Ah..inspiration. Let me be honest, toward the end of the school year, I tend to lose my inspiration. I just feel so worn down as the year comes to a close. I like to use summer to recharge my batteries. For this review, I received a copy of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, written by Mary Jo Tate and published by Apologia Educational Ministries. I took it with me for some poolside reading during my vacation.
Wow. This book is just full of so much…so much inspiration that spoke directly into my life!! First of all, the author, Mary Jo Tate is an experienced homeschooler who also runs her own home-based business. She knows what it means to have to balance work, life, family, and school. As a single mom, Tate does all of this on her own…well, not completely. In Flourish, she explains how she finds balance, and lot of her secret has to do with something I struggle with: Knowing how to delegate!!
Tate began her career as an entrepreneur as a freelance editor. I work as a freelance writer, and I have to say, at the time I was reading this book, I was on a much welcome break from my computer. I was feeling WAY overwhelmed. Even during the summer I find it hard to balance work and family life. Chores, shopping, cleaning…and forget just hanging out and having fun..and did I mention I made a commitment to myself to exercise this summer because I really really need to?? To be honest, I had begun to question if I was even cut out for this!
But then I spent a week reading Flourish..and my absolute most favorite part of this book that I will carry with me is when Tate says we have to learn to make peace between the ideal and the reality! I know that seems like a simple concept….but for some reason, when I read those words, it’s like they just clicked in my head. Here’s the thing: I think as moms we are really really good at setting up completely unrealistic expectations for ourselves. And then we kick ourselves when reality does not match the picture in our heads. Let me give you an example: This is how my day goes in my head:
I wake up at 5AM to have my coffee and quiet time. Then I go for a jog around my neighborhood before coming home to shower and get ready for the day. Once I am well dressed and presentable I make a healthy breakfast for my family. I hand my hubby his coffee and wake my happy and enthusiastic kids and we all share breakfast to start our day. School starts promptly at nine, with me toggling back and forth between writing, and helping my kids with their schoolwork. All of us have a great attitude. We break for lunch, then all three of us spend time cleaning up and doing some chores before getting back to school. School is done by 2:00 and while my boys finish chores and extracurriculars, I finish up my work for the day in time to cook up a delicious dinner to share after daddy gets home. We then enjoy a leisurely evening with my kids in bed by nine and me heading off to sleep by 11.
Sounds great right? Okay, this is how a typical day really goes:
I drag out of bed by 6:30 (okay, sometimes 7). Do some jumping jacks and wash my face. Read my Bible and resist the urge to check email. Barely manage to make coffee before the hubs leaves for work, at which time I am still in my robe. Wake my kids up about FOUR TIMES before they finally stumble out of bed at 9AM. Heat up some pop tarts while I go over the schedule for they day..deal with 10 minutes of arguing about who has which chores. Finally get school started at 10. Shower and get dressed while kids do math. Finally get to work around 11, have to immediately stop to help with school. Everyone figures out lunch on their own and the school day ends somewhere between 2 and 4. I cook up dinner and am halfway presentable when my hubs gets home. Kids finally get to be around 10 Then I am locked on my computer until 1 AM trying to catch up on work.
Sigh…obviously there is a big discrepancy between my ideal and my reality. The problem is, my instinct is to kick myself for not living up to my ideal. Instead of cutting myself slack, I tell myself that I am just not doing good enough. The problem with that is, I will NEVER be that good. And I have to learn that while it is okay to have lofty goals, it is also okay to only achieve 3/4 of them (or even 1/2).
In her book, Tate advocates setting over-reaching year-long goals as well as weekly goals. She tells readers to base their goals off of their vision for their lives. When setting goals, you can set them in levels, your “realistic” goals, and the ones you want to “shoot for”. So, when I set my goals for the week, I set a realistic goal of three days of exercise each week, with a shoot for goal of five. So, while I may WANT to work out every day, I recognize the fact that some days, that just may not be possible. As long as I reach three, I will be happy.
Each week you evaluate your goals. If you see a goal you are consistently missing, Tate leads you through a series of questions to determine why. Perhaps the task is something you just don’t need to do at all, or perhaps that task is something you can outsource to someone else, or perhaps you just need to buckle down and do it. The fact is, Flourish gives you a solid plan for how to determine those things that are most important in your life and how to make time for them. She is also open and honest about how NO ONE can really do everything (at least on their own) and that’s okay.
I would definitely recommend Flourish for any homeschool mom who feels overwhelmed. I am now going back to reread all the pages I bookmarked in my first read! The book costs $15.00 and is absolutely worth it!!
To learn more about Mary Jo Tate and this book, check out their social media pages here:
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