Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dealing with Interruptions

Our life is full and amazing. I love where we live, I love my job, and I love the opportunity to stay home with my kids. But working and schooling in your home has it's drawbacks. Especially when your home is in a neighborhood, with lots of other people, and in the city.

Imagine this scenario:
You are at home with 4 kids. You have been busy all morning with school, playing with kids, etc. You finally get two of your children down for a nap, and have the third quietly playing and temporarily distracted long enough for you to give instruction to the oldest who needs some assistance with a school assignment. The moment you sit down to start a lesson, someone knocks loudly at the door. Luckily the dog isn't roused, so you try to ignore it and get on with the lesson. Your neighbor peeps through the window in your front door and sees you. They think you might not have heard them, so they knock louder and ring the doorbell repeatedly. This makes your dog VERY angry. He barks LOUD. Nothing you can do will make him be quiet. This makes your 3 year old VERY excited (the one who you finally had quietly entertained in the other room). Your three year old runs in the room and starts squealing with excitement and starts running laps around the house with his new burst of energy rustled up by all the excitement of having a random uninvited person at the door. The commotion wakes up your toddler and baby. They are both upset because they did not get enough sleep. The baby will go back to sleep, but your toddler is stubborn and has decided he has had enough nap for the day even though he was only out for 10 minutes. You will have to battle and negotiate for another 45 minutes to an hour to get your house back to the peaceful rest that it was at before the door was knocked on by the intruder. You finally get your neighbor pacified about whatever they felt was important enough to knock on my door for (asking for my husband when his car is obviously NOT HERE? REALLY?!). 

Repeat scenario when the UPS guy knocks and disappears and leaves the kids mystified by the mysterious box that magically showed up on the doorstep. 

Now that we have had our fourth baby, and have just recovered from the infancy of our 3rd, I think it's really time that I crack down on distractions. I hate to say it, but I don't often feel the sanctuary of my house as a home until the late hours of the evening. Taking a shower is an obstacle I'm not always sure I want to endure. Aside from the normal millions of things that can happen with my children, it seems that the moment I jump into the shower, the doorbell rings, my dog needs to go out, my phone starts ringing, the neighborhood kids want to play, etc. The fact that a shower is such a challenging thing, makes me wonder how we even get school accomplished some days. There is seriously someone always calling, always knocking at our door, someone always needs something.

My husband is a pastor and we do our best to be available to the community and to be a light in our neighborhood. We do not mind feeding the needy, helping those who need help, listening to those who need to talk, having friends and family over, etc. I love that we've always had an open door policy. But our family has very important needs as well.

I am actively learning how to place healthy boundaries that protect and appoint value the needs of my family. I am now learning that our "open door" needs hours of operation. My kids education would not be interrupted and compromised by neighbors, solicitors, and friends if they were away at school during the day. And I need to do a better job protecting their learning time. I also need to do a better job protecting our family's private time. You know things are getting bad when a bi-weekly shower is an impossibility if my husband is not home.

My first step to helping establish boundaries around our homeschool day,  to hopefully preserve the peace at home, and to help preserve the flow of the day, is to make a sign for the front door. One side will be the "No Solicitors and do not disturb" side and the other side will be the "Welcome" side. I feel like this will give healthy boundaries to our "open door" policy, will help preserve the sanctuary of our home, and will help protect that sanctity of our school/work day. I'm going to go hit up the dollar store today to see if they have a simple lap-chalk board that I can use a paint pen on. I'll post a photo of my finished product when it's finished, and will post about the results. I hope and pray that this is a gentle and kind reminder to those that we love in our life to give my children and my self the space we need to thrive.

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