How Discipline Can Help You Predict the Future

Name one thing you can do today – for your self or your children that can predict the future. No? Okay, how about you name one thing that will make you happier tomorrow or a week from today?

The answer might surprise you – it’s discipline.

Discipline can help you predict the future happiness of your children as well as your self.

Whoever wrote discipline is freedom was definitely on to something.

I have written in the past about the necessity of a time budget and how to begin one. There are various articles online about how to do the same with money, but curiously not many talk about how these restrictions and rules instead of making us feel constrained and miserable as we think they will, actually make us happier. (Clearly, I have to write one.)

Mea Culpa

Remember when our family was flirting with the idea of unlimited screen time not too long ago? Yeah, well.

Let me put it this way. It didn’t work.

While I still am fairly liberal with our use of technology for school, I have come to the conclusion that I do have to limit its use in the morning to create a distraction-free environment in which the children learn.

In big ways and small, I have come to realize that Charlotte Mason was right. The habits of the child do produce the character of the man.

“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” – Charlotte Mason.

It’s a sobering, sobering thought.

 Not Just For the Kids

Parents sometimes tend to make the mistake of thinking that discipline is only for the children. And as such, if they haven’t cultivated it in themselves (or have had a hard time doing so) they assume they will never be able to teach it to the children.

However, if you’re even remotely introspective, the very act of teaching it to the children will make you start to apply it yourself.

And if you think discipline is about being miserable all day, read this.

Discipline Can Predict Future Happiness

I had wrongly assumed that having a routine that we stuck with no matter what and having definite boundaries that even I wouldn’t cross (for example, no snacking until two hours after a meal, no more than one soda a day, no screens until 2 pm) were arbitrary rules we didn’t need, but I was wrong.

Just like a money budget gives you the freedom to spend on the things you have planned for, and a time budget helps you get through the day feeling accomplished but not constantly rushed, discipline predicts the amount of satisfaction you will experience with your given task. 

Without a plan, it is easy to get sidetracked, feel hurried or worse, waste time on trivialities. Learn to cultivate discipline, add some necessary, clear-cut guidelines and bring lasting freedom to your homeschool days.

Now, go make some rules.

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5 Ways Summer Can Energize Your Homeschool Year

Summer is here! Long days, tired, happy kids and homeschool moms planning the next year’s curriculum, right? But before you jump into it, remember to use this down time to energize your upcoming school year.

Here are 5 specific ways you can do that.

1. Watch your kids:

No one knows your children like you do. Especially if this is the first year you will be homeschooling, don’t jump into it immediately and definitely do not run out to buy curriculum just yet. Take some time to “de-school” them.

Let them be bored for a little while. Watch what they like. If you’re so inclined, do some informal, gentle testing of their abilities. What is the first thing they reach for after they’ve been doing nothing? You might learn something new about them and it could help your curriculum choices or schedule in the upcoming year.

2. Homeschool Conferences:

I intend attending at least a couple this year. Homeschool conferences are invaluable for families. They can keep you updated on laws and other situations that can affect you, they can make you aware of a different style of teaching, and most importantly, they can give you a support group.

Homeschooling can sometimes get lonely. Conferences help you find that group that’s just right for you so you don’t have to be.

3. Play with schedules:

Summer is a great time to play with different schedules. The days are longer, so you feel like you have more time. Also, you’re not trying to get through a specific plan. Use the warm months to think through how best to approach your time in the coming months.

If you need to, buy a planner, but don’t fill it up with a schedule. Instead, mark out the days you will take off in the upcoming year. Work backwards, with the end in mind.

Summer is also a great time to train the youngest member of the family. Many moms will potty train around this time of year, but it can also be helpful to reconsider sleep schedules, eating habits, play times, bath times. Play around with putting these in different parts of the day and see what works best. You might find that a change is necessary.

4. Read to the children:

I have written before about how we have only just now begun to enjoy reading aloud. If you have failed in the past, it may be time to revisit that goal. Reading to them could be another way to uncover interests you did not know they had.

5. Change one habit for each person, including yourself:

Habits are hard to break, but summer is a great time to do so. Take an inventory of each of your children and yourself to see which habits work and which no longer serve you (and them) well. Make a plan to change them. Just be sure to work on one at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Summer can be a great time to energize your home, your homeschool and yourself. If you’ve been dragging the past few months, take some time to think about how to approach those problems in the coming year. “Spring cleaning” your schedule, your style, even your self, could make a world of a difference!

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A Step by Step Guide to Building Your Own Homeschool Curriculum [infographic]

Ever since I wrote about the 5 most common curriculum blunders homeschool moms make, I’ve been playing with the idea of writing a post specifically to address how to go about creating your own curriculum.

The problem with a lot of premade curriculum seems to be its rigidity. Every child is different, comes with different strengths, abilities, interests.

Each parent is different, too, and most homeschool moms have their own strengths and styles in which they teach best.

A pre-packaged curriculum addresses none of this.

While there may be advantages to buying one just to get started, I find that fitting it into your own family’s routine and personalities becomes its own chore.

I have always built my own curriculum. You can as well, by following the steps below.

Step 1: Assess the child’s abilities

One of the biggest reasons I recommend building your own curriculum is because a grade level doesn’t mean much to a homeschooler. Eventually, you find out that even though your six year old would technically be in first grade he is reading at third grade level or your daughter who is only nine is already working at sixth grade math.

But their abilities are not straight across the board.

Typically, you find out that one of your kids is a math whiz while the other is a reader. One can advance through the grades of history while another is interested in science.

In such a scenario, it is much easier to pick and pull and build a curriculum of your own rather than go by the rigid categories and limitations pre-packaged curricula offer.

It is best to assess their abilities through various online tests. I have found a few that are quick and free and will help you get an idea of where to begin.

Step 2: Consider their interests, your style, and how much time you have to homeschool

Some children learn to read by playing Minecraft. Some like to listen, some are musically inclined, others are not.

While pursuing a well-rounded or rigorous education, don’t forget to play to the children’s interests. If you have a child who loves to cook but isn’t interested the least bit in reading, there is no harm in giving her a cookbook and engaging her in reading from that angle.

There is no one size fits all. Homeschooling is all about thinking outside the box.

Not all school needs to be fun, but don’t completely throw away the freedom you have and insist that it’s in the curriculum, so it must get done.

Also, take into consideration your teaching style and how much time you have to devote to school in a given day. There are parents who work and still homeschool, there are parents with irregular schedules who homeschool. How much time you have is an important factor.

These will and should directly affect your curriculum choice.

To get an idea of what style of homeschooling suits you best, take this quiz.

Step 3: Browse scope and sequence or guidelines of various curricula through online catalogs

Okay, here’s where it gets to be fun.

If you’ve been poking around online, I’m sure you have come across online catalogs. You have probably also been mailed some to your home. Some of these catalogs will list titles of books for each grade level. Take some time to go through these.

Check out their Scope and Sequence page. In it, they will tell you exactly what specific skills they will be covering. If you want to take this a step further, you can check these against the scope and sequence of your specific state.

Now, align the scope and sequence with your child’s interests, your teaching style and voila. Any curriculum built this way will far superior than any boxed curriculum because it will be customized to your family.

Take some time doing this, though. This part will be perhaps the most time consuming part of all. But the work on the front end will pay off later in the year.

Step 4: Look Around You

Okay, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to teach your children and you know they’re going to love it and you’re going to enjoy teaching because it aligns with your style and the time you have. Great! At this point, take a break.

Yes, that’s right. Take a break from the planning and the thinking and the deciding.

As you take a break, you might just realize that you already have around you material that you have not considered “curriculum” because it didn’t come with “textbook” written all over it. Consider encyclopedia like Childcraft, (if you’ve ever been so fortunate as to pick up a few at a library or yard sale) story books, Netflix, even relatives and friends skilled in a task.

Read Six Ways to Save Money while Homeschooling to get a better idea about free or almost free resources you can use.

5. Shop!

And finally. Fill up the remainder of what you need and enjoy the rest of the summer. Of course some of us don’t take summers off, so in that case, well, have fun! It’s time to enter the new school year confident.

Enjoyed this post? Then you’ll love my book The Classical Unschooler’s Guide to Creating Your Own Curriculum coming this summer! Sign up below for updates, giveaways and details.


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Real Homeschool Schedules

It is perfectly normal to panic when you first begin homeschooling.

If some of you are thinking about starting this year, I wanted to bring you some cheer. Be inspired by these moms who are currently homeschooling. While I am not at liberty to reveal names, rest assured that these are real moms (and dads) who have made educating their children a part of their lives.

I am sharing these in the hope that you will see how homeschooling can be endlessly tailored to fit your family and your children’s personalities. There is no one-size-fits-all. And if you’re not normal, so be it. As I have said before, the fact that you cannot teach like a school, far from being a weakness, is a strength! Be inspired!

The original question was what time homeschool moms went to sleep and when they woke up and how it all worked with the kids.

“I get ready for the day while the kids have breakfast and enjoy free play. We start our school day around 10.”

I am up late – midnight or after. I get up with my husband at 6:30 get him off to work then try to get my AM flylady routine done before my youngest is awake. Then I do work for business. Kids get up anywhere from 530-1130. My daughter is an early riser and oldest son is a night owl. We get school work done mainly between 12-3. In my perfect world all my children we would be asleep by 10:30 but as it is 11:05 currently and no one is asleep yet you can guess how often that happens here.”

“Our house is full of night owls so we are all up until 10-11ish pm. I wake up no later than 8am to give me 2 hours to get my non-school stuff done. It’s me time! Wake kids by 9, and give them 1 hour for breakfast, morning chores, play time and whatever they want to do then start school around 10 and we usually do avg 2-3 hours 3-4 days a week year round.”

4.5 year old and 8 month old go to bed around 11:30, we are up naturally around 10/11, and start school at noon. I decided that we will start later, as I thought kids learned best when on a natural sleep schedule. I might also do school in the evenings later on and see if she absorbs more information that way. I’m just getting started, but I just figured I’d share what we’re doing right now. It might change, and that’s okay too.”

Well, it’s past midnight and I’m almost sleepy..DD/12 yrs, the one that is HS, is still up looking for her phone..dont judge please ( it doesnt have service,lol) I wake up kinda early around 8, DS/3 yrs, sleeps till 9ish, the oldest DD/18 yrs and hubs is already at work, HS DD wakes up between 10 – noon, eats breakfast, plays with her brother, makes a few messes, then does schoolwork. She likes to break it up. 2 hours in the afternoon,Then she does her chores and then gets to play with her friends. then 2 hours in the evening. Its easier for her to concentrate without her brother,lol. We are still new so this might change but for now, its working. No more fighting to get her up! Its heaven.”

I go to bed around 10:30 because I need a lot of sleep. My kids wake up at around 7/7:30, sometimes earlier or later. They have a list of things they can do on their own for school (they are 9, 8, 6, and 4, and most days they finish all of it before I even get up), and they can have a piece of bread if they are starving (or if I’m planning on making something that I know my oldest can make, like toast and a smoothie, or cereal, I just let her make breakfast for everyone), but I wake up around 8, take my time getting out of bed, and breakfast is at 9. After breakfast we do the part of our school that we do together, like history, science, grocery shopping, book reading, etc. Then we are completely done by 11, eating snack, and playing or off on an adventure.”

“I work over nights and when I get home my kids get breakfst and feed their dogs as I take a nap. When I wake up they have their books ready for me to look over and talk to them about what was not right and then redo but use another page to help them know. I sleep from 7am to 9am then 7pm to 9pm sometimes from 3pm to 4pm”

I’m up late and so is my son…he is on my schedule, work part time as nurse on 2nd shift. No fail I wake up with no alarm at 7 to 8 am in morning, no matter, if 2 hours sleep or 8 hours sleep. I let him sleep in till 10 usually to get 8 or 9 hours depending on what time he goes to bed. We eat breakfast/brunch and then do some fun stuff, play a game, getting his brain ready for work and then we do some work….than break, repeat till lunch. I read to him after lunch and then we are usually done at 2pm with breaks included. He homeschools year round, he is 11 yrs old.”

“My twins (4 yo) go to bed at 7:00. Then the baby (9 mo) usually stays up until 9:00. Then I get all my work done. I work from home for our business. Usually go to bed around midnight-1:00am. I sleep until they wake up, usually around 6:30-7:00am (several wake-ups in between). I get going just looking forward to and drinking my 2 cups of coffee while I make breakfast.”

Hubby and I go upstairs to our room around 9.30 and usually fall asleep watching tv. On nights that I work closing shift I don’t get home until 10.30, so a bit later on those nights. Hubby’s alarm goes off at 4 am. Sometimes I go ahead and get up after he leaves for work and that is my alone time, ‘cuz the kids won’t wake up until 6-7.30ish. But if I am not already up when the kids get up, one of them will usually test out their cooking skills on me and bring me breakfast in bed, with coffee. That’s a good motivator.”

I have 3 sons, 6,10 and 16. We are very regimented with our schooling. My sons do not function well otherwise. . I’ve tried several different time schedules and the one that works best for them is bed at 10pm, wake at 9am, do morning responsibilities; dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, beds made, eat breakfast, one feeds the doggies and the other lets them out. Then I let them play until school starts at 11am sharp. I found that getting their energy drained a bit was very helpful for keeping them focused and sitting still. We do school from 11am-4pm including lunch and 2 snack breaks. If they finish before then they are free to play. If they do not finish by 4pm the work carries over into the next day and so on.

I have found that with 1 child who has a few disabilities and 1 who has a very high IQ, I had to meet both of their needs at once. So a very strict and structured time schedule which one son needs and a creative fun curriculum for my other son, the schedule allowed time for more fun and adventurous school lessons. When I tried the more relaxed time schedule and trying to teach them how empowering and fun knowledge was it was a disaster. I’ve tried it several ways and what I mentioned we do above has proven to be the most successful for us. Also something very hard to do, but very successful, was me not doing anything else during homeschool. I give them my undivided attention the entire time. Their education is their future so don’t take it lightly. I stopped all distractions as best as I could during school hours. I wasn’t doing any chores, laundry, no phone, dishes, etc…. All dogs were put into the bedrooms and the phone was put on silent. It was my hubby’s suggestion and it works great! Also as long as they stick to their time schedule they are allowed to wear a costume to class, LOL, and if they are naughty they have to take it off.”

And there you are. See, there’s no one size fits all! I told you so.

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The 5 Most Common Curriculum Blunders Homeschool Moms Make

If you’re like most moms who homeschool or are considering it, you are – to put it lightly – on it.

Before pulling out the sleeping bags and cleaning them for summer, you have scoured the catalogs, overwhelmed yourself with yet another Google search on homeschooling curricula, your Pinterest boards are full of ideas for the next three grades of schooling each child and you’re even braving the Facebook homeschool curriculum groups, with Paypal on overdrive.

But wait.

Are you making one of these five biggest blunders?

Asking this question early can save you heartache, yes, but it can also protect you from spending thousands of dollars on curricula that will leave you unhappy, your kids grouchy and you hating the very idea of homeschooling.

BLUNDER #1 – Not taking the time to recognize your child’s individual personality

Every child is different. As a mom, you already know this. You know which one out of your children is the social butterfly who chats with all the grocery store clerks and you know who is the recluse. You know your singers from your drummers and your – ahem – controlling ones from the kids who are happy to just follow along.

When you buy a curriculum, remember these differences.

For some reason, even though as moms we understand our children’s unique personalities, as homeschoolers, we fail to acknowledge them. There is no one style that fits all and if we try to teach all our kids the same way, it’s only a matter of time before we teach them to dislike learning.

BLUNDER #2 – Not understanding your own unique teaching ability

To understand your unique teaching ability, you have to first go back and think about what drew you to homeschool or unschool your child in the first place. What is your gift? What about having your child with you all day long resonated with you? What did you hope to achieve by this togetherness?

Think it through and try to formulate or find a curriculum that works in accordance with your vision.

There were months that I spent feeling guilty for not reading enough to my children, not doing what all my other homeschooling mom friends were doing. It was only after I took this quiz that I realized why I had been feeling like I was teaching differently from the others. Most of my friends followed the classical system; I was more of an unschooler.

Whatever your style may be, to avoid feeling like you’ve been put into a straight jacket, play to your strengths in what you choose to do this year.

BLUNDER #3 – Overscheduling your school days

This usually happens because either you’re trying to replicate school at home or because you’re just having tons of field trips and fun, fun, fun. If you (and your children) enjoy either of these, there’s nothing wrong with it. But most of the time, children, especially younger than ten years of age (or the third grade level) do not need hours and hours of sitting down and working at a desk. Some studies suggest that it could even be detrimental.

Leave room in your homeschool days for segues, for spontaneity. Leave room for fun.

Do not, I repeat for emphasis, do NOT schedule 180 days of school. Yes, I know, that’s what the State of California requires, but trust me, if you teach them diligently, you will have 180 days of school even without scheduling them all. I would start by scheduling three solid months at a time.

After those initial three months, you can take a week off, review, and see what pace works for your family and plan the next three months accordingly.

BLUNDER #4 – Buying a premade curriculum for a specific grade level

Okay, okay, before you throw my blog to the curb, unfriend and denounce me publicly, let me say this. Some homeschoolers do just fine with pre-packaged curricula. They find just the right one that works with their style of teaching, their children’s style of learning and they don’t hold so tightly to it that they can’t veer off the beaten path ever so often.

However, the problem with a pre-packaged curriculum is that most moms are tempted to follow the guidebook that comes with it. If you don’t follow the guide, you worry that you won’t finish in time, aren’t doing it right, and so on.

The other problem with pre-made curricula is that it often does not address children working a grade or two above or below their grade levels, which can happen often before middle school. My son, for example, started second grade math while he was at kindergarten grade level. Because I homeschool multiple children, I could accommodate his needs but if I was limited by our curriculum choice, I suspect he would be bored.

Pre-made curricula takes the guesswork out, but it also takes away from your personal touch and sometimes your (and your children’s) unique personalities. Refer #1 – #3 above.

BLUNDER #5 – Failing to include cross-disciplinary learning

This one is by far the most important, which is why I saved it for last. I have said before that I see homeschooling as a journey not just for the children, but also for the parents. I see homeschooling as a fun, creative, educational pursuit for the entire family. Your goals might be different but they do not mean that you have to be so focused on textbooks and workbooks that you forget curricula that can be had for free!

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read about how Finland recently decided to get rid of individual subjects and teach only through cross-disciplines.

Consider including different media or chucking media altogether and learning through field trips. Think about free classes and other free or inexpensive resources all around you. Engage extended family members, friends, specialists in their fields, go on tours, learn a new craft yourself! Learning is fun. For everyone, regardless of age!

Steer clear of these five most common blunders and have the best homeschool year yet! See any that I may have missed? Have personal experience with any of these or others? Be sure to comment!

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Language Arts – A Kinesthetic Solution

All my kids are relatively late talkers.

I have never had one of those kids that chatters on before she turns two. My daughter, now six, didn’t speak a full sentence until she was four. Sure, there were times I panicked. But my husband calmed me down with three words. “Relax, she’ll talk.”

She did. She talks all day now from the time she wakes up until the time she closes her eyes. She also reads fluently.

There’s just one problem. Grammar.

Because she is a late talker, she hasn’t had as much time as other kids to learn language patterns and so she gets her grammar wrong. As does her five year old brother and because they talk to each other all day, the same wrong speech gets reinforced and learned.

No, we do not have a grammar curriculum.

I figured we could reach a language arts solution in the same way we came to the problem. Here’s what we do. We do nothing formal. We just let them interact. When we hear them use wrong grammar, they are required to do three push ups.

It’s not punishment. It’s just correction. And it’s at the level they understand – a kinesthetic level.

There is no shame in it. In fact, for them, it’s fun. It works.

Speech patterns are caught more often than they are taught. It works for us and it works for them.

As I write this, my daughter caught my son saying “fell” for “dropped.” He is currently on the floor doing push ups, repeating “dropped” three times.


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Obedience Versus Self-Direction

In my younger years, I had a distinct aversion to the word “obedience.” If you had prodded a little, you would have found that you might have agreed with me.

I did want to obey my parents – I loved them. What I pictured in my mind when the word “obedience” was used was however walking rank and file and doing everything they said immediately with my head bowed. In other words, I mistook obedience for obsequiousness.

Today, as a mom, I realize I am not raising an army and I am no commander. I am working with children. And while I do love obedient kids, I do not want them to wait to be told what to do every time, every minute of every day. Am I treading a fine line here? Certainly.

When I instituted (or allowed, as you might argue) unlimited screen time in our home, I knew what I was doing. I had spent years teaching my children to check the clock, we had schedules for quiet time, nap time, bed time, lunch, dinner, you name it, that they were well entrenched in. They checked the clock often. They could tell time. They even obeyed me when I told them that bedtime was at seven. They could argue their cause for twenty minutes of play over ten.

But what they had still not learned was managing their time.

They had become used to me standing over them, directing them into different activities. And, yes, when they were five and under, there was a time and place for that. But not any more. I want them to move from simple obedience to self-direction. It’s a higher form of obedience, I’m beginning to believe. My instructions are clear but they are not exhaustive. I still do expect obedience, but I will not micromanage their time. I will not shield them from making mistakes and suffering the consequences of their behavior.

Will there be some hand holding along the way? Of course. But we’re getting very close to the time when they will have to learn not just to walk without hanging on my hand, but fly. These are the first flutters.

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When Should You Start Homeschooling?

Ah, homeschooling! The pictures in our heads one small word can evoke! Little children sitting peacefully at the dinner table writing. Or swinging in the backyard as the school bus trundles through the neighborhood. Nice pictures and true, I might add, on some days. Except that they have the power to ruin the reality in front of you everyday.

When my oldest daughter (now six) was two, I decided to take the leap into school. I had read a few reviews on Amazon. I was very excited about it all, I had done all my research and preschool homeschool seemed to be my thing. I was ready to go.

Except for one small thing. She wasn’t. And no matter how many counting bears I lined up, no matter how colorful the books I wanted to read to her, she wasn’t learning. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong.

It wasn’t until much later that it dawned on me. She wasn’t ready! What a revelation!

In spite of every homeschooling book out there I had read, I had jumped the gun. I hadn’t given her enough time to catch up developmentally before dumping her into academics. I know, I know, counting bears isn’t exactly academic. Still. I also had her style of learning and my style of teaching completely wrong. Once I figured these things out, it changed the way I saw my role. It also saved me time, money (those counting bears were lost, barely used) and my sanity.

So I put it all aside – the schoolwork, the books, the curriculum. You know what I did? I waited. A whole two and a half years. And even at that, we did minimal things for homeschool – Lego Duplos, some play dough, Leapfrog DVDs for phonics. That’s it.

I often say a lot of parenting is waiting. Homeschool isn’t much different.


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The Unconventional Guide to Time Management (for my kids)

Well, we’re at the point where enough is enough. I have been teaching my children the routine for far too long.

We have been doing the same thing – well, almost the same thing – every single day. There is school, free time, quiet time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, chores, you know, a life lived together.

So I’m going to try something new. I’m going to give them the gift of learning the art of time management for themselves. It isn’t that different, really.

How it’s been going so far is this. Me: Okay, kids. It’s now eight. Chores. Kids: All right. Me: Okay, kids, it’s now nine. Time to have breakfast. Kids: Yes, mom. Me: Okay, school. Kids: Okay, mom. You get the drift. And this is how I want it to go. Me: School starts at 9, guys. At nine o’ clock, kids: Mom, I’m ready for school.

Really, how hard can it be? Well, I might have found out today.

Five minutes before our scheduled time for school, I confront my daughter, video game controller in her hand.

“But I didn’t hear you!” “But my brothers are always playing.” “But… but I didn’t know.”

After about ten minutes of listening to her non-excuses and explaining how things are going to go from now on, we moved on to doing the things we wanted to get done in the first place.

After all, since we’ve decided to unschool – at least on a small level – they’re going to need to learn to manage their own time.

Ultimately, I’m choosing to focus on the effort and energy I will save in the future by guiding them to learn to manage their own schedule. It will take effort now, but it will pay off in the end.

I’m eating my frog and they’re going to learn to eat theirs.

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Three Ways to Eliminate Mom Guilt

I recently read Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I devoured it whole in one sitting last evening.

Even though it is a business book, I think our current culture of supposed harried moms who eat this concoction we refer to as “mom guilt” would benefit immensely from reading it.

Take for example this nugget I found.

An editor is not someone who merely says no to things. A three year old can do that. Nor does an editor simply eliminate; in a way, an editor actually adds. […] a good editor uses deliberate subtraction to actually add life. […] Likewise, in life, disciplined editing can increase your ability to focus on and give energy to the things that really matter.

I might be an editor at heart.

I find that moms who know their number one priority on any given day seem happier in general and are less likely to say they suffer mom guilt.

So how do you avoid mom guilt? Here are some suggestions.

Discern what’s really important

McKeown suggests setting aside some time to discern what’s most important. As moms, we are bombarded with decisions every minute and they all can seem vital. Add to that the pressures of social media and each day seems to evaporate before it even begins.

Set some time aside periodically to think, not just about the daily or weekly to-do and grocery shopping list, but the bigger picture. What are you trying to achieve? What do you want to teach your children? How do you want your home to look?

Be realistic. Be concrete and then ruthlessly eliminate everything else that takes away from those goals. And suffer no mom guilt for it. Mom guilt stems mostly from feeling like you should do something when you have no desire or inclination to do so. It is a result of letting others decide for you.

It is easier to eliminate mom guilt if you have consciously chosen one thing over another.

Don’t downplay the trade offs

These are inevitable because we’re human and we cannot do everything. But I don’t think we realize that.

As moms, we think we must do everything and do it right away. Not true.

When my husband and I decided to homeschool, I knew there were certain things we were going to have to give up – things like me having a job outside the home, or being able to go places during the day without children.

When we decided to unschool, there were certain assurances we were sacrificing – things like whether the kids would in lock-step academically with their public schooled peers. When we decided to save money to pay off the mortgage, to never be in debt, there were consequences to that – the budget had to be maintained, there were no long vacations, we had to live frugally and make the most of it.

Everything has a trade-off. If you haven’t taken the time to think through these things, guilt will likely follow and you will be right back running from one form of mom guilt to another. 

Hang on tight!

Choice, says the author, is not a thing, it’s an action.

We don’t have choice, we choose. But there is an art to choosing. His criterion is that if something isn’t an absolute yes, then it’s an absolute no. (He says that if your reaction is not a Hell, yeah! you should go with No.)Tough, but effective.

Thought about this way, every decision is put into perspective against your (limited) time, your (short) life. I think mom guilt assumes we have more than twenty-four hours in a day, that we have no need for sleep, that we have unlimited room in our tired bedheads, and no need for any other human contact but the kids. All are fallacies.

When you choose, hang on tight; chances are you will be required to continue choosing the thing you have chosen.

Which brings us right back to the quote about editing above. Moms without mom guilt are great editors.

I have been teaching my kids subtraction lately and I can’t tell you how nervous it makes my daughter. Even though she is good at it, she wants to jump straight to multiplication.

I think we’ll stay here a while, subtracting, removing, eliminating. It could be the best thing she has learned all year.

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