Tag Archives: routine

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.

Know Your Style: Homeschool Planning Tip #4

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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.

Bullet Journal: Homeschool Planning Tip #1

BuJo HPT 1

You know you need to plan out what you want to accomplish in the next year for homeschooling your children. But where do you start?

In the last post, I wrote that I would be sharing my year planning tips in short and sweet chunks, and the best place to start is by emphasizing the importance of using a Bullet Journal.

There are so many moving pieces with lining up a homeschool plan, that every mom I know has struggled to keep it all together. From not being able to see the big picture, or not being able to figure out the small details, it can all feel overwhelming.

And most people don’t feel the urge to pull it all together until August anyway. When August rolls around they are shocked, overwhelmed, and irrational (usually this stays on the inside but it has a way of leaking into “jokes” and crazy eyes). Suddenly, there’s so much to figure out, and most moms complain that they feel so far behind.

So, why stay on that crazy cycle?

Let me encourage you that you can avoid all of that by taking the time to implement my bite sized planning tips now in the late spring and early summer. By the time August rolls around for you, it will be possible for you to feel at peace with your next homeschool year’s plan and have the confidence to begin.

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How to begin:

You need to have ONE place where you write everything down. You need a method of recording all the things in your life. This is why I strongly encourage you to use the Bullet Journal system. It’s simple, streamlined, and customizable to your specific preferences.

All you need is a journal and pen.

{I wrote all about how to set up a Bullet Journal for homeschooling last year. If you have never heard of this system before, go to this post and check it out. Then come back here to finish this post.}

Now that you’re ready to write, clear out a couple evenings or a Saturday afternoon to start brain dumping all your thoughts about your home, your kids, and your philosophy of education. This will be an ongoing part of your planning, but it is also extremely important that you honor this part of the planning process by putting it first.

WARNING: Do not purchase any books, resources, tools, etc. until you have completed this step.

It’s important to know how you feel about homeschooling. It’s valuable to write down where you are now emotionally, where your family is at in terms of functioning in the home, and where the next year could potentially take you.

Take the time to note all the major milestones that are expected to come within the next year. Can you imagine how these changes will influence how you feel about being a home educator?

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The goal in writing all these things down is to settle your mind and heart, to center your focus on the present and the foreseeable future, to detail the specific challenges you face, and to prioritize just a few educational goals. The whole point in all this is to turn away from the temptation to buy the prepackaged curricula that feels promising: Homeschooling made easy! Or the temptation to blame the challenges of the past year on the resources that you chose: Well, we completely failed to finish our science curriculum because the instructor’s guide was just too hard to use.

Both of these temptations appeal to my desire to have a sure thing. I want to be successful at this lifestyle of home education. I want to prove that I’m capable.

But when I write out that my child struggles with mood swings and impulsive behavior then it doesn’t really matter if I pick a perfect “school in a box,” it’s likely that this child will not want to do anything I propose in our homeschool year.

And if I’m not growing like I should in the discipline of ordering our routine to be consistent, trustworthy, and beneficial to all in the family then it doesn’t matter if I find the best science program with an instructor’s guide that I can understand – because chances are I won’t be disciplined enough to use it.

So, this is why the first step in planning for your next year needs to happen now. You must give yourself time to honestly reflect on the strengths and weaknesses that you have within your home.

Whether you like it or not, in the next homeschool year you will not be able to accomplish everything you feel like you “should” do. That’s why it’s important to make the time to really prioritize your goals.

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In summary, to begin your homeschool planning:

  • Set up a Bullet Journal
  • Write out the highs and lows from this past year
  • Note your child(ren)’s strength and weaknesses and just a few simple goals for their personal growth (I wrote out a page of prayer requests for my kids to help me remember the most important things)
  • Articulate your educational philosophy
  • Write down any anticipated milestones coming in the next year
  • Chart what a potential week in your life will look like – include outside commitments, routine goals, and rest.

Sit with this journal and continue to write until you feel settled. Don’t move on from this step until you feel confident that you can make wise decisions regarding how you will spend your time and money on the next homeschool year.

One game-changer resource that has helped me in this part of the planning process has been Sarah McKenzie’s book: Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (affiliate link). You should get this book, read a few pages a day (there are only 81 pages – but each page is a gold mine of truth), and record all your thoughts in your Bullet Journal. I promise you will treasure what you write. 

Next in this series, I’ll be sharing how I find closure for the year that we just finished. This can be a tricky thing because we don’t always “complete” a subject, but keeping it on the shelf when I don’t we won’t use it anymore isn’t helpful. The next post will help you move on, let go, and clean the slate.

Are you feeling motivated to plan? Or is it draining just to think about it? Maybe you're like me and you waffle back and forth between these two. Wherever you're at in this learning journey, I'd love to help you take the next step. That's why I've created an Accountability/Encouragement group. I send out 2 emails per week to inspire and challenge you - and these are applicable to anyone at any stage of personal discipline. Want to join us? Click here to sign up.

Salvation isn’t found there.

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I had (have) a tendency to search for the answer. The perfect solution to life’s challenges. The one size fits all cure for clutter, chaos, and chores.

I just recently wrote out our day, and one thing I’ve learned through the process of living and learning at home with my children is that routines change. Good things come to an end. All my effort and discipline to match our needs to our nature and time things out in order to accomplish all the things works only for a season. And then it all fades and something new needs to take its place.

This happened to me the very same day I published that day in the life post.

My toddler stopped taking naps. And in its place, he picked up a nasty habit of coloring all over everything – couch, desk, table, floor, windows, chalkboard, himself…

Exhibit A:

And shortly before this, my older children stopped doing their chores. I fearfully ignored their failure to comply with the routine. I told myself that we were in a funk and that we would recover in due time.

But we haven’t recovered.

All roads point to a need for a new routine. Am I excited about this? Not at all. It doesn’t seem productive to have to keep switching up the time of day that we normally perform certain tasks. If I were left to myself in this home life thing, I would do everything at the same time – eat the same foods, accomplish the same chores, and take the same breaks each day. I would be perfectly boring and predictable. I would cling to the sameness as if it could save me from all things uncomfortable.

But I can’t cling to my old routine because salvation from the uncomfortable isn’t found there. I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend that our routine is working just fine. I can’t avoid the change-pains of trying new things. And I can’t believe the lie that hard things = bad things. This just simply isn’t true.

What is difficult can be far more rewarding than what is easy.  

So, here I am. Leaning into change. Searching for solutions that may only work for 3-5 months. I’m accepting that my beloved autopilot has quit and I must redirect the whole thing or we’ll really crash.

I’m embracing my responsibility and disciplining my mind so that the changes we make are thoughtful and practical – things we can actually follow through on.

Have you found a good way to reorder your days when the routine stops working? Share it with me in the comments or by contacting me. Or if you have a favorite blog, pinterest board, or book on the subject – please share those too.