Friday, October 05, 2007

The Headphone Rule

Between Frodo's studies, my writing and homeschool, our family's schedule is, well, complicated. I was on the phone with my mother in law the other day, and we were discussing the awkwardness of our getting used to a new time zone, especially when timing calls to our family on the east coast. She commented that she has gotten better with the time difference, but trying to remember whether or not we are home or available to talk at any given time can be an exercise in mental gymnastics. Tell me about it! On an almost daily basis I hear myself saying to Frodo as he walks in the door, "I thought you were going to be home at X o'clock today. What day is it?" We did write our schedules down, but it is completely different every day, and I have to check it a few times a day to figure out what is supposed to be going on.

Frodo is definitely on the go more than the rest of us, and I have been known to disappear to the university library, but generally we are home... working, schooling, eating, playing, entertaining, sleeping. The first couple weeks that Frodo was in school and working were chaotic. The kids would be done with school, and Frodo and I would try to sit down to get some work done while the kids played or read or whatever. Inevitably, someone would come in and ask one of us, "May I have a drink?" or "May I go outside?" If we were lucky. Often, we were interrupted by two or more kids coming in, "I wanted to watch a movie, but Primo wants to play a video game." or "I wanted to play outside with Terzo, but Quarto keeps following us and messing up our stuff." or "All Secondo wants to do is read, but she promised to play dolls with me today." They would ping-pong between Frodo and I (who were both working in the office area) trying to get attention or sympathy for their cause. Frodo and I were getting frustrated and not much work was getting done. We decided to schedule an "on" parent and and "off" parent for different blocks of time. I even color coded our schedules. Blocks of red meant that that parent was working and not to be disturbed (the "off" parent), so if the kids needed something or a meal needed to be made or whatever, it was to be done by the "on" parent. Well, remember how I said that I have to consult the schedules daily to figure out what is going on? Imagine how confusing it was for Terzo (who is just learning to read) or Quarto (who's three). The kids had no clue who they were supposed to go to, so they just kept interrupting whoever looked the least busy. Then, Frodo came up with the Headphone Rule.

The Headphone Rule: The parent wearing the headphones is working and should be left alone (except in an emergency... emergency being defined as the presence of fire or blood). The parent without the headphones is in charge of all things house and home.

What a difference! A kid will start to walk into the office and approach one of us then stop short, "Oh, you're wearing headphones" and he/ she redirects themself toward the other parental unit. It's beautiful. Even Quarto figured it out in less than a day! We've confused them a couple of times. When they have been contentedly playing outside or off at Quiet Time, the "off" parent will don his/ her headphones to input some working music. Suddenly, a kid will show up with a question and begin to approach the first parent and see the headphones and change course only to see that the other parent is wearing headphones too. One day, poor Terzo just spun around in the middle of the room a couple of times, heaved a big sigh, and said, "I've got to talk to someone!" LOL!

I love the headphone rule. Sometimes, I don't even have music playing, but usually I do. I've even taken to using my MP3 player when I am off-duty but trying to get household stuff done. Right now I am working my way through a semester's worth of lectures from Reformed Theological Seminary - their "Philosophy and Christian Thought" class (you can download it for free from iTunesU). I have discovered iTunes radio, also. So far, my favorite channels are (the descriptions are off of iTunes):

Green Mist Radio - Celtic, Americana, Irish, and global folk
liveIreland - Independent Celtic Irish music live from Dubin
African Internet Radio - The best mix of music from Africa
Radio Darvish - Persian Traditional Music Chill - A blissed-out, trippy mix of downtempo ambient music

I have also been cycling through the CDs I have stored on my computer. I have found that the albums that keep me on track the most are:

Back to work. No headphones for me, though... everyone is asleep.

On second thought, I wonder what's on Radio Darvish.

1 comment:

Heather_in_WI said...

Hee-hee. I think I bought that Eileen Ivers cd on your recommendation. I love it! (So do my boys!)

Lately, I'm really into The Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird, Bloc Party, and the Decemberists. :-)

i-Tunes has become an addiction around here. Great. Now I have new things to check out over there.

Have a great day!