Redefine Falling Behind

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

Now that the school year is in 5th gear a parent can easily become terrified of falling behind. I released myself from such a burden many years ago, because I made time to redefine falling behind for our family.

falling behind

Your Falling Behind should be different than mine. It should be different than your best friend’s or even your bible study teacher. Yet we all want to put this term on and wear it around as if one-size-fits-all. Just like pantyhose … that’s a lie.

My youngest attends a one-day-per-week-private-homeschool. Every Wednesday afternoon he comes home with a beautiful yellow assignment sheet. Four days are listed with four assignments for each day and subject. It might be one page, 1/2 a page, or one large project broken up over four days. It’s lovely. I appreciate it. But there is very slim chance we’re going to complete everything on that sheet.

Years I begged, demanded, threatened, and even bribed the child to finish it all, because I like check marks. Check marks make me feel safe, warm, and comfortable. My son has no regard for check marks.

My son also has delayed fine motor skills, so writing 8 sentences can take up to an hour for him. I have to redefine “falling behind”.

My oldest son has joined a soccer team across town. And by town I mean major city. Even if we leave an hour early for a 40 minute drive, I still can not control interstate traffic. Often times we’re late. I have to redefine “falling behind”. When will we get there? When we get there!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we stopped keeping to others expectations and kept to where God has placed us? Falling behind should be different for each family according to those family’s needs!

A single mom friend turned down a request from the PTO. They wanted her to make dinner for the 5th grade teachers. Since she’s “just” a single mom and has time to serve others. She said no. People can think she’s falling behind on her service commitments or others can see she’s protecting her family time.

Maybe you need to have a chat with your husband and ask his expectations or needs. Once he explained he didn’t care if the oven was clean all he wanted were clean undies and towels in the drawers – life got easier around the house. I was able to prioritize than feel overwhelmed with everything.

Before you throw on your falling behind garment of shame, stress out, make life miserable for everyone, and go a bit crazy this year … take some time to decide what is realistic for your family and where you should place the “falling behind” measurement.

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Homeschool Bedtime

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

Homeschool Bedtime

Since we homeschool we are asked many different parenting questions. Recently I was in a deep conversation with a friend. She was telling me how hard it was to get her children up in the morning for school.

“Well, you don’t know, but it’s hard to drag them out of bed. Then we rush to throw breakfast at them as we run out the door” she explained.

We don’t have to catch a bus or beat the first period bell, so she assumed my boys stay up late and wake up late.  She was shocked to learn my boys went to bed earlier than her public school boys. When is a good homeschool bedtime?

homeschool bedtime
As with almost everything … bedtime falls into the category of WWBFY. What Works Best For You.

* If your children are miserable when they wake up – make them go to bed earlier.
* If your children have a hard time falling asleep even after a long day of activity – let them stay up longer.
* If your children are not exhausted by the end of the day – get them active to do something that will make them tired.

Yes we homeschool, but my boys are expected to get up out of bed! We do not stay home so they can be lazy. We homeschool, but college is not forgiving. Jobs and bosses are not lenient toward laziness. I want to raise strong men of character, not happy nappers.

Of course, if we travel or stay out late I allow my children to sleep-in and get rest. Even if they want to be cool and brag about a midnight bedtime, growing teenage boys need rest. Allowing your children to stay up later, sleep in longer, and neglecting responsibility is not a healthy option. It will eventually catch up.

I am a wife. I want to have quiet time with my husband without the interruption of children.  We have a rule that children are to be in bed with their lights out at least an hour before I go to bed myself. I like a nice quiet house before I turn off lights and go to bed myself.

If you are looking to find the perfect bedtime try out different times. Keep in mind the daily activity and the attitude of how each child wakes up in the morning. Adjust little one’s bedtime by 15 minutes and older children by 30 minutes.

Need help creating Healthy Bedtime Habits, check out my post at The Marathon Mom!

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10 Things List for Summer

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

10 Things List for Summer

If you’re anything like me you’re thinking, summer … great … what are we going to do now?

Summer is a fun time to relax and chill out poolside. But then what? What happens after that one week of VBS? After the pool? After the splash pad? After the water guns break?

Do you have a plan to fall back on when boredom strikes?

10 things list for summer

Sure you can turn on the XBox or give your children more screen time. Why not come up with a 10 Things List for Summer?

I suggest making a 10 Things List and pulling it out whenever you face the slow ticking clock. Only when you face the slow ticking of the clock. Not to do all these 10 Things in a row!! Create a 10 Things List each month of fun activities, places to go, movies to watch, etc. that you can do together.

10 Things List to get you started …
1. play hopscotch – tired of numbers, use superhero symbols
2. be the star of their silly movie (you know they always want to make movies)
3. build an obstacle course
4. catch fire flies – you can only do that in the summer!
5. make homemade ice cream or ice pops
6. read a book series and then watch all the movies
7. build a garden (small or large, herb, vegetable, or flower)
8. pick 10 crafts from a craft book
9. make a masterpiece of sidewalk chalk
10. start a water balloon war

Summer should not be dreaded, but rather fun! Enjoy your summer with your children and engage in fun activities – no matter how silly or young they make you feel. Write a 10 Things List each month of summer. Include your children – ask what they want to do. If you have to set boundaries “does not include money” or “is not out of the country”, then let them know!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our friend, The Happy Housewife’s Bored Activity Cards!


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5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Parenting | 0 comments

Parenting is not easy. Getting clean laundry into the drier is not easy for me. Teaching Pre-Algebra and asking my son to “show the work” is not easy. Finding matching socks …. still, not easy.

You might feel like homeschool is not easy. I wish there were a magical red button we could all hit for easy to appear. Why focus on easy – why not shoot for easier?

5 ways to make your homeschool day easier

5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier:

1. have a plan.
I like the idea of being flexible and spontaneous, but really it doesn’t help when I have to teach 2nd grade math. It’s not ideal when I have promised a science experiment and have no idea what materials I need. Before you hop in bed, write down a few things you’d like to accomplish tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be exact page numbers. But give yourself some type of plan. When I didn’t plan our day we were less likely to finish projects, stay on course, or even have any consistency.

2. prep lunch during breakfast.
When I have to stop a lesson because of growling stomachs, prep a meal, and clean up – it’s hard to get back into our lesson. I’m more likely to say, “let’s finish it tomorrow” then get back into school mode. I have noticed the days I made sandwiches early and tossed them into the refrigerator I felt less stressed. Those days we ended up grabbing lunch and heading right outside to enjoy a picnic. I would bring a book and we’d finish school outside.

3. everything has a home.
We do our lessons at a 6 person dining room table. Wanna guess how many spots are clean enough to sit down to right now? Zero! Someone always pushes books, papers, and supplies around to the far edges until there is absolutely no room to sit down at the table. When we put books, papers, and supplies away – right away, the table is always clean and available for a new lesson. Everything has a home, so put it away sooner than later.

4. one day a week.
My wonderful boys always have fun ideas … at the absolute worst times. The 2nd grader wants to draw seahorses while learning subtraction. Yet when he’s “bored” he can’t find anything to do. I started a little “idea wall” where the boys can add anything they want to try or do and one day a week they can pick a project to work on from the wall. Rather than trying to squish something into a day when we’re running around or busy – we just wait until our “one day a week” time. I noticed this idea was far better than always having to say “no”.

5. self editing.
Let your children check their own work. Show them the correct answers and let them mark their answers wrong. This was far easier on me when my 6th grade son could mark his math tests and I could help my 1st grader sound out blends. I’d quickly scan his paper but it was a great opportunity to show him I trusted him. I do believe this is also a good practice for children to start being accountable and taking responsibility.

Okay, I do have a #6, but most of us are not going to like it!

6. set an earlier bedtime, mom.
How can a mom feel refreshed and ahead of the game when she’s always running behind trying to catch up? When we stay up late we’re just doing ourselves a disservice. I promise all those shows are available to watch the next day on the internet. Sure, we have nights when we stay up late to finish something, go somewhere, or whatever … but I’m talking about a regular habit of getting to sleep at a decent hour in order to wake up ready for your day. I would stay up until 2am, crawl into bed, think for another hour on some great hands-on project, and then slide out of bed angry at 7am trying to smile at chipper happy children. Worse, I always forgot what I had been thinking about before I feel asleep. As much as I realize we have to put children to bed at a decent hour … I have to put me to bed at a decent hour!

Not tired yet? During the day: go workout. Pull weeds. Stop drinking caffeine after lunch. Diffuse lavender. Drink something warm and relaxing. Turn the lights down. Play relaxing music. Take a bubble bath.



Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!




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Best Tools for a Homeschool Mom

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics, Parenting | 0 comments

If you are like my homeschooling friends I know you might have asked yourself, what are the best tools for a homeschool mom?

When my husband brought home the idea to homeschool I had no idea how to do it. Granted, I had a few elementary education internships in college, but I felt completely unprepared and unequipped for the road ahead.

After seven years of homeschooling I believe there are a few “tools” that have helped us along the way. If we all had a homeschool toolbox, what would you put in yours?

best tools for a homeschool mom

Best Tools for a Homeschool Mom:

1. Prayer Life. I believe the best thing we can do for our children is to pray for them. Often I focused on praying for myself – Lord get me through this.  {you might need that one through math} But really I should be praying for my children more than asking God to give me a “good school day”.

2. Flexibility. Homeschooling can be hard when we chain ourselves to curriculum that does not work, activities that do not benefit, and overstuffed schedules. Evaluation and change is healthy for a homeschool to thrive.

3. Listening Ear. Communication is vital to family dynamics. If we’re only willing to lecture lecture lecture we shut down the hearts in our homes. Be willing to listen.

4. Grace. Mistakes happen. Messes are created. We all get things wrong. Do not rule your homeschool with an iron unforgiving fist but rather a grace giving heart.

5. Creativity. Do more than “school at home”. Really dig into lessons, activities, and opportunities to learn as much as possible. There are numerous resources now for any one of us to be creative. Thank You Pinterest! {a note about Pinterest, spend time finding great ideas rather than comparing and feeling bad about yourself}

6. Intentionality. Trash busy work and focus on the things that will bring value and benefit to your home. Be intentional with your time and efforts. There are only so many games of Guess Who left!

7. Schedules. It’s been proven most children perform best with routines. We had less friction when we shared our schedules and expectations with our children. I was never an “on the second” type of drill Sergent, but we did do the same things about the same time.

8. Firm No. Be willing to say no to the extra’s that would require you to spend less time focused on your family. If it’s another activity outside of the house or even a late night television show stealing your sleep. Guard your time and your family with a firm no.

9. Easy Smile. Red x’s on spelling tests can feel like the end of the world to a first born perfectionist. Offer an easy smile. During math, chores, dinner, and bedtime routines – let your wrinkles be those of joy.

10. Rest. You are not a machine. Find time to rest and fill up your heart before you can fill up your children’s hearts. No one wants to diagram sentences when they are exhausted. Set a healthy example ~ do not allow weariness and busy be the habits your children pick up.

Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!

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Not A Know-It-All Homeschooler ?

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Homeschool Helps, Parenting | 0 comments

I always figured it would be high school math that gave me away. It would be the day my son realized I am not really as smart as I pretend to be. That I am not a know-it-all homeschooler! Yet it happened much earlier than I expected when he asked about seahorses.

not a know it all homeschooler

First grade science and I was backed into a corner over a question about seahorse reproduction. Seahorses! The only male species to carry the babies and I didn’t know how that worked, exactly. At the time I also didn’t know they anchored themselves with their tales so they do not float away.

Seahorses. Okay. I don’t know, but let’s go find out.

Then we found cute tadpoles in our dirty pool. Again, I ran into the fear of not knowing something when I didn’t know what happened to the tadpoles tail, exactly.  Because telling a first grader that it just “looses it” is not scientific enough.

Tadpoles. Okay. I don’t know, but let’s go find out.

We still haven’t made it to high school math and it was pretty obvious I was not a know-it-all homeschooler.
I didn’t know about snail hibernation.
I didn’t know about Egyptian gods.
I didn’t know the state bird of Texas – sorry Texas.
I didn’t know why volcanoes became dormant.
I didn’t know how to make giant pretzels.

We figured it out, together. We hit the library, a lot. We googled, daily. We bought field guides. We kept topical resource books.

You might be thinking of all your weaknesses; why you’d never make a great homeschool mom. Or that you’re not a know-it-all … and right there is the real beauty of homeschool!

Learn together. Experiment together. Rejoice in getting a second education. Have fun. Make memories!

Because the truth of it all, I’m not a know-it-all homeschool mom and I hope I am not raising know-it-all homeschool boys. I hope I am teaching them how to admit they do not have to know everything but have a desire to find the answers and continue to learn long past graduation.

Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!

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