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How to start planning your own time

For most of us, we either rely on an external structure to push us through our days, or we buck against it. Sometimes a bit of both. This goes for adults and kids alike. Right now, many of us are thrust into a situation where we’re responsible for managing and planning our own time, with little to help anchor us, and it’s a tough prospect. I’ve been doing it for thirteen years and it’s still tough.

Added in are the vastly different requirements and priorities we all have. For us, cancelling outside events is a blow, but some of our classes were already on line and the mornings at least will not look much different. Our structures are already in place and all we need to do is work them without getting too caught up in all the what-ifs (which is my personal kryptonite). My eldest’s GCSE has been cancelled for this year, and it’s still not clear what happens to private candidates about that, but for now we’re still plugging on on the basis that we’ll be able to take it later on.

I know some families reading this will be in the same boat. They’ll miss outside events – like us, most home educators are normally out at least 4-5 times a week – but they’re well set up for life to continue fairly normally at home.

For others, it’s going to be very different. Kids home from school, with varying levels of understanding and acceptance of why; varying amounts of work set and an unclear idea of how much of that is really expected to happen; maybe parents trying to work from home throughout; others needing to be out of the house in stressful circumstances.

It’s going to take some time to settle in to all this. And things are changing rapidly, and everyone is up in the air, so please don’t think everyone else has it sorted while you have no idea. Everyone of us is struggling in some ways, we just express it differently. Some emphasise the positives, others want to share the stories they think will make a difference. Some are throwing themselves into what they can control. Some are still in the paralysis of a rapidly changing situation. Some flit from one to the other in an instant (guilty).

Here’s the thing – your own family setup is yours. Your needs and requirements – and resources – are not the same as anyone else’s. You need to plan your time, not someone else’s, and do it in the way that works for you. And if that looks to someone else (or to yourself) like not planning, that’s fine. “I’m going to go with the flow” is a plan that has a lot going for it for many. For others, it’s a disaster.

However, just a bit of time thinking through how you want this to work can really make a difference to how you feel about the next few weeks. If that sounds like a good idea to you, I’m going to walk you through it.

Today’s first step

First of all, think about what’s really important to you – and your kids – over the next few weeks. Don’t make this complicated. Something as simple as a few key words is awesome. We don’t need a life mission statement here, we need the most basic criteria for success – to know what is important to focus on. Here are a few ideas.

  • Feed everyone
  • Do some exercise
  • Read a story
  • Fit in work time
  • Connect with others
  • Play a game
  • Smile
  • Do some schoolwork
  • Make something
  • Get fresh air
  • Learn something new
  • Be flexible
  • Give thanks

Don’t pick everything. 3-5 things max, for now. Don’t make it too long. Make it your own (Walk the dog? Tidy up? Bedtime kiss?). Talk to your kids and your partner about what’s important to them. Jot down some words in the morning, think about it for the day, then see if they still fit in the evening. This is something you’re going to go back to when it’s all getting too much or too little. These are your key points. It won’t encompass everything in your life, and it’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s the things that you want to remember are important when your brain is whirling with everything else and you’ve no idea what to do next.

Here’s mine.

  • Eat together
  • Smiles for everyone
  • Make a plan
  • Follow it (mostly)

What’s yours?

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