Friday, August 24, 2007

Time Management for Homeschooling Moms

Marianne over at recently posted an excellent article entitled, "Homeschooling - Making Priorities." Her post seriously challenged me. She starts off using the illustration of filling a bucket with rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. You've probably heard the illustration before - if you start with the little stuff, you'll never get the big stuff in. But if you start with the big rocks, then add the pebbles, then the sand, and finally the water, you can fit far more into the same bucket. (I use this principle almost every day in putting my second-grader's toys away!)

Marianne goes on to point out that our time is the same way. We can schedule everything in tiny, 15-minute blocks, and maybe we'll remember to get everything in. But if we really want to get in what's important (the "big stuff"), we have to put it into our schedules first, and fit the other things in around it.

Then comes the really convicting part.
So, what are the gemstones in your life? What is important to you? Here we are once again grappling with the goals you have - where are you headed and what is significant to you?

At a recent conference, I was challenged to prioritize my life according to roles. I had never thought of that before. The roles I have as a Christian, wife, mother, teacher, friend and so on, should determine my priorities in my life and these should play an important part in how I prioritize my life and days. I have considered three of my roles below.

Firstly, I am a child of God and therefore one of my large gemstones should be time set aside in communion with my Father, Creator, Saviour and Lord. We all know, and I am acutely aware of the shameful truth that if this time is not scheduled in my day and given priority, the sandy cares of life will smother my day and the most important rock of my life will not fit in the bucket anymore.

Secondly, I see my role as a wife. Is it not true as homeschoolers that our husbands can often feel short-changed in the whole process of homeschooling? Here, too I am guilty of spending an enormous amount of my time being devoted to programs, schedules, book orders and so on, working hard on what we see to be important, but at the same time - leaving out our spouse and forgetting what God has called us to do and be in that regard. How do we make our husbands a priority? By giving them quality time. Schedule in some special time together - it may be an outing, a walk around the block, or dinner together after the children are in bed. Whatever it may look like, or however fancy or commonplace it may seem, there needs to be intentional time set aside for relationship building and time-out with your husbands. Your children will be blessed by seeing their mum and dad enjoying a strong, vibrant, fun-loving relationship together. So, set aside time to make it happen!

Thirdly, I have the role to be a mother to my children. Even though I spend all day with my children, it does not necessarily mean that I am connecting with each of my children in their time of need. For some children that may mean a gentle, warm smile. Others may need time together - going for a walk, flying a kite, baking a cake.... spending special time. For other children, kind words of recognition or a thoughtful card would touch their hearts. Each of our children have different needs and one of our roles as mother is to communicate our love and acceptance. Also, as a mother, I want to teach and instruct my children. We want to encourage them to persevere in their difficulties and develop their areas of strength. We want them to grow more and more into the image of Jesus Christ and be the unique person which He has created them to be. What a wonderful blessing it is to walk beside our child, encouraging them and watching the work of God in them.

As we contemplate the enormous task of homeschooling and the limitations of a 24 hour day, we need to differentiate the "significant" from the "ordinary." If we do not deliberately make time for the "significant", our days and weeks and years will be filled up with the "ordinary." I'm not against schedules or day planners - not at all! What is important - is what you put in them! It isn't difficult to work out that our relationships - eternal and personal, are the gemstones in our bucket, so therefore the schedules and plans we make should reflect our priorities.

Homeschooling should be synonymous with relationship-building, since we share our lives so closely with our family members. But, the danger can overtake us so easily and we can fill our days with the sand and grit of the ordinary. Our challenge is not to forget the real gems in our lives and prize them close to our hearts.

Ouch! She has hit on something here that's been bothering me, at the edges of my mind, for quite a while - the feeling that my time is getting "filled up with the 'ordinary.'" If you're feeling that way, maybe you'll want to join me in looking again at what's really important in our lives, and making sure we get the gemstones in.


southerngirlmusings said...

Thanks, I definitely needed this reminder.

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Virgil said...

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