I entered into this year of homeschooling, knowing that I wanted to enjoy every ounce that I could. (I’ve got a second grader and a first grader and a rascally three year old and one more kiddo on the way, come this winter.)
I want to enjoy my life and my children and grow and learn and explore and thrive along with them. I knew this would mean that I would need a plan. I consider myself a writer and an artist, so making plans is new to me. But, these days, if I’m going to have any time to create, then I have to make plans so I don’t squander all my energy on all the other harder, more mundane things in life, that are necessary, but don’t exactly fill me up.
This semester, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about the whole process. I also knew that it would mean I would flounder around. And make a lot of mistakes while trying to figure things out. But, I do also know about grace and that Jesus is far more gracious and here in the daily grind with us, than we even imagine Him to be.
So, as I’ve been seeking and praying for wisdom and guidance, a few friends all mentioned this particular book to me. I read the title and was hooked immediately. I rarely unhesitatingly buy something, (unless it is dark chocolate) but I hopped on Amazon and whisked it into my basket and I’ve been slowly chewing on it and gleaning so much goodness and help from it ever since. Today I finished it.
In her book, Sarah Mackenzie asks her readers an important question. She inquires, “What’s true of you?” Then she goes on to point out that if we are trying to fit ourselves into a certain mold because we are comparing ourselves to others, then we will wear ourselves out. There is just so much remarkable freedom in homeschooling. It’s why many of us choose to do it. We can pick what’s best for our kids and for ourselves. But, if we’re constantly striving to get it all right or perfect, or match someone else’s routine, then we’ll sacrifice relationship with our kids and we’ll lose our peace.
So, I took a few minutes to jot down 10 things that are true of me. I think that if I can hold a bit to these 10 things, I will be a peaceful person and enjoy with my kids, this grand adventure of homeschooling.
What’s True of Me:
I like my house to be clean.
Homeschooling naturally erupts into lots of creative messes but I am not okay, actually, with constant chaos and clutter. So, as we go along, I plan to teach my kids to help me clean. These are life-skills that they need to learn anyways. We’ll work together to both create and to pick up again–bringing order back from chaos. Making this space feel peaceful is a priority to me.
I need time to tend to my soul. To be filled up with God.
It’s hard finding “quiet, devotional” time with a brood of children. But, I’ve discovered that I can read my Bible over a long leisurely breakfast with my kids at the table. We don’t have to rush to cram food in our mouths before they get on the bus. We can all sit for a bit and nourish our bodies and our souls. I can write my favorite Scriptures out on a notepad, in hopes that they seep into my bones. And I try to speak them out loud, in hopes that my kids catch a few things here and there that remind them that God is the most important Person and we need Him.
I need to eat regularly so that I have energy.
I know this one sounds silly, but it seriously affects my life. I have to take care of my body. I have troubles with low-blood sugar, so it’s important for me to take breaks and get in the kitchen to find some protein every couple hours. This keeps me from feeling depressed and overwhelmed at the prospect that my kids can keep up the never-ending energy while I’m constantly fading.
I need time to write and process my thoughts.
I’ve been a writer ever since I was a young girl. If I don’t get the words out, I get all agitated and angsty and I even start to lose my sense of purpose. It’s okay for me to take some snippets of time here and there to just write. When I’m doing what I love, I am a better wife and momma and all around person. God made me a momma, yes, but He made me a thinker and a writer too. I think every woman should find something she loves and carve out time to do it.
Sunlight helps me.
I’m not the kind of girl who can stay inside all day. Even back when I worked at the office, I’d go a little bit nuts in my cubicle and find ways to sneak outside on my breaks just to stare up into the trees and find some wild things to enjoy. Dishes and laundry will be okay without me for a little bit. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can go outside whenever we want. I’m super glad about this.
I want to tend to people’s souls.
I need to know that I’m not just taking care of my own family, though they are the most important people to me. But that I’m also doing some things to help the world outside these walls. I’ve got this yearning inside my chest to tend to people’s souls, particularly through writing and speaking and just normal human interaction. Thankfully my husband is amazingly supportive of that. So, sometimes I will get out and be with people and have meaningful interactions. And sometimes I’ll schedule an evening at a coffee shop to just go write. And occasionally, I’ll accept a speaking request to go pour into a group of people that are struggling along just like me.
I need to connect with Brent and talk with him regularly.
In this season of life, it’s just hard to connect with my husband. We try to talk in the van on our way to doing things but everyone is yelling in the backseat and I can hardly hear what I’m thinking about or what he’s even saying. So, I plan to be intentional about connecting with him at the supper table and at night after the kids go to bed. It helps to keep the emails and texts going throughout the day and schedule occasional dates.
I’ve found that since I don’t have as much time to converse with Brent, I have to be more honest with him when I do. (Which is hard for me. I didn’t grow up learning how to communicate honestly. I grew up learning how to internalize and stuff things.) But, it’s pretty obvious to me by now that if I stuff things, then only contempt will grow in my heart toward my man. So, this one takes lots of effort and practice, but it’s so worth it because we’re a really good awesome team! (And we have some cool dance moves.)
I need rest/down-time in the afternoon.
For whatever reason, I cannot go all day long. About 2, I have to make a hard stop. So, I lay down with Sam for just a little bit while my big kids play quietly in their room or watch a movie. I feel much better and it helps get me more cheerfully through the rest of the day. (And it teaches my kids that they can entertain themselves for a little while or get some rest, too.)
I need people. Like, grown-up people.
I love my children with all my heart. But, I also need to be with my friends. Or with strangers. I need to hear grown-up talk. So, I plan to get out of the house (sometimes with my kids and sometimes without them) so I can remember who I am and what the world is like out there.
I need to go slow.
Slow enough to enjoy these babes of mine while I still have them here with me. Slow enough to listen to their hearts and catch that wild light in their eyes when they’re throwing their heads back in laughter. Slow enough to learn and wonder with them. Slow enough to talk to God and hear His voice and abide in Christ.
I think all these things will help me thrive this year.
(And if you happen to be in the same boat as me, I’d love to ask you the same question…what’s true of you?)