Staying Consistent at Home and School

I’ve heard it since I was round with my first overdue baby: “The secret to parenting is being consistent.”

My parents said it. Uncles and aunts said it. The doctor, the grocer, the pastor all said it. To a large degree I see it’s true, but on many days it feels the only thing consistent about our life and parenting is the chaos. This is especially clear now that our kids are old enough to homeschool.

Staying Consistent at Home

Although we often feel like failures in this department, there are a few things we can count on in our house. They may be few in number, but they pack a punch.

  • Sabbath
    We keep the Sabbath in our house. We may be less strict with toys and activities than some Sabbath-keeping families, and more strict in other aspects, but the weekly observance is the same. Our kids can count on the Sabbath. They can depend on church, lunch with the grandparents, and a relaxed day.
  • Discipline
    It may have been a rocky uphill climb, but we have finally landed on a system of discipline that works well for us. We stopped spanking, and our kids do push-ups for disobedience. It really has stopped a lot of behaviors that we were not happy with (including our own). The push-ups give the kids a chance to slow down, calm down, and breathe.
  • Love
    No matter what happens everyday (as I said, we live a hectic life), in our house the kids can count on love — hugs whenever they want them, lots of kisses and cuddles and encouraging words.
  • Nap Time
    Sometimes we aren’t at home for nap time or the kids sleep in the car. If this happens we skip nap time. If we’re home, though, the kids can count on nap time at 2 p.m. every day. This recharges Mom, gives the oldest an opportunity to have quiet time, and gives the two youngest some much-needed sleep.

Staying Consistent at School

Our homeschool is not consistent in any stretch of the imagination, but we’re working at it. At this point in time there is very little the kids can count on, because we just changed our curriculum. Since it’s so chaotic, we try to keep the things that we can as consistent as possible.

  • Rewards and Praise
    We try to reward the kids for school work, both in game time (either video games, or the games on their school program). We also like to use stickers, along with hugs and kisses (which works the best for the youngest two!).
  • Same Time
    I try very hard to have at least some class time at the same time each day. This affords my son the opportunity to think, “oh, it’s time for school,” at the same time each day. It also gives him a special time that’s just his. When the others are old enough to have school daily, I will give them their own time as well.
  • The Subject Matter
    We tried a curriculum that only taught sight words for reading, but realized our son responds better to phonics. We finally chose a system of learning that we’re happy with, so now we are sticking with it. We’re sticking with a curriculum that reflects our beliefs as well as what we learned, so we’re better able to teach them.

A Routine

It’s so important to have a routine. Since we’re not in a place to have a consistent routine in our house, we’re at least going to discuss a routine every morning, and that will be consistent. We can call it The Breakfast Battle Plan. This will be a solid start.

Stepping Back and Assessing

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“Love suffers long (is patient), love is kind, love does not envy, love wants not its own, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh not evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” 1 Corinthians 14.

Boy, some days it’s really hard to act like Christ. I will admit that I tend to do fine in public. Trying to keep a good appearance and being a fit representation of our Savior is always on my mind while I am out (especially when my son will not listen to me and I really want to paddle his behind — or wonder why I ever decided to bring him into this world). But, for some strange reason, when I walk through my front door everything seems to change.

Getting frustrated, angry, pouting, yelling, and sometimes out of control, I hate to admit, is not just a kid problem in my home, but it’s a Mommy problem too. I do so well until I’m pushed to my limit, and then I lose it and yell or get frustrated. The problem with that is we are to be an example in behavior to our children, as we are what they see. Whether inside our house or outside our house, we are called to show the principle of love, no matter the situation. Lord, help me as I really struggle with this on a daily basis. I am seeing some changing as time goes by, but, being a perfectionist, it’s not as fast as I want to see!

At ages five and two, my two kids are always copying everything they see — especially in Mommy’s and Daddy’s behavior. My son’s favorite saying right now is, “But, you get to, so why can’t I?” We get so sick of this question all day long…all evening and often after the kids are already in bed. “But, you get to stay up, so why can’t I?” How many times do you find yourself asking these questions to God? I think if you really analyze your life, you will find you ask questions like this more then you realize you do.

Having children is teaching me to see myself in a whole new light. I now understand why Christ says, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.

A lesson in Child Rearing 101 for Bitsy: The questions I get annoyed with by my kids asking over and over again are the ones I tend to ask God. Each day I find myself asking one of those questions in an adult way. “Father, we’re having a huge financial issue. Why can’t you just send us a check in the mail?” Or, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Or, “Why did you give me kids? I feel so out of control right now.” But, no matter our circumstances God asks us to be like little children, to have the grace to be corrected, the ability to apologize, the quick forgiveness I see in my children when I have made mistakes, the simple trust and appreciation our kids so often have for us.

The Lord of all Wisdom understands our needs. He understands our children and our child-like questioning. He has broad shoulders to allow us to question and vent and help us with our frustration. Having little people copy exactly what we do in our daily lives challenges us to be able to change the way we handle situations and ourselves. You see, I believe children were given to us, not to change them into what they need to be, although that is a part of what our job as parents are, but to change US into what WE need to be — to challenge our daily lives and bring us back over and over again to the areas we need to work on, each time learning to surrender that issue to Him more and more. No, the training of my children is not so much intended for them but for me. It doesn’t help that God places a heavy responsibility on us to be parents, as our children are on loan to be raised for Him.

I really struggle as a parent because I take the responsibility very seriously, and I am sure that you do as well, as it is a huge responsibility and one that even the angels would give anything to have as well. Not only do we have the responsibility of helping our husband, keeping the house running smoothly, keeping meals on the table and laundry done and all of the other responsibilities of running a home, but we have the 24/7 jobs of wiping noses, missing sleep in the night, being tugged in more then one direction if we have more then one child, and somehow, among all of this, we are trying to look good for our husbands as well. I want to challenge you today. When we are struggling with the responsibility of parenting, are we really trusting that the Lord will work everything out for good? When we rely on Him, our strength is renewed and He will show us what to make as a priority for each day.

God has recently brought to my attention that a lot of my overwhelming issue with being a mom is that I am not truly trusting the Lord. I don’t take a few minutes each day to really spend time asking the Lord how I did for the day, assessing things I need to change, and surrendering those to the Lord for a clean start in the morning. The problem is fitting it in with all of the craziness going on in life with two totally crazy little ones who beg to have Mommy’s attention all the time.

With all of this I want you to be encouraged. Change is a slow process. My favorite author once penned, “Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Sometimes, to be honest, I wonder if my lifetime is going to be long enough as I have so many faults that need corrected, and the more I try to fix them it seems the stronger and more frequent they become. Why? Because when I am looking at my problem, I am forgetting to look at Christ, the one who overcomes all of my problems.

Each day as life gets busy and time seems short, let’s choose to take one day at a time, living in the moment and enjoying each and every second we have with our precious little ones. It takes three weeks to form a habit, so just hang in there and keep going. If you fall, get back up and keep going. When you finish the three weeks, add another task and work on that for three weeks. Our children are very forgiving, and I’m so grateful that God put such forgiveness into our little ones, as He knew they would need it with me.

So, in closing, let’s determine to take five minutes at the end of each day to step back and assess ourselves, our family, and our children. We will be walking on the road next to our Master.

Blessings as we start this new habit together!

Reformation in the Home: A Joyful Journey

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My mission is to find joy this year in all the challenges we face in our home. I made a commitment to NOT let Satan steal our joy while we wrestle with how to discipline and how to reward from a young age in the lives of our children. This post is a post about right rewards, and, because today is Reformation Day, I thought, “Oh! Discipline is really just reform in our home.” Reform in our home has been about finding what needs to change, and working out the blessings of right living. So, come hear how we’ve been reforming and how God is blessing!

Our children are ages seven, five, and three. About six months ago, I read to them a chapter in Adventist Home titled, Mothers Helpers. I’d encourage all mamas to reread this chapter periodically, even out loud to the whole family! As I was reading, I was inspired to start a reform in our home. I want to help our children be better helpers in the home because this skill is something they will take with them when they leave the home, and it also teaches them in a practical way how to honor their parents, a commandment for which training and daily practice is required. Out of this realization, I have been slowly developing what we call “Blessing Cards” in our home. This system is still a work in progress, just like reform often opens the door for further reform, like in the case of our walk with Jesus.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:5-8. 

Over the summer our routine loosened a bit while we spent more time enjoying the sunshine and in our garden. That being said, I found myself often repeating myself to remind the children of their little chores or obligations within the home. So, although I forsook the chore chart long ago because it was one more thing to keep track of, we decided to implement a reminder system to help the children with a tangible reminder. I posted their reforms in their bedrooms; we call them the “Morning High Fives” — five things they must do in the morning,and preferably before breakfast, so when they come to sit down they can give Mama or Daddy a high five of completion. I know, totally dorky, but we all think it’s fun.

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I have added to their reform cards, including a stop sign for their ongoing expectations like picking up toys when they’re finished and putting away their own clothes (with help if necessary). We also have a star on the list for their one extra household chore for the year, and that way they learn efficiency with this one chore throughout the year, and at the same time I am not assigning weekly or daily who is doing what.

Now for the rewards, right?! I wrestled with the idea of allowance because it doesn’t fit with our family’s ideals, BUT I also wanted to be able to give my children some kind of tangible blessing as they had now come to understand that sinning in our home leads to consequences and choosing right living through practicing self-control leads to blessings. I do believe that blessing our children looks like a variety of things, including encouraging words from Mom or Dad, one-on-one time, and little privileges not normally expected, as well as those privileges expected and often overlooked. So, we made a stack of blessing cards which the children helped me decorate and laminate. I made up a list of what the blessing cards could be used for or saved up to use for. The children were so enthusiastic, and it did work wonders for me not having to remind them for the first few weeks… And then, as others may have experienced, reform started to lose its luster in our home. I wondered if the blessing cards where even the great idea I thought they’d be, or if I should just not even bother…

Last week, as we were studying the end of Moses’ life, I read a quote that gave me courage to continue our Reformation in the home. It came from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 470: “God speaks to His people in blessings bestowed; and when these are not appreciated, He speaks to them in blessings removed, that they may be led to see their sins, and return to Him with all the heart.” Our memory verse that week was Joshua 1:9, and the sentiment “Be strong and of a good courage” was repeated multiple times throughout our reading. I decided it would take true Christian courage from both the children and this mama in the Reformation of our home life to be filled with blessings!

So my prayer is that whatever Reformation you have going on in the home of your heart, homeschool, and family, you might find the courage to continue and find joy in the journey!

Many Blessings,

Allison

Bless Your Child

Is your child stressed and discouraged with a subject at school? Does he display anger because of an annoying sibling at home?

Are you tired and frustrated because the child is upset and disrespectful?  Is it time for a “consequence” for that “bad attitude”?

Don’t miss this precious opportunity given to train and empower your child with Scripture promised in His Word, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1,2)

How do you apply this to an out-of-control child? Instead of threats or punishment, put your arm around your young struggler and sympathize with his struggles to have a better attitude, then pray a blessing that fits his  case—one like this: “Bless (name) who has been learning Holy Scriptures all (her/his) life, and that these Scriptures are making (him/her) wise unto salvation.(2 Timothy 3:15) Thank you for making ______ perfect in You.”

Or, praise God aloud for His promise for the perfect mind of Jesus in place of any self-oriented thoughts: Thank Him that “Now unto Him that is able to keep (name) from falling, and to present (him, her) faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”  Jude 24

One mother realized  she was confusing disobedience with frustration because her son did not handle himself one day, under stress. After applying the above principles, the next day she said, “I cannot express how grateful I am.  Every day I realize another aspect of this truth.  It changes our relationships at home and my heart every time I come beside and offer comfort, scripture, blessings, and prayer.”

By Ellen Dana

Ellen Dana the Educational Director at Moore Academy. She enjoys helping families around the world to successfully homeschool their children. She strives to carefully and responsibly continue promoting a balanced educational effort with individualized curriculum planning and surveillance of enrolled families’ practice in using the Moore Formula type of education avidly taught by the Moores.