Time Management

Be Careful With Your Stuff-Learning The Hard Way

It’s inevitable that children will break things. Our oldest son was quite careful with his stuff early on and didn’t break very many things. Usually when something of his did break, we would fix it for him. My wonderful husband is a great handy man and can fix almost anything. Then, along came our second son and suddenly lots of things started getting broken. Initially we would fix everything just like we had when we only had one child. We were obviously busier now that we had two children and since things were getting broken at a much more frequent rate, we started getting a pile of toys and things that were waiting to be fixed. For the most part, the children didn’t even seem to miss them. I am not a fan of having toys or work piled up waiting for me. It stresses me and I try to avoid it. So, I decided it was time for a change in our fix it plan.

We changed our fix-ability criteria from “Are we capable of fixing it and is it economical to fix it?” to now adding on “Is it also an absolute favorite toy of the child’s or is it something that we really want their younger sibling to have someday?” With our new fix-ability criteria, we started NOT fixing most of their toys and things. If the toy was unsafe or unusable, they had to throw it away. Otherwise, they could choose to use the item in it’s broken state.

As a result, their pile of toys started diminishing to a more manageable number with no effort on my part. My children seemed more satisfied with less than perfect things (which is something I feel is important for them to learn). I also noticed that the frequency of things getting broken, had decreased! They had learned how to be more careful with their stuff. We had taught them a very important lesson-that not everything can be fixed.

What ways have you used to teach your children to be careful with their stuff?


Is It Break Time Yet?

I have days when things just aren’t going well. We all do-it’s a part of life. Sometimes I have a sick kid that needs extra attention, or sometimes a special event that requires time to get ready for, or sometimes I’m just plain stressed out and exhausted from life. Those are the days I give myself permission to take a day off. In fact, I even plan at the beginning of my school year, for some of these days. I try to schedule our work to be done a few weeks before I absolutely want it done in the spring. That way I have more wiggle room and can take a few days off when I want to without having to stress about it.

Now if you are reading this and really want a day off, but feel you can’t because you haven’t planned for it. Don’t worry! You can still take a day off. In situations like this, I try to stay rational and ask myself “What’s the worst that can happen?” My children may have to do an extra page in their workbook tomorrow. They may have to do some schoolwork on Saturday. We may have to work an extra day later in the spring than we planned. I might save their extra schoolwork for a rainy day in the summer.  I might just skip a page in their schoolbook (I know, if I do this, I start to panic temporarily that my child might spend the rest of his life not know the sound of the letter “h” or something equally important. I come back to reality quite quickly and realize how erroneous this thought really is.). My point is that it’s great to plan for days off so I don’t stress when I need one, but even if I don’t plan for it, it’s still okay to take an occasional day off.

Now I do have one caution to keep in mind. I need to make sure that when I take my occasional days off, they are “occasional” days off. I don’t want to get into the habit of taking too many days off and find myself stressed out because I still haven’t finished this year’s schoolwork and it’s the middle of August. If I do find myself taking a lot of days off, I consider changing something in my life. Maybe I need to take a break of one or more subjects, or lighten up my schedule, or sometimes it’s as simple as have devotions be the first thing in our day to set us on the right path in the morning.

If I find myself in a season of life where I am struggling a lot, yet can’t change anything like after the birth of a baby or a long illness, I tell myself that it’s okay to do light schoolwork for even a whole year (though I’ve never had to). I focus on reading, writing and math during these times. I do the rest when I am up to it (which usually comes quicker than I expect). My children are still learning during these times just not the way I planned.

My favorite verse at these times is Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (NIV) I hope my struggles can encourage you in your times of struggle as well.

Does being a “stay-at-home mom” mean that I have to stay at home?

In addition to being a homeschool mom, I am a stay-at-home mom and I love it. I feel very blessed that my husband and I have agreed to sacrifice so that I can stay at home and raise our children. 

Life gets busy sometimes and it’s easy for me to get so busy that some weeks I find myself going somewhere every day and not actually staying at home even though I’m a stay-at-home mom. Of course it’s okay to go places and do things. I like going and doing.  Many of the things I go and do are necessary like grocery shopping, or doctor appointments. Other times it’s educational, volunteering, or just plain fun. It’s all good stuff. 

However, when I do all these wonderful things outside of my home, it’s just that, outside of my home. It doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to stay at home and be a wife,mother and teacher which, after God, are my next priorities. The more I am away from home, the more I get stressed since obviously things like the laundry and the kids’ schoolwork aren’t getting done to my usual standard. The more I get stressed and crabby, the harder it is to be a good Christian, wife, and mother.

It is tough for me to balance how much to go and how much to stay. Lately I have been challenged to evaluate my goals/priorities as a Christian, wife, and mother and to really think about how much I want to stay at home as a stay-at-home mom and then try to find ways to meet those goals. Sometimes I have to just say “no” or “not now”. 

I have to remind myself often that “self” comes last. I struggle when I hear the common phrase “You have to take care of yourself first, so you can be a better wife/mother/(fill in the blank)”. This logic sounds appealing to me because it offers me an excuse to be selfish. Things like eating three meals a day, sleeping eight hours a night, and getting a shower qualify for taking care of myself. Going out for a day of shopping with my friends doesn’t usually qualify as taking care of myself. It qualifies for having fun for myself which usually falls into the selfish category. God tells us to be servants to others, to think of them first, not to be selfish and think of ourselves first. If God, husband, and children are cared for first, then I think it’s okay sometimes to do something for myself. It’s important that I get my priorities straight.

I know that the more I stay at home, the more my children’s quality of education improves, the less stressed I am, and the happier my husband, children, and I am. I think it’s worth the trade off of a little more fun outside the home now and than. 

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