Sometimes we have those days. Those days where everyone seems to go crazy, when the toys have lost their luster, everyone is looking for a way to irritate their siblings, days when craziness takes over. I've noticed a pattern about those days. They are the days I start without reading to my little girl first.
They are the days we are focused and my goals are set high. They usually come on the heels of a few really productive days. Now that we've been so productive for three days, I think, I should add in an extra history book, or do an extra math project with my oldest. By 9:30 am, the morning has started on its downward trajectory. By 10:30, everyone is frustrated. By lunch time, I'm ready to complain to anyone and everyone.
A while back, we started with Circle Time but my kids and I aren't that sort of people. One memorizes best by reading, another by writing, and only my little girl by hearing. Somehow, having your 4-year-old sister outshine you in poetry memorization is discouraging. The chaos that ensued from the way I implemented Circle Time defeated the whole purpose. We still do memory time, but usually in the car, and not in a circle. For us, it didn't work as a way to draw everyone together but as a way to highlight issues. Not the way I wanted to start my day.
We're in a rhythm that works now, starting the day off with a book for my little girl, her choice. Often, the big kids are still cleaning off the kitchen table by the time we're done. If the morning goes smoothly, she spends some time with us at the table, then some time playing on a blanket, before we all read together, with her on my lap, at Sonlight history time, and then finish the morning off with the two of us making lunch together.
If the morning goes poorly, I find something independent for the bigger kids to do, like math practice or alphabetizing spelling words, while spending special time with my little girl again. If the morning goes exceptionally poorly, and she has a really bad attitude, we make a coffee cake after I deal with the attitude. The bad attitude is usually the fruit, the root is needing mom. If she can't get mom with sweetness, then sourness comes out.
And so we found what works for us - savoring the little years, knowing they won't last forever, and that she needs me now, and that I am blessed to have her little today.