Behind-The-Scenes: Where Does The Time Go?

Welcome to the behind-the-scenes series, where you get a taste of my work-the-dream process. In this week's edition, you'll see the foundational piece that makes all these mad hat exchanges possible.

Dear friends,

Remember when I wrote about my organizing efforts last month? I was attempting to wrangle things into a routine we could live and work with as a family? This, too, is a facet of my behind-the-scenes journey.

How in the world do I homeschool three kids, make meals from scratch, create an e-Course, write on the blog, update my website, and still have time to Instagram my art projects?

Well, first off, I do not do all of those things every day. That’s the very best place to start. It’s not about being a superhero whose hair is never tangled, and who never suffers a wardrobe malfunction. That’s a wonder all in itself. That’s unrealistic. I don’t want to be unrealistic. I want a reality where I really can do the things I love.

In order to do that, I have to do something very plain, very tedious, very unromantic. I have to make a schedule. I wish this required a cape. I can picture it now: The children would glance over and see a flash of red, white, and blue, and suddenly, there would be Supermom, organizing another day, while the crowds looked on cheering her faster-than-a-speeding-bullet brain.

Instead, it looks like an impossibly large mug of tea. It looks like pink streaks under the eyes from getting up too early- to the sound of sibling rivalry, no less! It looks like a T-shirt that was worn yesterday but can totally squeak by before another wash. It looks like a few fingerprints on the screen, a few crumbs to brush from the tabletop, and a few open mouths asking if it’s snacktime yet. If I'm really lucky, it looks like a buttered and toasted bagel. (I was not lucky today.)

It looks like pulling up Google Calendar, and filling in most of the spaces with colors coordinated to the different hats required for the day/week. It looks like menu plans and grocery list-building and another impossibly large cup of tea. It looks like a good cry later on. On a really good day, it will look like all 3 children sitting at the table with me, dutifully bent over their colorful workbooks, with cheerful pencils scritch-scratching in time to my typing. All of them at the same time! That happened for five minutes today, so I am proud to say we are GETTING THERE.

It looks like interrupting this blog post to go start dinner. My calendar told me 39 minutes ago that I am supposed to start dinner. I'll return in a flash!

What else? It looks like powering through until Wednesday; sticking to as much of the schedule as possible. And then sticking as close to the spirit of the schedule when its body starts to go to pieces.

Ok, the schedule doesn't go to pieces. My ability to maintain it does. I look completely unraveled by Thursday. But onward we tromp, through the long desert of hot tempers, homeless toys, and the backup dinner I keep in the freezer. The backup dinner is basically breaded chicken. With ketchup. Because we don’t always rock at eating our vegetables. Especially on Thursdays.

We rally around to finish well on Friday. Schoolwork will be a priority, no matter how much a child refuses to pick up a pencil. We will find our way around the crazy. Or we will join it. Joining it can be fun.

So here’s a look at the schedule on our least overwhelming days. To be honest, it's incomplete. This, too, is a project in process. We do a few other things for school, like art or music or cooking. The blank spaces are opportunities for writing, if the team cooperates. It makes me feel good to have a guide to follow, even if we go off book. Way, way, way off…

This is a cropped version to protect the privacy of individuals specifically named in the original screenshot.

This is a cropped version to protect the privacy of individuals specifically named in the original screenshot.

This is the most foundational project I have going. This behind-the-scenes feature allows all the other projects to keep ticking. Seeing my schedule on the calendar makes it real. It motivates me to try. It gives me a starting place- a foothold in the day. It doesn’t look like a chore list; it looks like a time-preserver. And time is so precious. Even if I miss a few wagons, there’s a place to to climb aboard again later down the trail. This calendar spells out my freedom. And freedom means I get to keep working on all the things I love. At the very least, I am way better off than Spiderman. I’m calling it a win.

Jamie Bagley