Less is More and the Two-Step Rule

If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’d recommend it. The actual test is extremely long and I think you have to purchase it, but there are several knock-offs around the internet. I took one last week and found out I am still an INFJ – that’s always been my result – but something I did not know was that INFJ is the most rare of all 16 personality types, being that only 1% of the population tests there.

A few afternoons after taking the test I found myself locked in the bathroom trying to soak away some of the day’s irritations in a bubble bath. Why, I was wondering, did everything seem to aggravate me so much? Why couldn’t I just be happy with my life the way everyone else seemed to be?

I’ll spare you the details of the self-analysis that followed, but what came to me was that, hey, I am a one-percenter! I am a unique individual and I have unique needs. What works for you may not work for me; what makes you feel happy and successful may not make me feel that way; and overall, I need to stop comparing myself to others and just be myself.

Ironically, this post applies to you, too.

Take care of yourselves, mommas. Don’t try to be the mother that your sister is, or that your best friend is, or that your mother-in-law is or wants you to be. God chose you to be the mother of your children because you are the mother they need. Now, be yourself! Find out what works for you and do it.

For me this week, that meant instituting what I like to call the “two-step” rule. I often find myself getting extremely irritated with my four-year-old and feeling completely overwhelmed by the number of things she requires of me every day. I so badly want to be a “yes” parent – not somebody who says “no” out of laziness or fear, but who gives their children every opportunity they can if there is no good reason not to. But adding her “mommy can we” and “mommy can you” requests to my own day’s to-do list ends in an explosion nine times out of ten because I feel under an enormous amount of pressure to get way too many things done.

Enter the “two-step” rule. Each morning I sit down with my to-do list and plan my priorities for the day. But no longer will I spend every waking moment of each day running through that list. I will look no more than “two steps” ahead. I will concentrate on step one: what I am doing now, and step two: what I will do next. Beyond that, I will remain flexible. If I am in the middle of feeding Squirt and planning to start a load of laundry when Noodle makes a request, I have two options: I can replace the laundry with fulfilling Noodle’s request, or I can explain to Noodle that I am about to start a load of laundry but she can ask me again later. I will no longer put a mountain of tasks to climb over between myself and satisfaction. Baby steps.

At the end of the day, this will most likely mean getting a lot less done. But the cleaning will be here tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow; my babies grow further from the nest every day. It is time to be satisfied with less productivity and more peace of mind.

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What’s in a Day? Our K4 Schedule

I’ve said before that Noodle is somewhere between preschool and kindergarten, so for labeling purposes I’ll call what we do a K4 homeschool day. Basically, she can read, but not yet write. She knows her numbers, but not arithmetic. We are in that gap space right now where she is beyond many curricula, but doesn’t have the skills to accomplish others.

There’s a gap space, right? Is it just me? Or is this where the veteran homeschooling mom realizes that every child is different…?

Anyway, I promised a while back that I would make a post about what kind of activities actually fill our homeschool days. Here it is! I’m just trying my hand at this, so my disclaimer is that this schedule is very subject to change! But I know I am always wondering what other moms are doing with their kids, so I might as well share the imperfect routine we have in our house.

Because Noodle is such a young four and we are still two years away from being legally obligated to school, our schedule is flexible and doesn’t happen every day. But most days, this is how we roll:

7:00-8:30 – Wake up, morning chores, breakfast and family devotions (we use Long Story Short)

8:30-8:50 – Phonics: Read about our experience with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons here. When we finish the book we will use this time to play phonics games, work on sight words, and read aloud.

8:50-9:00 – Calendar Time: We start by singing the “Days of the Week” and “Months of the Year” songs, then use Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Preschool Pack. We end Calendar Time singing Daddy’s phone number and our address.

9:00-9:20 – Fine Motor Activities: Noodle is a little behind in this area, I think because she broke her arm (and my heart!) twice this summer. We do a variety of activities in this time including cutting, pasting, handwriting, lacing, etc.

9:20-9:40 – Math: Noodle can count and recognize her numbers up to 100, so right now we spend most of our math time focused on handwriting and ordinals. When she is more comfortable writing we will begin some addition activities.

9:40-10:00 – Unit Study: This space is flexible. Sometimes this is where we stop for the day and head out to run errands or go to the library. On Thursdays and/or Fridays we use it for Noodle’s Awana homework. As I write this blog, we work on the Days of Creation Lapbook in this space, but hopefully by the time you read it we will have moved on to a Thanksgiving study.

10:00 – Read Aloud: Noodle has fallen in love with The Chronicles of Narnia series, so we are making our way through those books right now. I hope to read The Secret Garden with her next. Daddy also does some read-alouds for us at night.

And then our day is done! It’s really only an hour and a half of “school” time but I feel like that is plenty for my four-year-old. For the rest of the day, Noodle is free to learn through play, paint to her heart’s content, watch a little TV (yeah, I said it), help in the kitchen, earn pennies by completing her chores, or whatever! She is a busy girl, so I don’t have to worry too much free time will bore her.