Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pres. Message for September

I just LOVE this time of year… planning, organizing and anticipating a fabulous school year! What could be better???

I love planning our school schedules, meals, devotionals, co-ops, outings, read-aloud books…the list just goes on and on. I thrive on the excitement and the energy that I receive while working so closely with the Spirit to have the “perfect” year ready for all of our kiddos.

That perfectly-planned-year always begins “perfectly” and then something happens (usually just after the lovely month of September comes to a close.) LIFE gets in the way!!! I don’t know why this has to happen time and again ~ completely frustrating!

Up until a couple of years ago, I couldn’t even identify “the problem,” I just knew it lingered year after year and usually showed its ugly head at the close of each September.

After many years of trial and error, I am finally able to put my finger on it…

The “problem” is simply Lack of Balance…

We, as homeschooling Momma’s, are doing one magnificent balancing act! To visualize all the many things that we are responsible for, I like to see each as a single balloon in a very large, beautiful bouquet...reds, pinks, purples, blues, greens, yellows and oranges…all floating about. I see myself down below them, giving a little pat here and a little pat there, and then running to catch a straggler or two, then before I know it there are another twenty million or so that are about to drop to the floor. It is during those exhausting moments that I find myself wishing for an extra hand or two! But wish as I may, I’m pretty certain that an extra arm isn’t going to spring out of my body. So how do we find that peaceful balance in our lives when this is what we face day after day?

“Fifty” children needing attention (all at the same time,)
Mountains & mountains of laundry,
Fantastic Home-Schooling Time,
Ever-Hungry Kiddos ~ Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and more snacks and MORE snacks,
Meaningful Devotionals with our families and for ourselves,

Paying the bills, Grocery Shopping,
Running Errands, Visiting Teaching,
Planning time, Busy Callings,
Household chores ~ those toilets don’t clean themselves,

Running kids here and there and everywhere,
Time for Friends, (both for kids and MOM,)
One on one time with kiddos,
Family Time, Hubby Time,
and hopefully a little “Me Time”…

Okay, just the above sampling of our lives “balloons” seems BIG; our lives all resemble this list, along with many additions for the “season of life” we find ourselves in. When you think of all that is at your hand, does it make you flip out just a tad inside? Of course it does, but instead of being flipped out, take a big refreshing deep breath and look at the ins and outs of Motherhood in a different light. This is how I see it…

I am not responsible to keep all of these balloons floating by myself ~ I am just responsible to make sure they stay afloat and that our home and family function on a daily basis. I must simply oversee and manage “life” around my home. I don’t have to do all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and chores and running here and there and everywhere. I don’t have to be the all-knowing, do-everything, be-everybody’s-everything all day long, every day! It took me a while to realize this and at times I still find myself falling into that little trap of trying to fix everything for everyone. It is my job to teach our kiddos to be productive and active in the realities of family life.

If I attempted, day after day after day, to do all of these things on my own I would no longer have a lovely balance in my world…I would be a wreck physically, emotionally and spiritually!

Now, please do not get me wrong, I do believe that all these things still need to be happening around me. My home MUST be clean and well-managed. My children MUST be learning and functioning. My household bills, errands and such MUST be handled. Meals and a million snacks each day MUST be available. A little time for me to do my own study and exercise and pondering MUST present itself somewhere in the day. Time for my hubby MUST happen and time to love, cuddle, play, and interact with all of my kiddos MUST happen! The reason for the MUST’s is that these things bring happiness and joy to me and without them that all important balance is missing.

Sooo, how do we keep ourselves from dropping one (or many) of our “colorful balloons” during this amazing balancing act of ours???

Below is a list of some ideas that you might find helpful in keeping balance after September has come and gone and reality has rocked your little homeschool world!

Regular Planning time -- Many of us plan like crazy during the summer months to have a wonderful school year; do we continue to have that same drive and desire throughout the year? Do we have a time either weekly or monthly, whatever is needed, to re-visit those plans, finalize them, put them into action, or to go in prayer about anything that may need altered to meet the ever-changing needs of our kiddos? With a little planning on a regular basis we can be Successful and Happy the whole year through. We can keep a peaceful balance as we continue to assess what might need a little fixin’!

Learn to say no -- This may be the very hardest one for me… It has taken me many years to be able to realize that by saying no to others, I am saying YES to my kids. YES that they are my first priority. YES that their education is important to me. YES that I value them enough to be there for them and with them. I believe that we have to treat our homeschooling just as a paid teacher at a school treats hers. She cannot babysit a host of other kiddos while performing her task of teaching. She cannot leave to go visiting teaching in the middle of a class. She cannot drop class time because someone thinks she should be doing something of greater importance. She is there for those kids and they must be her priority. We are no different! The only difference is that we are not away and others may not recognize that we have a very, very full-time job within the very walls of our homes. Learn to say YES to your kiddos by saying NO to others. (I know it’s hard, just give it a try, the first 50 times you say No are the worst, then it gets a little easier—I think)

Don’t over schedule yourselves or your children -- Do we over schedule out of fear that our kids might be missing out on something? We need to be careful that we don’t find ourselves goin’ crazy enrolling our kids in every available program on earth! There are some fantastic opportunities for our kids and for us out there; just be a little picky on which ones will benefit your family most and be the least intrusive on your sanity!

Perspective -- In which perspective do you view your life? Is it in pieces, such as a puzzle? One little piece being the mom, another the homeschool mom, another the cook, another the maid, another the taxi cab driver, another the wife, another the friend, another the mentor, and so on. Or do you view your life as one big whole? When we live our lives not trying to fit school into our days and just let our lives be all about teaching our kids, it is easier, it flows, it is real and alive. Many times I have thought that homeschooling is our lifestyle, now I prefer to think of it in this way; our lifestyle is homeschool and what we do and focus on are the teaching moments of life. This is simply a change of perspective, not a change of educational standards or expectations.

And speaking of Expectations, we need to regularly evaluate our expectations of others, namely our husbands, children and even ourselves. Expectations play a powerful role in relationships, especially in marriage. They influence the way we relate and respond to each other. I often need to take a step back and question whether or not my expectations are unrealistic or unfair. I have a bit of a problem with needing perfection…I cannot attain the level of perfection I’d like to see in myself and it is unfair and stifling to expect perfection of my dear hubby or kiddos. On the flip side of this, it is vital that our kids understand our expectations of them. They need a clear, concise view of what we wish to see of them so that they can meet, and more than likely, exceed what we dream for them.

Time for fun – We need to lighten up and have more fun! Yes, it is possible to have fun with our kids during our days of homeschooling. Not all school work needs to be drudgery, some of it just is, but it doesn’t all have to be. It is so important for our kids to see their Momma have a great time, laughing, playing and enjoying life. We need to model these things for our kids, so in your planning time make sure you leave ample space for these wonderful moments!!!

Time with our hubbies -- Just so you all know, this one certainly should not come last on your list…it just so happens to as I am writing. Without that sweet man in your life you wouldn’t have all these kiddos to be worrying about homeschooling, you wouldn’t have the balancing act to be contending with, your life would be less than what it is. We must be intentional about our marriages – intentionality is more than scheduling time together. It is finding meaningful ways to connect emotionally to one another. It is more than just going out and gazing across the table at one another. It is so many things…it is about loving and cherishing your time together. Our marriages must come first so that our families can be strong and happy. Too often, homeschooling mothers get so wrapped around their kiddos’ lives that they forget that wonderful man that helped to bring those kids into the world. He must be the center of your world…date him as much as you possibly can, kiss on him, dance with him and let him know he rocks your world…YOU and your kids (and your hubby, but that goes without saying) will be better because of it.

In closing, I pray that you will have a perfectly-lovely-balance in your home and heart.
Not every day will be blissful and easy,
but if we have the perspective that our lifestyle is homeschool
and that our families are always at the center of our heart
life will be joyfully abundant!

Here’s to an amazing September & beyond...