Date Your Children

Having four children, homeschooling, running a home-based business, and serving in ministry, it can be difficult to find quality time with each child. A few years ago, the Lord showed me the perfect way to build up our relationships; dating my children!

Every Saturday, the children and I head over to my mother-in-laws’ house for a visit. I drop off three of my children (who excitedly run into the house and announce they are ready for fun and food), then the fourth child and I head on out for a date.

When on our dates, I usually allow my children to decide what they would like to do. Sometimes we go for a walk or visit antique stores. At other times, we have gone for fancy tea parties or ice cream. It doesn’t matter where we go, what matters is that we are spending time together.

I think one of the greatest joys of our “dates” is getting to know who my children are. I am often surprised by their observations and questions about life. I have learned so much about their dreams, their fears, and their struggles.

Right now, being that summer is a little crazy, our dates have been on hold. Getting back to school in another week (and a more settled schedule), we are looking forward to resuming our Saturday “dates”.

I pray that the Lord would use these days to strengthen our relationships and unify our family. That He would use these times to teach me about my children and how I can better minister to their needs. Sometimes I wonder if my children will look back on these days fondly, remembering all the little things that really meant nothing and yet everything.

How do you “date” your children?

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Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One

Fail-to-planRecently a friend who is fairly new to homeschooling gave me a call. She had a lot of questions regarding homeschooling, but mainly her problem seemed to be this, “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 this: 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 that I have had 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? First things first, know what your priorities are! Being a Christian wife and mom, my priorities are thus: Being a Godly woman, being a Godly wife, and then being a Godly mother. Taking this into account, the first thing I want to do is sit down with a calendar (daily and monthly) and start putting things in place.

The first thing I want to schedule in is my time with God. Some women prefer to do this at the beginning of their day. Great! Some of us prefer lunchtime or when the kiddos are finally in bed. No matter when you decide to do it, make a point of putting it down. Your relationship with God must be firmly in place; from Him will you gain the wisdom and peace to proceed with the rest.

The next thing I might want to schedule in, is chores. The first ministry that I have been given is to be a Keeper of the Home. The Lord has shown me this must come first. If my home is not in order, I have no business being outside of my home doing other things. My chore schedule is as follows (I use this as an example, by all means do what fits your lifestyle, not mine!):

Monday: adult laundry/bathrooms                                                                           Tuesday: children’s laundry/floors and dusting                                                      Wednesday: linens/bathrooms                                                                                  Thursday: grocery list finalized/menu                                                                            Friday: library/errands

Being that it is currently summer time, now is my opportunity to put this schedule to the Fail to Plan: Part Onetest. Is this working for me? Perhaps I need to change some days around to make things work better. I also want to start taking notice of when is the best time to do my chores. I don’t necessarily set a specific time, but setting up blocks of time gives me a general idea of where I might have “free time”.

Chores being designated and set in place, I now want to start having the kiddos get in on the game. Even my youngest who is only five helps out the family. Each of my kiddos is given a task and we all work until the job is done. Our kids need to learn the value of a job well done, working together, and being responsible. Mommy handles the washing of the laundry, but the kiddos help fold and put their own laundry away. Mommy cleans the basins, but the kiddos do the mirrors, floors, and counters in the bathrooms. We have the joy of working side by side and encouraging each other in doing a good job. They will often hear me saying, “Good job, Joseph! Keep it up honey, you are going to be a pro at keeping your home when you are a mommy, Trinity!” The kids will learn to enjoy their chores, have fun working together, and take pride in their work.

Two things I should point out though. One; while the kids are young, they are going to make mistakes. Try not to clean up their messes in front of them. Wait until they are out of sight and preoccupied, then straighten things up. This will prevent them from getting discouraged, but still keep your house to the level of clean you might like. The second is this, be prepared that the kids will complain from time to time. Let’s be honest; work is work! Don’t give in and do the chores yourself! You are only making your job harder in the long run and robbing them of the joy of responsibility.

Once I have my chores pretty much down, then I will be free to start adding other events onto my calendar; slowly and with much prayer.