Wednesday, September 24, 2014


     Sometimes our schedule feels hectic. I begin to feel over committed, the children are constantly grouchy and we always feel tired. So, we back off a bit. We drop an activity here and there. The last time we did that, we dropped nearly everything that was directly related to school or church for almost two years.
     Our family was desperate for that time. We were having babies in the midst of our frantic lifestyle, I had two (minor) surgeries and battled cellulitis in a leg. There was no time off for anyone! Mr.TheZoo was working as much overtime as possible due to our property taxes rose, the gas prices were up again, the price of food was creeping up, and the electricity rates had made a significant jump. Children were growing and needing shoes and coats, etc. It was a crazy time. My family lives a couple of thousand miles toward the East, and Mr.TheZoo's family, though in the same 200 mile radius as us, are spread out and busy. For recovery time after surgery, my sweet MIL helped out for a few days. We don't have a spare bedroom, though, so she slept on the couch, and helped to look after the (five at the time) babies and kept up with the cooking, dishes, and laundry. She needed to go home after a few days too look after her kitties and take care of her own health, though, so I was on my own!
     We decided, just after our 6th zooligan was born, to take the 'frantic' out of the equation. After spending years doing the pregnancy waddle while chasing children across soccer fields, and dragging all of the children with me to grocery shop and anything I needed to do, we chose to slow it down.
     The decision to rest was made in prayer. We hadn't said anything to the children about it, when our oldest daughter approached us after a rather unhappy soccer season to request that we allow her to quit. After playing with the same team for 7 seasons, she was placed with a new team when her coach decided to pursue his daughter's select soccer career. The new team had been together for just as many seasons, and were a somewhat exclusive bunch. There were three new girls to the team that season. None of them were ever accepted into the fold. It was a sad situation. Mr.TheZoo and granted her request, and saw how it would begin to clear up our schedule. That meant two fewer practice days, and one fewer Saturday game.
     About the same time, I was researching symptoms and behaviors for our oldest boy, finding that he is certainly on the Autism Spectrum, with the likeliest diagnosis being Asperger's.  He had already been diagnosed as ADD with high anxiety when he was six. As he aged, and began to be able to communicate, or not, it was clear that something else was challenging his perception of, well, everything.
     Our break up with the rat race, meant that we had time to learn to understand our son, getting to know him and have some idea, at least, of how to help him succeed at being a friend, learn some academics, and how to show people in general some respect. It meant that we were able to have babies at home and play Candy Land (ugh) and listen to Veggie Tales all day (I actually enjoyed this, and we all still do. Who doesn't like a family chorus of I Love My Lips?)
     I was able to focus on the zooligans academic status, where they needed more instruction, where they should move ahead, what they enjoyed the most, and what the didn't enjoy much at all.
     This reflection on leaving behind the frantic days comes because I am feeling, this morning, like we are on the edge of frantic once again. The differences are that our youngest is 4 1/2 years old. Everyone can wipe their own behind and buckle their own car seats. They can all sit quietly for a while. The difference now is that instead of one older child, we have a college age zooligan and three older zooligans. Two of those older ones are middle school age. The activities are picking up, and we find ourselves running taxi service rather often. A blessing, though often seeming disguised, is that Mr.TheZoo's schedule is more predictable. Though he is scheduled for 12 hr work days, he generally works four days and had three off. This means that he is available to fix things at home, help with academics, and is able to sometimes take that one kiddo that doesn't have a class or activity, but is longing for some time doing something special. Even if that special time is running the garbage cans to the transfer station with Dad. It's always an adventure around here!
     Though our schedule has ramped up again, the children are older and take more responsibility. The zooligans that have the most extracurricular activity have earned the privilege of being transported to meetings and events by keeping up with their responsibilities, with the understanding that if they seem overwhelmed, we'll lay out their schedule and decide what activity needs to be dropped.
     Here's hoping we continue to make responsible choices with our time. Even more, praying that we help our children to make responsible choices with theirs.

What do you do to keep your schedule and family activities from overwhelming  your days?


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