Avoiding the Scheduling Extremes :: BuJo Setup Mini Series

May 2016 165

Confession: I’m just a woman who learns from all my many (daily) planning failures; I’m really not a scheduling guru.

Also, I’m pretty normal when it comes to busy seasons of life – I fall into the lazy mode of letting things coast. Have you been lured into the “schedule-break” temptation too? The bait goes something like this:

“Living moment by moment isn’t so bad! Things are getting done, taking a break from writing out a ‘week at a glance’ isn’t a big deal, and I’ll remember that appointment – no need to write it down.”

After giving into these thoughts for weeks (or even months!), I wake up one day way too stressed for the level of activities in my life and way too overwhelmed by the amount of list-items swirling around in my head.

The pendulum has swung and I’ve gone from one extreme to the other – hyper-scheduling to under-scheduling.

When I swing too many times, I go a little bit nuts and start to think in extremes:

“I’ll never be able to manage our calendar.”

“I will always fall behind on laundry.”

“I never remember to take our library resources back on time.”

“I’m always running late for our appointments.”

And this is when I have to admit to myself (and others) that I need a Bullet Journal intervention. I need to stop avoiding the work, stop neglecting the truth – that organization is best in small daily doses, and stop over taxing my brain by trying to just remember it all. Just by spending 15 minutes per day, I can completely order my life and trade my crazy for calm.

Have you tried using a Bullet Journal? Do you use it for your calendar too? If so, do you copy your schedule in multiple places? Does that help? Why or why not?

I want this series to be super practical, and that means addressing potential setbacks before you even begin. The swinging back and forth between the scheduling extremes is common. Don’t feel bad about doing this in the past. Now I want to give you some ideas to think about. I call these questions The Big Jump. (Soon I’ll focus on the baby steps.)

I need to set aside an hour to have a JDM – Journal Defining Moment. This is when I decide what the scope of my BuJo (Bullet Journal) will be. I answer these questions:

  • Will my BuJo be my calendar too?
  • Do I need to write out the months in advance or just each week?
  • What other planners and/or organizers am I currently using? Are they working?
  • Am I going to include journaling space too?
  • What categories of my life will go into this BuJo? Homeschooling? Personal Growth? Family Activity Calendar? Business Goals? Etc.
  • Do I feel creative and what tools do I want to try to use? Am I satisfied with this BuJo being plain?
  • Is it important to me to be economic or visually appealing* with my entries?
  • What “Mom Bag” will I use to carry it in and will I commit to taking it everywhere? (This may seem like an unnecessary question but I will address why it’s a big jump question later on.)

* I say visually appealing not creative because even though I can create some pretty pages sometimes, my right hand tends to shake and I can’t guarantee pretty handwriting all the time. I like to use markers and larger point pens because when I write too small, the strain hurts my hand too much. SO. I will never be the person who can boast of being a closet hand-letter-er. But I do like to make my pages visually pleasing to me. Meaning: Spacious, colorful, and clearly readable. I tried being super efficient with my pages for a while – cramming more than one day or more than one list onto a single page and that made me crazy. You, however, may feel more productive setting yours up this way. You do you.

Can you think of other questions that would be important for your personality to think through before you take a big jump into a new BuJo? List it out and face it before you start! This will set you up for personal success. Many times I look at other Pinterest-worthy BuJos and think “Oh…in a perfect world, I would just copy their set-up!” But they don’t have 4 kids, or work 3 jobs, or their spouse works from home and their home set up is catastrophically different than mine!

Hear me: To successfully set up YOUR BuJo, you have to do it for YOU. Copying mine or even the expert BuJos online will only set you up to quit a quarter of the way through it.

And I bet you know what that means.

You will feel like a failure, let your scheduling slide, and wind up stressed and overwhelmed a-g-a-i-n.

And one more tip before you start the next step: don’t take the Big Jump until the timing is right for you. How do you know if the timing is right?

Easy:

  • If you are reading this post and thinking: Wow, that’s really great for her. It sounds like she’s really thought this through. I may give that a try sometime. THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU.
  • But if you are reading this post and thinking: She’s reading my mind. I need to start this process yesterday! I’m ready to do this for ME. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU.

Ready for more? The mini series will continue! Did you miss the first post in this series? Click here. Want to see what tools I use? I wrote about them here. 

Back to School Supplies for Homeschool Moms

Nothing says back to school like a package of Crayola crayons for 25 cents.

But I didn’t buy those. (Maybe you don’t need to either.)

I already went back to school shopping for my kids’ supplies and I bought one measly package of pencils. Because, as it turns out, that’s all we really need.

As a homeschool mom, I get to design our back to school supply list. And boy am I glad I do.

I don’t have to buy washable markers, glue sticks, and a hundred #2s. I don’t have to buy anything we don’t need or won’t use. Sure, I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t use crayons (last year’s box of crayons – bought during “Back to School” – is still unopened).

I can wait for the crazy Amazon deals on Prismacolor and stock up in October because that’s when we will need them.

Also, we don’t have to worry about buying uniforms, Under Armor (or whatever other brand is currently “the coolest”), 2 pair of new shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, or whatever else is now “last years” and therefore insufficient for this fall.

I can buy clothes when we need them, cater to our tastes, and use last year’s (or even many years ago) because it still works!

All of this not buying leaves a lot of room for the things that really matter to me.

Here’s what I bought for my back to school supplies:

A nice journal – for my Bullet Journal.

Sharpie pens – for writing everything because I don’t like to use ballpoints or gel. (I prefer blue ink simply because I think blue looks happier than black.)

Prismacolor Markers (Just $5.95 right now! Check the price before you click; subject to change.) – for writing titles and creating other little designs in my BuJo.

Great coffee – for the beauty of it! I love coffee, and I simply adore drinking coffee from a pour over like this one.

A Happy Life Planner – for my calendar and school planner. (More about why I’m using a Bullet Journal and a Planner in my BuJo Series!)

A book that is just for me. I know this season will get busier than I will be able to handle. It will be easy to fly through my days checking boxes and showing up for appointments. But I don’t want to lose touch with my inner self through this season. So, I make sure to pick a title that deeply speaks to me me – not mommy me, wife me, or educator me. I want to make sure that I leave room in my days for at least 10 minutes to pour inspiration into my heart and soul or none of this whole “back to school” thing will be very fulfilling. (This book is also in addition to my daily Bible reading! I simply can’t emphasize the importance of being spiritually healthy!) **See my 2017 list of books here.**

YL SM Savvy Verb

Savvy Minerals – for the perfect mixture of self-care and dignity! I am more prone to be productive when I feel put together for the day. I just recently switched to Young Living’s makeup line because they are chemical free! It’s seriously the best makeup on the market – for you and your daughters! Watch this super short video to learn more about Savvy Minerals. Your health may thank you for the switch. Sign up or browse Young Living’s website now.

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Products to help me feel as comfortable as possible during “that time of the month” – for goodness’ sake!!! After four kids, I have ample reasons for needing support for this time. Watch my video to learn more about what I’m using!

The whole line of KidScents Oils – for my peace of mind and my kids’ comfort and health!

So what’s your Back to School plan?! Whatever you need, want, buy — don’t forget to take care of YOU. Because a healthy mom will be a better homeschooling mom than one who neglects her own care.

Cheers to the new homeschool year!

 

Whose planner is it anyway? (BuJo Series Intro)

BuJo Setup Series Intro

The Bullet Journal (affectionately nicknamed BuJo) is a powerful tool, and you’ve probably either tried it or have heard enough about it that you’re curious to find out what it is.

There’s no shortage of Pins or posts on the topic to help you on your way. This post will probably rank 200,000 on a Google search.

That’s okay.

This isn’t a “How To,” or a “List of Supplies.” I won’t be telling you how to design your spreads. (Although those posts are coming for those who are interested.)

Before I begin this BuJo Setup Mini Series, I want to put a question out to you – Whose journal is it anyway?

I’m creating the perfect setup for me. This is the 4th journal I’ve started using the main BuJo ideas. I’ve changed each journal with use. I like following some of the “rules” and not others. (I don’t think I ever want to migrate a list again.)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is my journal. I’ve made the adjustments I’m going to detail in this series because they better served me. But I’m not saying that this series will be pointless to the greater world.

What I want you to remember from now through the end of the series is that your BuJo will only serve you if you take the time to process what tips and tools will help you make it yours.

Sounds silly to take the time to write this out, but I’m writing from personal failure. I have put my BuJo on a shelf for weeks because I thought I wasn’t using it “correctly” only to realize that I was trying to use someone else’s journal (of course, I do not mean literally).

And can I just pick on the idea of “failure” for a second?

Good. Thanks.

Who says it’s a failure if I try to use washi tape and it looks silly? What if I use a different pen and my handwriting looks wobbly? Or if I title a spread and see that it’s off center?

These and so many other mishaps happen to me. I’m not a natural born scrapbook visionary. I don’t see blank journal space as an opportunity to showcase my vision for a beautiful layout of colors, stickers, etc.

But I do like to look at beautiful things! I try little ways to make my journal more visually pleasing.

So, from the beginning of my journal creation, I set my standard at “plain with purpose” and I own the fact that I’m not going to secretly wish for a vivid, colorful, impressive display of book art. This journal is going to serve me by being my brain on paper, and if I can keep my standard in the right place then I will be so much more likely to just grab it and write as often as I need to. This, to me, is BuJo success.

Are you ready to dig in?

My goal is to inspire you to think, not copy. I want you to design a BuJo that will call to you. One that will be so easy to write in that you wonder how you ever lived without your brain on paper. It may be decked out in all the Hobby Lobby glam, or it might be a college ruled spiral notebook and pencil. Whatever it is, I want it to be yours. The more you write in it, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s get started!

Watch my videos on YouTube for more thoughts and tips!

Read all my previous posts on the Bullet Journal:

Hoopla is not a sport.

This is the year of READ. I’ve known since January that books would be a major part of this year’s landscape. But quickly after finishing 3 physical books in February, I entered a different stage of development with my baby and found that I no longer had the luxury of holding her and a book at the same time. For whatever reason, it seemed that my reading days were over.

That is until I started using Hoopla.

I don’t exercise. I know I should and I regularly mourn my lack of athleticism – if only I had been trained in a sport while a child, then I think I would more naturally fall back into an active lifestyle.

But sports aren’t the subject of today’s post! (Thank goodness.)

It’s HOOPLA. To me, that sounds like hula-hoop which conjures up images of physical activity. But that’s not even close to Hoopla.

**Disclosure: this is NOT an affiliate post, it isn’t sponsored in any way. I’m just truly enthusiastic about this tool.**

Hoopla is an app that I use to access resources and borrow them using my library account!

How cool is that? I signed up, entered my library card, and now I can borrow audio books (8 per month) and listen wherever and whenever it works for me – all from my phone! All for FREE.

I have found hours per day that I can dedicate to listening to books.

  • Getting ready in the morning
  • Feeding my baby
  • Washing dishes
  • Preparing dinner
  • Folding laundry
  • And during many other chores too

In one month, I was able to finish 4 audio books primarily because I replaced podcast listening with book listening. This has been so personally empowering for me. I’ve learned so much, grown in my thought life, and felt productive and reflective more than if I had just tuned out or scrolled Facebook during the times when I had “down time.” Instead, I would choose from a few of my current books to cater to my mental state – feeling tired? I would listen to fiction (Pride & Prejudice). If I was feeling chore-hungry, I would listen to The Happiness Project or The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Feeling discouraged in my motherhood stage? I listened to Desperate or The Life Giving Home.

To see more of what I have read and what I am reading – check out the post that started it all this year here.

And below are the screenshots of what some of these titles look like on my phone – it really is super simple to use.

Will you Hoopla? Let me know!

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Extras to Earn, Not Expectations to Receive :: A Week of Boundaries

leaving the house and boundaries

I read Boundaries with Kids in February (which feels like so long ago!).

While I felt like I understood the concepts, I floundered on the follow-through. I could see the issues described in the book being played out in my home, and like the true brainiac that I am – I just watched and I couldn’t seem to connect the dots.

I felt like I couldn’t come up with consequences that made sense. My kids would cross boundaries and disobey while I just watched, feeling paralyzed.

Instead of being constructive, I lectured and over explained how their actions made me feel. I saw their little eye glaze over again and again. Here she goes again… I reacted with words which doesn’t help at all. (And now I know better. This is explained in detail in the book.)

For a couple weeks, I felt like a train wreck.

So I did the only thing that made sense: I prayed.

Help me, Lord! I am so broken and needy. I know what’s right but I can’t do it! I keep repeating the same mistakes. I want to love my children by creating and maintaining loving limits but I honestly don’t know how.

For weeks, I felt like my prayers were going unanswered.

I was grasping at straws.

Then I saw our routine chart (you know, the one we never use and have visually learned to “not see” anymore – yeah, that one), and I realized that I had already done the work of creating boundaries. No reinventing the wheel necessary.

So, now I had my boundaries clearly laid out, but what about consequences for crossing the boundaries? Because as the authors said “It’s their job to cross the boundaries.”

And then I realized that the consequences should be the loss of the regular, weekly extra activities that we enjoy. In my desire to shower my kids with comfort and joy (great things!), I made the “extra activities” in our life the expected activities or dare I say the entitled activities. For example, a trip to the library is great! And when you take due dates into view, a trip is a need. But do we need to go there or do we want to? For us, the line between needs and wants in our schedule was blurred.

Not only was our schedule a blur, but our household chores were getting muddy too. Because there weren’t consequences for failing to follow through on tasks, I was turning to money to motivate them to obey. When I would engage with my older kids (7 and 9 years) to train them in some personal responsibility, they were beginning to expect monetary rewards instead of just doing the tasks for the sake of obedience. So, I allowed my lack of boundaries to fool me into the mindset that I should try to bargain, bribe, or beg them to obey.

And I’m not joking! The words: I’m begging you! Were becoming a part of my weekly vocabulary.

(Whoa.)

I took a hard look at my own life: why is this behavior so important to me? What is most important to my kids? How can I move them from consuming our schedule, home, resources, etc. to contributing to these? What will motivate and correct?

I already learned that money didn’t work. Like a cupcake with too much frosting, they bit a little and then scraped the extra off and continued without changing the behavior I was trying to change.

So, I considered my life again but more practically. If I want to enjoy something, what has to happen? If I want to have a peaceful morning, I put in the work the night before to wash pans, tidy up, and write the plan.

Plain old life requires work, but there are natural rewards in that work too – like peace!

(Lightbulb.)

I decided that I needed to train my kids to see life’s rewards as extras to earn not expectations to receive.

And this week has been so different.

Monday: I wanted to follow the routines. Now hear me, I’m a flexible person. I’m not hyper strict about most things. I enjoy my Type B personality (or my adult ADD) most of the time. So to reward my kids for their participation in our daily responsibilities, I said that I would take them to a new play place by 2pm as long as we each put our responsibilities first. I built free time into the schedule too. There was no need for anyone to feel burdened, just loosely guided.

One additional condition was kindness. No out of control arguments. I’ve been working for months on training my little people to treat each other with kindness and respect, to see and anticipate the needs and feelings of each other.

They were on board and super excited to go and play! What a treat. Usually Mondays are “stay home” days.

But they argued – again and again. I had to correct and redirect. I warned without lecturing or showing any emotion, until finally I had to say “You’ve lost the privilege. We will not be going to the play place.”

Boy, was it hard to stick to this consequence! They straightened right up, got back on track, and asked again if we could still go. Considering the fact that we actually hadn’t fallen behind in our routine. We could still make it – no harm, no foul. But I couldn’t give in or change my mind.

This is vital to establishing real boundaries. Boundaries that are consistent.

I told them that we could find another time in our week to add in this fun extra, but that they would have to continue to show me that they could respect the routine.

Tuesday: Library day. They couldn’t keep it together. Squabbles and dawdles robbed them of their “need” to go to the library.

At this point, I could see that I was really getting through to them. Not only was I being firm on the limits of their behavior, but I was being loving! I was calm, compassionate, and willing to listen to them. I wasn’t willing to compromise or change my mind. I asked for the routine to be followed without fighting (little arguments and disagreements aside – they are kids for heaven’s sake), and I meant it.

Wednesday: we got out of the house and enjoyed a little perspective from the outside, which brings us to Thursday and the picture of us leaving the house!!!

We enjoyed the library and the play place! We got out of the house (easily!!) by 9am with chores done and no fighting!

Am I being too strict? Is it fair to cancel plans and make they follow the routine? (Side note: we [my older kids and I] created this routine together, so this isn’t just a “my way or the highway” plan. It’s a collaboration.) I don’t think so.

This is parenting. 

 

*I am not a parenting expert. This post isn’t written to diagnose or treat any parenting issues. If you see yourself in my experience or my kids’ behavior, I pray this post will encourage and not discourage. I would love to connect with you personally too! Click here to read my previous post reviewing the book on Boundaries with Kids.

Boundaries with Kids :: A Brief Book Review

Boundaries with Kids

Very few rules with very great follow-through.

That was my parenting motto before reading Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I felt like a pretty good parent with the exception of the occasional hormonal outburst when I felt like my brain and my mouth weren’t connecting very well.

I wasn’t sure how much I was really going to learn about parenting from this book, but I was given a copy and encouraged to read it. So, I did even though I usually avoid all parenting books.

Why?

Well, it definitely isn’t because I came naturally to motherhood or boundaries.  And I’m sure pride does play a major part in my previous avoidance of all books in the “parenting” category, but the bottom line for my aversion was fear. Fear of knowing more than I could do.

For me, consistency is huge. Follow-through is one of the foundational building blocks for trust, and I want my children to trust me almost more than I want them to love me (or maybe real trust is real love).

Selfishly then, I try to do my best on my own with what I already know so that I’m not over burdened by all the wonderful opinions and advice contained in all the popular parenting manuals. Because if I know better but can’t perform better then I’ll be too discouraged to even try.

Not to mention the confusion of conflicting messages contained within the top 5 books. Each book forms an “exclusive club” – spankers, praisers, behavior modifiers, etc. I didn’t want to feel conflicted by the pressure to be a purist in any single method.

But Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend was a lot more than just a parenting method book. This resource contains a wealth of information on how to define healthy boundaries, how to unpack the principles of healthy boundaries, and how to execute the principles.

Often when we are speaking on the topic of kids and boundaries, a mom will ask for help with a problem: “I set the boundaries for behavior for my child. But she keeps crossing them. What do I do?” The answer is, “That’s what is supposed to happen. You are the parent. You have a job. You job is to set the limits and enforce the consequences in love. She is the child. She also has a job. Her job is to test the limits many times with her active aggression and thereby learn about reality, relationship, and responsibility. It’s the divinely ordered training system.”

This quote contains the main concept of the book. The authors did a thorough job of answering my top questions: Why do we need boundaries? How are boundaries different than “rules?” What does it look like to set and maintain boundaries? And will there be growth and fruit in the parent-child relationship because of boundaries?

I discovered that I over empathize with my children’s emotions. The scenario of a crying three-year old when mommy leaves the house really hit home with me, and I had to take a hard look at some of the ways I project my feelings (adult size) onto my child. Doing this isn’t fair to the child and it isn’t helpful for building reliable (and loving) limits.

Speaking of “loving limits” – this reminds me so much of the children’s program in BSF. If you want to find a Bible study that has child care, check out Bible Study Fellowship. Their children’s leaders follow such beautiful guidelines for working with and training children that I often felt like this book and their manual could be complimentary. (BSF children’s leaders are some of my very favorite people!)

The other major wake up call for me was in identifying that my children are often passive boundary crossers. Oh my, isn’t it so sneaky how our bent towards self and sin can be masked by being compliant? This section is contained later in the book and up until this point I was reading along with a (slight) chip on my shoulder, thinking we were doing pretty good. I don’t have the kid that throws a WWIII level tantrum in the grocery store – so I’m good!  

Ugh. Nope.

I now think that how my children behave (and how I’ve trained them to behave) is harder to correct than a child who needs to be redirected in their active boundary crossing.

{Groan.}

While this has created more work for me and has opened my eyes to see the change that needs to happen, it has birthed enough hope and desire for healthy relationships that I feel motivated to work on establishing healthy boundaries. Besides, this is the year of GROW, right? It all fits.

There were a few things that I didn’t love about the book though, and it took a lot of concerted effort to finish this book. (I was often tempted to put it down in favor of lighter, more entertaining reading.) But I want to FINISH what I start this year. I want to follow through on even the little things that I start. This is part of how I measure growth in my own life.

Here are the ways I feel like the book fell short of being the “perfect” parenting book:

  • There aren’t enough stories. The stories that are included mainly focus on working out boundaries and consequences with teenage kids. Some of the most powerful applications of consequences were dependent on the child having to stay home alone while the rest of the family enjoyed an outing.
  • The conversations included from their own younger children didn’t feel organic. I felt like I was reading “staged” material.
  • When scripture was included, it was used to support their principle without much context or explanation of the verses. I felt like they could have developed the connection using scripture as their starting point.
  • I was hoping for more practical ideas for consequences. I’m not creative enough to figure out a consequence that will really teach. A “time out” sometimes is exactly what my 9 year old introvert wants! Win win for her, she disobeyed and got alone time too! I was looking for ideas on how to correct without being too complacent or too strict.

I do recommend this book, especially for anyone struggling with discerning where their identity stops and where their child’s starts. It’s all too easy to get emotionally tangled up in doing our very best for our kids. But like it was pointed out in the book, my parenting is temporary. The goal is to raise an adult with healthy boundaries.

Check out Boundaries with Kids. And check out what I’m reading this year!

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Year Round School Schedule (A Step By Step Guide)

hsp-year-roundRaise your hand if you’ve been the mom who took a break from routine only to have to enter the war zone of re-establishing expectations with your kids.

You want to enjoy a summer break just like your public schooled friends, but by mid-June there are already signs that this whole “break” idea is ruining everything. The house is a mess, no one wants to do chores, screens are the norm, and there’s nothing predictable about the days or weeks.

My kids like the idea of “no school” but in reality they are healthier and happier if we remove the idea of “school days” and “non-school days.” We are always learning, and I’ve seen the proof that they are happier when we maintain a rhythm for our days and weeks regardless of the time of year.

Enter the concept: year round schooling.

This year, we have been following the year round school schedule by adopting the 6 term structure.

And I’ve received many questions about how we do this.

So, here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by looking up the number of school days required for one year in your state.
  2. Divide that number by 5. (There are five school days in each week.) The answer equals the number of weeks you will need to schedule as “school days.”
  3. Minus the number of school weeks from the total number of weeks in a year. (Ex. 52 weeks in a year – 36 school weeks = 16 break weeks)
  4. Decide on the on/off rhythm that will work best for you. (6 weeks on, 1 week off; 12 weeks on, 2 weeks off, etc.)
  5. Look at a year at a glance calendar, and begin to mark off break weeks for holidays first. I chose to start at Christmas for scheduling our year and marked off 2 weeks there then counted backwards.
  6. Pick one whole month (or more depending on how you schedule) as your break month. We scheduled this for June last year because that’s when I gave birth to baby #4.
  7. Keep a record. It doesn’t matter what educational philosophy you adhere to, I believe you should write down what you’re learning individually and as a family. This helps to ease anxiety and prove the quality of the lifestyle of learning in the home.

To double check that you’ve scheduled the right amount of break days, do the math: 365 days in a year minus the number of days required equals the number of days you have for “break” days. Note: this number will include all weekends and holidays.

We treat “school days” as days when we formally record lessons and learning, and “break days” as special family days. I plan extra fun activities that we aren’t already doing on a week to week basis. We like to schedule movie days, game days, trips to the beach, bowling, and lots of other extra curricular activities during these weeks.

Want to see what I mean? Here’s a look inside my planner:

You can also read Mystie Winkler’s “A Year-Round Homeschool Schedule” for more help and explanation on how to do this.

The deeper I dive into this homeschool world, the more I move away from the traditional model of education, and the happier I become.

I hope this post helped clarify the concept of year round school scheduling. If it did, I would love to hear from you in the comments! If it didn’t, please leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

Want to read more? Check out the Homeschool Planning Tips Series:

Enjoy your learning journey!