We have always been kind of nontraditional. My husband has worked many different shifts during our marriage and because we unschool, we have more freedom to arrange our routine around, so that the kids still get time with their Papa no matter how strange his current shift is. I seem to go through periods of time in which I embrace this, and then other times it is like I almost forget that we have always lived our lives a bit differently. I don’t know how that happens, how something I have lived for years just slips from my mind.
This year, my hubby has taken a new job and he works Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really long hours, but the rest of the week he is home. When most people ask what his schedule is like and they hear that, they seem to recoil in disgust. Ha. And I get that, for the average family that kids go to school (or even summer camp this time of year), that would mean they get to spend very little time with their kids. For us though, it works. We not only have more time with Papa around, but we have the weekdays during the school year when most places are close to empty, and more days to do family stuff. It has been working well for us.
We are night owls around here too. Going to bed is not always an easy thing to make myself do, even though I love sleep. Hubby is the same way. So we stay up late, and get up when either the baby or 3-year-old wakes up, which isn’t as much sleep as I might want, but it is just how my brain works right now.
Recently I have suffered from that whole things slipping from my mind syndrome. I don’t know what I make myself learn the same lessons over and over again. Some kind of self-torture is what that is. But it was as if I forgot that we live on our own schedule. We do not have to have dinner at 6, and kids asleep by 9. All of a sudden, I was stressed that things were not going by this typical societal schedule. That schedule just doesn’t fit us. We are a busy family, often out having fun and exploring new places, hiking, playing with friends, and any other adventures we can come up with. Because of our sleep schedules, and the fact that it is not fun to be stressed in the morning trying to get out the door in a hurry, we often don’t start our adventure until 1 or 2. Most of the time, the kids are not done after an hour or two. My kids tend to really dive into something and be super invested for a long time.
So when we walk in the door at 6 or 7 (or later even), then I was suddenly feeling stressed that dinner was not done yet and it is late, and we have to hurry hurry hurry. Hurry is just not a good word. It creates bad feelings. It tempts mom to yell, and kids to cry. I don’t like it, and I am purposely setting up our lives so we have to be in less of a hurry most of the time. Then I just give up on making food and get the kids a quick snack, and I just stuff my face full of potato chips. That is fun the first few times but then it gets old quick.
Then, suddenly the other day, the lightbulb went off (again!). We do not have to eat dinner at 6 o’clock. Heck, I don’t have to cook dinner at all as long as everyone has food to eat, even if everyone grabs something a different. My kids are not in bed by 9. That is not our life and it really never has been. I am putting pressure on myself for not living up to an idea that does not fit our family and never has. I gave myself permission to cook dinner at 8:30 at night. My husband walked in the door at 9:15 and I was just finishing up. We all sat down at the table (we don’t always do that) and enjoyed our family meal, and then I did the dishes. It was so relaxing, so freeing.
I can’t have my foot in two separate lives at one time; not happily at least. I can’t have one foot planted in the traditional 9-5 American family on a school schedule side, and the other on the radical unschooling, untraditional schedule that honors our individual personalities side and feel peaceful at the same time. I don’t have to conform. It feels good to embrace that. Now next time, I have to learn this lesson I can go back and read this and hopefully remember it a little faster.