You’ve told yourself that you are ready to get started.
I have a question for you, Mom. What about YOU?
Easy Homeschool Mom Success Hacks You Can Actually Do
We get so wrapped up in preparing for our kids to have a successful school year, that we don’t stop and make a plan for ourselves. That’s what I want to do in this article today. I want to talk about some sanity savers that will help YOU prepare YOURSELF for back to school!
Homeschool Mom Success Hack #1: The 4 20s
When attending a workshop held by Oginga Carr, a business coach in my network, I heard about the 4 20s. These are four things that you do every morning before picking up your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Here they are:
20 ounces of water—Most water bottles are 16.9 ounces, but you can still find some 20-ounce bottled water, guestimate with your own water bottle, or find a 20-ounce water bottle.
20 ounces of reading from a physical book—GASP! Who does THAT anymore? The truth is that we are less likely to be distracted when we read from a physical book because it has no notifications popping up!
20 ounces of body activation—Yes, exercise is what I mean. This is one that I have to get better with myself. Sigh!
20 minutes of planning—What do you want to get done today? What is it going to take to get it done? Do you have it? If not, what can you use instead? Get things together before your family converges on you!
Homeschool Mom Success Hack #2: Chore and Responsibility Chart
Everybody in the house needs to help—and you need to LET THEM HELP! Let go of the perfectionist mentality and give your children chores. Take advantage of teachable moments because it is all stuff they need to know by the time they leave home anyway!
Consider using a loop schedule to keep down arguments about turns. Here’s what a loop schedule looks like:
Homeschool Mom Success Hack #3: Define Your Working Hours
If you work at home or run a business out of your home, establish definite working hours and get your family on board. Let them know that if no one is bleeding, on fire, or has severed a limb, then you are not to be disturbed. Have things prepared for them to do during that time and teach time how to help each other! Call in reinforcements if you need to, especially if you have little ones.
Homeschool Mom Success Hack #4: Meal Planning and Prep
Having a meal plan can make dinner time simple and shut-down time less chaotic. Start with family favorites and then develop a rotation based on what you know your family will eat without question! For freezer meals, you can use sectioned containers from Amazon. The ones we have are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven safe!
Homeschool Mom Success Hack #5: Commit to Mom Days
Contrary to popular opinion, you need to have a day and time to yourself to do the things that you enjoy. Doing so does not mean that you don’t love your family. The best thing you can give your family is a complete and whole YOU! So, even if it’s just going for a quick walk, a movie, and a snack in your room, or reading a book while they are doing their work. Make a way to do something for YOU!
Back to school isn’t just about them. You need to do things for yourself, too!
Original article by: Tammie Polk is a married homeschooling mother of three girls who has penned and published over 20 books on life, faith, family business, and fiction — all while working as a substitute teacher and virtual assistant, running two businesses, traveling to speak at various events, hosting an international radio show, and hosting her own events! When she’s not running the world, she enjoys gaming, crossword puzzles, and making board games.
We only know about him because he held the unique and dishonorable distinction of being a thief, and one who was caught at that. He died in disgrace, poverty and agony. He was tortured, crucified and died.
Thieves often come under cover of darkness, in confusion, or perhaps on social media; places where they can easily hide and are rarely called out. And thieves- they can be so compelling. They are often masters of disguise, presenting themselves as one thing all the while working underhandedly to steal and destroy. Thieves are con artists- they are the masters at bait and switch. I would venture that many unwitting, well meaning people have handed over that which further damns the thief to their ultimate demise. Thieves are, by definition jealous people who are not content with their lot in life and perhaps even work to destroy that which they claim they now want or was taken from them.
The well known thief on the cross probably worked under cover of night, or in secrecy, or in a crowd, but died in broad daylight, exposed and disgraced.
We’ve all done it. Shared that juicy tidbit, been outraged by accusations, shocked at what we’ve just heard. In fact, I would venture to say that a good thief- one has honed their craft- is subtle enough to tweak the facts just so, so that the we see a bit of truth in the claims, “Ah yes, I always knew he was demanding- I see how he’s a bully,” But few – if any of us- actually go to the person who is the true victim of thief’s crime to seek truth. Reacting to a claim takes little from us. Acting as a Chrsitian takes everything.
But let’s be honest, we are all thieves. Each one of us. We’ve all claimed what wasn’t ours, been jealous and petty, said a little – or big lie- to justify our own sin. Projected onto others so that we are not discovered. We’ve all taken something precious and destroyed it. We’ve all defiled the purity and holiness of the Living God; stolen from others and bankrupt them; stolen from ourselves and defiled what and who are called to do and be.
We are all thieves, hanging on the cross- disgraced, found out, naked and exposed.
Some of us proudly jut out our chins and die, sealing our fate. Others of us accept the free give of mercy and salvation and recognize that the man in the middle holds the power of life and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. His arms- stretched out on the cross- nailed there in humiliation – have the power of life and death, hell or resurrection.
We are all thieves. And we can all look to the Man in the middle. It’s not too late- whether we are successful in our thieving or exposed. Either way, the Living Christ is the truth holder and knows of our disgrace, death, corruption, jealousy, bitterness and hate.
The one hanging there is the middle- HE is the Living Christ. He offers the free gift of salvation to all who believe. He has raised the dead to life- each one of us- dead in our transgressions, if you only look to Him and believe! Alleluia!
Twelve years ago, our house had burned, my 47-year-old sister had died unexpectedly, my oldest ended up in an E.R. several states away with Bird Flu, our contractor was crooked, we moved three times in ten months and threw away 90% of our possessions. We moved back into our partially finished house during the worst flooding in our region’s history (though last year topped that). My dad died a few months later.
One thing we all have in common right now is that life is uncertain.
And with that uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, and possibly depression. Stress. Will we get sick? Will we get better? And will we have a job? What will the world look like in 2, 4, or 6 months?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Maybe right now you can relate to these words that I wrote 10 years ago:
I have been tossing and turning for nights. If there were an Olympic event for turning 360’s under the covers- I’d win. Cause while we are home, we are far from settled. The house remains undone and critically demanding from both a time and money standpoint. I feel pulled in a 100-directions at once for a myriad of reasons. Like Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, flurrying around, scurrying in all directions, wondering if she should pack the kitchen sink for their flight from imminent danger, flustered because she’s worried she won’t make a good impression, concerned that Mr. Beaver will fall into the path of danger. Geez, man, she’s a worrywart.
Oh, how I relate. Cause I’m faithful and true and a diligent and hard worker and busy and industrious and mindful of things, and thinking of what’s next and on and on. But I’m concerned. Concerned about all that’s not being done and what’s up ahead and how I look and what’s next.
When Mrs. Beaver finally meets Aslan, his comment to her, which sets all things right in her life is, “Peace, Beaver.”
And with those two little words, the High King sets it all straight. He recognizes who she is, calls her by name, dignifies her presence and speaking words of power and might, and straightens the crooked places by His ruasch, alive and manifesting His strength and vision for her. The fussing and stressing and striving cease and she can relax in His presence knowing He’s got her back.
Sunday’s Coming! I’ve had a hard time getting there for the past many months. I’ve been grief-stricken and weary and flustered. And it’s not that things aren’t better than before, we have been blessed in amazing and profound ways; it’s the process of how they’ve gotten that way. Inventorying time and materials, thoughts and actions, sorting through possessions that were meaningful because of memories or people, profoundly feeling the loss of family, moving yet again in a matter of months.
Looking at Our Circumstances
I look around at all of the projects and consider how we’ll make due this fall and feel, oh so rocked by the waves of the circumstances. The work is something we enjoy, but the amount of it seems ominous, and while Dr. Dh is confident we’ll get it done, it’s all in the context of a day job and homeschooling and the living that will take place around it. And I see how we get tired and sore in a way we haven’t before. Age, stress, and the demands of the year manifest themselves in practical ways.
This year, in the midst of the chaos and flurry of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances I’ve longed for ritual. For benchmarks that say it’s this season or that. This is what you do when, the words you say now, the posture you take in response. I’ve needed guides, markers, mindless actions to go through that indicate time and life go on in a sensible and pleasing pattern despite disruption and chaos and hurt and fear and unrest and inconclusiveness”- the ritual and meaning and confirmation of faith and death and loss and living.
God is Our Refuge
My youngest came up to me where I was sitting a few days after we moved back home and said, very quietly, “Momma, the fire scared me.” Just so plain and simple and straightforward, but sad and apologetic, like her little 7-year-old self should be braver. The very fact of being home again, I think, finally allowed her to say these simple words. I said, “I know, Baby, of course, it did.” And she crawled into my lap and snuggled against me, curled up like when she was two, and stayed there for a while. Later she looked up at me and smiled and gave me a big hug and hopped up and went to find kittens to play with. I’m grateful she could be as little as she needed to be and snuggle up with someone older and bigger and stronger and sit and soak in my strength and comfort until she’d absorbed as much as she needed.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble. … Come and see the works of the LORD. Psalm 46:1
On so many levels, I’ve felt like my little girl and I’ve wanted to say the same thing; “The fire scared me, Sue’s death rocked me, I feel the loss and lost.” And I want to feel and hear and know Abba is saying, “I know, Baby, of course. Rest in My peace. I’ve got you. Despite the worry and chaos and confusion and disorder and the house undone and work ahead, I’ve got your back.”
And He does.
I know He does for me and I know He does for you!
Sunday’s coming! And with it, the Living Christ!
Spend time with the Living Christ and have fun in your homeschool with the free Holy Week Breakout Room!
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Business guru Seth Godin says, “Strategic Quitting is the Secret of Successful Organizations.”
Wow. Let that sink in during January of 2021. Because it felt like we all did a lot of quitting in 2020- quitting regular meet-ups with friends, live church, eating out, going to the gym, co-ops, class days, etc.
But that’s forced quitting, and hopefully, we’ll all be back to our life-giving communities SOON.
Strategic Quitting in Business
What about the things we need to give up: things that waste money, time, energy, goodwill, and our personal or collective resources? You know- the chocolate caramel treats you started buying in bulk around, say, March. Quitting that skanky show (you know the one). You won’t let your kids watch it, but you know isn’t so healthy for your attitudes either. The overpriced coffee you buy that blows your budget and supports causes you don’t—that type of quitting.
This month- as you think through habits and dreams, assess what you can cut out. Think through the fluff and fat. Lean up.
If you are in business, what you need to quit might be super obvious- or not. I was getting a recurring charge of $12.99 for a service I didn’t use (no biggie, but glad I caught it), and I was automatically enrolled in membership from a class that cost $129 a month (a definite biggie that I didn’t catch until several hundreds of dollars later (ouch)!
But that’s business. How does this apply to homeschooling?
Strategic Quitting in Your Homeschool
Are you clear about your academic, life, and soft skills goals for each kiddo, and are they current? A quarterly mom assessment is not a bad idea.
Are your kids moving forward, or are they frustrated and stuck?
Are you, as the homeschooling teacher, frustrated and stuck?
Remember the Goldilocks Principle as you teach and train your kids: not too hard, not too easy, one step beyond what they know. If you, or your kids, are constantly frustrated by a subject or skill, it might be time to quit giving in to that frustration.
Get some testing, invest in a mentor, or an academic advising session. Those kinds of investments cost pennies on the dollar, point you to effective tools, tips, and curriculum, plus save your child (and you) years of heartache and frustration.
Let’s Quit These Things Together
Do you dread using the curriculum you purchased but feel guilty about tossing it aside? Quit the mom guilt. Sell it or gift it and do something else. There’s plenty of great curriculum out there (some of it free) that will bring you joy. Quit cheating yourself because of guilt. And if you need permission, as a homeschooling vet of 30 years, I’m giving it to you.
Are you wasting time by not having clearly established rhythms and routines for your day? Quit letting life control you and set a realistic, doable schedule for you and your family. That means taking time to be aware of the natural rhythms and routines y’all have. It means being a student of your family.
Are your kids up way before you and ready to be productive, but you stayed up too late grabbing “me time”? Do you frequently sleep through your kids’ most productive hours of the day? Quit giving in to your emotions. Plan and schedule time so that you get re-fueled in a healthy way that feeds your entire family.
Are you constantly spending money on eating out because you didn’t meal plan? Quit putting off the inevitable. You and your people are going to need to eat. Multiple times a day, in fact, and learning how to plan meals and implement that plan will save you thousands of dollars and your health in the long run.
Is your clean unfolded laundry a permanent fixture on your couch because you ran out of time to fold and put it away? Quit thinking the laundry fairy will come to your rescue. Your Grandma probably had a weekly system that went something like this, “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, etc.” Create a doable laundry system; wash and dry throughout the week and then set aside 1-3 hours a week where everyone folds, hangs up and puts away laundry.
Addition by Subtraction
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Make 2021 the year you QUIT.
Quit anything that creates distractions and diverts you from your mission. This year, determine to GAIN peace, sanity, and productivity.
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My daughter cleans stables on the weekends, and since her brother has gone off to college, I have been going along with her. It’s peaceful work. The stables are beautiful, the horses are award-winning and the work straightforward. We clean stalls, sweep the barn, and feed the creatures. The tack room smells of warm leather, the stables of fresh alfalfa, of horse and life.
I look at the barrows full of manure, raked from freshly cleaned stalls, re-supplied with fresh alfalfa, and think, this is life. Cleaning, feeding, sweeping up the debris from the living. We talk to whatever horses are still stalled, and some time to each other, but generally we work.
My daughter, the gardener that she is, gathers tubs of manure to take home to feed her compost beds. Content in the hard work she’s done and the money well earned, we both get in the car, sweaty and tired, smelling of horse and work and life. Her work ethic has been hard-earned, both in her education and life.
My grandparents had a fourth-grade education, yet they valued the gift of education.
Out of my four grandparents, none of them went past fourth grade in any formal type of school. They were, however, always learning. They were hungry for learning. My Gram died a few years ago, 1-month shy of her one-hundredth birthday, still living in her own home near Medway Airport in Chicago. She died in a home that she’d literally lined with books and music and animals and life. She had magnifying glasses at all her sitting places so she could see to read: books, magazines, and papers. She taught my Momma-less, illiterate Mom to read at age eight, by reading Shakespeare out loud to her and rewarded her with Mother West Wind books from the Five & Dime.
My grandfather watched the stock market daily and took careful notes. He studied the Bible with the same careful tenaciousness that he gave to everything else. He wasn’t’ “educated” by today’s standards, but he could talk to anyone about anything and made friends wherever he went. He was passionately curious about people and how they lived and was a good neighbor to all.
My grandparents relished the gift of education. They believed that learning was a beautiful privilege and one they were hungry for.
Crown & the Growth Mindset
Queen Elizabeth, as portrayed in the mini-series Crown, seeks a tutor at one point. She has all the privileges of royalty and wealth, is the most respected woman in the world, which she travels extensively, and yet she sees a need in her own life. A need filled only by education. She hires a personal tutor to fill the void that money and prestige can’t fill. She is dissatisfied with what she doesn’t know and finds a way to fill the gap that lack of education has left.
Her sister, wealthy dissatisfied jet setter, is portrayed as bored and jealous and goes after a man that won’t “work” for her circumstances. We see a person who believes that the only satisfaction they can expect in life is physical and so she drinks and smokes and philanders to excess. The demands of her life don’t lead her to seek the fulfillment of learning and knowing. Because she hasn’t developed the intellectual discipline that character and education require, she settles.
So what does this have to do with the gift of education?
So often, in the homeschooling world, I hear this idea: character is more important than the book. “Put the book down and focus on character training.” I find this odd because it assumes that character training and education are at odds with each other. Au contrair! There is so much character training to be found by educating one’s self or another!
Let’s face it, the cycle of learning can be difficult. When we first encounter something, especially something challenging, it feels overwhelming. I remember the first time I tried to teach First Form Latin. I didn’t understand the teacher’s manual. I didn’t understand the grammar vocabulary; terms like Declension, Imperfect, Pluperfect, Mood, Conjugation. It felt awkward and tough. Now, years later, I love The Forms. It takes difficult material and lays it out in all its parts- vocabulary, grammar, sayings, culture.
Learning often requires an overview and familiarity before we ever get to mastery. It takes perseverance, hard work, vision and character to grow past overview. Getting to mastery requires all sorts of soft skills, character, and strength! Education IS character building!
Education is not a given
For many people around the world, education is not a given. My grandparents received very little formal education. Kids in the third world often don’t’ have the gift of education. Even royals don’t get the education that they need. Education requires infrastructure, stable government, money, and the character and vision to pursue it. It’s a gift. Educational choice is an even bigger gift.
In my weekly Latin classes, I pray. I pray that we all appreciate the gift of Latin and Education and that we steward that gift well. Latin isn’t going to save the world, but students who learn to appreciate words and the Word that became flesh, are great instruments to lead people to the One who can!
Gratitude for a life full of education –
Homeschooling is such a unique and beautiful gift in this day and age of fast food everything. We have the time and opportunity to train our kid’s character as we school them. It’s a both-and, not an either-or proposition. You can teach math AND character at the same time. In fact, I would say they often go hand in hand. And to have the time and opportunity to train our kids well-their minds as well as their character is a gift.
I often hear that homeschooling should be fun, and I wonder where that idea got started. I’m not saying it should feel like slavery or a grind, but often hard work requires just that- work. Not that you can’t have fun while you work, but often work doesn’t feel necessarily like fun. And even if our kids don’t feel like they are having fun, they should still be educated, and we should not cheat them of the opportunity to have that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from learning and academic accomplishment. We should teach our kids to be grateful for the gift of education, for the opportunity to homeschool. It’s not a right. It is a privilege.
And what’s all this have to do with a horse barn anyway?
That simple gift of work that causes one to sweat a little and feel the good tired that comes from working hard; that’s what education often consists of. Real education – the kind that takes us beyond ourselves and transforms us, requires hard work, like the horse barn; vision, like my grandparents had; and a growth mindset like the Queen.
Gratitude reminds us of the above – that we are being given a great gift by being educated, and we are giving our children a great gift by handing them a personalized education, in the form of homeschooling.