- Krista, THM Reader
"Keep up the great work! We need all the good tips and advice you ladies have to offer, but people like me need Todd's humor and reminders to relax
sometimes too. You're all doing a great job and balance each other out
If you like The Homeschool Minute, you won't want to miss a single issue of
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"I have never had a homeschooling article touch me in quite this way before. The info was good, the encouragement was valuable, and it was written with compassion, not judgment. Thank you again for making my job just a little easier!"
- Leissa, THM Reader
"I can't tell you how much I look forward to each one. They are chock full of great advice yet such a manageable length that I can easily digest each one. And I don't think you could find a more perfect mix of contributing authors than Nancy, Deborah, Todd and Ruth. I love how each of them brings his or her own perspective on the same topic. . . . Great nuggets of truth and a perfect balance!"
- Mandy, THM Reader
"I want to thank you for the encouraging and informative articles in The Homeschool Minute. I know that God is blessing you for taking time to share with others. There is strength in numbers, even if you can't see their faces, or squeeze their hands with understanding. Thank you from the bottom of my family's heart."
- Melody, THM Reader
"Thank you so much, Nancy, for the article about 'down-time.' It spoke to my heart, and I'm praying it through for this coming fall."
- Charity, THM Reader
"I love the new Teacher's Toolbox. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas and resources. We have started the weather study, and all of my kids love it. "
- Carrie Ann,
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|The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine |
The Great Balancing Act February 16, 2011
Homeschooling feels like a great balancing act sometimes, doesn't it? We all have a lot of different responsibilities: homeschooling, housework, quiet time with God, church, meals, time with our spouses, extracurricular activities, getting together with friends, and fun with the kids, and only 24 hours a day and a limited amount of energy for them. Sometimes it seems that if you focus on getting the house caught up, school goes by the wayside, or if you get on top of the book work, the house gets out of control.
How do you keep it all balanced?
Some people do a great job of scheduling it all. I haven't been able to master that yet. I can't fit it all into my schedule! (Maybe some of you can relate?)
However, life at our house does have its own rhythm and hum, and even without a schedule, I can tell when things get out of balance. I wish getting things back in balance was as easy. I'm really looking forward to hearing how some of our speakers in May's Schoolhouse Expo deal with the great balancing act. In fact, Mary Jo Tate is doing a workshop called "How Do You Do It All? Balancing Family Life and Home Business." Diana Waring is doing one about helping your students become more self-motivated. Malia Russell is doing one about delegating. And Dari Mullins' presentation about learning how to de-stress your life is sure to help. If you haven't gotten your ticket yet, you can still buy one and save $10 off the full price.
My suggestion for finding balance is to start with the most important thing: time with God. If you do nothing else, do a Bible lesson with the kids. It will help set the tone for your day. Talk with your husband and kids and come up with a team plan for getting things back on track. I've always found that my kids are great about jumping in and helping or working more independently when we're trying to make time for a fun activity! We all like to have things to look forward to. Be sure to schedule in those fun activities and down time for your family, and always remember that the most important things in life aren't things.
Enjoy every minute!
Our next Schoolhouse Expo is coming up
May 16-20, 2011.
- Chance to win a Great Wolf Lodge Getaway during our LIVE Door Prize Extravaganza
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|Mercy Every Minute|
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
Today, I had so much to balance that everything flew out of orbit and hit the ground with a big thud. I can easily be overwhelmed with homeschooling, working part time, mothering full time, and ministering all the time. There have been many, many times when I have lamented to my husband in tears, "I can't get it all done. I can't do this. I can't make it all happen. I can't be all things to all people. I just can't do it anymore." My husband has learned that it is ineffective to say, "Yes, you can!" or "If only you would do such and such . . . " Rather, because he understands (after all, he's got a ton on his plate, too), he says, "I understand. You do have too much. Let's see how we can move some of that off, or how the kids can help or what you can let go or delegate." And sometimes I just need his ear to say that I am overwhelmed and then I feel better and can think about a solution since I've gotten past the emotion and stress of it all. And at the end of the conversation, we pray together for God's leading and strength.
If you are a homeschooler, you are going to face days or weeks like these. Don't let them deter your determination and conviction about homeschooling. Some quit for these very reasons. If you are feeling like quitting, then perhaps it is time to seriously reevaluate how much you are trying to cram into one 12-hour day. You don't have to do all subjects every day. You could do the basics Monday through Thursday, and then do your science or history or creative writing (or whatever is the straw on that curriculum camel's back) only on Fridays, or twice a week- but skip something else. Or if you have a co-op or field trip, take it easy on the schooling those days or skip it altogether. Make simple meals and let the kids help you cook. Some time spent with them when they are young produces cooks who can take care of any meal with ease.
Maybe you have lots of little ones and you are the only one to make it all happen. Ask even the little ones to help you. Yes, it will be messy and not quite right, but they are learning, and if they are right beside you, eventually they will grow up to be stress relievers instead of stress inducers. Some days, you will juggle things all day and feel like you got nothing at all done of importance. Let me reassure you: Having those babies home where they belong with you, who knows and loves them most, is more reward than having a spotless house and a checked-off list.
And if you are still in the dumps, take a day off to rethink things (the kids will love that), put some praise music on and study that devotional you've been pushing aside, and rest in the assurance that your obedience to God and His Word will bring eternal rewards whether you can see them today or not.
Don't quit. Keep them Home Where They Belong. Pray for strength and direction. And purpose to praise God, especially when you feel like you can' do it anymore. He dwells in the praises of His people and wants to strengthen us in our weakness with His glorious power.
Hey from Gena
Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS
Balancing homeschool, housework, and other responsibilities? I guess it can be fun-whatever. Not really. In the interest of being transparent (and keeping it all honest), I'll admit it. I fail at keeping it all together. Epic fail. At any given time, you will find dirty dishes on my kitchen counters (what counters??). And after a few days, it doesn't always smell pretty in there! Fortunately for me, we have hardwood floors throughout most of the house, so spilled food and kid barf is easily cleaned up, and the time Sani took off her own diaper in the kitchen, and well, I'll spare you the visuals (say "thank you"-trust me), we were able to manage the sanitization of it all. No one could believe that one diaper could hold ALL of that. What a disgusting disaster.
And now the contents were all over the floor, flowing out into the living room (sorry). Paul and I are always saying, "Can you imagine if we had carpeting throughout this place?" Right. With six kids, that would be a financial nightmare because we'd have to replace it every other year. Plus it would be gross. How do you clean those sorts of puddles up out of a rug? Imagine the stains everywhere. Sick.
Anyway, then you add to that "balancing act" the running of a national magazine out of our house, too. We all work from our laptops-here it is, "TOS corporate headquarters"-right on our couches (the ones sitting on the hardwood floors with all the dust bunnies in the living room corners). Okay, sure, so sometimes we do clean it all up. After all, with all these kids, we ought to be able to bark out a few commands and mobilize the ranks. And we do (I'm a good delegator). But not every day. Not even close to every day. The worst thing (to our feigned horror) is when friends drop in unexpectedly and they can't sit down on any of our three couches. Clean laundry (unfolded, of course) covers the seats, so they have to kind of stand there, smiling uneasily as they announce why they showed up in the middle of our house-hurricane. Epic fail.
Okay, so I admit it. But who cares? My kids are happy, Paul is jolly, we have great friends who know this is how we are but don't really care either. They just smile awkwardly if it's really bad on a given day. So what was the topic again this week? Oh, sure, balancing it all. Well, um . . . er. Yeah, right, I'm a real expert there (snort). You know what? We're balanced where it counts. There it is. We love the Lord, we have our kids at home where they belong, we cook really great stuff around here, and my kids are fat little butterballs. Done! The rest will come later when the two babies get bigger. Until then, I'll kick the dust bunnies back under the couches where they go and we'll mop the hardwood floors another day. Well, then. Tonight, maybe I'll make my famous Chicken Alfredo (if I can find a pot under all those dishes). Have a great week. Don't do it all-just do the important things with gusto. Good enough.
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| The Familyman|
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries
From where I sit, I don't think the typical homeschool mom has a problem balancing homeschool, housework, and other responsibilities. What I see is that so many homeschoolers have tossed out FUN because it doesn't "fit in" and gets in the way of schedules, presumed responsibilities, and getting things done.
Kids ask to play games, and parents say, "Not right now, I'm busy."
They'd like to see our smiles . . . but we're busy getting important things done. We have gotten out of balance. We've made school our No. 1 priority and forgotten the more important aspect of family, and that's enjoying one another.
So, can I encourage you to let a few of those other things slide for a while and concentrate more on the fun part? Everyone will be glad you did.
|It's Just Common Sense|
Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist
Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant
I remember a story Dr. Beechick told me about her son Andy. When he was young, he wrote about sports for a local newspaper. Ruth would drive him to the sporting event, and afterward she would drive him to the newspaper while he sat in the back seat of the car typing up his article.
Her family did what was necessary to help each member. She didn't focus on rules, she focused on cultivating an attitude of mutual care. This simple yet powerful example of how a family makes things work out of love for one another, not legalism, touched me.
To follow this example with our children, we shared needs, such as preparing for guests, and then we all pitched in to make things happen. On a daily basis, everyone helped with chores like cleaning up the kitchen, taking care of their belongings and getting schoolwork done. We all helped as needed, making the work go faster and feel less burdensome. Many hands do make light work.
Homeschooling is heart-to-heart. Even among homeschooled children, I often see the "it's not my job" attitude. Rules can get in the way of building a family that can work together to get to the playtime together. Show your children how to serve from the heart and then watch them learn to do the same.
Read more from Debbie at www.debbiestrayer.com.
Molly Green, Econobusters
Trying to find (and keep) the balance is probably the biggest hurdle homeschooling moms have to tackle. As soon as it seems we have it figured out, something pops up to throw a kink into the plans. Maybe we should consider the whole process as a kind of ongoing "skills development" project for Mom!
I've found it helps to start out by being realistic. Go figure! That may sound simplistic, but it's not. In my January Digest, I had the kids (in my Tightwad Training Camp series) list everything they'd like to accomplish in a week and then schedule it all into time slots. If you do the same, you may be surprised to find that not everything fits. I know I was. This helped me to see that my expectations weren't realistic. You can narrow the scope a bit by just applying this exercise to your homeschool day.
If fun is a priority (and it should be), then be sure to schedule it into your school day. Game time, nature walks, crafts, and hands-on learning all tend to be left out if we don't make them a priority. It might be helpful for you to remind yourself of why these activities are important. They reinforce learning, teach new skills, build relationship, and add some fun to the day. Don't underestimate their value. If you'd like a few forms to help with scheduling, you might enjoy some of these:
- Simple Mom's Daily Docket is probably my favorite resource for making sure I get the big stuff done.
- I just posted this simple but effective cleaning schedule download on the blog. This could easily be adapted as a chore chart for the kiddos.
- Many people find Flylady helpful for organizing chores and household duties. She'll even "nag" you via daily email reminders if you wish.
- If you want to take the planning out of cleaning, try the Motivated Moms calendar. She has thought through all the hard stuff; all you have to do is follow the plan and check off the chores. This isn't free (though it is inexpensive), but you can scroll to the bottom of the page and print out some samples.
- These planning pages from Hold That Thought are great for making sure you're scheduling in the "fun stuff."
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|Contest Central |
For the month of February, 2011
The Listeners-Tales of Young Americans Series
The lives of slaves depended on circumstances beyond their control. They had nothing to say about whom they would work for or where they would live. They never knew when they might be separated from their children or their spouses. Hoping to learn their fate, they sent small children to hide near the windows of their masters' homes to listen.
The Listeners is the story of three of those children. Bobby, Sue, and Ella May have to help work on the plantation and they each have their jobs, but when the night gets quiet and the master and the mistress start talking in the big house, the little ones have the most important job of all-they have to listen. They listen for their futures and they listen to find out what may happen to their parents. The children find out they will be getting a new overseer, and they are happy because the one they have is a cruel man. They bring this news back to the family. The family isn't so sure that this is good news or bad. (. . .)
As with all the titles in the Tales of Young Americans Series, this is a beautiful, moving book. It perfectly conveys the message that the lives of the slaves were not their own. There was no easy, carefree childhood for them. The Listeners portrays a difficult time in our nation's history in a stirring manner for children. This book is not to be missed and would be a perfect addition to any Civil War study.
Read the rest of the review here. Win this book for your family!
Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject "The Listeners" for a chance to win* this book!