Tuesday, 24 April 2007

A timetable for organisation

It's Tuesday. It's 48 hours since Nanjo left to be a mature student somewhere in Warwickshire and the house is descending into its usual chaotic condition. While she's here, Nanjo organises everything and this is a very good thing. But when she leaves, nothing gets done. There's a lot of boiled tinned tomatoes to eat, a lot of laundry on the floor and a lot of Squirrel, Shark and Tiger slamming around the house having big fights.

So for the days we are at home and not out at lessons or visits, I resolve to be more organised, like Nanjo, and everything will get better. I have made a timetable based on what Nanjo does. This is a timetable of How To Be Organised On The Days We Are At Home. I promise to do it all. Honestly.

1. 8.30 Plan the day. This is why Nanjo can fit in twenty impossible things before tea time. She plans. She doesn't get distracted, wander around the house vaguely and, when she walks into a room, say existential things like 'Why am I here?'

2. 9.00 Ask the children what they would like for tea after breakfast. This is a very good trick. Their tummies will be full and so they will say something like 'bananas' or 'toast' and this makes tea possible and their responsibility when they don't like it. So I can say 'Here are your bananas and toast', and when they complain it is not cheesy rice, lentil dip, or three-coloured home made pasta, I can say, 'It's what you asked for'. Most importantly, it leaves time in the afternoon when I am not preparing tea to achieve Other Things.

3. 10.00 Set up an activity that works. Do not get out the Teach Yourself Physics book and attempt to read and understand the theory of gravity while simultaneously reading the instructions on the Have Fun With Physics box that came from the Oxfam shop last year for only 99p because all the rubber bands are missing. Any activity set up like this will fail. Nanjo says that having a sense of achievement early in the day is A Good Thing, so do something you know will work and everyone will like, because this prepares the ground for Organisational Rule Number 4.

4. 12.00 Give the children an activity that does not work. Provide them with an egg timer and suggest they time how long it takes a flower bud to open. They will scamper off into the garden, spend 20 minutes looking for a dandelion, stand on it by accident, lose the egg timer, get distracted and start playing Unicorns Fighting in the Mud. While they are about the impossible task, get out the physics book and make lunch. If there is a fight, haul one in to chop onions, even if we are not eating onions today.

5. 1.00 Run a lesson over lunchtime. Read aloud from the Teach Yourself Physics book while the audience is captured and their mouths are full, so they can't answer back.

6. 2.00 Go out, even if it is a stay-at-home-day. Walk to the Post Office and buy a stamp. Walk to the corner shop and buy more onions. Walk to the library and return the overdue fairy books. When the ordeal is over, all agree that we have achieved something, and it didn't take hours. This is good for team-building and morale. Now tell them to go off to play, and do Organisational Rule Number 7.

7. 4.00 Do the Other Things while the children are playing. This is a sub-list and includes things like: Ring the Environmental people at the Council and ask for a sticker for the bin because they won't collect it without one. Email Jo, aka Pied Wagtail, and say we would like to come to the Kestrel display. Ring the dentist and rearrange the appointment because I am a chicken.

8. 5.00 Get out the bananas and toast and say 'It's what you asked for'.

9. 6.00 Demand that it's Dig's turn to look after two, and grab the remaining child for one-to-one time.

10. 7.00 Do the boring things like putting the unicorns in the washing machine and the tea plates in the dishwasher. Do not say 'I will do it tomorrow'.

11. 8.00 Bathtime and story-reading. Now this is supposed to be Dig's area. I'll say no more. Theoretically any time now is for Grit to read the Teach Yourself Physics book in preparation for tomorrow, typeset another chapter of 'A Historic and Linguistic Analysis of Verbs', write about the lovely home educating day on the blog, hide in the bathroom and eat chocolate, or lie on the floor and drink wine.

12. 12.00 Go to bed, happy that a day of achievement has been had.

I'll try that tomorrow, then.


Michelle said...

And at what organisation rule number did it all go wrong?

Michelle said...

rofl - I've just noticed the following day was a Wednesday!