Am I Provoking My Child?

am_i_provokingLife can be challenging, especially for a child. There are so many things to learn, rules to follow, and people to obey. They have seemingly little control over their own lives and can often get frustrated when things do not go their way. One of the most frustrating trials a child can face is when their own parent provokes them. Whether we mean to or not, as parents we can push our children beyond what they are able to endure.

I find it beneficial to periodically reflect on my parenting; making sure I am not the source of my child’s frustration. At least not purposefully. Here is a list of ways I’ve found might provoke my children:

  • Constant criticism and a failure to encourage
  • Double standards and/or being a hypocrite
  • Being angry and harsh
  • Lack of affection
  • Telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons
  • Comparing them to others
  • Embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
  • Lecturing them and not listening
  • Failing to be humble and asking for forgiveness
  • Micromanagement
  • Giving them a greater burden than they can bear (whether it is homeschooling work, chores, or responsibilities)

The Bible teaches that we are not to provoke our children to anger. (“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4) While this verse speaks directly to fathers, I am sure it must also apply to us moms.

Reflecting on my parenting and my relationship with my children, I am able to clearly see ways in which I am failing as a parent and ways in which I can improve. While I will constantly fail, I pray that I am getting better.

We’re curious… Which verses speak to you when dealing with this area of parenting?

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.”
~ Colossians 3:21

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10 Reasons Your Child May Not Want to Attend College

10_Reasons_CollegeFor years we’ve been planning this day. All the hard work has finally paid off, college applications are starting to pile up and we’ve narrowed down which grants our student should apply for. We sit down with our baby, excited to narrow down which colleges they’d like to focus on. Then, our child hits us with a bombshell. “Mom, I don’t think I want to attend college.” Wait… what? Wasn’t that the goal of our learning? Isn’t this what we’ve been aiming for all these years?

Before we have a panic attack or start convincing our child why they have to attend college we might want to take a step back, pray, and ask a few questions. Maybe the Lord has other plans in mind.

  1. They Are Scared – Let’s face it, becoming an adult is a big step. Instead of judging our children or passing off their fears as immaturity, we should take the opportunity to pray with our child over this matter. Encourage them, help them seek comfort, and take steps to calm their fears.
  2. They Don’t Know What They Want to Do – While we’d all like to think our homeschooled children finish their learning with a goal in mind and purposeful steps toward achieving it, that’s not necessarily true. Instead of criticizing and nagging about needing to make some decisions, we need to pray and give them time to hear the voice of the Lord. Trust God to speak to them and guide their futures. We should council our children in their strengths and help them see their own potential.
  3. They Don’t Understand the Importance of Higher Education – Our child might be an artist, a writer, or already have a job (see below). While it might be true, getting that piece of paper might not make you a better artist, our children need to be made aware of the other benefits of attending college. Connections, discipline, and business management. Besides, who says it can’t fine tune those God-given talents?
  4. They Want to Take Time Off – They’ve just finished twelve years of solid learning. If we were planning for college, the last four to six have been heavy-duty studies. It’s not shocking for some students to want down time. For some, it’s the best thing we could do for them.
  5. They Already Have a Job – Some view college as a means of obtaining a job. If they’re already working, going to college seems pointless. This might be a good opportunity to point out that higher education will help them further their careers. Even if you stay at a job for several years, you’ll want to work your way up the ladder. You will need to take business courses and managerial courses to do this.
  6. They Want to Attend Vocational School – Not all careers require a four-year university. Instead of immediately jumping on the college bandwagon, we might want to consider local schools which focus on our children’s interests and gifts. Vocational school is not a step down, but a clear path towards the goal.
  7. They Want to Run Their Own Business – Some don’t want to climb a ladder, but build their own. That is an admirable goal. Instead of discouraging our children, this is a great opportunity to lead them toward focused classes which will help them meet their goal. We need to help them think of this as a business investment.
  8. They Want to Join the Military – Joining the military is an honorable endeavor. If this where our children are being led, my only advice is to pray. Pray a lot; pray tons. Then, we need to give them our blessing and continue to pray until they are home. May the Lord go with them and protect them.
  9. They Want to Be a Missionary/Pastor – The Lord has called our child into the field. It can be a scary step for a parent, knowing our children might be in danger or rejected. But, if God has called them, who are we to stand against? Pray, seek the Lord for confirmation, and then help them prepare for the journey ahead.
  10. They Want to Be a Stay at Home Mom – A noble career often looked down upon, even amongst ourselves. (Isn’t that sad?) Some of our daughters are not going to seek jobs and that’s not a bad thing. Until the day the Lord blesses them with families of their own, this is a great opportunity to help them learn the fine art of making a home. If we’re concerned about them providing for themselves while they’re waiting upon the Lord, this might be a great time for them to work in fields which help promote such gifts. They might work at a crafting store, a bakery, or in any other establishment which helps them further their gifts and serve the Lord while doing so.

We must remember our children are becoming adults. We may council them, guide them, and disciple them, but our children need to make their own decisions about their future. If our children are floundering or making seemingly poor decisions, we need to be praying on their behalf.

I would also encourage us to not wait until high school years to start praying over our children’s futures. From their births, may I encourage each of us to constantly be lifting our children before the Lord, asking Him to speak clearly to our children and make His paths known to them.

As I am constantly telling our own littles, “This is not about what I want for your future. This is not about what you want for your future. This is about what God wants of you. My job is to prepare you for whatever He has called you to. My prayer is that you hear the voice of the Lord clearly and then, that you obey it wholeheartedly. Seek God first.”

We’d like know… Is college something your children are interested in?

“Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.”
~ I Chronicles 16:11

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Getting the Most From Our Reads

getting_the_most_our_readsSurprisingly, I read as much young adult fiction as my children do. I enjoy the genre and especially appreciate being able to share these books with my kiddos. Our family also delights in classic literature. We laugh, cry, and share some wonderful memories centered on great books. Together we’re getting the most from our reads.

In our family, reading books extends beyond the page. We soak up the words and make them come to life. Through conversation, play, and more, we use these steps to help us:

Read – No matter how we choose to read, sharing a book with our child can be fun. We pick one of the following methods and go to town:

  • Together – We snuggle on the couch, gather round the table, or cuddle in bed at night. No matter when or how, we enjoy the read as a family.
  • Alone – Some of our books make the rounds. Mom reads it first – making sure it’s a clean read – then it goes through the crowd, usually from the fastest reader down.

Story Coaster – After we finish our book, we hit the plot points. Were my younger children able to follow along? I use this time to ensure they understood who the main characters were and the focus of the story; reviewing vocabulary and literary terminology I wish for them to learn. Only a short amount of time is given to this, but it is well worth the few moments and our children have learned much in this practice.

Reenact – Depending on our chosen book, acting out portions of the story is included. While reading Little House on the Prairie, we might build a cabin with Lincoln Logs or do a little baking. Most stories inspire some form of hands-on activity to partake in.

Discuss – While the reading, in-and-of itself, is always a treat, I rarely leave a book without taking a moment to check in with my kids. I want to hear their thoughts on the read and cover important ground which the Lord has prompted me to share. This takes our book to a new level, moving past what’s on the page and encourages our children to correspond the story to reality.
A key-note: We launch conversations with open-ended questions. The goal is to get our children to talk, not merely answer “Yes” or “No”. We ask what our children liked/disliked about the book; what they learned; their favorite character/portion of the story; and their take on the book in general. As our children mature, we discuss world views which might be present. (One series which comes to mind is Hunger Games. These books launched many wonderful conversations about government and reform. The writing was not at its best, but the benefits from our talks was well worth the poor literature.)

Watch – If there’s a movie, we’re more than likely going to watch it. This launches entirely new discussions on difference between the two, which they liked better, and more. Plus, who doesn’t like a good movie?

Play – Did you know many popular books, authors, and publishers have websites filled with games and activities? For added fun, we enjoy hopping on to one of these sites and playing games which relate to our read. Our favorites are the The Chronicles of Narnia, Mysterious Benedict Society, and Harry Potter websites.

For those with littler children, or are unsure of where to start in their literary adventure, we highly recommend Five in a Row. With FIAR all the work is done for you! Each week, you follow a suggested read and enjoy the multitude of activities available. Included are questions to discuss with your children and additional resources. Once you’ve grown comfortable with the format, branch out and choose your own books.

We love great literature. By discussing these books and bringing them to life, we are creating wonderful memories and life-long lessons for our children to remember forever. Our books jump off the page and we get the most from our reads.

Now we’re curious… What is your favorite part of reading a book?

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Do Not Grow Weary

do_not_grow_wearyI’m not sure why people associate being a “good” person with having an easy life. Sure, you don’t suffer the consequences of as many poor choices, but life is far from easy. In fact, doing good can often be trying, difficult, and, if we allow it, disheartening. It can be discouraging to work your fingers to the bone and yet see others succeed far beyond what you can imagine. It can be hard to watch others with more resources while you are barely making ends meet. How are we to deal with these feelings of jealousy, disappointment, sadness, and discouragement? With truth and thanksgiving…

Their Kids Are So Well Behaved

Trust me, no one’s kids are perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, misbehaves, and has trouble on occasion. We should rejoice for that family, praising the Lord for what He is doing in that home. Then, thank the Lord for the kids we have. They might not be perfect, and we still have some work to do, but they are ours. We should pray the Lord would show us ways to encourage better behavior and give us grace while they are still learning.

Their Kids Are So Accomplished/Well Educated

Just like you would not want to be compared to others, we need to be careful about comparing our own children. Each child was created by God perfectly. Some children are quicker at learning; others delve in deeper, but take more time. Some have learning delays, but they are trying their hardest.
Our goal ought to be in having our child do their best, not as good as Johnny down the street. We need to thank the Lord for the ability to educate our child, or help them with their learning, and praise Him for their progress thus far. We should ask Him to show us if we could be doing better and how. If we are doing fine, we pray the Lord would remove the doubt seeping in so we can better focus on the task before us.

Their House Is So Nice/Organized

What works for one family, might not work for another. A lady might clean her house daily because her husband prefers it this way or because she doesn’t know how to function any other way. The lovely home you see might be the culmination of years of saving and hard work. Of course, quite simply, it could be a blessing. How sad it is when we look at the blessings bestowed on someone else and all we see is our own lack.
This is a great opportunity to praise the Lord for what He is doing in that family; that He use them for His glory. While our homes might not be our dream, at the moment, we thank Him for a roof over our head and full bellies. We ask for His continued provision and for wisdom to use our resources wisely.

They Have More Money Than We Do

Another tough one… We can try our hardest, but sometimes we struggle. Why is this? Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer for you. Financial struggles stem from a myriad of roots; some we’ve brought upon ourselves and others from life circumstances.
Again, thanksgiving is key. We need to thank the Lord for the ways He is currently providing for us and ask that He continue to do so. We praise Him for meeting our needs and hearing our cries for help. We also need to remember, in times of plenty, those who are still struggling and lend a helping hand.

They Always Have So Much Going On

Home improvements, soccer games, ballet recitals, vacations, dinners with friends, and more. We all know people who seem to be constantly on the move; always busy, with lives filled. Praise the Lord for times of quiet, where you can hear His voice and be filled! They’re great. If you’re looking to have more sociable activities, pray the Lord would open those doors.

Sometimes our hearts lead us astray, preventing us from seeing the truth of the situation before us. We see ourselves as trying to do the right thing, doing good, and yet we seem to be going nowhere; struggling in vain. It is in those times, especially, that we need to be asking the Lord to show us His truth.

When our hearts are focused on what God has already done in our lives, offering up thanksgiving for our blessings, we have no room to be ungrateful for what we don’t have. When our hearts are filled with His love, our strength is restored and we are able to continue doing the good we are called to. May we all take a moment to simply offer our thanks to our Father for what He does in our lives daily. May we learn to look past the moment to see the eternal, and focus on things above.

We’d like to know… Share seven things for which you are grateful for today!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
~Galatians 6:9

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Anger Management

anger_managementBeing a kid is tough; no matter your age. You aren’t a baby, but aren’t quite able to do everything your mind can think up. Your coordination might still be developing, you’re learning new lessons and being given more responsibility. Now compound that with having not only a mom and a dad, but multiple siblings trying to help you, teach you, redirect you, and often discipline you. Even when they shouldn’t. Our children can get overwhelmed very quickly.

I can understand being upset, really I can. There are moments all of us become overwhelmed by the situation or our emotions get the better of us. What I can’t allow to happen is for this to become a habit or for our children to act out in their anger. Some healthy boundaries needed to be put in place.

While there are no fool-proof plans for helping someone overcome anger, I think there are some basic steps we can take toward reaching our goal.

Pray – Before I say a word, or attempt to work through the situation, I need to come to the Lord in prayer in order to ask for wisdom, patience, and the ability to help my child.

Understand the Problem – Until I diagnose the cause of someone’s anger, I cannot truly help them start to overcome it. I need to find the source and that will help lead us to the answer.

Walk Away From the Problem – If possible, I attempt to remove my child from the situation which is causing them to lose their cool. Sometimes just walking away for a moment helps clear the head.

Handle the Problem – It’s time to tackle the situation together. We talk, determine the best course of action, and move forward. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage them see the problem from a different perspective – a Godly lesson, a practice in patience, etc. –  which facilitates a change of heart.

Deal with the Attitude – Sometimes the source of anger isn’t a situation, it is the heart of the person involved. There are various ways we have helped our kids deal with their attitudes: prayer, communication, time alone, and, when absolutely necessary, discipline.

Each day is a new opportunity for us to win the victory over our emotions. With every unique circumstance, we have the ability to develop a higher resistance to our own anger and choose to make the best decisions possible. It all starts with prayer and taking appropriate steps toward anger management.

We’re curious… Have any of your children struggled with anger? We’d love to hear how the Lord has given you wisdom in this area of parenting.

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”
~  Ephesians 4:26

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Do Our Children Have Personal Property?

do_our_children_have_personal_propertyUh, oh. Here it comes. My son is eagerly recalling a memory from several years ago of playtime with his siblings, and I know exactly what is going to happen next. “Mom, whatever happened to that toy?” Just as I am about to remind them the particular item in question was meant for toddlers and they are no longer two, another of my children promptly announces I have more than likely gotten rid of it; as I am want to do. Now I ask you. Why would I keep it? They hadn’t touched it for years! It seemed reasonable to remove the item in question, at least to my way of thinking. My kids, however, consider this the perfect opportunity to remind me – yet again – that this needs to stop. Some things belong to them, and they should be included in the decision to have it given away. Well, perhaps they’re right.

In a home where six people live, work, run a business, homeschool, play and sleep, space can be an issue. From time to time, it’s essential to downsize and streamline our belongings; removing items we haven’t used in ages and perhaps making room for new resources to further our family adventures. I don’t think anyone in my family would dispute these facts. No, it’s the manner in which we minimize which is in question. I have to admit, they have a point.

It made sense when the children were little that I be the one to sift through our belongings, donating what could bless others and organizing what was essential. However, the older our children get, the more it becomes evident I need to step aside and allow my children to make some of these decisions for themselves. And there are some valid reasons why.

I am a minimalist. I like the bare essentials. If I haven’t used something in a while, if the piece is not functional, or if I am just plain, old tired of it; it goes. While this might seem like a good thing – and it can be – it can also work against me. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten rid of something only to regret it six months later and curse my incessant need to minimize. Perhaps, just maybe, when it comes to my children’s things I might not be the best judge of what should stay and what should go.

My children need to learn this skill themselves. At some point, my kids need to learn the fine art of organization and minimizing. They might never pair-down to the extent I would, but neither can they rely on me to always do this for them. By purposefully setting aside time to do this as a family, they learn this skill for themselves and they have no fear something will be taken which has meaning to them.

My children have an emotional attachment. I see a bracelet my child has never worn. They see a well-loved, handmade gift from a friend. I see a doctor kit made for three-year-olds. They see a world of possibility, and childhood memories. Sometimes I don’t know which items my children have formed attachments to, and I would hate to give something away which I can never replace and has great meaning to them.

If I say it belongs to them, I need to mean what I say. How would I feel if a particular item suddenly went missing only to find it was given away without my permission? I would be hurt. My children are no different! Once something belongs to my children – whether bought or given – it belongs to them. Not me. I need to respect their right to keep that item or even get rid of it. It’s theirs. Personal property needs to be acknowledged.

It is essential to downsize from time to time. But these days re-organizing our home has become a group effort. Together we tackle our respective spaces and determine what absolutely must stay. I’m constantly amazed. You’d be surprised how motivated these children can be, cleaning better than I would have anticipated and often removing more than I would have dared. Items of value are stored with great care, and generosity is shown as they determine who would benefit from items they no longer need. Better yet, I don’t have to face accusations and our home is organized much faster than had I done this on my own. It’s an all-round win!

I’m curious, how do you tackle this tricky parenting choice?

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”
~ Psalm 24:1

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When the Kids Know More Than We Do

when_the_kids_know_more_than_we_doIt’s happened. I knew such a time would come a time in my children’s learning adventure. I just didn’t plan for it to happen quite this soon. We have finally reached that point in life when areas of my children’s knowledge have surpassed my own.

If I’ve done things well I will begin to work myself ‘out of a job’. As a parent, especially a homeschooling parent, my goal is to raise a fully functioning adult; four of them, in fact. In raising independent learners, it was inevitable that at some point they might discover things I have yet to explore. What are parents to do when their children start to exceed their knowledge? How do we continue teaching them when they absorb facts faster than a sponge absorbs liquid?

Practice Humility

Pride is hard to overcome. We’ve spent years educating our children and they have the nerve to start telling us we’re wrong? They want to explain how things are done, when events happened, and impart newfound knowledge to us parents.

Sure, we could get upset with them for correcting our poor grammar and interrupting our lessons with more detail than we prepared. Or, we could make this a teachable moment. We need to be able to swallow our pride, accept that our children are eager to learn, and continue to teach.

Teach Humility

It’s wonderful to learn new things and impart that knowledge to others who might be interested. However, we also need to learn the right time and place to share. We need to learn how to share. While our children might have learned facts we haven’t, they still need to learn how to share with kindness, grace, gentleness, and humility.

Learning new things should not fill us with self-righteous pride and arrogance. If that is the case, you have increased your knowledge base, certainly, but have yet to increase in wisdom. Wisdom is by far the more important of the two.

Be Patient

When our children wish to share all the exciting new things they are learning, expressing their interest in the topic, they can often times exhaust our patience. We need to remember that our children are learning and loving the adventure. The surest way to kill their enthusiasm is to become frustrated with them, belittle them, or refuse to hear their thoughts. Be open to hearing them and listen with attention to what they are trying to say. You never know, you might enjoy the lesson!

Show Some Respect

There is a fine line between sharing newfound information and disrespectfully tossing around facts to belittle parents or others in authority positions. Again, the purpose of increasing in knowledge is not to lord it over another and make them feel small.

When our children share with us, and others, they need to be mindful that respect remains intact. They should respect the life experience the adult has, respect the feelings of the adult being spoken to, and respect the role the Lord has given that person in their life. Yes; they might have knowledge to share, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to be rude to those around them.

Encourage Growth

It can be uncomfortable to admit our children know more about a certain topic than we do. But, to my way of thinking, this shows what a good job we have done as parents. Our children have been well-taught; they know how to find information for themselves, comprehend what they are reading, and are motivated to keep doing so. We ought to give ourselves a pat on the back and enjoy the fact that our children are learning, and we didn’t have to do a thing. Encourage them to keep up the good work. Encourage them to keep sharing what they find with the family. Encourage their love of learning.

Continue Teaching

The fact that our kids might know a little more than we do in a particular area should not prevent us from continuing on with the remainder of their learning. If we feel out of our depth, it might be time to find other ways to assist them. However, this should not discourage us from trying our best and moving forward. Things might need to change, but it doesn’t mean we need to give up. Keep pressing forward!

More or Just Different?

I’ve teased that my kids know more than I do, but, in truth, they don’t. They might have learned a few cool, new facts. They might remember dates better than I. What they’ve learned is not more, just different. Life experience and some Godly wisdom are on my side.

If your children are avid learners, take heart; you’ve done a great job in your parenting. Do not be discouraged when your children spout facts you never knew, read more books than you can, program an app that makes your head swim, and/or cook better than you on any given day. Their increase is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication you’ve put into their education. Be proud of what your children are accomplishing, and train them to use it wisely.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
~ I Peter 5:5

Your Turn!: If applicable, in what area has your child surpassed you in knowledge?

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Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
– John 14:27

Let_Not_Your_HeartI am a worrier. Lord forgive me, but this is true. If our routine’s off by just a smidgen, I start to sweat. Mass amounts of responsibility sit on my shoulders and I start to wonder if I can handle it all. The kids are getting out of hand, acting out, and I start wondering if I’m failing as a parent. My choices in curriculum and social activities begin to weigh on my mind. And these are just the small worries.

If work is slow, paying bills is going to be tight because we are self-employed. My kids need glasses, clothes, food, and so much more. New laws in our state might force regulations upon us that usurp our parental authority. The list could go on.

It is in my nature to worry about everything and anything. I worry about having dinner finished at a good hour; using too much laundry soap; stretching our budget; whether or not I should have said those words to that person; and if I am ‘enough’ for the people who depend on me. I worry. I worry. I worry. This is who I am… on my own.

Ah! But that changes everything doesn’t it? What I am on my own cannot compare to what I am in Christ. In Christ, I am a new creation. (II Cor. 5:17) My old nature is constantly battling with who Christ is trying to help me become. I can easily slip back into a pattern of old habits, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by life; forgetting Who is in control. My emotions war with the Holy Spirit who is trying to comfort me, offering me peace during times of trial.

Overwhelmed by Emotion

If gone unchecked, emotions can sometimes overwhelm; clouding our minds and paralyzing us. We cannot see the truth for the feelings standing in the way. We have allowed reason to fall by the wayside and allowed our hearts to dictate our current state of mind.

And yet, we are reminded in Jeremiah 17:9 that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are not to be ruled by our emotions or the turning of our hearts. What we feel is not to be our focus, but, rather, what is true.

What Is True?

The truth, as we are reminded in John 14, is that we have been given a spirit of peace. Not just any peace, peace given by God Himself! We have the God-given ability to accept this peace and move forward, but we have to choose to do so. God will not force His peace upon us. He will not shove this peace down our throats. He will not beg us to take it. We must choose to accept His gift willingly.

Let Not Your Heart…

Our emotions are not going to gain control of themselves. We need to be proactive about not letting our emotions control us. We need to rely on the Lord and ask Him to remove this stress and fill us with His peace. We need to trust He is going to see us through.

This does not mean He will always meet our needs in the way we expect; sometimes He doesn’t! Christians die, go hungry, and are persecuted – we are told to expect this (John 15:20) – instead we ask that He see us through the trial and come out of this stronger. We accept that God is in control.

On my own, I am a worrier. In Christ, I am learning to have peace; peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). My friends, let not your heart be troubled. Instead, accept the gift our Lord has freely given. Peace which fills our empty hearts, calms our sea of emotions, and confounds the unbeliever. May we choose to accept the gifts Christ so willingly died to give us and enter into a life well lived.

Your Turn!: When worried, I find it helps to pray and reorient my focus. What helps you when emotions seem to hold sway?

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May I Take a Break Now?

may_i_take_a_break_now

“Who said you could sit down? Just look around you. I’m sure there is laundry you could be doing. Surely there are floors you haven’t mopped, messes which you could be cleaning, and activities you should be planning. If you must sit, I should see a planner in front of you, or, at the very least, a piece of curriculum you’re reviewing. Didn’t you know you aren’t allowed to take breaks?”

I wonder what gave my brain the idea that sitting was unacceptable. Why must I always feel the need to ‘produce’ something, and constantly be on the go? It’s taken me quite some time to realize that relaxing can be just as valuable as working. In fact, sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing I could be doing.

When I am constantly on the go I run the risk of overworking myself; making myself of use to no one. It is when I sit in quiet contemplation I am better able hear the voice of the Lord, renewing my strength and increasing in wisdom. I return from a place of rest prepared to serve my family and continue in the ministry to which I have been called.

The most difficult challenge is taking breaks when my husband is present and working hard. When everyone else is resting, I am less inclined to push myself as hard. But, if he is going to be working, shouldn’t I be working, too? Ironically, my husband often thinks I do too much and ought to relax more often. Why can’t I just sit and enjoy the movie and leave the dishes for later? If the kids are finished with school, why don’t I keep him company while he’s illustrating his latest project? If left unchecked, my lack of rest can become a point of frustration.

Speaking of my kids. What am I teaching them by constantly being on the go? They learn by watching me, and I don’t want them growing up with the mindset that constant activity is a necessity or that their value lies in what they are doing. In order to learn the benefit of rest, I need to set an example.

I feel the need to note… I hope it is clear I am not advocating a breakdown of the home. If you have read our page for any length of time, you know I highly recommend maintaining a clean home, home-cooked meals, and an organized lifestyle. What I am advocating is balance. There is a time to clean, and a time to rest. There is a time to organize, and a time to relax. In order to better serve in these capacities, we need to make a point of taking daily breaks.

The next time you’re tempted to put off that moment of rest for the sake of ‘doing something productive’, remember that renewing the soul and mind is profitable. Stop, take that break; then return to life’s never-ending responsibilities, ready to rock!

I hereby give you permission to take a break. Rest well!

 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”

Psalm 116:7

Your Turn!: When you do manage time for breaks, how do you relax?

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“I’m Bored!”

im_boredThere used to be an old saying, “If you’re bored, it’s because you are boring!” I find myself constantly quoting this to my children whenever I hear complaints of this nature. Personally, I find it very hard to validate any claims of boredom. There are far too many things in life to do, see, experience, and accomplish for me to be bored. So when my children show signs of this malady beginning to take hold, it’s time to jump into action.

Often “boredom” is merely another way for children to express an inner restlessness. Thus, we have devised a whole list of “boredom busters” which we frequently employ when the bug decides to bite.

Boredom Busters

  • Bubbles- Believe it or not, we don’t keep these out all the time. They are kept just for such occasions and for special events.
  • Play Dough- Same concept, we keep these for those times when the kids just need something different to do.
  • Art Attack- I have special boxes of art supplies just for moments of boredom. They are filled with foam shapes, stickers, self-inking stamps, and other fun items they don’t use when doing their normal art projects.
  • Paper Dolls- We have various sets of paper dolls (and some magnetic ones) which we pull out, helping to entertain us all.
  • Glow In the Dark Sticks- You might think these only work at night, but not so! We have been known to pull them out in the middle of the day, lock ourselves in a bathroom, and spend an hour having some fun.
  • Board Games- Hey, they aren’t called that for nothin’! We have been known to dump all the pieces out and mix them up, creating completely new games.
  • Flip Side- This is a fun activity my kids like, where they lay on their backs and imagine the world upside down. What would it be like to walk on the ceiling?
  • Balloons- I keep a bag (or two) of balloons on hand at all times. It takes only a few moments and the kids have a room full of balloons to play with. This never fails to keep them entertained.
  • Face Paint- After Halloween, I make sure to pick up several face painting kids for very inexpensive. We pull these out every so often and practice painting each other’s faces.
  • Camping- We have a child’s size camping tent we pop out, this offers hours of fun with very little work involved.

It seems quite a few others experience the same dilemma. There are entire websites, articles, and blogs dedicated to eradicating the boredom bug. Wow! Thankfully, our kiddos are very good at keeping themselves entertained. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan of action, in case the boredom bug hits.

My last resort, if none of the above seems to entice? “Hey, there’s always chores!” For some reason, this always seems to work….

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:18

Your Turn!: What is your favorite way to battle boredom?

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