I never knew adding a third child would require so much organization! But, I’m not one to scoff at organization; if anything, I love my lists, I love my To-Do Binder, I love checking things off and seeing my progress, or re-arranging my day to fit what didn’t get done, and working around it. My husband is always amazed how my lists keep growing, and never seem to end, but it helps me when my brain is always thinking of a million other things to keep myself organized and keep me from forgetting something. To also be fair, adding a third child to our mix is certainly something that added to my growing lists of to-do’s, but it also showed me that if I don’t write things down, I’ll have a chaotic mess on my hands of things that I’d simply forget to do.
I also realized that adding a third meant that I’d have less time with my other two. Ollie, who’s now 3, and Holden, who just turned a year, would be getting less time with me once our Xander makes his appearance. I already split my time between them decently, but always give more time to Ollie because he’s the one homeschooling and has very high ambitions; Holden simply is learning words, and motions, and is pretty content at joining in whatever we’re doing as long as he gets to sit on my lap or make a mess with blocks a short arms reach away. Adding Xander to things will definitely rock our homeschooling world and life.
One thing I realized early on, that I can maintain as a constant, is reading time. We have so many books in our home, I feel like there’s little to no time to read them all, yet I’m always itching to crack them open! I’ve always installed a “quiet time” when Holden was napping, from the moment we brought him home from the hospital, and now I plan on doing the same thing once Xander is born in a few days time. How well that’ll turn out, I haven’t a clue. So far when I hush Holden, all he does is scream louder with a big grin on his face… He’s my little curve ball, this on;, he’s his own little man. But, at least Ollie has always understood it and respected it, and he does help me keep Holden calm when needed, but he also has come to love “quiet time” because it gives him time to do his own thing — from playing, to reading his own books (yes he can read simple books; it’s amazing how much he’s learned from us reading aloud to him), to simply using his iPad or watching cartoons on the TV (yup, we use both iPad and TV as our way to gain a few minutes of peace, and I’m not ashamed to admit it; in fact, I know my sanity will be relying on those two devices this winter when they can’t burn off energy outside).
But, as winter came closer and I finally stepped out of the denial that it was coming, whether I wanted it to or not, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time inside the house with my boys (winter, in New England, along with a newborn, is not a place you want to venture out a lot in). So, I had made a long list of books to read, or re-read, not just for myself, but for my boys as well. We have a large library collection growing within our home, and the public library is less then a three-minute drive from our house (and along Daddy’s route home), so books will never be scarce.
Back in November, I began filtering through our books, not just mine and my husband’s collection, but the boys as well, reorganizing, donating duplicates, recycling books that were too damaged from Holden’s teething phase from us not stopping him quick enough, and doing a quick glance at books that were gifted to us that I hadn’t decided if they were worth keeping or appropriate for our home.
- So, I sat down and went through the boys’ books first. I was amazed at how many duplicates we were actually gifted, and how many we hadn’t touched! I reorganized the books on a sheet of paper of preference of what we’ll be reading first, and on down the list, until we got to books that Ollie voiced he was excited to re-read.
- Next, I did the same to mine and my husband’s books; filtering through so many unread books didn’t take quite as long as it did for the boys’, but it felt really good to organize myself and our many books. These I organized from appropriate enough to read aloud (Sherlock Holmes series, anyone?), to ones that I’d read quietly on my own, and ones I’ve been itching to re-read.
- Following all that fun organization, I ran through my lists of books I’ve been wanting to borrow from the public library, and made an actual list instead of all my sticky notes, and highlighted titles in my various homeschooling books (The Well Trained Mind, Honey For A Child’s Hearty, The Read-Aloud Handbook, among many more), and my cell phone notes, and screenshots of books I came across on Pinterest and walking through Barnes and Noble. I actually wrote them all down on a list (preference didn’t matter, I was just excited to have everything in one spot) and even made a digital list on the public library’s website so when I’m ready to rent the books, I simply log on, click, and when it’s available the hubby will swing by and pick it up for me!
I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw my list back in November! I was so proud of myself for being organized and ahead of the curve when it came to this, because I knew once Xander came, homeschooling would basically be out the window until not only was I ready to start our new routine, but Xander was ready for a routine, and Ollie and Holden were ready to start a new routine. Homeschooling will now become a household event, I feel, where as before, we could do it during nap time, or when Holden was preoccupied with rearranging my kitchen drawers. Now, I feel like we’ll need to work homeschooling into and around our “new routine.” But in November, I felt like at least our days would be filled with literature (even if it were to be for five minutes a day; I’d take what I could).
But, as December rolled around I realized that even if I could read to my sons for five minutes a day (or more preferably), it wouldn’t be “enough” for Ollie. I thought we’d be taking a break from “school” starting the week of Thanksgiving on until after Christmas, start a tad bit after Christmas, then drop everything again right before Xander was born… Oh, was I wrong on all accounts. My oldest would ask to do school at least every other day. He loved our routine, he loved what he was learning, and that flame of learning had already been ignited, and he didn’t want it to go out, and I couldn’t be the one to extinguish it. Here I was thinking he’d love a break, he’d love to just play all day and not do a thing; next thing I know he’s picking up his own books and reading them to himself or to Holden, asking me to read to him, asking me to “do school today.” My idea of a break completely went out the window! So, we’d do school when he’d ask, and I realized my original “grand plan” back in November was not going to cut it come January. I went back to the drawing board and came up with another game plan:
- Go through the workbooks/printables I had collected for Ollie, rip the pages out of the books, organize them by easiest to hardest, and subject matter (if possible), and place them in a clear sleeve in a binder (preferably five pages to a day or more to offer variety). If possible, even attach some with sticky notes that could be used along with the book lists I designed back in November so he’d have something to do while I (or a relative who’s moving in with us for a month to help) read to him.
- Also, I went through all our supplies of art and craft items (glue, paint, foam cut outs of letters and images, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, construction paper, etc.) and stocked up on what I was short on. If I (or my family helping) needed a break and Ollie wanted to do something more constructive and independent, I could just lay it all on the table and let him go to town without needing much from me other than a little supervision.
- Going through the kiddos’ art supplies gave me a light bulb moment to where I could probably organize at least two coloring pages, two arts and crafts, and one book with activity planned out per day in the same binder I had originally created for the “To-Read” list. (I doubted this would work for every day, but the beauty is that it can always get pushed back, or pulled ahead, and I had options available for my kiddo other than the iPad or TV. It also gave options to those helping us the month of January into February to easily find something entertaining to do with Ollie).
But, those are my plans, at least as to what might help gain our sons some sort of stability, some sort of scheduling, but also make my life easier as I try to maneuver this new world of having three sons, a lively dog, managing our home, homeschooling, and being a good wife and partner to an amazing husband. Some of it might work, some of it might not. But, the beauty of homeschooling, the beauty of adding a curve ball to our routine, is that we get to try new things, and we get to explore these new ventures as a family. God planned our family, we didn’t, and it’s all been amazing exploring His plan for us as a growing family. We trust in Him to help guide us, because no matter how much organizing I do, there’s no way to plan for it all. I just pray that what I have put together will help make things a tad bit easier on me, the husband, the boys, and those coming to help us for the month. Either way, everything is in God’s hands, and that puts my heart and mind at ease.