Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Wise Words From An Older Mama

I recently received this group email from an older, homeschooling mom of a large family and I asked her if I could share it here. I was really blessed, and I thought someone else might be, too :) The following are her thoughts:

"I have sat at many get togethers discussing 'how to get it done' with
many moms. We all sat around and scratched our heads in wonder.

Being a mom of a large family is a full-time job and homeschooling
is a full-time job. That is two full-time jobs for one woman. That is
a tall order. I felt guilty about all that I was not doing for so
long. Now I am starting to realize that I can only do so much and I
need to adjust my expectations to reality.

Here are some things that helped me.

1. Teach your kids (3rd grade and above) to self teach. I really enjoy
teaching my children, doing unit studies, notebooking etc. But their
are times (like pregnancy) when I just can't. They can still get a
good education at these times. Give them a Math book, some high
quality literature and some copywork or written narrations and let
them learn on their own for awhile until life evens out a bit.

2. Simplify. Put away all the dust-collecting knickknacks. Limit toys.
Cook simple meals (pot roast with potatoes and carrots in a crock).
Limit children's clothing. Keep toys in a central location like a play
room or familyroom so that only one area of the house need be messed up.

3. If you have kids age 6 and up, delegate housework. My oldest
daughter did all the housework and some of the cooking all on her own
when I was extremely ill with CFIDS. Not ideal, but she managed and
learned responsibility in the process. I no longer feel guilty about
handing out chores to my children. They learn so much that they will
never learn from books.

4. I don't schedule more than one activity in a week. I don't schedule
more than one activity on the weekend. I just get too wore out (and I
am not currently pregnant either!) I just cannot get the schooling
done if I schedule too many outside activities. Sometimes we feel
guilty if our children are missing out on all the opportunities
available to them outside the home. I don't allow myself to feel
guilty about this anymore.

5. Set aside time to clean. We do a half day of school on Fridays and
spend the rest of the day cleaning house. Daddy is happy to have a
clean, orderly home for the weekend. We do not do any heavy duty
cleaning the other 4 weekdays, but focus on school and meals. If you
haven't met FlyLady, you will love her book and website. She saved my

6. Use audiobooks. We check out audiobooks of classic literature to
listen to at bedtime and while traveling. We love Joy Hakims History
of US series. So my children are being "read to" while I am not doing
the reading.

7. Use your computer. I like Phonics Tutor to teach phonics to K-3rd
graders. Very effective, although not very exciting and colorful.
There are also some good free online spelling tutors, math flashcard
drills and even SAT vocabulary drills. Assign one of these activities
or hand them a good book and take a nap. (I have to jump in here and say I prefer the book idea, lol)

8. Make and keep a regular school schedule with strict hours. This was
a tough one for me. I realized if I held a job outside the home, I
could not schedule anything in the hours I was working. I could not
take phone calls while I was at work. I could not check my e-mail
either. So I try to view my schooling as my "career" of sorts and
don't answer the phone unless there is an emergency. I schedule
doctor's appts late in the day after we are usually finished with school.

9. Make sleep a priority. I am crabby and emotional if I get sleep
deprived. I also get less done in the long run because I cannot think
clearly and efficiently. So I will allow myself to sleep in or nap if
I am up with a fussy, teething baby or sick child. I view sleep
deprivation as dangerous. It can result in accidents (physical or
spiritual). I have come to see it as setting a stumbling block before
me if I allow myself not to get enough sleep. I am more likely to
scold and yell at my children in an ungodly manner. I just plain find
it difficult not to have a bad attitude when I am overtired. I act
just like my 3 year old when he misses his nap!

10. Keep time with God #1. If I neglect time to nurture my
relationship with God, I don't receive the wisdom and guidance I need
to manage each day.

So here are some ideas I have employed. I still have my days and weeks
when things go awry and we don't get much done. At those times, I try
(but admittedly don't always succeed) to trust the Lord that He is
sovereign and we will get done what is needful in His plan for our lives."