This week’s blog cruise topic is “fitting it all in”, which I think is an appropriate topic for homeschoolers. It seems to me that, (contrary to popular belief) so many of us have so much going on, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done!! The beauty of homeschooling is that we can tailor our kids interests to fit what they learn and what they do, the downside is, this can lead to a plethora of opportunities, on top of managing our homes, volunteering, and all of the other things that falls on our plates!!
So, what do I do to get a handle on all this stuff? Well, I believe the first step is to set priorities, and for me, these come straight from the Lord. It is easy to get swept up in the idea of wanting to do EVERYTHING!! (teach Sunday school?? Yes! Join 4-H and scouts? Yes!! Music lessons? Yes!! Lead the homeschool co-op?? Of course!!). Whenever we are faced with a new opportunity, I always present it to God first, in prayer, and wait for Him to give me a direction. Sometimes the answer is a “yes” and sometimes, even though I really want to do something, the answer is a “no”. Regardless, my goal in homeschooling my boys is to raise them up to serve Him so I always follow His lead.
Some questions I ask myself before agreeing to a new activity are: Will this activity build up my child in their faith? If it does, then that activity will go to the top of the list. Next, I ask, “will we be serving others and spreading the Lord’s message through this activity?”, again, if the answer is yes, then that means it moves up to the top. Next I ask how much time the activity will take and if it will benefit my family or children in some way. I know that I can’t do everything, so I have to be careful to pick and choose what we spend our time on.
Cases in point: we really need some extra money (who doesn’t these days?? 🙂 ). One of my friends, who does the Pampered Chef, wanted to recruit me to work on her team. I love to cook and I love kitchen products!! This seemed like a great chance for me to make some extra money. However, after researching and discussing this with my hubby, we decided that the benefits would not outweigh the cost, so I chose not to do it.
Another example: My youngest has been on a baseball kick lately, he loves to play with his best friends in the backyard and at the park. He asked us about playing with our local league this year, and we told him we would consider it. First we looked into the cost (Oh my goodness!!) and the time committment. Both were pretty high. We were heavily involved with scouts (me a pack leader and my husband the Scout leader) for a long time, and we know the demands it places on you. To participate in this sport, it would tie up all of our weekends, not to mention take time away from church events we consider important. We have limited amounts of time to give, and after serious prayer and discussion, we decided that baseball just wasn’t for us right now. However, I did find our local community center offered fencing lessons (after the Olympics my son got really into this sport) and they were one day a week, for a low cost! We signed him up for those instead and he is very happy.
Both of my boys also take private music lessons once a week (one does guitar, the other, drums). These easily fit into our schedule, and we want to encourage their musical gifts, so this is something we are willing to spend our time and money on. We belong to a local homeschool group that meets once a week and offers elective classes and field trips, as well as a homeschool “running club” that meets twice a week to give our kids interaction and physical activities. These are things I plan our days around, and things we feel give an important and everlasting value to our children. As a family, we are all involved in volunteering at our church as well, and this is usually a first priority for us!
So, what does this mean for me as a mom? Well, I get up early and go to bed late some nights. I try to ensure I am in bed by 11 on weeknights, and up by six. And yes, I have to do laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping and menu planning too!! I find that being organized about these things is a HUGE help. I use my planners from TOS magazine to plan my menus, my shopping, and my day to day activities. I keep everything in a binder where I can easily look and see what I need to do.
I also try to break my bigger chores into smaller chunks. My kids have chore lists they complete every day, which makes cleaning the house easier. I also write daily activities down for myself, that make the work of homeschooling easier (i.e.: Friday: plan, Saturday: Print out all necessary papers…etc. etc.). I find that by breaking my bigger jobs into smaller pieces, I can do a little bit every day and still have some time to hang out by the pool!!
My number one “thing” is to get up early and spend time with God. I read my Bible and ask for guidance for the day. Each day, I want to do what HE thinks is most important. If that means taking a break from science to deal with a character issue, or to help a friend in need, so be it!! I want my children to know that while they may have a “plan” in their heads, God has supremacy over what goes on in our day!!
And yes, I am frequently yawning by 5:00, but that doesn’t bother me too much. My kids seem to grow faster and faster every year, and I want to enjoy every moment I get with them! So, if that means I’m a little tired now, I will gladly deal with it. I know that once they are grown and all of my time is “my own” I will miss these hectic days!! 🙂