Thursday, June 30, 2011
Have you been to SimpleMom.net? It is a wonderful network of blogs headed up by Tsh Oxenrider, which includes Simple Mom, Simple Kids, Simple Bites, Simple Organic, and Simple Homeschool. This past winter I purchased Tsh's book, Organized Simplicity, and it has made such a difference in my life!
In the her book, Tsh encourages you to think and write about what your family's personal life purpose is. Tsh then has you go through and account for every minute of a typical day. She has you write down what you do and how much time you spend doing it, even including going to the restroom! Then she has you write down what you would like to do more of. Finally she has you compare the list of how you spend your time to the list of things you'd wish you could do more, against your family's own "life's purpose" statement. This little gem of guidance from Tsh has really changed our perspective and helped to make life more enjoyable and feel more fulfilled for us. I'll explain more!
I think for some people, life becomes so busy and hectic and then you throw homeschooling in the mix and it can just feel downright chaotic! We start building up these long to do lists weather on paper, in our mind, or in the form of bookmarks on our computer. These are lists of things that we never have a chance to do, to read, or explore. People we'd like to visit with, places we'd like to take the children to, but never seem to have the time. After reading Organized Simplicity, my husband and I really started scrutinizing our life. We realized that we wanted to spend as much time possible guiding our children and spending time as a family. We found out that we could use our time to better accomplish the things we wanted to do, and cut out the things that we found ourselves doing unintentionally, which also tended to drain our time away.
Here's an example: We like to watch movies as a family occasionally. We purposely don't have tv, but we did have a Netflix subscription. While looking for something appropriate to watch that fit our criteria, (good message, kids being respectful towards parents, modest dress, etc.), we would browse the online catalog for what seemed like minutes when in actuality, a whole half hour had unintentionally gone by! We found this happening a lot, and decided that we could better use our time as a family together. My husband ended up cancelling our subscription to Netflix to help us avoid falling in to that rut of always defaulting to movies for family time. We still watch movies together, but not as often. Instead, we've replaced most of our movie watching with bike riding, working on a project together, or just some singing and playing along to music. In turn, we feel much more fulfilled because we are getting up and doing something and actually interacting with the children. It's really a lot more fun for us and it feels good to not feel that nagging feeling in the back of our mind. You know, the one that says's stuff like, "You should really take the kids for a bike ride" or "I've got to get around to trying that new cookie recipe the kids and I have been wanting to make".
This idea of living intentionally according to your life's purpose comes in to play for homeschooling as well. Are inanimate objects getting in the way of the "animate objects" (people) in your life? I found myself being affected by too much clutter in the form of too many kitchen utensils, toys, books and more. When the kids had a science project to try out, I would sometimes feel a cringe because of the mess it would make or because I had to make time to get the ingredients. I found that I had to put things into perspective, and make way for the people and things that really do mean a lot to me. I've gotten rid of things to make room in the kitchen for the children's items. It feels so good when they can easily find something they need for a school project. It brings about a peace and certainly less frustration. Anything I can do to simplify life as the mother and wife in a family of eight, is fine by me! My husband and I have made the commitment to home schooling, it is part of our family's purpose in this stage of our life. Because of this, we have had to make necessary adjustments to make everything run more smoothly. It is definitely an ongoing process for us, and it will be different for everyone, depending on your personal life's purpose. I love when the children and I can sit together and just make art. I love to explore different mediums with them, but I need the time and space to do so. Again, for me, keeping clutter (things we don't absolutely need or want) and unintentional living to a minimum, is the key to making things like art time jump from the "To Do" list to the "We Did It!" list.
Being a busy mother, I also definitely need time for myself and for spending time with my husband. We've recently started going on dates more frequently, and I've even started tackling the stack of decorating magazines I've been wanting to get to, but had never made the time for. I still have a way to go and everyday presents new challenges and distractions, but I can definitely say that I feel like I am enjoying the journey to the fullest more than I've ever let myself before.
So what do you think? Are there certain things and activities keeping you from leading a more intentional and fulfilled life? How does that come in to play regarding homeschooling for you?