Tag Archives: discipline

Extras to Earn, Not Expectations to Receive :: A Week of Boundaries

leaving the house and boundaries

I read Boundaries with Kids in February (which feels like so long ago!).

While I felt like I understood the concepts, I floundered on the follow-through. I could see the issues described in the book being played out in my home, and like the true brainiac that I am – I just watched and I couldn’t seem to connect the dots.

I felt like I couldn’t come up with consequences that made sense. My kids would cross boundaries and disobey while I just watched, feeling paralyzed.

Instead of being constructive, I lectured and over explained how their actions made me feel. I saw their little eye glaze over again and again. Here she goes again… I reacted with words which doesn’t help at all. (And now I know better. This is explained in detail in the book.)

For a couple weeks, I felt like a train wreck.

So I did the only thing that made sense: I prayed.

Help me, Lord! I am so broken and needy. I know what’s right but I can’t do it! I keep repeating the same mistakes. I want to love my children by creating and maintaining loving limits but I honestly don’t know how.

For weeks, I felt like my prayers were going unanswered.

I was grasping at straws.

Then I saw our routine chart (you know, the one we never use and have visually learned to “not see” anymore – yeah, that one), and I realized that I had already done the work of creating boundaries. No reinventing the wheel necessary.

So, now I had my boundaries clearly laid out, but what about consequences for crossing the boundaries? Because as the authors said “It’s their job to cross the boundaries.”

And then I realized that the consequences should be the loss of the regular, weekly extra activities that we enjoy. In my desire to shower my kids with comfort and joy (great things!), I made the “extra activities” in our life the expected activities or dare I say the entitled activities. For example, a trip to the library is great! And when you take due dates into view, a trip is a need. But do we need to go there or do we want to? For us, the line between needs and wants in our schedule was blurred.

Not only was our schedule a blur, but our household chores were getting muddy too. Because there weren’t consequences for failing to follow through on tasks, I was turning to money to motivate them to obey. When I would engage with my older kids (7 and 9 years) to train them in some personal responsibility, they were beginning to expect monetary rewards instead of just doing the tasks for the sake of obedience. So, I allowed my lack of boundaries to fool me into the mindset that I should try to bargain, bribe, or beg them to obey.

And I’m not joking! The words: I’m begging you! Were becoming a part of my weekly vocabulary.

(Whoa.)

I took a hard look at my own life: why is this behavior so important to me? What is most important to my kids? How can I move them from consuming our schedule, home, resources, etc. to contributing to these? What will motivate and correct?

I already learned that money didn’t work. Like a cupcake with too much frosting, they bit a little and then scraped the extra off and continued without changing the behavior I was trying to change.

So, I considered my life again but more practically. If I want to enjoy something, what has to happen? If I want to have a peaceful morning, I put in the work the night before to wash pans, tidy up, and write the plan.

Plain old life requires work, but there are natural rewards in that work too – like peace!

(Lightbulb.)

I decided that I needed to train my kids to see life’s rewards as extras to earn not expectations to receive.

And this week has been so different.

Monday: I wanted to follow the routines. Now hear me, I’m a flexible person. I’m not hyper strict about most things. I enjoy my Type B personality (or my adult ADD) most of the time. So to reward my kids for their participation in our daily responsibilities, I said that I would take them to a new play place by 2pm as long as we each put our responsibilities first. I built free time into the schedule too. There was no need for anyone to feel burdened, just loosely guided.

One additional condition was kindness. No out of control arguments. I’ve been working for months on training my little people to treat each other with kindness and respect, to see and anticipate the needs and feelings of each other.

They were on board and super excited to go and play! What a treat. Usually Mondays are “stay home” days.

But they argued – again and again. I had to correct and redirect. I warned without lecturing or showing any emotion, until finally I had to say “You’ve lost the privilege. We will not be going to the play place.”

Boy, was it hard to stick to this consequence! They straightened right up, got back on track, and asked again if we could still go. Considering the fact that we actually hadn’t fallen behind in our routine. We could still make it – no harm, no foul. But I couldn’t give in or change my mind.

This is vital to establishing real boundaries. Boundaries that are consistent.

I told them that we could find another time in our week to add in this fun extra, but that they would have to continue to show me that they could respect the routine.

Tuesday: Library day. They couldn’t keep it together. Squabbles and dawdles robbed them of their “need” to go to the library.

At this point, I could see that I was really getting through to them. Not only was I being firm on the limits of their behavior, but I was being loving! I was calm, compassionate, and willing to listen to them. I wasn’t willing to compromise or change my mind. I asked for the routine to be followed without fighting (little arguments and disagreements aside – they are kids for heaven’s sake), and I meant it.

Wednesday: we got out of the house and enjoyed a little perspective from the outside, which brings us to Thursday and the picture of us leaving the house!!!

We enjoyed the library and the play place! We got out of the house (easily!!) by 9am with chores done and no fighting!

Am I being too strict? Is it fair to cancel plans and make they follow the routine? (Side note: we [my older kids and I] created this routine together, so this isn’t just a “my way or the highway” plan. It’s a collaboration.) I don’t think so.

This is parenting. 

 

*I am not a parenting expert. This post isn’t written to diagnose or treat any parenting issues. If you see yourself in my experience or my kids’ behavior, I pray this post will encourage and not discourage. I would love to connect with you personally too! Click here to read my previous post reviewing the book on Boundaries with Kids.

Read and Grow.

Photo credit.

It’s happening again. And I’m so utterly excited and thankful. Life has presented me with a challenge, and God has birthed in my heart a craving to grow.

The desire and motivation are a gift. I didn’t design it nor can I contain it.

This happened once before, a little over 7 years ago. I wrote about my desire to change, to fix a character flaw. It was truly the beginning of my blogging journey as well. I had no idea that writing my way through that year would serve to fundamentally define me as a writer.

Isn’t that just the way God works? Those mysterious ways that come upon us, altering us in areas beyond imagination.

Last year, I tried to manufacture my growth by setting up a reading challenge full of deep and delightful titles. But even while creating the list, I could feel my own distance – reluctance that I ignored because I wanted to teach myself a lesson in discipline. I was tricked by my own success with growing productively into believing that I could force growth in any area. I didn’t honor my limits, I wasn’t being gracious with my weakness, I over estimated my strengths.

I was sick of being held back. I thought pushing through, trying harder, and thinking big would free me from my own struggle with my brain.  

Dealing with my ADD brain can be tricky. Sometimes I do need to “sit myself down” and “obey the list.” I’m learning that I can only make progress through this type of firmness in the area of productivity not the area of contemplation. I need to budget my energy to fuel these two parts of my mind (there’s a post brewing on this topic…). I’m realizing again that God gave me this brain with all of it’s limits and talents for His purposes to be used in His timing. 

So, I’m excited for this year and the growth I can see up ahead, but I’m not ashamed of last year’s “failure” because I recognized an important, personal limitation and learned to respect it. More on this later.

For now, I can see that the challenge in my life is CHANGE. There is change all around me. My kids are all coming out of a coasting season. Their interests, competencies, and complexities are on the rise. Taking just this area of change into view, I see that I will have to change in order to rise to the occasion of being the kind of mother I want to be for my loves.

Questions: How can I rise to the occasion on my own? What strength or talent do I possess that will allow for personal growth? Can I contain or conjure up a motive that will sustain growth over a long period of time?

Answers: I can’t. Nothing. No.

What gives? Why am I excited if I can’t do this on my own? Exactly because the desire, strength, motive aren’t coming from my decision, I can trust that I won’t have to worry about controlling or maintaining them.

It’s like the “Field of Dreams.” I feel like the Lord is showing me how much great change is ahead of me, and all I have to do is pick up the book and read. He will grow me from the inside.

And He already has. Since the beginning of 2017, I’ve been reading. I’ll do my best to share the most of what I gain from the titles this year. And I’ll keep the list here as a reference.

Books read in 2017 (I’ll link the ones I review):

  • BFG by Roald Dahl*
  • Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis
  • Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  • Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl & Serene
  • Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae
  • Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith
  • Currently reading: The Life Giving Home by Sarah & Sally Clarkson, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Gameplan by Sarah Harnisch 

Are you interested in following me in this process of change through reading? I’m ready to really GROW. Let me know in the comments what books you’re reading and what you recommend! Who doesn’t want to GROW their TBR list even more? ;)

Here’s my Amazon list for easy reference. If you make a purchase, Amazon thanks me at no cost to you.

* Audio book

Photo credit.

Know Your Style: Homeschool Planning Tip #4

Know your style hpt 4

There is so much more to planning a homeschool year than putting dates and assignments on a calendar.

I wish it could be that easy.

Two years ago, that’s all I thought it took. I opened up all my resources, gathered the time frames suggested in each, wrote out the units on my planner, and mentally clicked on “autopilot.” I truly thought I was not only doing what was best for our year but I was also tricked into thinking that the schedule would somehow run the show.

I thought I was being logical: If we have deadlines on the calendar, then we will accomplish all of our work on time.

This didn’t happen.

Not at all.

To our credit, we were still sort of settling into to what it means to learn at home. It was the first year that I would say my kids were past the “kindergarten” stage of just needing the basics. So, I honestly didn’t know how to incorporate different subjects on my own. That year, I didn’t buy a curriculum-in-a-box with a master checklist of the daily list of to-dos.

Also, this was pre-Bullet Journal and pre-Make Over courses.

I simply didn’t know how to manage a day well. I didn’t know how to manage myself well. My style at the time was still developing, but I didn’t realize the work ahead of me to define a working routine that would bless both my kids and myself.

So, before jumping into the same mistakes I made (or other ones, there are many to choose from) like filling in your whole homeschool planner with dates and deadlines – take a few days to define your style. Your style for accomplishing your responsibilities. There are so many “right” styles, the only wrong one is not knowing what yours is.

Are you energized by a busy schedule?

Are you defeated before you begin if your house is a mess?

Do you thrive on field trips and spontaneous learning?

Or do you need someone to help keep you accountable to check off the lessons in your child’s math book?

We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to management and leadership styles in the home. As a home educator, you’re both – whether that sits well with you or not.

I’m learning that my style is slow and steady, housework then schoolwork, in more than out, and the discipline of “withness.” These are the realities that go into my homeschool planning for the year, month, and week. When I prioritize these into each day, it not only benefits our school day but it also fuels me as a person. I feel more alive when I’ve honored the way I’m wired to function.

Notable in November 2

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to recommend Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (affiliate link). I wanted to tell you about the section where Sarah Mackenzie details the virtue of rest and the 2 vices on either side: Anxiety and Negligence – but I can’t find the page. So, instead I’ll recommend that you think about this (from page 57 – section titled The Truth About You):

“We must look ourselves squarely in the eye and decide what is true about how we operate best, then base our homeschools on those truths, playing to our strengths and providing for our weaknesses. The result? The children benefit tremendously, regardless of their unique learning styles.”

The truths detailed in this little book (seriously, only 81 pages – even non-readers can read this) are worth spending a few weeks with before planning the nitty-gritty details of what you want to learn and accomplish this next year in your home.

Don’t neglect this piece of the planning process! I hope you can be encouraged to spend the rest of this month steeping in truth, digging in to understand yourself better, and committing to steward the resources available to you.

The question that masks a deeper more confronting question.

The question that masks a deeper more confronting question. 1

I’ve already told you that I’m prone to panic. I had to learn through so much failure and struggle that the first few years of home education proved to be more for educating me on self-control and discipline than about what curricula is best suited for my children and their learning styles.

Even after 4 years of studying home education, I still ask other home educating friends on a regular basis, “how do you do this?

The truth is that while things do become more routine the longer you do them, there isn’t a magical answer to “how” they should be done.

I have spent so much time trying to answer this question before actually putting any action into home schooling. Reading books, blogs, studying development and researching the best tools for the right ages. Figuring out the “how” is difficult and no doubt daunting when I admit that the whole of the child in my care is resting on how well I do this.

While searching for answers to how, a fear rises and begins to tell me that I will never have enough information, tools, or understanding to do a good enough job for my child. And in response to this fear I put in even more effort, endlessly asking myself, how do I do this? The fear that maybe I can’t do this as well as I should begins to turn the question of how into an illusive thing. As I learn more about the best how, I lose sight of how to begin, how to be faithful in today, how to be content. I believe the lie that if I can’t match someone else’s “how” then mine isn’t good enough and I shouldn’t even try.

That was until this thinking was confronted.

You see, it doesn’t matter the subject of the “this” in the question how do I do this? If I’m not careful, this question masks a deeper more confronting question. One that has changed the very nature of how I view everything that is difficult in my life.

On May 10, 2015, I was sitting in church listening to a sermon on spreading the gospel. The series was titled Ignite, and the message was titled Spreading the Fire. As a church, we were studying what it means to be disciple-making-disciples.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.02.10 AM

The subject of evangelism has always been a difficult one for me because I don’t come to the command with a personality that can quickly embrace the implications of spreading the name and fame of Jesus easily. For me, talking about the gospel and bringing the name of Jesus into every conversation is a challenge because I’d rather not have to talk to anyone at all. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not commanded to do so just as much as one who enjoys conversation and can readily share the gospel with others.

So when I was listening to this important message on the imperative command, I was suddenly confronted to my core when my pastor said:

Asking “how do I do this?” is really asking if there is an easier way to do it.

I knew that this was true for me in wanting to learn more about how to share the gospel. How do I start a conversation? How do I know what to say? How do I follow up with people outside my normal context? All of these additional questions are legitimate but they serve to distance me from obedience because I begin to believe that if I don’t have the answer to the “how” questions then I don’t have to start obeying. If I don’t know how, then I’m not accountable to the what.

Thinking this way is wrong. The conviction that I’ve been distancing myself from obedience has had a ripple effect in every category of my life.

In my heart, I knew that wanting things to be easy was my secret desire. For all my learning about faith, marriage, home education, and building friendships I came to the conclusion that anything worth doing requires sacrifice. And in order to begin and commit to following through I consistently came to the place where I stopped moving forward when things became costly all because I fooled myself by wanting to know “how.”

In my foolishness, I thought my wanting to know how was wise when really it was a cover up for wanting obedience to be easy.

So here are some practical suggestions if you find yourself burdened under the question of how:

  • Accept that hard work is hard. If someone else makes home education or life in general just look easy – it’s a fact that they work hard, and have worked hard for so long that doing so has become natural. Nothing in life was meant to be free from work. Own your work and commit to getting started today by just doing what you already know to do.
  • Stop comparing your how to someone else’s how. There is fear in learning something new like how to home educate. I fell into the trap quickly of wanting my day with my little people to look like the ideal – I wanted all the boxes checked, all the books read, and all the clutter cleared. I didn’t want to have to give space for learning curves and growing pains. But when I began to value my life simply because it is mine, that’s when I could actually own my how and let go of someone else’s.
  • Start in layers. Just do one thing and commit to doing it well. Discipline is grown best over time and with patience. I was tangled up in the “how can I do it all” mess when I first started home education. I wanted to give my children the best of me 24 hours a day which led me to a point of utter exhaustion. Exhaustion led me to resentment, and resentment led me to the point of missing my own life. I had to start all over and just choose 1-thing to commit to be disciplined in, to be patient to watch that one thing grow, and to be content with the time I was spending to guard and be faithful to this process.
  • Ask yourself what is easy for you. Be honest about the things you are good at and don’t miss out on the joy to life these easy things bring. These easy things are different for each person, so enjoy seeing where they can balance out the things that are difficult.
  • Talk it out. Whether in your own self-talk or with a friend, spell out the areas of home life and home education that are too hard to even begin. Discuss with your spouse whether certain ideals are even worth pursuing in the season of life you are in right now. Write out the balance of responsibilities and weigh out the easy and difficult things. It is okay to take non-essentials off the list for a season.
  • Be resolved to not measure yourself by an impossible standard. Own the gifts you’ve been given and commit to do your best. End the struggle between being a good mom and a bad mom because the best answer to “how” cannot guarantee you won’t make any more mistakes.

As I wrestle with the hard things in my life, now I am confronted whenever I start asking myself the wrong question: how can I do this? I now know that I am really asking: isn’t there an easier way to do this? And if the answer is no, there isn’t an easy way, I’m learning to own the work and just get started. I don’t want to waste my life waiting for an easier way. The how do I do this question is answered easily: start.