Last night a friend and I met to discuss the book we are reading, "Large Family Logistics", which is an excellent book for aspiring homemakers for families of all sizes. I came to the gathering with a burdened heart, because I have really been struggling lately to keep a calm and patient demeanor towards the kids when it comes to their morning chores, specifically. I feel like every morning when the kids wake up that I am constantly on them about their timeliness, diligence, and thoroughness, which essentially means I am in drill sergeant mode for about an hour before we have breakfast, which does not really set the stage for a fun and productive school day. When I find myself yelling multiple times in the morning, it is guaranteed to put me in an Eeyore mood (as we like to call it here), and this usually takes me a bit to get out of, not to mention constant talking to God for help.
So, last night I brought my concerns and troubles up to my friend and we discussed helpful ways to get through the problem, determining if I was loading too much responsibility on the kids with their respective chores, which did not seem to be the real issue, or if they did not have enough time to get their chores done, which was again not the real issue. So, as I sat there a bit baffled as to how this situation could be amended, my friend hit the nail on the head. To paraphrase, she essentially told me that it sounded like I needed to help them own their choices and actions more. For instance, if our children were going to school out of the home and they woke up super late, did not move diligently in the morning time, and missed the bus, I could either allow them to miss school for the day and take the absence, have them find their own ride, or pay for the gas I would have to spend to get them to school (obviously this is more applicable for the older child, but I think you get the idea). What this does is separate the parent from the responsibility that should be on the child and puts it back into the child's hands. The important thing for me as the parent is to follow through with the natural consequences of their choices. It was the exact revelation I needed, thank You God!
So, this morning, armed with a new intention and understanding, I read my Bible as the kids woke up and eventually started with their chores. As I heard them become distracted by things, or argue about this or that, I remembered that ultimately their choices did not have to affect the flow of our day, but would only affect the way their days went. With this in mind, I just went along with my bible study and the went along with their chores. And, you know what, they did move forward with things, all be it maybe slower than I would have liked. A bit later, when Lily was slowing down quite a bit and I knew her lack of diligence would affect the family, I let her know that I expected the dishwasher to be emptied (ones of her chores) by x time and if she did not have it done by then she would need to pay me $1 to do her chore for her. She had not been too motivated by seeing the clock and working towards beating the expected time, but this idea of having to pay me really got her action in gear. Needless to say, she got the dishwasher emptied in record time!
The rest of the morning went about the same. I really focused on remembering that their choices are not a reflection of me or my burden, but theirs, so I need to just correct, encourage, and exhort as needed, no emotional attachment needed. It was a much better day than I have had in a while with the kids. They were no better or worse than usual, but I was not so emotionally invested in things, which was really nice. I remember once reading about parents who get too involved personally in their children's school work, projects and such. Like when a father does the volcano project for his children, instead of letting his kid go through the ups and downs of learning the project themselves. It is kind of like that. Except, with homeschooling and life in general, everything is like this, so it is very important for me to remain the teacher of my children, allowing them to learn lessons, even if it means getting the proverbial F once in a while. Is it hard to do? Yes. Does it often mean a bit more work on my part? Yes. But, it is a necessary part of guiding and teaching them to navigating through there time in this world. I am encouraged though. God is strengthening me in this journey and solidifying my resolve to see things through to the end, even when it gets hard.
One of the most significant and importance benefits that I have come to understand about homeschooling is that the kids and I grow together. Yes, we must endure one another's human failings on a daily basis, but we also get to regularly practice humility, repentance, patience (i.e. long-suffering), and self-control. It is the fulfillment of iron sharpening iron, with all the flames and sparks that come with it.
For any other homeschooling family, or Christian parent, I just want to encourage you to keep moving forward in the journey. I'm sure there will be tough days, or even tough seasons, but continue to seek the Lord for guidance and purpose in the fire and He will deliver. Does that mean the trial will be removed? Maybe, but not always. But, it does mean that He will provide the answers needed to make to through the trial. We must always, though, be ready to answer in obedience to His guidance, immediately applying whatever truth He reveal to our hearts. Remain in Him, and He promises to remain in us. Let's keep our eyes on the Lord!