Marveling today upon my family's dynamics: Took my 14 year old and my 4 year old for check-ups at the doctor today (shout-out to the BEST pediatrician ever!); yep a teen and a tot, 10 years between them, born the same month, 9 calendar days apart. Meanwhile, 4 of my other kids were invited to sit in an empty patient room nearby, where they watched a movie while they waited. . . because we can't all fit in one room as a family anymore. (Baby was with me, in case you're doing the math!)
This after we parked our 15-passenger sized van in a spot that would make it easy for me to back out without being blocked in (may or may not have happened before--lol!), and easy for us to open our doors if someone parked next to us. . . which means I pass rows and rows of empty spaces in the parking garage, because our van won't fit in those tiny, skinny spaces.
Sixteen years ago, as I was putting the final touches on my wedding planning and dreaming of the life I would have with my sweet Husband, I never thought this would be my narrative. Never knew the label "Mom of Many" or "Large Family" even existed.
Never thought we would be blessed so greatly. . .the ebb, the flow, the responsibility, the hard work, the training, the exhaustion, the love, the stages, the hilarious moments, the tears, the patience, the teaching, the sweetness, the tenderness, the lessons, the sanctification, the understanding, the depth of togetherness--of family, of oneness in marriage. . . so grateful to God for it all.
Love. Marriage. Family. Gift from on High.
I had just come away from using public school for our daughters when we began our journey as homeschoolers. School was from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and then there was another hour or two of homework that had to be done--even in kindergarten. So when I heard all the talk about being finished with all homeschooling instruction by noon, that sounded great! It seemed so logical since clearly I didn't have a class full of 25-30 kids.
However, another homeschooling mom and friend told me to forget it! That getting everything in by noon may happen some days, but on the whole, that probably wasn't realistic. Well, instead of listening to that nugget of wisdom, I tried to fit everything in by noon. . .not accounting for many things that would make this a nearly impossible feat. For starters, it was my first year and I was six months pregnant with my fourth child when school began. That alone should have been a clue to me that noon may have been a high hurdle to clear.
Eventually I had to ask myself what I was trying to prove (and to whom) by trying to squish everything in by noon. Why? To say, "See! I did it! I beat the public schoolers and their schedule. So, look at us; we're already finished!" Really? Are we in a competition? Honestly, public schooling doesn't even compare to the love and attention that is weaved into every line of instruction in the home, so why bother? In the bigger scope of things, what does it matter if you are finished by noon or not?
The point is that sticking your homeschool in a we-must-be-done-by-noon box is actually an attack on your flexibility--the homeschooler's beloved gift. I have found that some things are more efficiently learned in the afternoon, especially when my little ones are napping. Occasionally, we may complete a project in the evening or even do math on the weekends when my Husband is home. The time is yours to spend in the ways that fit your family.
Remember, doing what is best for your homeschool is what is best for your homeschool.
I had been making stir-fry as one of the meals for the coming week. I sat my baby down nearby on the floor so she could play. She had been sick and I knew I was in a crunch for time between me putting her on the floor and when she would begin to cry. I quickly grabbed a few toys: a dog on wheels, some nesting bowls, and a play pepper shaker. I just needed a few moments so I could get the food in proper storage containers and I was hoping that would hold her. For added insurance, I called my oldest daughter in to help me put things away so I could get to the baby sooner. As we worked together, the baby began to fret a little. I quickly glanced over to be sure she was safe and once I okayed that, the first thing I thought was: Go, go, go! Work faster! Your time just got really short!
After a few more seconds, my daughter glanced over and noticed the baby’s little toy dog was just out of her reach. She stopped scooping up rice, knelt down and strung out a few sweet, sisterly words and pushed the toy to the baby. Baby smiled and all was right in the world--well, at least in our kitchen.
It was such a sweet reminder to me to never be too busy serving my family, that I’m too busy for my family.
Running a household is a full-time labor of love that never, ever ends. Someone will always need help, food will always need preparation, something will always require more cleaning... and so it goes. While this precious task requires time, attention to detail, and daily diligence, may we not forget what's most important: the people.
Time is tricky. We often think we have lots of it. We feel it's sprawling out before us and that we can get to this or that later. Truth is, time won't stop, and the little people in your home change and become big people. Time won't stop, but we can. We can stop today, in the moment, in the middle of all our busyness, to really see the people in our homes.
Take time to push the toy.
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