Are You a Free Spirit?

Some moms have said scheduling isn’t for them because they are a ‘free spirit’ and enjoy the daily randomness of life without a schedule. So, the big question becomes:

Can Scheduling Benefit a “Free Spirit?” (without squashing it)

This question was posed to Teri and others on the MOMYS digest.

The Question

Subject: schedules

CONFESSION TIME

I have been extremely hesitant to get on the scheduling band wagon, not because I don’t want order in my home, or that I don’t want to get dinner on the table every night, but I’m AFRAID!

I am what some would term a “free spirit”. I bet that surprises you all. LOL [internet lingo for “Laugh Out Loud”] I’m afraid if I go to a schedule in my house, a house that is run on the Carpe Diem method, that all fun would be lost. I’m the kind of person who FREQUENTLY shouts, “Let’s go CRAZY! Everyone in the van!”

Is it possible to schedule just a couple of hours a day, leaving the rest for CRAZY times?

We desire a home that is clean, neat, uncluttered, and healthy. But, I’m afraid, that even though the Lord says that everything is to be done decently and in order, He forgot about ME! After all, He created me this way, and I don’t believe He created this as a character flaw. Perhaps I am a tad, I said, “tad,” undisciplined, and we don’t always have a clean floor, Okay rarely, and never is the upstairs clean AND the downstairs clean at the same time, but, we clean something everyday, and everyday we embrace life, and learn fascinating things about God’s world, we love to explore, expand, and exercise our minds, and I’m afraid to lose that.

Any thoughts from you would be appreciated.

Terri C.

Response #1

Subject: Flex-schedule

Terri C.,

I was one of the test MOMYS for Teri Maxwell’s book. I really recommend this book (insert usual disclaimer) because it really makes one think about the goals of scheduling. Teri’s personal take on scheduling is that changing activities frequently keeps everyone motivated to do more. I find this to be true. I, however, love the opportunity, each day, for us to immerse ourselves in a project, or even to suspend the schedule for several hours to allow each person to pursue something spontaneous. Since using Teri’s method of scheduling, I find that we are much more able to accomplish the MUST DO, and so we are also much more free to explore the WANT TO DO.

Sally

Response #2

Subject: Free Spirit Scheduling

Dear Terri C. and other “free spirits,”

I expect I am a natural one to respond to your questions, but I hope some from our test group will, too, because many of them could easily relate to you!

I see a schedule as my slave, not my slave driver. It assists me to my goals for myself and for my family. It eases my life, but it does not inhibit me. As a matter of fact a schedule can insure fun, crazy times that otherwise would be gobbled up by the mundane routine needs of daily life. Often the children of our test families were as enthusiastic about the schedule as Mom was. They knew they had time set aside in the schedule for them to spend with Mom for talking, play, reading, or family fun.

A schedule can be as rigid or as open as one chooses. There are examples of this in the Appendix of our book where there are 30 schedules. Using a schedule allows a family to get through with the “daily grind” quickly and efficiently so they can move on to the areas of life that are exciting and engaging. Our test families found that they could accomplish more in one morning using their schedule than they did in a whole day otherwise. That leaves from noon to bedtime for all those other “crazy” parts of life!

A schedule relieves such a burden from a mother’s shoulders because her “do the next thing,” as Elisabeth Elliot would say, is written down. No more decisions on who does what, when. Every one knows exactly what they are to be doing, including the little ones. Even their days are more productive because there is direction to them.

I think the word “fearful” of failing in making and using a schedule would be common among those I have been working with, but we didn’t have one single mom fail! They all saw great benefits from their schedules and were very happy with them. There have been various levels of difficulty in developing the self-disciplines to use their schedules but no one has said they were going to ditch their schedule and go back to the “old way.”

I asked my “free spirit” friend about scheduling last March when she read the first chapter of the book. She refers to herself as a “fly by the seat of my pants” sort of person. I wondered if maybe “no schedule kind of lifestyle” would work just fine for that type of person. “No way!” she exclaimed. “When I come up for air, I am so discouraged by the things that have been left undone. If God is a God or order, that applies to me just as much as to anyone else, and I have to trust Him to work in me in the area of self-discipline. A schedule doesn’t have to stifle my creativity. It would just channel it at the right times!”

So, Terri C., I don’t think you would lose any of what you love about your lifestyle but rather would shed what you don’t like about it, if you decided to get on the “schedule bandwagon.” One thing about a schedule, though, particularly if it is a new way of living for you, you have to be motivated and believe it holds potential benefits for you. A negative mindset will doom a schedule to failure before it is started.

I really don’t want to sound like a sales person for our book. I am simply sold on what a schedule can do for a homeschooling family and want to pass that on to others. That is exactly why we wrote the book. We see such potential for the work of the kingdom of Jesus Christ as homeschooling moms are successful in what they are doing, maximizing their time and feeling like the “joyful mothers of children” that they are, we have to share what the Lord has taught us!

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri Maxwell

Response #3

[the following was inserted right after Teri’s message by MOMYs digest moderator]

On the subject of Teri’s book. The test group were all MOMYS…all 24 of the families! So in a small sense, I feel like I know the people in the book. I received a copy of the book from those lovely ladies & Teri. Well, I know you’re all waiting with bated breath…we started our schedule yesterday. Here’s what I wrote to Teri. I thought some of you would be interested in it as well…

Subject: Day #1 has been incredible!

Dear Teri,

I have been reading your book. It sounded *so* great. But I found myself thinking that it wouldn’t work for us. After all, our children are 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 2, and almost 1. That’s a lot of little people. I took heart that Debbie and J’Aimee are in similar situations.

Anyway, I’ll spare you the details. We decided to try to stay on schedule until noon. That was pretty ambitious considering the circumstances. Well, it’s been our *best* day ever. We even slept in, which is not so rare, but it did potentially start the day on a bad foot. I went over each person’s schedule during breakfast. The children were so excited. After lunch (and the youngest 3 were down for naps) we talked about how we liked it. They loved it, and I did, too.

Two things the book does not emphasize that were wonderful were these…

The best thing about our AM was that there was very little boredom. Usually I would be plowing on ahead with *my* agenda, dragging the children & DH behind me. I tend to be very task-oriented. Nothing stands in the way of completing the task. This way I felt like we truly were a team. Everyone helped out and everyone shared the rewards.

In retrospect, the children aren’t wanting to get in trouble or bicker with each other. They just had lots of spare time on their hands. This AM has been great.

Secondly, this is a tip I’d like to pass onto those with all young children. I kept wondering how I would pay attention to the time and still accomplish anything. What I did was set a digital timer for 25 minutes. When the timer went off, I would give the 5-minute warning, inform them of the next thing on the schedule, and we’d go from there. That gave them time to mentally change gears as well as clean up from the last thing.

I won’t bore you with any more details. Just suffice it to say that I was skeptical and a little afraid of failure. It went *so* much better than I expected that I just want to cry with relief. It gives us hope & direction. A million thanks…Joan”

So, you can see, I’m all for it. And Teri is right…we got more done before noon that we ever have in several days. So we could have time allowed for fun pursuits once the “work” was out of the way.~Joan

Response #4

Subject: the free spirit

Hello MOMYS,

I thought I would take a moment to share a bit concerning Terri C.’s post on being a free spirit. I, too, have always considered myself much the same. But, as the number of children grew it was becoming increasingly difficult to find any time to be spontaneous, not to mention how much time it would take to find shoes and jackets for everyone. School was painful, it was hard to sit and do the work for us all, too many interruptions and we could never find a pencil.

Well, I joined MOMYS and volunteered to be part of the Maxwell’s test group. I felt it was an answer to prayer, I had been spending much time in prayer for direction. None of our family goals were being met. The idea of a schedule scared me. What about my creativity and what if I want to just “go”(do something).

Well, to make a long story shorter, I followed through with the schedule and found that I love it. It has helped me to begin to organize my home (I know where our socks, shoes and coats are) and it has freed up more time for creativity. My schedule also has our family doing the “most important work” in the morning, so if the urge to go hiking hits, we can do it after lunch. This summer I hope to free up more morning time, I love to do outdoor things at the crack of dawn. When we return from an activity we jump right back into our schedule.

At Christmas we took a couple of weeks off and boy, did I regret it. That two weeks stretched into four and it felt as though everything was falling apart. Next time one week will suffice. We have managed to get back on schedule and what a relief to see things coming back together. This “free spirit” will never be without a schedule again. Hey, look it is after lunch! Kids grab your shoes and coats, lets skip science book work and go see if we can find signs of life in the woods! Bye for now ladies!

Your sister in Christ, ~Sheri

Response #5

Subject: Schedules….for Terri C.

Oh, how you sound like I did. Maybe I was worse though! Like you, we cleaned something every day, we did some school, we had sooo much fun! However, the house was a wreck, I panicked when we had unexpected visitors, meals were slapped together, often from whatever eclectic edible items I could find in the fridge. We were very spontaneous! I loved it.

But sometimes we ran out of clean clothes. Sometimes laundry would mildew in the hampers before I got around to washing it. At the very least, we had to poke through the mountain of clean clothes on the living room couch to find matching pairs of socks. Who had time to fold clothes? Not me! The dishes sat in the sink until I was pretty sure they were creeping out at night and frolicking on the counter—especially day-before-yesterday’s sippy cups half-full of spoiled milk. Eewwwww!! ( I’m just being honest here, girls! <g>)

I loved my life. I just didn’t have time to live all of it! 🙂

My husband had been prompting me for some time to get into a routine. I balked because I was reluctant to lose the spontaneity, hated to think of missing seeing the boys’ eyes sparkle when I announced an unexpected outing. Finally, I relinquished though, and as I was trying to figure out what hopeless task to dive into first <g>, I read the MOMYS digest and saw Teri Maxwell’s plea for a test family for her book.

To make a long story short, we’ve been on a schedule for a few months now. We don’t do a “perfect” job of keeping to it all the time, but the schedule is really so freeing. I have “family time” planned right into my schedule to take care of those spontaneous things we like to do. Chore time is factored in too, so I’m sure to keep up with the basics. (To illustrate that point, our dishwasher bit the dust a couple of months ago, we decided to forego a new one right now, and I’m actually doing all our dishes by hand and SURVIVING!) I have time built in for special projects (like cleaning out closets, scrapbooking, etc.) that seemed to never get done before.

The house, though it definitely still looks “lived in”, at last stays clean and neat enough that I’m not embarrassed when someone drops in. I’m able to train the children better and more calmly, get less exasperated myself due to being disorganized, we get more schoolwork done……..you name it, it’s better since we have a schedule.

Now, there are still times when we just chuck the whole thing (Teri’s not reading this, is she??:-D) and run like crazy for a day! But when we come back home, I don’t get that “let down” feeling when I walk in the door. It usually looks “peaceful” and mostly organized in here now! And what’s more, I think we actually *want* to stay home a lot more now, because it’s so nice here. I don’t feel like I need to get away from it!

I would really encourage you, Terri C., to get your hands on a copy of Teri Maxwell’s book. I think, if you follow the plan, you’ll be so surprised at how freeing it is! I am, quite frankly, shocked at how well I’m liking to be more orderly!

Rejoicing in Him,

Ellen