We are finishing our first year in Classical Conversations and these are some things I have learned (the hard way) that help me (and my kids) live through CC days.
1. Get everything ready the night before.
Lunches, snacks, sippy cups, presentations, book bags, tin whistles, clothes, shoes, my purse, etc.: it all really needs to be found, collected, finished, prepared, and laid out the night before. It takes no less than one hour to do it all. On the days I wait to do even a portion of the prep in the morning, I run late and/ or forget something. So I do as much as I possibly can the night before. If I could put the ice packs in the coolers the night before without having them melt, I would. The less I have to do in the morning, the better, it seems, because even with prep, it still takes me ten-twenty minutes and several trips to get everything and everyone to the van. And even on the days I do prepare, I have still been late for other reasons. All that said, getting to CC on time and with everything, starts the night before.
2. Get up way before the kids do.
I like to sit and drink coffee and read my Bible and then check my email and Facebook in the morning, maybe even read a little from another book. To do that on CC days, I need extra time. So I get up an hour before I will need to be making breakfast and I need to make breakfast about an hour before I need to getting everyone out the door, so I get up two hours before I leave. That way, I can have a relatively normal morning before the rush. If I didn’t do this, I would resent CC all day for taking away my morning. That’s just me.
3. Pack the right snacks and drinks for yourself.
Thankfully, my CC group lets the kids bring a snack. But I also get really hungry right around 10:30 and it’s hard to concentrate when my stomach is growling so hard. It helps if I have a hard boiled egg or a handful of almonds and cranberries to snack on, something with protein.
I also try and bring in a thermos of coffee (if I don’t get to sit and have a regular morning and drink my coffee before I have to leave for CC.) If I can’t bring coffee, I can make it in our facility’s kitchen, thankfully. CC days are not the day to deprive yourself of food and/or caffeine. Putting your body under that kind of physical stress will make everything else that’s stressful about CC even more stressful. That’s my experience.
4. Expect your kids to misbehave.
I know they say kids rise to the level of your expectations. Well, my kids never met my expectations because I think I was expecting unrealistic things from them. I wanted all three of them to get through every single CC day without misbehaving at all. I spent the first half of this year totally exasperated by my kids’ behavior. I had serious anxiety before every CC day and then serious anger afterward. I tried to coach them through the day and prevent them from doing anything wrong. I hovered a lot. I was contemplating quitting CC because I was so stressed out every time. If I had quit, I wouldn’t have to continue dealing with my daughter interrupting her tutor or scratching her butt in public or giving another kid the cold shoulder, etc. But that would have been the easy way out. Instead, I decided to let my kids benefit from being in this program even if it means that they mess up constantly. I’ve decided to put on humility and just pray that the tutors and the other families will have grace enough to deal with us. If my kids need to apologize or make amends, etc., I make them do that right away. But otherwise, I don’t try to discipline and/or lecture them while we are there. I have started letting things go and picking one or two things important things to deal with or talk to them about when we are in the van on the way home or even later, when some time has passed and I have had a chance to talk to my husband and get his perspective.
5. Read your Essentials guide right after class.
If I wait too long to read my Essentials guide, or worse, if I don’t read it at all, I will avoid starting our Essentials work until a day or two before the next CC day and then my daughter and I will feel overwhelmed by the material and then we will always feel lost in class. But if I just confront the material head on, we have a much better week and stay on top of the content. I still feel overwhelmed at times by what we don’t know or understand yet, this being our first year in Essentials, but that feeling is much worse when I don’t read my Essentials guide. So I try and read it every week.
Note: I am sure moms who have been doing this longer than me have way better advice than this. How do you survive CC days? What advice do you have to share?