Time Management — When Emergencies Arise

Time flies! Another year has drawn to a close and we are now in 2017. In another few months, some of us will be finishing our school year.

How many of you remember making New Year resolutions at the beginning of the year and resolving to keep them? Well, we may sigh or groan looking back at it — or maybe smiles of victory?

New Year resolutions are good in the sense that they help us in setting our goals about what we’re doing in our lives, our plans, our awareness of where we are going, and what we are intending to do about all of it. All of these require time, a good management of time. I don’t profess to know much, but I will share with you my own experiences.

The year 2016 has been a challenging year for me. I thank God that no matter what happened, I felt the presence of God and I was able to find time to spend with Him each day. During the beginning of the year and before the start of the school year, I prayed to God to help me to plan wisely. As my daughter moved to the next grade, there were more things to do, and besides music lessons she also joined the swim team and started taking Spanish class once a week.

As I was working on my plan and setting priorities, I was reminded in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cared for you.” Some of us have many responsibilities, or children in different grades, or kids who require special attention. Before we know it, the day has come to an end and there are still lots of things to accomplish. We are tired out and stressed. We wish there were more hours in a day. In Psalm 55:22 it says, “Cast all your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you, he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” And, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Clinging onto God’s promises, I try to take each day at a time.

Working on a plan is not easy. There is a lot to think about, and other tasks to tackle besides teaching and cooking. When working on my plan for last year, I reminded myself that I had to prepare for some adjustments or emergencies. Everything was working well and going pretty smoothly. Just as we started the new school year in September, I found myself in a situation where I had to reschedule my plan. One of the family members had to undergo major surgery. This meant that I would need extra time driving back and forth to the hospital. We were thankful that we were able to stay in the hospital room, so I had my daughter bring her homework there. Some things had to be delayed until a later time. It did work out, though.

For almost a whole month, I was not able to follow the plan that I originally had, but we made sure those things that needed to be completed in time were  accomplished. Each night before I went to bed, I planned out my schedule for the next day. During that time I had to take each day at a time. At times, I had to call up a friend to help me out with driving my daughter. Sometimes in situations like this, we may have to accept help from friends, like meals, babysitting, or driving our kids to classes.

God is good. We were thankful when our routine was back to normal. I was able to go according to my plans again. I no longer had to rush for time. But then — it was cut short. I received a call, and I had to leave the country for a family emergency. I had less than 12 hours before I was heading out to the airport. I quickly sat down and planned my new schedule for the week I would be away in Asia. Things would have to change, as part of the time my daughter would be staying with a friend. I prayed for God’s guidance as I planned.

The journey would be long, and it was a last-minute flight. I calculated a total of 42 hours for my flight and transit. With a 16-hour time difference, I would surely have jetlag going and coming back. So, while waiting to board, I started to figure out the timing. I tried my best to start adjusting myself to the time in Malaysia, where I would be the next couple of days. I knew that when I came back home after a week, I might not have time to overcome jetlag. So, while trying to stay awake on the flight, I took out my notebook and started planning the things I needed to do in Malaysia. With the limited time I would be there, I had to work out a schedule for each task. I prayed to God to guide me, and continued to cling to His promises.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back home to California. I was glad that I was able to accomplished most of the things I need to do. Once home, I reshuffled my schedule back to what I had planned at the start of the year. I was thankful that I had prepared myself to be ready should emergency arises.

It can easier said than done. One may have everything planned out nicely, and then the next moment, everything just doesn’t work out. Don’t get discouraged. We all make mistakes or are subject to circumstances, but remember that God will never leave us nor forsake us.

When planning, it is good to be prepared. Time schedules may change for some days or emergencies may arise. It is always good to plan your time in such a way that if you need to make any changes, you can without getting frustrated or stressed out. Once you have it planned out, you will have sort of a basic guideline. You may not follow it 100 percent, but at least you have something to guide you.

Don’t get stressed out if your master plans do not work out. Ask God for guidance. Set some time each day for rest and quiet time with God…then go through your plan for the next day before you head to bed.

More Hours in My Day

“If only I have an extra one or two hours a day, I can get more things done.” Does this sound familiar? Homeschooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents we juggled between school work, housework, cooking, and field trips, and chauffer our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained out. The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18,            “Come unto me all who are heavy laden…” We are busy seven days a week, and so constantly on the go that sometimes we forget to spend some time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I’d like to share that have worked for us.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve or complete for the school year. For example, if your child is pre-teen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics), or if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish, more time with your love ones, strengthening your faith, or pursuing your education or financial planning?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year — music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.?

Getting Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts, or during holidays, set aside time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or school room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes helps. If your child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare tomorrow’s to-do list the night before, like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepared over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check to see when doctor/dentist appointments are scheduled, or the time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine — first thing in the morning a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship, etc.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes you may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day, or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: Do you sign up your children for various activities? You have to make sure that it is balanced so that neither the children nor yourself are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times you have to learn to say “no.” Even if you love to help, there may be times when you have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecc 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. Therefore, it is important that we plan our schedules well, and that we do not lose sight of God.

 

What’s the BEST home education style?

Ahhh, homeschooling styles. A quick visit to any homeschool forum and you’ll soon see a post asking about styles and curriculum, and as many different opinions as there are responses. We all want the best for our children, and we’re all worried that we’re not supplying our kids with the best. It might be a Facebook post from a mother showing off the amazing nature study her child has done or a science experiment they’ve completed…and you realise you haven’t been able to do anything like that for a while. We all question what we’re doing from time to time.

Well, rest easy. Whichever style you’re using, it’s not the best. And, that’s alright. How do I know you’re not using the best style? Well, hear me out and see if you agree. Our society has been becoming more black and white, more all or nothing, and we’re losing the ability to see the nuances and the shades of grey between even two choices, let alone the amount of teaching styles available to us. We throw around terms like “best” without ever really defining what we’re asking. The “best candidate.” Yeah, for whom? About what? The “best home educating style.” What do we mean? What would be the best for the way your child learns? The one that gives them the broadest knowledge base? Or, is it the one that gives the deepest knowledge in their preferred areas? The best for us as the teacher? The best for their personality? The best that fits in with our family and the different children we are teaching? The best to impart lots of biblical knowledge? The best at helping them become the hands and feet of Jesus? The best for our educational philosophies? The best to comply with our states requirements? The best to foster a life-long love of learning? The list goes on…

There’s a good chance many of these questions would have a different curriculum or style — but still come out as the best. We all have to work out what we’re trying to achieve, and a choice for something is a choice against something else. So, what are we to do? With all the choices out there, how can we be confident that the style we’re using is the best for our children and family? I can’t tell you which method is best for you, but I can share the steps I’ve taken to make sure I’m comfortable with my choice.

1) As always, pray. Pray that we’ll have wisdom in what we’re doing, and that whatever we do, we’ll be able to raise the children we’ve been given to be the people God made them to be.

2) Keep up with research about the way people learn. Read books on the subject; subscribe to websites where researchers on education have posted. There are some fascinating articles in psychology today on education. This allows us to check regularly against what we’re doing, so we can see if there is something we can implement. Don’t settle for anything just because it’s always been done that way. As home educators, we can look at the pros and cons of everything. It’s a real blessing not to be burdened with doing something just because it’s the way it’s always been done. We can know why we do everything we do.

3) Find out which style of homeschooling best fits our educational philosophy. Once we know a bit about how children learn, and we know our own children, we can start to look at the different styles out there to help us teach our kids. There are many websites with quizzes where you can answer a few questions about your priorities, and these will then tell you which style suits you best. I did this when I first started looking into home educating. I hadn’t heard of most of the styles it mentioned, but it gave me a great jumping off point for my research. I knew I could get away with only a quick skim of any that didn’t suit me, and focus on those that matched our philosophies. This saved a lot of time, and as I read up on different styles, it was incredibly accurate.

4) Research the recommended methods and curriculums available, and join some forums or facebook groups dedicated to those methods. You can learn so much from other parents. Once you know your philosophies, you can start to glean information from like-minded folks and see how they incorporate things into their system. Remember, you don’t need to do everything exactly the same as others with similar philosophies. Some people fall in love with a style, and disapprove of anyone doing it slightly differently to how they think it should be done.

5)  Look realistically at your children and yourself, and see what will work best for your family and its particular situation. I have three boys. They’re all different, but I’m not about to use three totally different styles. It would be impossible. I can use slightly different implementation for the different boys, but overall the philosophy isn’t going to change. I didn’t want to start one thing with the first that wouldn’t also work for the other boys. There were compromises to make there. On top of that, while I could see them flourishing from a particular style, I knew with my health issues it wouldn’t work very well for our family, particularly in the younger years. I believe that where we’ve ended up is the best compromise for our family.

Once you settle on a style, get started. It won’t be perfect; nothing here on earth is. What’s important is that you know why you’ve chosen what you have, and why it’s best for you right now. It will change and evolve. When you see things other parents are doing, you may want to add a bit. If something isn’t working, you may want to replace it with something else. We always need slight corrections as our journey progresses, but if we know why we are (or aren’t) doing something and have a philosophy behind it, then we at least have a place to start.

Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear any thoughts.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 6

Today we meed a 17-year-old young man who is half of a pair of identical twins. They are the eldest of four boys total and live on a five-acre ranch, where they grow a big garden each summer. The twins are members of their local rural fire department’s junior program. They participate in all the same training as the adult members, and participate in all calls except structure fires. They are also training to be EMS technicians when they turn 18.

1 ) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Andrew and I live in Idaho.

2 ) How long have you been home schooled?

I have been unschooled the whole time.

3 ) What do you like most about being home schooled?

That’s a hard one. There are so many benefits. I guess if I had to choose, it would be the ability to learn at my own pace.

4 ) Is there anything you dislike about being home schooled?

That’s an interesting question; I don’t think I could come up with a single thing I dislike.

5 ) What is your favorite thing to learn about?

History and science. I especially enjoy learning about the political events of the past such as the complex causes of World War I.

6 ) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

Volunteer firefighting is the hobby and activity which takes up most of my time. Beyond that I really enjoy creating model fire trucks, planes, trains, and military vehicles with legos. Once you throw away the instructions they come with, the sky is the limit for what you can build.

7 ) What would you like to do when you grow up?

I plan on doing some sort of firefighting, perhaps wildland firefighting.

8 ) Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on for school?

As an unschooler, there aren’t really school projects per se, but I have worked on a couple projects with my fire department to rebuild old trucks for our use. We’re volunteer exclusively so we have a very small budget, no room for new trucks. My part was helping repaint and stencil the logo on one truck, and installing storage drawers and equipment on another truck.

9) How has homeschooling prepared you for other aspects of your life?

Being able to help my parents with shopping, home and car repairs, bill paying, and even their jobs sometimes has prepared me for a lot of aspects in life that I wonder if kids who go out to attend school are able to learn. I would have missed out on some pretty epic things like crawling under the house to repair a burst water pressure tank if I had been in school at the time. I’ve also been able to volunteer with the fire department and been on many fire calls when I wouldn’t have been able to were I in school. I think the benefits of homeschooling will pay off well, as I already have local businesses interested in hiring me once I turn 18 because they know of my work ethic.

Andrew (2nd from left) and his twin Matthew (2nd from right) with other members of the junior volunteer firefighters

Ten Tips for Reprioritizing Life

busymom

As I start this week, I am a little baffled as to how to make it through, but I know that I have a Savior who can work all things out for good. In this next week, I will be completely rearranging my life. You see, I am a get-things-done, have-to-have-things-in-order, and put-too-much-on-my-plate type of woman. I go crazy — when I don’t have things to do, I create them. I work hard, don’t take time to rest or relax, and most of all, as much as I want to have my kids be top priority in my life, the things  that “have to be done” crowd my kids out. So, why is it in normal everyday life it’s so easy to leave our kids behind, when they should really be top priority?

Each day that goes by, I am realizing what a precious gift I have been given with my extended family, husband, and kids. It’s becoming more and more ingrained in my mind that the only thing we will be able to bring to Heaven with us is our relationships. So, let’s stop a minute and look at why Christ died for us.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” “The joy” is the chance of having that relationship with us. Wow! What a powerful thought. Jesus died for me, just to have the chance of having a relationship with me. That puts a huge emphasis on relationships. With that said, how much emphasis do I put on relationships? Am I really making my relationships the main focus in my life? I don’t spend much time investing in my relationships, and I really want to make that a priority in my life.

As I have been pondering this for the last couple of weeks, I have been learning and thinking about ways to build my relationships, not only with everyone I normally interact with, but with the ones that matter most — my kids. You see, parents have a huge impact on their kids. The kids learn how to have relationships, how to focus on what matters in life, and how to organize themselves by watching their parents. They also get their self-worth, their courage, and their willingness to serve from us. Out of all of that, I want to be sure to pass on to my children that relationships are the most important thing that can be focused on.

Growing up, my mom was really busy. I don’t remember a lot about my early childhood. Most of my memories at that age are more of my dad. I know my mom was pretty young when she had me. My dad and mom got married when my mom was exactly one month from turning 18. They had known each other from ages four and seven. Dad was best friends with my mom’s older brother, and mom was good friends with dad’s younger sister. She had me when she was 20. Dad was laid off quite often, due to the young industry of stainless steel, and Mom ended up going to work in order to help all of us financially. When I was four she was going to school full time (in nursing), working as a CNA, and studying and cleaning when she was at home. I remember that she used to get sick, and I would help with the house work while she sat down and told me how to do the job. What I learned from her example is to focus on the tasks at hand. My parents did the best that they could in every way in order to raise us, but while kids are good at perception, they are really bad at interpreting the perceptions that they get, and I mistakenly interpreted the instruction I had received. I unknowingly took on the mindset that tasks need to be done before play can begin.

The first thing I learned about relationships is they are either growing or dying; there is no in-between. So, how do we keep them growing? We keep them growing by using a “love” banking system. In this system there are positive and negative deposits. If you are making more positive deposits than negative deposits, your relationships will be growing. If you make more negative deposits than positive ones, your relationship will start dying. Start keeping track of how many positive and negative experiences you have with each other. My goal is to have double the positive experiences as negative experiences. It is a goal we are working toward in our family.

Second, put more encouragement into life. This life on earth is really hard. It is challenging not only to be adults in the world as it is today, but to be children. It is so hard these days to truly see the path to walk in being a Christian. The devil has become so sneaky with how he deceives, tempts, etc., us, and it’s only through the Holy Spirit that we can see his temptations in our lives. As each day goes by, we need to encourage each other in our walk. The more I have been applying encouragement to interactions with my kids, the more I find them encouraging me.

My favorite author once penned this quote, and it is one of my favorites: “Give the young and struggling a word of encouragement when you can. You would not leave those plants in your window boxes without water, nor refuse to open the shutters that the sunlight might fall upon them; but you would leave some human flower to suffer from want of appreciation or the sunlight of encouragement. There are a few hardy souls that can struggle along on stony soil, shrubs that can wait for the dews and sunbeams, vines that climb without kindly training; but only a few. Utter the kind word when you can see that it is deserved. The thought that ‘no one cares and no one knows’ blights many a bud of promise. Be it the young artist at his easel, the young preacher at his pulpit, the workman at his bench, the boy at his mathematical problems, or your little girl at the piano, give what praise you can,” Signs magazine, Sept. 14, 1882.

Praise is different than encouragement, and I think that we need to be sure to clarify the meaning of each. Praise builds ego, and encouragement builds behavior. I want my kids to have self-worth by knowing they have skills to do what they need to do, but I don’t want to have my kids puffed up or prideful. I want them to be humble, loving, and kind. Praise is focused on the person. “You’re so smart” or “You this, you that…” Encouragement focuses on an action. “I like the way that you are ____________.” “I appreciate the hard work you are doing ____________.” “Please keep up the good work doing ___________.” With that said, we also need to be sure that our kids know that they in themselves are important, and are special for just being them. They need to know that God made them special.

Third, practice “The Pause.” Before responding always pause a few seconds to let your brain catch up with the conversation. It gives you an advantage by assessing and being able to give a reasonable answer. It also allows us to calm ourselves down if we are having a frustrating interaction with someone we love. James says to control our tongue, and using the pause makes that much easier.

Fourth, “live in the moment.” When I’m busy around the house and I am doing chores or whatever I have to do that day, I am learning to put things down when my kids come running to me excited about something. I am learning to take that moment and spend it with them — get excited about what they are doing. Often I have found that a quick stop in the chores sends a little ray of sunshine through the rest of their day. It’s not about getting things done as much as it’s about sharing most of the little moments with them and being excited about what they are learning and playing. They want more then anything to get our approval. I am learning this even with my hard-to-handle, hyper, five-year-old son. He does so much better with me encouraging what is right versus me correcting what is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, we still need to correct the incorrect, but we need to do it in a loving way.

Fifth, we need to be gentle not only with our children, but with ourselves as well. The more gentleness we possess, the easier it is for people around us to listen to what we have to say, and the easier it is to correct each other. Gentleness makes it easier for our children to come to us when they have made mistakes or have sinned. There are always things that need to be corrected in us. We are all human and we all fall. The base word to discipline is to disciple. We are not to discipline (in harsh training or in roughness), but to disciple them, to train them and teach them how to grow up into Christ. “Love wins love.” It is our gentleness with mistakes, with each other, and with ourselves that reaches people. (I really need help with this as it requires an empathy and patience that I don’t have.)

Sixth, work on communication. Communication is the biggest key to relationships. Without it there is no relationship. Some friends can go years without talking to each other and then pick right back up when bumping into each other, but does that mean that they had a good quality of relationship the years they didn’t talk? No, most of the time they got along really well when they had a friendship, and it just took off again when they saw each other.

I sure have had instances where I have wanted to ring my hands and say, “I give up on you son. What are you thinking? What is wrong with you?” But, in those times I practice James’ advice and hold my tongue. Just a slight pause, and then I calmly ask, “Son, I’m not understanding why you would do that. Do you mind explaining that to me, because its not making sense as to why you would think that is okay to do.” Most of the times when he explains it, I am shocked as to his conclusions, but they actually make some sense. As he explains it I don’t feel quite so upset about it because I can find the flaws, and then I can correct the flaws in his thinking, which then corrects the behavior.

Seventh, teach our children to identify the issues in their hearts. Teach them to identify the cause behind their behavior. What is the heart issue that is causing them to behave the way they are, as behavior is a heart issue? And, the more we identify the real issue and we bring our children to Christ and teach them to submit and to repent, the more we will see their behavior change.

Eighth, take play time with each other. We need to take the time to teach our children the ways that we want them to act, to speak, to work, and most of all to witness. But, we should also take time to play. We all need some time to play and be able to relax and rest. It is often in these times that most kids really learn to connect to others. Play is so important for kids. They often learn their life lessons through their play, and as they play it allows them to process what they are being taught. It also allows us to see the issues in their hearts that we need to work on. My son gets angry, and when he plays, as much as we have tried hard to prevent it, he is fascinated by guns. I guess it’s just a boy thing, but it just doesn’t go away. If he doesn’t know how to deal with a certain situation, he starts “shooting.” As I have been changing my parenting skills and giving the kids more respect and love, I see in my son’s play more love and respect toward not only his playmates but also us. I am also seeing a dramatic decrease in his shooting. Praise the Lord!!! It’s been a burden in my heart I have been praying about. Our children look up to us (even though they may speak the opposite), and they really do want to please us in spite of their protests. Also, often when we take breaks with our children, we actually find that they are picking up on the lessons we are teaching them and applying them in their lives. And then, as we see them practicing, we can encourage them in those skills. If you are like me, I get so busy with life that I really don’t even see anything that they are learning.

Ninth, find hobbies that you can do as a family. It is very important to have individual hobbies, but it is also very important to have family hobbies. Our God is a God who delights in our individuality. He is not a God who demands that we are consumed by only Him. He gave us a job in the Garden of Eden, and that was to garden. He didn’t demand that everything is “Him and Him only.” Yes, He desires our worship, and because we have an “enemy that is walking around like a roaring lion, seeking those who he may destroy,” we are forced to have Christ as our constant companion and to constantly be in prayer and communion with Christ, but that was not in His perfect plan for our lives. He came to visit Adam and Eve, and left them to do their job. In this world our job is to witness to others, but He still wants us to grow our talents, and that is something that takes time.

Tenth, sacrifice. There is a saying “You only love as much as you are willing to sacrifice.” In every relationship there is sacrifice involved. Often times it is very hard but it is a necessary part of our christian experience. It is a real challenge as I tend to always sacrifice and no one seems to notice or appreciate my sacrificing. Be encouraged, even if no one on this earth sees the sacrifice, God does, and that is what matters. One day your children, husband and others will appreciate all of the sacrifice you did and then you will be glad that you could do it.

So many blessings in this upcoming week, as we all learn to apply these principles into our lives!