Are You in the ‘Dead Zone’?

I could feel it coming on; a total shut down. I had, once again, overloaded the organ currently called a brain and put it into meltdown mode. Too much information was being entered, a mass amount of work was being done, and my body was calling it quits.

How often do we do this to ourselves? Personally, I do it far too often. From the minute I wake up ’til the minute I get the kiddos down – and sometimes beyond – I am rushing at the speed of light, trying to accomplish more than is humanly possible. The result of all my busy-ness? The dead zone. A temporary state of mind where I have to literally stop everything and just breathe. A point in time when, if I don’t stop, I’ll careen myself right into shortness of breath and a massive headache.

What causes the dead zone? An overload of activity or activity which I had not planned for. On occasion, it can also be caused by my own foolishness; namely, me choosing to do far too much on any given day. Unfortunately, that’s usually the one that gets me.

Last week is a prime example… We needed to get learning done in the morning. I got the kiddos started. While they were wrapping up work, I did a list of chores and cooked some food. We rushed through lunch and headed out the door. We handled a special event and ran two errands before I dropped the kiddos at home with their pop. I headed back out to do a few more errands, only to come home and start another list of things I wanted to get done before the day was over. Did I mention all of this took place before dinner time?

Now, mind you, every day is not like this! (Thank the Lord!) But I have noticed a trend. More and more days are becoming like this. It needs to stop. Having a busy day once in a while is alright and understandable, but doing this several times a week is just too much.

The sad part is, the main culprit is me. No one is putting pressure on me to get this much accomplished. There is no manager standing behind me, ordering me to finish this list of “to do’s”. This is all me. I need to learn how to say, “no”; even to myself. I need to realistically look at my day and understand I am not Superwoman. Yes; I could rush around like a mad woman and get all this accomplished – and some days I do – but those days should be few and far between. If I am managing my time well, the days will be full, but not overwhelming.

Most importantly, I need to stop telling myself that the more I do the more I am worth. This is not a competition, even one against myself. Just because an activity could get done today, doesn’t mean it should. If something comes up at the last-minute, I need to take stock and realistically decide if this can get done; without me ending up in the ‘dead zone’.

I truly hate to admit it, but I do not need to get this much done in one day. If all of my days are filled to the brim with busyness, even for a ‘good cause’, I might be missing out on something just as important; those quiet moments with my kids and the ability to just relax. Before I run myself into the ground, it’s time to slow down. It might just be a short season of our life, but I am tired of being stuck in ‘the dead zone’.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to [His disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”
~ Mark 6:31

We’re curious… Do you ever find yourself overworked to the point that your brain decides to call it quits?

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Getting the Most Out of Field Trips: A Series Review!

Field-TripsWho doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery,  and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they will quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly. Join us as we share tips on how to make the most of any field trip and explore ideas for a smoother day.

What if we could make the day more simple? Wouldn’t the trip be much more enjoyable if we had a plan of attack and were better prepared? I think so. After planning field trips, both for myself and for larger groups, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young; this won’t last forever. ~ Cristina

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
~ Proverbs 24:27

We’re curious… Do you enjoy being spontaneous with outings or planning in advance?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: A Series Review!

planning_the_homeschool_yearWhether you’re still in the stages of planning your school year, just starting, or you’ve been at it for weeks but still need to make some adjustments… Enjoy this fun series designed to help take the stress out of homeschooling planning!

While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our year of homeschooling. Just where do we start? When do we start?! How many school days am I required to complete? Should I stick to a routine or plan out a detailed schedule? All these questions and more fill the head when planning out our homeschooling year. Let’s take a look at each mind-boggling area of planning and break it down!

Planning Your Year
Planning Your Day
Building a Family Plan
What Do I Need?
Counting the Cost
Portfolios
Field Trip Fun, Part I
Field Trip Fun, Part II
Finding Friends
Finding Sanity

Planning the homeschooling year doesn’t have to be a stressful event. Pray about how the Lord would lead your learning, and proceed as He guides. Allow Him to be the center of your home and focus all your attention on what He wants of your family.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
~ I Cor. 14:40

Your Turn!: Which part of homeschooling is your least favorite to plan and/or organize?

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Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail: A Series Review!

Fail-to-planRecently a friend who is fairly new to homeschooling gave me a call. She had a lot of questions regarding homeschooling, but her main concern seemed to be, “How do I do it all? How do I clean my house, do my laundry, school my kids, do a million other things, and still remain sane?” My one resounding answer was organization! As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Now, let me be very clear. I am not perfect, nor do I always plan perfectly. There are many times I have needed to restructure my plan. Things change and so do my family’s needs, but the saying still stands true. I will not accomplish anything if I don’t at least have the building blocks set in place.

That being said, how do we go about setting up our schedules? I’m so glad you asked!

Prioritizing Life
Managing the Budget
Adding Events
Planning the Homeschool Year
Putting it all Together

Please keep in mind, these are not hard-lines which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point. What works for me, might not work for you. We should feel free to pray about what we are learning and then decide for ourselves where the Lord is leading.

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

“And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”
~ Habakkuk 2:2

Your Turn!: What is the best household management tip you’ve ever received?

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A Simplified Life

Simplified_LifeBefore summer gets away from me and life once again becomes crowded with too many homeschooling resources, parent-taxi responsibilities, and an overburdened calendar, it’s time to take a moment to breathe and simplify life. Perhaps you’re feeling like me and could use a little encouragement. Join us in reviewing this fun, simple to follow series!

With these basic, easy steps, we hope to help simplify life. Join us as we share our thoughts on how to simplify all areas of our lives, homes, and learning.

A Simplified Life: Menu Planning
A Simplified Life: Chores
A Simplified Life: Homeschooling
A Simplified Life: Educational Resources
A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities
A Simplified Life: Free Printables

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Help, We Started Late!

Help_We_Started_LateLet’s face it, there are times in life when we all run a little behind. We arrive to appointments late, we show up tardy for Christmas dinner, and perhaps don’t get the bills in the mail on time. As homeschoolers, the one time we shouldn’t have to worry about running late is during our learning day.

Each of us is on our own schedule. We all have a routine which best meets our family’s needs. Once we have established ourselves it can be all too easy to start feeling like a failure when we vary our day or even our week. We get up a little late and it seems the whole day is out of focus. Life hands us a curve ball and school for the week is a total loss.

Instead of allowing this situation to get the best of us perhaps we need to look at this from a different angle. We are homeschoolers. Unless our state or PSP mandates a particular day-to-day routine, we have the freedom to start our learning any time we like! There is no ‘running late’ to start arithmetic and science. There is no waking up ‘late’. Apart from outside appointments, running late is nonexistent.

To take this a step further, we might even consider these occasional variations in our routines a blessing. Maybe we needed that extra sleep and our bodies are renewed. Maybe we needed those extra minutes to get the science project done. Whenever we experience a slight change in our schedule, this doesn’t mean we are failing or running behind, it means we are adjusting our day to best meet our family’s needs. Sometimes that means more sleep, sometimes that means a longer learning lesson, and sometimes – in my case – we decide our local theme park looks good today.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I like routine. I thrive on routine as a matter of fact. I am the first one to admit ‘running late’ is a frequent worry of mine. There is a time and place for having a schedule; many of us benefit from a daily plan. However, we need to plan our day; not let our plan run our day. Don’t live for the routine.

This month, as most of us head back to our learning routines, I pray we all forget the imaginary clock in our heads; the one that tells us we ‘didn’t start on time’. Instead, let us live each day to the fullest; grateful for each moment we have with our kids.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Your Turn!: What helps you get back on track when things seem to be running a little longer than you planned for?

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Do You Feel Like Goldilocks?

GoldilocksSo, you’ve finally figured out your method of homeschooling. But what comes next can be even more challenging; finding the right curriculum. It leaves one feeling a little like poor Goldilocks; one curriculum is just a little too cold and others just a little too hot to handle. How does one find the right fit?

I wish I could give you a simple, straightforward, fool-proof method of finding the perfect curriculum for each child in your home. But, honestly, anyone trying to sell you that should not be believed. The truth is, there is no easy answer! Like poor Goldilocks, you just need to give it a try.

Through careful study of our children we can make the job a little easier on ourselves, to be sure. Knowing how my children learn will help eliminate numerous options; narrowing down the choices. Attending curriculum fairs, perusing material displays at conventions, and reading online forums also benefit us. A few companies are generous in offering samples and trials of their curriculum. Asking friends and homeschooling acquaintances about their experience is a good option. It’s always a good idea to see something in person and read through some of the material.

Try as we might, at the end of the day, our only option is to make that purchase and give it a go. We pray the curriculum choices we’ve made work and we do our best to not squander our funds. It’s a gamble, but we pray it pays off. Generally we do okay, but sometimes it takes a little finagling. Then we are left wondering what to do with the curriculum we now have no use for. Should we sell it off or perhaps give it away?

Even if we can find what’s ‘just right’ for this moment, give it a year or two. Just when you think you’ve got it down, your kids grow up a little and you’re making changes to accommodate their needs. Here we go again!

Does this all sound a little disheartening and discouraging? It shouldn’t! Think of it this way. We all go through this; you aren’t alone! (Well, okay, most of us. I suppose some might be getting their curriculum through a charter or buy the entire boxed set from a company, but you get my drift.) For those of you who are in the midst of this Goldilocks Syndrome, know that we’ve all been there; some of us are there once again with growing kids’ needs. We’ve all had to make those tough curriculum choices. We’ve purchased items we haven’t figured out what to do with, we have resources still in the boxes, and on occasion seek the advice of others who’ve gone before. Take heart; you aren’t alone.

Once again I find myself suffering from Goldilocks Syndrome. I have a two daughters in high school, a junior higher, and a son in the last years of elementary. Finding the perfect science and history curriculums can be a genuine challenge. This year’s course in Chemistry is proving especially difficult! I want to find a fit that’s ‘just right’ for their needs. Time to dig out the spoon and test the porridge!

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,”
~ Deuteronomy 7:9

Your Turn!: Share with us your most expensive homeschooling failure, and why it didn’t work!

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When Did Busyness Become A Badge of Honor?

When_Did_Busyness_Become_A_Badge_of_Honor?As I sat visiting with a friend, I began to notice a distinctive quality to our conversation. After being asked about my oldest daughter’s college classes, we had moved into her work opportunities, then on to the general homeschool calendar. Family activities soon followed. What bothered me wasn’t the current topic so much as the pride which seemed to be creeping into my tone. Our ridiculously over-filled routine had me brimming with pride. When had busyness become a badge of honor?

The Lord used that teachable moment to remind me of something important. It is dangerous to allow our worth and value to be caught up in our routine. We are not more successful because we are busy running around town. A lot of tasks completed does not, in fact, make me more accomplished.  It just makes me more busy.

On the flip side, neither is the notion of doing nothing a badge of honor. I am not a better parent, or closer to my children, because we go nowhere and our calendar is clear. I can equally ignore my children at home as not meet basic needs by being constantly on the go.

The goal is to be content with where God has placed us. To be in the center of His perfect will. At times this will give us a full schedule, while others allow us rest. Neither has anything to do with my ability, and everything to do with God’s goodness.

A good place to start is by doing a heart check. When choosing activities, are we doing so because the Lord has prompted our hearts and moved us in this direction, or because everyone else is doing this and I am worried others will think we are failing to be sufficiently involved? Perhaps I am cramming much into our schedule for fear of missing out. If we refrain from activity, are we judging others for their busy lives while we appreciate a season of peace? Neither course of action is wise. Both lead to a prideful heart unfit for service.

When sharing, I want it to be from a heart so full of Jesus I am overflowing with joy at what He is doing. Even if what He has brought is a season of rest. What is important is not what we have done or not done, but how God is moving through that moment.

May the only thing I glory in be God alone.

But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”
~ Corinthians 10:17-18

Your Turn!: Where does the Lord have you right now; in a season of rest or activity?

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Series Review: If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Fail-to-planI am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day. In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

Part I:   Prioritizing Life
Part II:  Managing the Budget
Part III: Adding Events
Part IV: Planning the Homeschool Year
Part V:  Putting it all Together

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion; pray about what you are hearing and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

A Simplified Life

Simplified_LifeBefore summer gets away from me and life once again becomes crowded with too many homeschooling resources, parent-taxi responsibilities, and an overburdened calendar, it’s time to take a moment to breathe and simplify life. Perhaps you’re feeling like me and could use a little encouragement. Join us in reviewing this fun, simple to follow series!

With these basic, easy steps, we hope to help simplify life. Join us as we share our thoughts on how to simplify all areas of our lives, homes, and learning.

A Simplified Life: Menu Planning
A Simplified Life: Chores
A Simplified Life: Homeschooling
A Simplified Life: Educational Resources
A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities
A Simplified Life: Free Printables