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This was written to a dear mother who was drowning in her responsibilities as a homeschool mom of several young children. After spending over an hour to write this, because I felt so drawn to share my heart, the moderator of the group rejected it saying it was filled with “dangerous ideas”. I hope these “dangerous ideas” bless your lives and give you hope.
When you are overwhelmed with the amount of expectation you have for yourself. I always suggest for moms to write a list of “shoulds” . Think, “good moms should…” and write out, “I should ….” Then cross out should and replace it with “Could if I wanted to.” Then re-evaluate your list. How many of those things are essential, or your life couldn’t be without?
Many times we mothers live with the mistaken notion that it is our job to individually pour out specialized time and learning for each child for hours a day. It is an unaccomplishable myth. In my twenty years as a mother, I have learned there are only some essential mothering principles and skills, and then everything else falls under the categories “important when there’s time and energy” and “a good thing to do, but not necessary.” In my opinion, some of the essentials are:
*A safe, loving home environment
*Gospel learning, church on Sundays
*Having a healthy marriage
*The baby is the lesson
*An abundance of chores and responsibilities
*Family read-aloud time, mother-children read-aloud time
*Mentoring Moments (see this article I wrote)
*Being available (with healthy limitations)
In an age where Pinterest fills our minds with ideas of what “can” be done and Facebook fills our minds with what is being done in homes around the world, is almost too much. It’s like walking into a candy shop with millions of varieties to choose from. Some are more attractive than others. If you watch for long enough you see what others are choosing and it distracts you from your original choices. But in the end, too many choices overwhelm us and the comparison game is a losing game. We rarely ever are the winners when we compare ourseves.
This time in your life is a beautiful one. The most important thing for your children to do is play, play, play. “Play is the highest form of research” ~Albert Einstein
“The great rule is: Play on the surface, and the work takes place beneath. …As I have noted growth of intelligence is never a conscious process; conceptual changes always take place below awareness. Of what is the child aware in fantasy play? He is aware of the reality of his own play creation, a reality that exist neither in he world out there nor in the concrete concepts of the child’s brain. Play reality, like adult reality, is neither world nor brain; it is world plus mind-brain.” (The Call to Brilliance) Origin: The Magical Child
Some things we enjoy are:
Homemade bubbles play dough, lip gloss, bath bombs, volcanoes, bubble wands, jewelry, musical instruments, pom-pom animals, food crafts, Popsicle stick crafts, and puppets.
Sewing a pocket, cross-stitching, plastic canvas
Puzzles- Make your own too
Play, reading aloud, beads, legos,
toys that encourage thinking
Focus on having a learning environment with No TV!
I often look to great literature, to the great matriarchs, for examples on excellent, responsible mothering. Often we look to our peers as examples, but looking higher to great women, can inspire you in kind, helpful ways. The following classic books have heroines that have taught me over the years. These women usually live a simple lifestyle and are gentle mothers. As you read, you experience first-hand as they solve problems, parent their children, nurture their marriages, and care for their own needs. Reading aloud has been on my top five list of ways to connect with my children, meet many unspoken needs, and a truly enjoyable experience. Because of this, I encourage you to read some of these books aloud.
Marmie in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Mother in Little Britches
Ma Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie
Mama in Mama’s Bank Account
Mamma in Applesauce Needs Sugar
Marilla in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Mrs. Pepper in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Mama in All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor
Mrs. Gilbert in Cheaper by the Dozen
Mamma in The Great Brain by John Fitzgerald
Aunt Abigail in Understood Betsy
Peace and Joy
For most of my life I was searching for inner peace and joy. I finally realized that true joy is in serving others and by extension serving God; and other joys come to me in finding pleasure in reading, study, and growing. I realized happiness is a choice, but a contrived choice. We have to decide to be happy. If I’m not feeling happiness and I’m doing what I know I should do to feel it I ask myself the following questions:
Have I had adquate sleep/rest?
Have I eaten enough?
Do I have a hobby or two that I enjoy regularly?
Am I complaining inside or verbally?
Am I seeing my family or children as the enemy?
I’m I focusing on my negative feelings such as resentment, selfishness, anger, or frustration?
When was the last time I exersized?
It is important to fill your spiritual well. Each day, find a few things that nuture your spiritual self first thing in the morning. A devotional, stretching, reading a chapter in a book, singing, praying…are a few ideas of things you can do. For years, I took my kids on regular walks with me and we all got our exercise. Now, I let my older kids take them and I go to the gym. Sometimes, it helps to get out of the house and have a change of scenery. Going to the zoo, a park, the mall, or even visiting a friend can refresh your energy.
Lastly, managing conflict. Letting the kids outside for a few hours a day keeps them from boredom which breeds contention. I personally avoid too many mom-intensive tasks. If I’m going from thing to thing all day I end up grouchy and unsatisfied. You are provider of a safe, learning, loving environment and the kids need to make more choices, help more, and by extension they will grow more.
I refuse to get involved in squabbles unless someone has done something to harm another or is doing something that will keep them out of heaven. Everything else I allow them to resolve. If it’s too contentious, they are idle, tired, or being selfish. I work on those specific behaviors and go back to what I was doing. Idle means a chore or outside time. Tired means naptime. Selfish means service time and that can be started by listening to scriptures on audio, then telling me what they can do to serve such as making someone’s bed.