Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. ~Colossians 3:23

Life is short.

So short.

Recently, a beloved brother in the Lord passed away. He was in his early 40’s and had a beautiful wife and three kids. He was the type of guy who did not withhold himself from anyone. He was outgoing, generous, and incredibly deliberate when it came to sharing His faith in Jesus Christ. Whether he was well and things were going great OR he was incredibly sick and in pain, he praised the Lord for it all. He had joy when most people would throw their fists in the air and curse God. His life was too short. But he used his time incredibly well.

I want to live life on mission just like him.

Colossians 3:23 speaks of doing everything we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. You might have a job. But you don’t work for your boss. You were made to work for the Lord- whether you believe that to be true or not, you were made to work for Him. So whether you are a child of God, a mom, a dad, a teacher, a lawyer, a barista, a janitor, a bus driver, an NFL quarterback, a retiree, unemployed, a police officer, a fire fighter, a doctor, WHATEVER YOU DO- God has made you to reflect His righteousness, His goodness, His truth, His love and all of His character to those you interact with in your sphere of influence.

So how do we do it? How do we make the most of our time? Well, I would like to suggest that it can’t happen by accident. It happens when we are doing life deliberately: prayerfully, passionately, and purposefully. That means we have to think through things. We have to reflect and make some choices to change in areas where we are dissatisfied. It means praying and asking God to convict us both our areas of success and failure. It means submitting ourselves to Him in areas where we are failing. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This means that if we submit and humble ourselves to Him, He will give us the grace we need in all circumstances. But when we refuse to bow to Him and admit our need for Him, we will most certainly find ourselves at battle with Him. He is always guaranteed to win.

During our time of prayer and reflection, it may be wise to do some journaling. Write out our roles: are you a child of God?, are you married?, a parent?, an employee?, a son/daughter?, a friend?, etc. List them and write down your responsibilities in those areas. Make a goal in each area. Then, go through your list of roles and give each a number, signifying importance (#1 being the most important).

Finally, use a planner or a piece of notebook paper to create a weekly or monthly schedule and appoint time to tend to each of your roles and goals. Give first priority to your most important role, then your second, and so on…. If your “plate” is overly full, you may find that you run out of time to do everything. That’s ok! You may need to say NO to some things. And saying NO to some things means you can say YES to more important things- thereby honoring the Lord by doing what you do heartily, unto Him.

So what do you say? Are you doing everything you do heartily, as unto the Lord? Are you making the most of the very short time here on Earth? I know I could stand to re-evaluate and shore up some areas! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so PLEASE, share your comments below!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

P.S. If you are a homeschool parent (or know someone who is!), watch and share my latest YouTube video on How To Prevent and Correct Homeschool Burnout. I hope you find it to be a blessing.❤️

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With each additional child, the time spent homeschooling every day increases exponentially for mom and/or dad. Homeschool begins with teaching kids at home, but that is not where homeschool ends. Not only do parents spend time teaching the kids, but they have to plan out their schoolwork and correct their finished schoolwork, just like a vocational teacher. If you are the minority homeschooling parent that has nothing else to do besides teach the kids (I don’t know anyone personally who is in this position), then spending the entire day planning, teaching and correcting is no problem. BUT, if you are like most people and have a house to keep, possibly a part time or full time job, and activities to run kids to, then like myself, you can probably benefit from some…

Time Saving Tips

  • Choose curriculum that will do some or all of the planning for you. There are many curriculums out there to choose from. I absolutely love that My Father’s World (our curriculum of choice for the past 4 years) does some of the planning for me. The teacher’s guide breaks lesson plans up by weeks and mom and dad can easily plug in the subjects that are age/level specific, such as math, foreign language, etc.
  • Study some of your subjects together. When you do unit studies, the family learns together rather than having to go from child to child to their individual, age specific curriculum. You all interact with the same material (though older students will likely have more challenging reading), so it’s easier to stay on top of checking and correcting their work.
  • Use curriculums that will check the work for you! Oh man, I LOVE Teaching Textbooks for this reason. Teaching Textbooks is a computer based math curriculum that not only makes math fun for your kids and teens, but it also checks their work and keeps records of their progress!! What a blessing!! We also love Rosetta Stone (a software based language curriculum) for the same reason.
  • If you find that checking and correcting your student’s work is bogging you down, see if you can’t talk your spouse into sharing the load. Divide and conquer!! Having both mom and dad involved in holding kids accountable this way provides regular opportunities for both parents to have meaningful interactions with the kids and be aware of what the kids are learning, struggling with, and excelling at.
  • Share the load of tutoring difficult subjects with your kids. If you have a child who is really struggling, have the parent who is stronger in that subject tutor them. Or, if it is an area of difficulty for both mom and dad, seek out a college student to tutor privately, or find a local tutoring center to supplement what they are already doing.
  • If your find yourself struggling to assemble supplies and teach multiple science labs, team up with another family or a local homeschool co-op to do science labs together. Parents can divide kids by age group and teach them at the same time OR take turns compiling materials OR divide what materials to bring. Doing labs with friends can make the whole experience more enjoyable no matter how you divide and conquer the material.
  • Have siblings test and correct one another. An example of how this plays out in our home is spelling. The kids enjoy giving each other their protests and test for spelling. And with the spelling workbook in front of them, it is no problem to check if the words were spelled correctly or not. Just this little step can save mom and dad time over and over again.

There are dozens of ways to save time in homeschool. What are your best tips for saving time in homeschool?? We’d love to hear your best tips and tricks, so please, leave them in the comment section below.

Until next time, keep Doing Life Deliberately!!

~Trisha

*disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I will receive a small commission. This is one way you can help support our family. If you have any questions about what this means or how this works, let me know! I’d love to answer your questions. 🙂

So you are the mom of an infant, toddler, and/or preschooler.

(Let me stop right now to give you a cyber hug!!!)

I did not realize until my kids were grown beyond these stages and I was hanging out with my sister’s kids (which are 8 months, 2 years and 4 years) just how very physically and emotionally exhausting this stage of parenting is! I think when you are in the thick of it, and have no previous experience to compare it to, you just take it day to day and do your best to get through the day. But now that our kids are older and quite self-sufficient, I am reminded of what a sleep-deprived, survival-mode time of life that stage really is.

That being said, homeschooling with such small children is a CHALLENGE. But it is also a HUGE privilege. There are few things more satisfying, in my experience, than teaching kids to read and write. What a feeling to hold your child on your lap and hear them sound out letters and put together their first words. What a delight to study butterflies with your 5 year old, observing all of their body parts with a magnifying glass and watching the caterpillars you purchased through the mail form a chrysalis, and emerge days later as a beautiful butterfly. The joy that comes with reading scripture with your child and hearing them ask questions about God’s Word and ponder who Jesus is that He would leave heaven, take on the form of a man, live a perfect life, die and rise again so that we could walk in relationship with the Heavenly Father forever- priceless!! So yes, homeschooling with little ones is hard, but OH SO WORTH IT!

A little field trip fun with my youngest and her two young cousins :-)

In my opinion, success in homeschooling small children means having fun and making learning exciting. If you can succeed at that, then your kids will look forward to school and learning.

Having right expectations- both of yourself and of them- is really important. School should be something that you all look forward to- not dread. For example, if mom is a slave driver with her five year old, and succumbs to a frustrated tone with her kids when they don’t understand a concept right away, the child is not going to want to do school (I say this from a place of personal experience, unfortunately, and still struggle at times).

One of the great blessings of starting homeschool at 4, 5 or 6 years old, is that you can ‘grow into” homeschool. Some different ways that can look are:

  • Starting with just a small amount of time- 30 minutes to an hour (maybe even less time if your child is not accustomed to sitting still for that long). Add 5 minutes every other day until you’ve reached an ideal time frame to work with your child.
  • Focusing your energies on the main subjects: reading, writing, and arithmetic. You have plenty of time to add in extra subjects as you create a comfortable routine.
  • Using hands on crafts, manipulative and activities to teach that are exciting and fun. Personally, I am not the creative type to make up games and activities on the fly. But that’s the beauty of websites like Pinterest where you can search a topic (phonics games, for example) and get tons of creative ideas from teachers and moms alike.
  • Adapting your school day around the needs of other kids- whether baby’s naps and feeding times or your teenager’s basketball schedule
  • Having your older kids help occupy little ones (by playing with them, reading a story, taking care of their needs, etc.) while you sit one on one with your youngest students.
  • Having older siblings “teach” younger siblings while you briefly tend to your little people. Teaching younger siblings often helps older sibling to solidify concepts in their own minds.

So how about you, Moms and Dads? What wrong expectations have you caught yourself in? How did you adapt? What tips do you have for other parents who are homeschooling with infants, toddlers and preschoolers? PLEASE, leave your encouraging comments below and be a blessing to other Doing Life Deliberately readers!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!!

Trisha

If you watched my YouTube video on How To Lesson Plan for Homeschool , you know that I opt to plan many weeks at a time. We have four kids, so lesson planning takes a significant amount of time. I, for one, would rather shove thorns under all my fingernails than have to lesson plan every week, because of the time consuming process that it is. Therefore, I plan 6-8 weeks at a time.

“Why is it such a chore,” you ask? With having four kids, there is a ton of books to reference in order to complete their assignment sheets. I am most productive with lesson planning if I am removed from the kids, which generally means hanging out at Starbucks to lesson plan. Can you imagine hauling 30 textbooks (because they are all in different grades) to Starbucks every single week? Uh, no. Once every 6-8 weeks will do nicely, thank you.

That being said, I would like to share with you some other benefits to creating long term lesson plans. Homeschooling has made me a planner, because if I did not plan ahead, I would constantly be scrambling from one child to another, one household chore to another, one meal to another. In summary, I would be a basket case. Ok, I’d be more of a basket case than I already am. (Just keeping it real, folks.)

Benefits:

  • It really only takes an hour or two more to plan for multiple weeks than it does for one week. You already have the books out, ready to go- so why not?
  • Planning 6-8 weeks at a time allows for life to happen: illness, accidents, late nights, busy schedules, etc. It’s easy to change the date at the top of the page if you need to put things off a day or two. Having things planned ahead is one less stress when life throws you a curve ball.
  • Lesson planning can be a time consuming venture, largely depending on how you approach homeschooling (unschooling vs. hyper scheduled). But planning in large chunks allows time daily for other time consuming responsibilities, like correcting completed school work, making meals, taking kids to activities, etc.
  • Long term planning reduces stress, eliminating that awful feeling that one is always behind.
  • Having daily planning off your plate means that you are able to focus on others more: your family, your friends, your neighbors. Preplanning creates margin and freedom to be attentive to the needs of others (for example, now you can bring a meal to a sick friend or play that board game your daughter has been wanting you to play).

How about you? How do you approach lesson planning? Do you have any tips and tricks that could help others? Share your comments and questions below- I look forward to learning from you and responding!

Keep doing life deliberately!

Trisha

Our culture is so ridiculously busy. We have gone from an attitude of “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” to lives that are too busy to be concerned with anyone else but me. The tendency toward a packed schedule has been my life story. Even as a child, I was a extremely active: afterschool jobs, sports, music lessons, speech, drama, band, 4H, and church activities. There was rarely a day that I did not have an event to go to. And though I was busy and managed to stay out of trouble, looking back I can see that there was not a ton of quality family time. I was pretty consumed by me: what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I think that my crazy pace (though it was filled with many, many “good” things), enabled me to become very self-centered.

I am not advocating dropping all extracurriculars, afterschool jobs, and the like. We don’t want to be creating a generation of lazy bums. But I wonder if there is a happy medium to be had: a schedule that allows for kids explore their interests, but not at the cost of quality and quantity family time. Is there a sweet spot that allows our children to be active, but also creates space in their lives to appreciate rest and give of their time to others?

I think one of the serious dangers of not creating margin in our families is that we are not only being selfish with our own time, but we are also leading (by example) our children to be selfish with their time. Time is precious. Time is fleeting. And when we fill our schedules so full of activities that we have no flexibility to meet the needs of others, we have severely limited how God can use us to be a blessing in the lives of others. We have no space/availability to be about our Father’s business.

I think there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate whether or not we have entered the camp of “too busy, no margin”;

  • Do we have a day where we rest together as a family, with no commitments (a day of Sabbath)?

  • Do we regularly (not every day, but frequently) sit down at the dinner table and eat together as a family?

  • Are we spending more than an hour a day in the car driving to school or extracurricular activities?

  • Do we have evenings available in a week where we can show hospitality to others, either by opening our home or meeting people elsewhere for fellowship?

  • Do we have enough time in our day to bring a meal to someone in need, pray as a family for someone who is hurting, help someone move, or another random act of kindness?

I am absolutely convinced that when our kids are adults, they will not remember the gifts they received, or the trophies, medals and ribbons they earned. Those things will all collect dust somewhere and fade from memory. But the things they will treasure, that will stay with them forever, are the experiences they had with their family and friends. I want to make space for my children (who like me are sinful and selfish by nature) to learn to open their eyes to observe the needs of those around them, to use their minds and hearts to consider how they can meet those needs, and to use their time and abilities to meet those needs. But if I let my kids’ schedules get too full with no margin, there will literally be no space for our kids to learn that selflessness and practice sacrificial love. I can’t make my kids selfless, but I can create an environment in our daily lives that creates space for those opportunities to learn and practice selflessness, kindness, and rest.

If you want to see more about how I schedule our homeschool days, click on the link: How I Schedule Our Homeschool

What challenges does your family face in creating space for margin and rest in your home? Do you have any insights or tools that you can share with other Doing Life Deliberately readers so that they can have success in this area? PLEASE, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Until next time, keep Doing Life Deliberately!

~Trisha

One of the things I found myself wondering early on in homeschooling, was how did other families schedule their time?  So today, I am sharing with you how we schedule our time (no need to wonder anymore)!  😉

7:30- Family Bible time

8am- PE

8:45- Xtra math (Hannah and Sarah), math assignment (Gideon and Izzy)

9am- Everyone works on math assignment

9:30- Math assignment (Hannah and Sarah), Xtra Math (Gideon and Izzy)

10am- Science (Botany- Gideon and Izzy), General Science (Sarah), Biology (Hannah)

10:30- History, vocabulary and read aloud

11:30- Writing (Gideon and Sarah), Writing and Grammar with Mom (Izzy)

12pm- Lunch

Our afternoons consist of piano practice, Spanish on the computer, quiet reading, and finishing up any remaining school work and chores.  We held pretty tightly to this schedule for the first few weeks of school.  But it didn’t take long for Gideon to figure out that if he worked ahead, he could have more free time during the day.  He is generally up around 6am and gets to work on his assignments around 6:30 or 7am most days. (What can I say? He’s an easy student!)

Our schedule always changes a bit from year to year as I evaluate what worked well the previous year, and what needs tweaking.  But this seems to work well for us now.  We start the day off by giving the first part of our day to the Lord.  It seems to work well to have PE next because we burn a little energy and then we can focus on the harder subjects of the day: math and science.  This worked a little more neatly at the beginning of the year when I held everyone to the schedule, but now it’s a lot more flex.

If you want to see what a day in the life of our homeschool looks like, view our YouTube video by clicking on this link: A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

So how about you?  If you are currently homeschooling, how do you schedule your time?  I would love to hear what works well for you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha