Well, we have made it back to the same hotel we started our DC lives in. We have survived and perhaps even thrived a little amidst the chaos and stress.  We have packed out of our house and once again living in hotel limbo before moving to our new location.  (To Pennsylvania, for those who are wondering. More on that another time.)

So, since we’ll be “starting over” in a few weeks in a new location, my mind has really been focused on our new year. New school year specifically, but also creating our lives in a new place. New routines. I really hate the word schedule – but yeah, that’s what I mean.

Our girls are older this time. More self sufficient. (And potty trained!!!!) More self entertained. Much more able to participate and help in family life. Really, they are fabulous helpers. But being older also means a bit more involved – schoolwork is a bit more intense and takes longer. Girls are involved in regular activities that require more time and organization. I’m working now too. Which takes more time away than I’d like. And which requires me to live much more tied to the clock than I prefer. But I’m also doing really great work for very good pay, and truly making a difference and helping people.  There are just a lot more balls in the air this time – and it’s important that I plan and prep how to keep them that way.

There are things I hope to do differently in our new home:

First of all, I hope we can make our homeschool time a little less stressful. It’s been quite a busy year and you guys know I’ve already talked about being behind. My first goal is to get all of that DONE. Then, with our new curriculum, I really focused on things that could be enjoyable and done together. I didn’t want to spend time doing work that was a drag for me to go through as well! I’m trying to get away from “busywork” and focus on true learning, though I know sometimes we’re going to NEED to do those worksheets – practicing math facts and writing skills, etc. I’m looking forward to a lot more exploring and field trip time in our new area! Because they are older and can read fairly well now, there is a lot more they can do independently (I am using a computer program for math, for example.) We also applied to join a co-op, which I truly hope will take some burden off, and I found an online scheduler/portfolio log type-program (more on that soon!) that I will use, since tracking is going to be very important in the homeschool laws in our new state.

I’m hoping that we can build in some cleaning help into our budget. Honestly, I really feel this is completely necessary- I just can’t do all that I’m doing and keep that big a house in liveable shape. I’m willing to go without a few things to have someone come in once a month and scrub toilets. I’ll start organizing this once we move in.

I’m also hoping to build in some “white space” in my day. I got very little of this in our time in DC (still don’t have it, since I’m sitting at a hotel, working my brains out while the girls are at camp!) Our financial needs were such that I needed to be that busy in DC, and I’m hoping that will slack off after we move. But also, I am going to need more time with the girls and with the hubby. We need “relaxation” in our home desperately. One thing that really worked here was going to a meal assembly prep place to create all of our meals monthly. (WHICH I LOVED, by the way. LOVED.) I haven’t found much like that locally, so I’m going to attempt to do it for myself. It’s not as easy to do that gluten-free, but I’m going to make a massive effort. I love just pulling a bag out of the freezer to defrost each morning. I LOVE not having to think about meal planning.

I am also hoping to build in an hour of “me time” to work each morning. I’ve learned in the past two years that I really need an hour of “personal thinking time” so that my brain can handle two extremely active, energetic girls in the morning. But also, I’m hoping this will helping me put a dent into my work so that I can feel less stressed by the never-ending todo list pulling at me while I do focus on school work. My ultimate goal is that if I do schedule that hour in daily – this massive pile of writing work that I’m so far behind in will eventually get caught up. Perhaps. One day before I turn 50. 🙂 And I can also use that time to keep myself focused on the Word as well.

A new idea I’ve wanted to implement for a while is starting to have “afternoon tea.” While I personally am not a huge fan of tea, my girls love having tea parties. And I’d really like to institute a 3pm break (when they normally snack anyway) for myself as well. This way I can get away from the computer and work a bit, and truly reconnect with my girls for a short time. I can make it their responsibility to “set up tea” every day (except for the hot tea) and I’ve even got my eye on an adorable tea set! They are growing up so fast, and I feel like I’m missing out. So, perhaps this tea time will turn into a great time to build up for future trust and communication when they get older.

And I really need to add in some form of exercise. I already know that I will be going even more focused into healthy living, etc because I consider myself “half-way to healthy.” I’ve been very focused on this and I am doing SOOOOoooooo much better than I was, but I really feel I have further to go. And now I feel like I am at the point where I need to start focusing on getting that number on the scale to go down once again and getting things firm and tone and reasonably close to where they ought to be! With our insurance, we actually get a deep discount at some gyms in the area, so we will check those out and see if it’s possible for us to join. (We’ve been told the Y is amazing there, as well.) I won’t be able to do high-impact, hard-core anything for a while, but I’d like to start out with some yoga classes. And get our girls into ballet – not only because they love it, but because I know how good it is for posture and poise! I want to model a healthy, active lifestyle for them, so they learn those good habits and see that as “normal” when they become an adult.

And I’ve got a bit of science to back up all those ideas. Here is a study that talks about how frequent breaks help keep kids focused. Really, how can adults be that much different? We need  breaks to rejuvenate and clear our minds. I know I do, at least. So I’m trying to think of our schedule with that in mind.