If you’ve known me since 2007 or before, then you’ll know that I haven’t always been a good planner. (I was reminded of this, and wrote about it in a Facebook status today actually.) I wasn’t a natural at motherhood either. After my oldest child was born, I was the type that was completely rocked by the amount of work from just one child. I never had a clean house, I struggled to make dinner every-single-night, and I hesitated to make any plans because I was terrified of the amount of work it required to make it out of the house.
Fast forward 8 years, and I feel like a different person. I sympathize with the woman I was, but I don’t in anyway want to go back to that place of disorderly chaos – inner and outer mess.
I haven’t achieved perfection in planning, nor have I simply copied and pasted someone else’s plans. I’ve worked long and hard at understanding how I function – and how my children function too – and this work has led me to learn balance through Anchors and Hot Air Balloons.
What are Anchors?
Anchors have 2 definitions in my life. #1 an anchor is the one thing a day of the week is known for – it’s the main quality of that day that gives it purpose and holds it to the week.
- Monday: Prepare for piano and BSF
- Tuesday: Library day
- Wednesday: (HC)2 day
- Thursday: Stay home day
- Friday: Errand day
#2 an anchor is a full-stop and transition from one activity to the next within each day. There may be many of this type of anchor during any given day. So, from the morning free play to the morning lessons, there will be the anchor of snack time.
Anchor = full-stop, transition.
Something everyone needs (and wants) that is a neutral authoritative stopping point, like snacks times, meal times, bathroom breaks, outdoor time, quiet time, etc.
This type of anchor is flexible, and it is important to discern the use of a full-stop to change activities based on the personalities and number of people in the home. Some kids like them, and some don’t.
For instance, my daughter loves her freedom to learn and move through the different activities of the day – she doesn’t look forward to an external full-stop-transition that an anchor commands, but for my son he craves the distinct starts and stops that an external force puts into his activities. He doesn’t like the idea of having indefinite time to play with his Legos. He will nag me with words, begging for me to give him a time for a full-stop to do something else.
Instead of always giving him an anchor to look forward to like saying, “in an hour we will have a snack and then you can work on your Zolocolor” I will say something to encourage him to stay in the moment and simply enjoy what he is putting his mind and hands to. So, if he is playing with Legos I will create challenges for him to wrap his mind around in his building and designing, or I’ll praise him for taking the time to notice how the pieces fit together or the uniqueness of his creation. I don’t want to bring him down too soon.
This encouragement is what I think of as a Hot Air Balloon.
I help him stay in the height of an activity longer before coming down for a change.
Hot Air Balloon activities are the joyful extras in any day. I like to think of them as the surprise rewards of taking an extra 15 minutes to finish the chapter I’m reading in my current favorite book, or the spontaneous trip to the park, Dollar Tree, or grandma’s house just because we can.
For me, I tend to be like my son – I like to stay close to the full-stops. I don’t like to crash from the height of an activity so I limit my enjoyment of what I’m doing out of fear.
So as I plan for our quarter, I’m adding in the Hot Air Balloon idea to my weeks in order to stretch myself to grow in the areas that I’m weak.
3 practical things that will help me to more fully enjoy Hot Air Balloon moments are:
- Planning dinner the night before so that I’m not frustrated or pressured for time to come up with something at 3 in the afternoon when my kids are usually the happiest and most energetic. I want to be free to join in the dance party or run outside to take a deep breath with them – to be in the moment.
- Sticking with the major anchors of the week and not flexing on the essentials. I know that when I have wiggled around with our routine, I inevitably feel like a failure. Boundaries are meant to keep me safe. When I acknowledge and live within my boundaries (being sure not to create too many of them) I enjoy the safety and freedom of being well within.
- Writing out the schedule of what needs to be done for the next day every evening. Seeing the essentials on paper either limits or frees me depending on how much there is to do. If I don’t write things out ahead of time, I struggle with the fear of forgetting something, doing things in the wrong order, or beating myself up for some sort of false guilt. (When I don’t have clear boundaries – again – I tend to try to do all the things or be all the things to everyone. And then I need to go back to ending the struggle between good mom and bad mom.)
Anchors and Hot Air Balloons are my symbols (you can use them too) for balance.
For staying close to the ground and flying high in the sky. Balancing humanity and spirituality. Stewarding work and rest. Honoring highs and lows. Creating rhythm.
The challenge for this day in the #Back2School in #31Days series is to write out the Anchors for the week, begin to write out the Anchors in a single day (also known as our block schedule – post explaining this, coming soon), and record Hot Air Balloon moments.
This is Day 25 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.
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