As I write this, I’m smack dab in the middle of one of our busiest weeks of the season. It’s Doxa week! (My girls dance with a praise and worship dance company and their spring worship concert is this weekend.) We have rehearsals EVERY night this week. Dance, Easter choir, worship band, and children’s choir. Then we have THREE family birthdays right in a row, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There’s all the regular stuff too. School, piano lessons, work, and a lovely (empty) garden just waiting for seeds. You might think since I’ve written about living slow and choosing activities wisely, that perhaps I’m not taking my own advice.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, busy seasons can’t be helped. I’m all about avoiding that kind of life 365 days a year. But when those jam packed days come upon us, we’ve got to be intentional…and roll with it.
Over my 13 years of parenting, I have finally learned one thing (well, hopefully I’ve learned more than one thing)–kids don’t do well with hurry. And I’m going to make the generalization over all kids, here. Never met one who loved to be rushed around.
Meanwhile, I’m spinning like a whirling dervish (whatever those are) trying to keep the house running, school moving along, manage activities and rehearsals and make sure we’re not forgetting some crucial accessory for their costumes for the concert.
I can default to hurry in the blink of an eye.
But watch out. When I go down that road, my kids get frazzled. They can’t remember what I told them to do. They get bossy with each other. They bicker. Attitudes surface. The little one resorts to tears.
This time, I wanted to avoid all that. I wanted to parent slow. Not sure if I did it perfectly (I may or may not have whined a bit–especially when I got sick halfway through the week) but here’s some strategies I tried to use.
Get Less Done
Get LESS done? When everything is SO busy? Yes, my friends. Now is the time to knock something off the to do list. Lower your expectations. If you homeschool, avoid any extra projects. Especially ones that need lots of your assistance. Keep to the basics.
Be willing to live with a certain amount of disarray in your house. We did what we could to keep the kitchen and bathrooms tidy. I will admit that though the laundry got washed, we did a lot of dressing out of piles of clean, unfolded clothes. And I think all the bedrooms were a disaster. But they got cleaned up when the dust settled and life went on.
I’m not talking about prolonged disorder and mess. Just for a short time. Just until the concert is over or the tournament is finished or whatever you have on your calendar.
This goes hand in hand with getting less done. I had two goals this week. Keep the grocery budget under control and keep the food quick and easy. So I sat down before the week started and planned the meals. I had a couple of quart jars of homemade pasta sauce in the freezer, so we had spaghetti one night. We ate a lot of simple sandwiches on sourdough. Hard boiled eggs with veggies for lunch. Crockpot meals or stir fries are good options too.
Avoid the drive thru. Break out the left overs. Save the complicated dinners for another day.
Write things down for everyone
When I’m moving at top speed and giving my kids their list of things to do that day, something is bound to fall through the cracks. Or several somethings. So at the beginning of the week, I took a half sheet of paper for each kid and listed some chores they needed to help with that week.
Lists are especially helpful for my teen who (bless his heart) only hears either the first or last half of what I say. He appreciates having it in writing. Less chance of misunderstanding and an unhappy mom.
Loosen the Reigns
I may or may not have allowed my teenager to spend LOADS of time Skiping with his friends after he got his school work done. My oldest daughter may have watched one too many cartoons on Netflix.
Not proud moments in parenting. But they needed to unwind from all the activity. They were being good. They weren’t arguing or having attitude problems. And the truth is, I just needed left alone to get some stuff done.
As long as they are getting school and chores done and the general disposition is good, I’m going to give them a little more discretion with their “free” time when my days are jammed full.
All of the stuff above serves to take a little pressure off of me. Then I can breathe. I can think. And what I really need to do is just slow down. Talk a little slower. Look them in the eye. Listen to their stories (when I’m really trying to figure out what time we need to get out the door that day).
I need to banish the hurry whenever I can.
And when I do this, they’re learning. Learning how to manage the demands of adulthood without being a drama queen. Learning how to kick stress to the curb. How to cultivate peace in the home. How to enjoy the moment.
It’s more than just surviving a hectic week. I want to model these things whenever I can so that they, too, will be able to rise above the glorification of busy in our world and live a deeper life.
I still have far to go in this. But I’ll bring them along with me.
What are your parenting strategies when life is crazy?
I love cookbooks. Especially all the new editions with stunning photography and creative flavors. I’ve been pining away for this one, featuring beautiful scratch made REAL food recipes from one of my favorite bloggers. And if you run into me at Barnes and Nobles, you’ll probably find me drooling over the shelves of lovely hard back baking books.
Just a couple years ago, though, I decided to thin out my collection. I found that I wasn’t using most of them all that often. I regularly turn to my favorite bookmarked recipe pages online. In the end I limited the pile to my beloved Nourishing Traditions, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, and the quintessential, old school, American cookbooks….
Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens.
My mom still has her original Betty Crocker. It’s a well worn, stained three ring book with pages and pages of well loved and marked recipes. It’s the birthplace of our very favorite pie crust.
So for my daughter’s/mom’s birthday cake I went old school.
A lemon cake with lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream frosting. Regular old flour, butter, milk and yes…sugar. No fancy, exotic flours or dairy substitutes. (My allergic daughter has a stash of allergy friendly cupcakes in the freezer for just such an occasion.)
It was actually very freeing not having to substitute a ton of ingredients or figure out flour ratios. Add a Donna Reed apron and some pearls and I’d be giving a serious tribute to all the home bakers of my grandma’s generation.
We served it along with some strawberry ice cream, some fresh, maple syrup sweetened whipped cream, and an extra bowl of lemon curd. Mmm. Tart, fruity goodness that just screams spring!
I’ll return to some of our favorite gf muffins and unrefined sweeteners for this week’s Easter buffet for the choir. But I’ll always have a sweet spot for my old faithful cookbooks.
Got any old school recipes to share?
This post contains affiliate links.
This week I read these words…
Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. (John 13:1)
…the full extent of His love. Can you imagine? I don’t think in our limited human understanding that we can really appreciate what that means.
The uttermost fullness of love of an infinitely loving Savior. More love than we’ve ever seen. More than we can comprehend.
The Apostle John wrote these words to introduce all the events that followed. Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. And the final hours leading to His crucifixion.
All for them. For you and me.
And on this Good Friday, all I can do is be grateful. A deep, soul filling gratitude that He would love me that much.
May I never lose the wonder…
One of the greatest times of year is upon us. A week to prepare, remember and soak up all that our Savior has done for us.
My family is taking it easy this week because a few of us are sick…again. But we’ll be reading the stories, opening our resurrection eggs, practicing choir songs (between coughing and popping meds) and eagerly anticipating our Good Friday and Easter services.
So since I’m trying to get my health back and take care of the others at the same time, I thought I’d give you a couple of links to last year’s thoughts as we celebrated the Easter season. Hopefully, I’ll kick this bug and have some otherwise coherent thoughts later on this week.
May you have a very blessed Passion Week!
This weekend, my oldest girl turns twelve. Time is going by way too fast. And so, if you’ll permit this momma to gush a little…
She was such a good baby. After the never ending colic of her older brother, she was a dream. Easily entertained by her toddler brother’s antics. A good sleeper. No health issues.
She was always a good helper. Even now, she’ll volunteer to help in the kitchen without asking. Chores without griping. She helps babysit her little cousin and does a million things for her spoiled sister. I often think that she has the gift of mercy and help.
Hard working at whatever she does. Sometimes I think she’s too hard on herself.
Always creative and artistic (had to come from her dad). She’s practically taught herself to sew and crochet and knit. Abby is always working on some project. A hand pieced quilt for her American Girl doll. A homemade purse. A bracelet for a friend. The kid’s room looks like an A.C. Moore store.
A self-proclaimed book worm. I think she’d quickly coming up on 50 books, large and small, read since August of last year.
A loyal and thoughtful friend.
An infectious laugh.
A heart tender to the things of God.
She’s the kind of kid who takes it upon herself to limit her own Kindle time. To organize her room (girl has mad organization skills). To offer an apology.
And I can’t really take any credit for it. It just seems to be the way God made her. I often wonder, with all her wonderful qualities, what she’ll end up doing in life. As an adult, I think she could be one of my greatest friends.
But right now, I’d rather put the breaks on this whole growing up thing. A few more years of snuggling with her sister. Of playing dress up with her best friend. Loads more hugs for her mom and dad.
Happy birthday our dearest Abby! You are quite a gift :)
If you’re one of those families just now thinking about homeschooling your children, the whole process can be overwhelming. There are so many different philosophies and styles. So many different curriculums, groups, evaluation options. Suddenly, you have choices to make about a hundred different things and pressure and questions from well-meaning (but often not-helpful) family and friends.
So I thought I’d put together a few places you can look for some advice and perspective.
The Home School Legal Defense Association is a national legal advocate for homeschoolers. If you join (I’m not a member, yet, but plan on joining this year) they will give you legal assistance if you should ever need it. But beyond that (scary) stuff, they’re a good place to start to find your state’s requirements where homeschooling is concerned.
I tend to keep up more with my state’s group CHEWV (Christian Homeschoolers of West Virginia). Most likely, your state has some similar kind of group. Both of these will help you figure out testing or year end evaluations (if required) and keep you informed of events or homeschooling related government updates.
Local Homeschool Support Groups
Many homeschooling families end up joining a co-op or support group. They come in all varieties. Ours is a bit more structured, offering once a week classes, field trips, project fairs, talent shows, plays and more. It’s a pretty big group and I love all the variety of options for my kids. As in most of these kinds of groups, parents are expected to help teach or assist in some way during the year. I’ve taught a good amount of classes for our group.
Some groups are more of a play group or field trip group. Others form book clubs or get together for different sports. The HSLDA site has a place to search for groups in your area. And if you have a state organization, they may have an even better list. I also found this site (Homeschool World) that offered a list of groups by state or country. (Although my group wasn’t listed–so it’s not an exhaustive list–just a place to start.)
Sometimes, finding a group is just a matter of talking to other homeschooling families you know, or calling a few local churches.
I hate to even open up this box for you. Before I started, I had NO idea there were so many different options out there. I would suggest before you start out, make a note of your child’s learning style. Do they like to read and be read to? Then they might thrive in a Charlotte Mason style curriculum like Sonlight.
And if you have a kid who gets downright obsessed with a topic and dives into every part of it, longing to know more and more, then they might do well with a unity study approach that integrates language, math, science and history into one topical study.
Once you’ve given some thought to the type of learner you have, then you’ll be better equipped to sort through all the options without getting lost.
If you’re ready to start looking, here are some other sites to check out…
- Christianbook.com (Affiliate link) This is where I get most of our stuff (other than Amazon and Ebay). They have loads of sales in the spring and sometimes offer free shipping codes.
- Rainbow Resource. I haven’t used them myself, but I know quite a few people who do.
- Apologia. We have used their material for science for a few years now. I usually get it at CBD or Amazon, but if you want to check out all they have, this is their site.
Books and Magazines
When I first started out, I grabbed about every book I could. There’s loads out there, but these are some I’ve read or heard good things about.
- So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel. I picked this one up at my library a long time ago. You get Lisa’s story as well as that of several different families. It helps to see that all families are different and you don’t have to “do school” just like someone else.
- The Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola. Although we don’t follow this method in all areas, I found the Charlotte Mason method to be a breath of fresh air. Good books are emphasized over textbooks or meaningless fiction.
- Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay Clarkson. The Clarksons are considered by most to be some of the most practical, encouraging leaders in the world of homeschooling. I’d recommend anything they’ve written.
- Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool through High Schoolby Rebecca Rupp. If you’re more of a do it yourself-er and would like to put together your own curriculum and resources this book might be for you. I bought it early on, when I was still trying to sift through all the options out there. I don’t think anyone can cover EVERYTHING she recommends, but it gives you a reference point for progression of skills and topics.
- The Old Schoolhouse magazine
- Practical Homeschooling magazine
Whew! That’s a lot of stuff! And that’s just the tip top of the iceberg. Let me assure you, once you start digging in to homeschooling, there will be no end of options and ideas for you to consider. But if I could pass on a little advice…
Keep it simple.
Consider your kids.
Most of us change programs or methods somewhere along the way. But the freedom to do what works is one of the best things about this type of learning!
And never fear, I’m working on another list for you of free/cheap homeschooling resources to go along with this more mainstream stuff.
Got any of your favorite resources to pass along?
This post contains affiliate links. You get the same great prices, and I get a little commission to support this blog. Thanks!
Finally, a break in the weather! I think this past week was the first we’d had (in months) where the white stuff didn’t fall. I’ve felt it creeping up on me for a few weeks now. The urge–NEED–to get moving on all the things that need done around here. Better weather moved in and suddenly (and much to my family’s chagrin) it seems like we have a 101 things that need done RIGHT NOW.
So we rolled up our sleeves and crossed a few things off the list.
The rest of the seeds got planted.
We picked up a truckload of mushroom soil with fertilizer for the garden. The soil in that area has never been supplemented, and since I have such high hopes for tomato and pepper yields this year, we figured it couldn’t hurt. The whole family was out filling buckets and spreading out the lovely smelling stuff.
And since it was such a beautiful day, my dad got to work on the neighbor’s tractor to till all that rich goodness into the garden. (Which he made just a tad larger. It makes me giddy, really.)
We went ahead and got a good sized plot of dill seeds planted and some cilantro seeds into the ground. Later this week, I’ll work on onion sets, radishes, greens, and peas. My mouth is watering!
Back inside, we began tackling the enormous job of sorting through things for my in-laws giant yard sale next month. My girls had totes and totes of clothes in the attic. It looked like they all threw up in my house for a day. But we got it sorted and ended up with quite a lot to give away or sell.
It wasn’t all work, though. The sunny skies begged that we take our new (used) kettle grill for a test spin. So hubby got the charcoal going and we had our first grilled meal of the season. Nothing fancy. But oh-so-tasty.
Finally, you must, of course, look fabulous for all this working and eating. And my daughter was up to the challenge.
I get all charged up and excited about all this family productivity. Feeling my body and brain finally wake from it’s winter induced numbness. We still have another 97 or so things to check of the list. Garage needs cleaned out, wood shed needs cleaned out, more yard sale stuff to organize, more things to plant, and it would be nice to see out of my windows. (Okay, they’re not that bad. But still.)
It was a good start, though. Very good indeed.
What’s getting done at your place? Got any spring projects in full swing?