” is in its morning time blocks, but now I also have some helpful reminders in various blocks of time each week encouraging me to do something else—something from a well-balanced weekly line up.
For example, my little Priorities schedule reminds me on Saturday afternoon to do a House Blessing project. I can choose how long of a project to tackle and how much energy I want to invest in it that week. Last Saturday I took five minutes to organize a pile of tote bags that was taking over one corner of my closet. Nothing huge, but those gentle reminders are adding balance to my life and restoring peace to my mind.
On Thursday evenings I see a prompt to do something with music, whether play the piano, listen to a favorite album, or get together with others to make our own. The prompt is enough to remind me that I want to add more music to my life this year, and if I don’t make it an intentional priority, it won’t happen.
Charlotte had such a nicely balanced schedule for her personal life. Take a look at how she set up her days when she was overseeing her in-house teacher training school as well as the various children’s schools that were following her methods. She intentionally made time for correspondence, household items, school, work, reading for her own enjoyment, time outside, exercise, rest, and reading for learning and personal growth.
Busy yet balanced.
I’m not saying your day or week must look like Charlotte’s did. I’m saying we will all be more peaceful at heart and less frazzled in our minds if we take a step back to set some priorities and intentionally tuck them into our schedules to create a more balanced week. A more balanced life.
Blessings on you as you make plans to keep your balance this year.