This is a guest post by Esther Littlefield of WellnessMomLife.com. Be sure to grab her great freebie!
When my husband and I first decided we would homeschool our daughter, I had a few stipulations. He had always thought homeschooling was a good idea. I, on the other hand, thought it was crazy. Not because homeschooling is crazy – but I knew myself, and I knew my daughter. I anticipated that it would be a big challenge for me to tackle the homeschooling thing.
Between my husband and I, we have 2 businesses, plus I have my blog. I also lead a women’s Bible study, run a local business networking group, and help out at our church. So when we discussed it, we had to come up with a plan that would allow to us balance our marriage, homeschooling, and both our businesses.
All three of these things – marriage, homeschooling, and having a business – are hard work in and of themselves. They can also be an absolute joy. But when you combine them together, you can create a potential implosion if you are not intentional about how to balance them all.
Here are a few tips that we have found to work for our family, and I hope they might help you, too, if you’re in a similar situation.
5 Keys to Balancing Marriage, Homeschooling, and Business:
- Be willing to frequently evaluate your roles and time commitments.
When we first started this adventure, we agreed that I would be the primary homeschooling parent. However, we both wanted my husband to be involved on some level, and so our plan was to have him do the homeschooling one morning a week.
Since my husband’s hours are flexible, and he works from home on Fridays, we decided that Friday mornings would be his time to do the schooling. This allows me to attend my networking group, as well as run errands and have a little bit of time to myself.
There is no magical solution for this, especially if you both have businesses or other responsibilities. The key is to have frequent conversations about how it is going, and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
- Give each other space for free time.
Due to our situation and our schedule, we have more time together and with our daughter than the average family, and we love that. However, we also both have outside pursuits that allow us to have breaks and enjoy things that are important to us.
For me, I have a weekly Bible study I lead, and that has become something I look forward to every week. He has his time to play video games with friends or go play his guitar with some other guys. This free time is important for both of us, and this is key to both of us maintaining wellness (and sanity) in our lives.
On the other hand, since we do spend more time together than the average family, it’s easy to neglect spending intentional time together. My husband and I spend a lot of time around one another, but how much of that is truly engaging in quality conversation? Or time away from our daughter?
We have found that scheduling a couple nights a week to spend time together – instead of working on our businesses – is important. We also make it a point to have a date night at least once a month. We have to be intentional about maintaining our connection and improving our communication.
For each family, it may look different. But just because you may spend more time together at home doesn’t mean that you are actually focused on each other. Scheduling this time shows that you value each other and your family.
- Show respect and appreciation for each other’s roles.
Finally, it’s incredibly important when you are balancing marriage, homeschooling, and business(es) to be sure to respect each other and the work that you do.
The best way you can respect each other is to show appreciation for the things you each do every day. Whether it’s little or big, taking the time to show appreciation can make your spouse feel incredible.
- Put your spouse’s needs before the kids and the business.
This is always a tricky one. But clearly we homeschooling moms love our kids. We spend all day with them, we teach them, we take them places – we invest A LOT into our kids. Sometimes this dedication to our kids can come at an expense: we end up neglecting our husband because by the time he is home, we are spent.
I’ll admit that there are days that I completely fail at this. As soon as my husband walks through the door, I want to tap out. I want to be done, and I’m not very invested in him or his needs.
But the truth is, if I neglect my husband, I’m actually neglecting our family. If I push him to the bottom of my priority list, I am slowly killing my marriage. And this is not good for my kids or for me.
If this is an area you struggle with, I can relate. I’ve created a free download for you: “10 Tips for Putting Your Husband Before the Kids”, which you can grab right here.
This job of parenting and homeschooling is not easy. Having a business can have huge risks, stressors, and it can be an emotional roller coaster. Marriage can have it’s challenges. Using these 5 keys to balance all of this can produce less stress and more wellness for you as a family!
Which of the 5 keys that I mentioned do you need to implement today? Share in the comments!
I have used just about every type of chore system imaginable and have blogged about them, too. I finally have a system that works with my 5-6 kids (depending on who is home) and has for a long time. You can get your checklist here, but first I want to explain why other systems haven’t worked for us.
The Problem With Chore Charts
- They fall apart, literally. I used a huge pegboard with tags that was stuck to the side of my refrigerator with magnets when the kids were little and it kept getting knocked down, requiring an hour to reassemble it.
- They require a lot of time to set up and maintain. I would love to have back all the time I’ve spent creating chore systems (both paper and digital) for my kids. I could probably have published a couple of books with that time. Seriously! The digital approaches also required me to log in and check that chores were done and verify rewards earned. I don’t have time for that as a busy homeschooling mother of many.
- They resulted in squabbles. To simplify chores, I would have to assign the same chores to kids. Then the complaining would start. “Why do I always have to load the dishwasher?” You get the idea.
- They weren’t flexible. If the child assigned to load the dishwasher wasn’t home, who was supposed to do it? See the problem above.
- They usually don’t include the steps. With most chore charts, there isn’t a place for details about how the chore is to be done, resulting in a child claiming that they had cleaned a bathroom that most truck drivers wouldn’t walk into (no offense to truck drivers!). No matter how many times I’ve instructed the kids, they had severe memory loss when it came to the steps to take in completing chores.
The Solution to Chores for Kids
The solution, for my family anyway, has been to create a simple checklist in Word. There is a main list of chores (things like clearing the table and loading the dishwasher) that have to be done twice a day and a morning list of chores (things like unloading the dishwasher and cleaning bathrooms) that I’ve combined into one for use before we start chores in the morning. We repeat the main list of chores after dinner each night. Each chore has a detailed list of steps to take to complete it and a space for the name of the child who is assigned the chore for that chore period only. I put our customized checklist in a page protector and attach it to a clipboard. I then use my Random.org app on my phone to assign chores. I write the name of the child who is assigned that chore on the line underneath the chore in dry erase marker.
If one child isn’t home, I can assign a chore to another child, not assign a less important chore, or assign it to myself. It’s flexible and I love it! I tell the kids when I will check chores, usually setting a timer. I then take my clipboard and dry erase marker with me to review the chores. I sometimes take the kids with me for the review process and make them complete any steps they’ve missed. Other times, the child who failed to complete a step is given a fine that is discussed during our morning school time (my kids earn an allowance of 50 cents per year of age until they are earning money at a job or doing bigger chores like mowing). The kids REALLY hate getting fines.
Your Easy, Free Chores for Kids Checklist
Click this checklist image to get this subscriber freebie. You’ll receive any non-homeschooling posts and all the other subscriber freebies like the kindness contract for kids and the 1-Thing To-Do List. If you’re already a subscriber, click on the folder linked at the bottom of this email.
One of the hardest parts of setting up a chore system is determining what the chores should be. That’s where my chore checklist can help you. Start with the chores I’ve added to my list and edit them in Word or a compatible program. You may not have a separate playroom, for example. Just delete that chore. Replace any of the steps for chores that you need to, but my guess is a lot of these things will be the same.
Once you’ve edited it for your needs, just print it out, put it in a page protector and onto a clipboard, your household binder, or even put it on the refrigerator. Randomly assign the tasks. If you don’t want to use an app, roll a die! Set a timer and have them get to work. They can refer to the list until they’re done.
Then take the checklist with you to make sure everything is done. Hope this is as helpful for you as it is for me!
Have any other hacks for getting kids to do chores? Tell us about them at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.
I’m a psychologist and you’d think I would know better than to make some of the mistakes I’m listing below, but the fact is I have made some. It’s only by the grace of God that I have stopped short of doing most of them with my kids.
I am writing, not out of a sense of superiority, but compassion for the parents and kids who will suffer greatly if changes aren’t made.
If you recognize yourself in many of these examples, know that it is NOT too late. Take the actions I share at the end of this post.
1. Never tell a toddler no.
Even if they kick you, bite you, or run from you.
2. Always give your preschooler what he wants.
Even if it means ignoring other people’s needs and your own.
3. Always make excuses for your child’s bad behavior.
And make sure she hears you say she was just tired or hungry.
4. Always give in to whining and begging.
Say no until they make a scene or bargain with you.
5. Let your child call you names without consequence.
Do not demand the respect of being called Mom or Dad.
6. Let your child disrespect your spouse and other authorities without consequence.
Always take your child’s side.
7. Ignore bad behavior until you explode.
Hit or yell at your child and give them more reason not to respect you.
8. Put your child in so many activities that you never have to spend time with her.
When she complains, tell her that you’re doing it all for her.
9. Never require your child to do chores.
Complain about picking up after them instead.
10. Don’t supervise your child.
Let him use the Internet without guidance and leave home without telling you where he’s going.
11. Give your child expensive gifts to make up for your lack of attention.
Brag about what you bought her to your friends within her hearing.
12. Curse at your child and call him names.
Tell yourself that you are motivating him.
13. Laugh about the idea of your child having sex or using drugs and alcohol at an early age because “kids will be kids.”
Serve alcohol at teen parties and let them go on unchaperoned co-ed trips.
14. Don’t require your teen to work.
Pay for everything he wants.
15. Pay for college even though your child refuses to study.
Keep threatening to make her pay for it, but never follow through.
16. Allow your adult child to live with you rent-free, though they refuse to go to school or get a job.
Blame this behavior on your spouse.
What to Do if You’re Afraid You’re Raising a Spoiled Brat
If you’re afraid you’re raising a spoiled brat, get a copy of How to Have a New Kid by Friday, Parenting Teens with Love & Logic, and listen to my interview with Reb Bradley; see a parent educator or counselor, and ask friends and family members you trust to help hold you accountable. Most importantly? Pray that God would make you the parent He wants you to be.
You may also like The Solution to Sibling Rivalry.
The weather outside is still frightful where we are, making it hard for kids to get the exercise they need. I’ve talked about ways to give your kids exercise before, but I started thinking that I wanted another option.
I remembered using this workout from Marie Claire on vacation and loving it. I realized it would be a perfect winter workout for kids if I made it into a checklist. This is a routine you can easily do WITH your kids. Here’s what I love about it:
- Kids can control the intensity of the workout with pace. Less fit kids can go slower.
- It uses only body weight and no equipment besides stairs.
- It’s hard. One of the things I don’t understand is why kids’ exercise videos are so easy, they won’t even sweat, when a simple game of tag that kids play all the time is enough to wipe me out.
- It’s quick. It takes 20-minutes to do the entire routine or 10 to do just one round.
First let me say that I am not a physician or personal trainer. I didn’t create this routine nor can I say that it’s safe for you or your child. Please make sure you are cleared by your doctors to do these exercises and STOP if you are in pain and not just tired.
If you would like to give your kids (and yourself) a good quick workout during these cold winter days, print it out and give it a try. I laminated mine so kids can check off each step and reuse it. You will need to have a timer of some sort handy (iPods or smart phones work great). Finally, you may want to play some upbeat music! Make it fun and kids will want to keep exercising.
What other ways do you use to keep kids fit in the winter?
Be sure to follow my Fitness Inspiration board on Pinterest. [pinterest-master]
The fighting and bickering gets on your nerves at best and scares you at worst. What are you supposed to do?
I’m a psychologist and I’m supposed to KNOW what to do. I’ve tried just about every recommended technique:
- Ignoring the fighting as a plea for my attention
- Putting the argued-over object into time out
- Putting the fighting kids in a room together until they can work things out
Of course, I have used Scripture to admonish and have disciplined cruel behavior.
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was always trying to battle the blaze, instead of trying to prevent these heated arguments in the first place.
While disagreements over toys and turns with kids are inevitable, there was a source of the conflict that I had neglected to “nip in the bud” as my mom liked to say: unkind words.
Oh sure, I chastised them whenever I heard something unkind being said. But I tolerated it like it wasn’t a big deal. It is.
Why We Have to Nip Unkind Words in the Bud
The Bible says that unkind words are:
- like sword thrusts (Proverbs 12:18)
- likely to stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)
- likely to cause trouble (Proverbs 21:23)
Before Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery (and later regretted it), they were unable to say a kind word to him (Genesis 37:4).
Though we frequently hear about the effect of parents’ unkind words on their children, siblings’ cutting words can be just as devastating.
As parents, I believe we have to take unkind words seriously. We wouldn’t allow our children to jab at their siblings with a sword. Neither should we tolerate unkind words.
The Solution to Sibling Rivalry
While we can’t avoid conflict in our families, we can take steps to stop the verbal abuse that is so destructive.
#1 Have a family discussion.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. You may be astonished as I was at the level of hurt your children are experiencing because of the words that have been said. Depending on your children’s ages, this could be an emotional conversation. Don’t begin unless you have plenty of time and have removed as many distractions as possible.
Start with Scripture. Share the Scriptures above and retell the story of Joseph and his brothers in your own words. Explain that our family members can hurt us more deeply than anyone, because they know us so well.
Use the butterfly metaphor. Ask your children what would happen if you pressed down fairly lightly on a butterfly’s wings. Explain that in the same way that the butterfly could be wounded by something we take lightly, our siblings can be greatly wounded by our words.
Ask them for examples of words that have wounded them. Make sure they know that they are allowed to share words that Mom or Dad have used that have wounded them as well. Clarify that the discussion is not for the purpose of disciplining anyone. Do not allow anyone to question what your children say hurts them (No “I was kidding!” “You’re so sensitive.” “That didn’t hurt you; you laughed!”). You may hear some really upsetting things. Try not to discourage your kids from getting everything out on the table.
Write everything down. I created a form for this purpose which you can get by scrolling to the end of the post. Please feel free to add your own examples of unkind words. Include words that label the person rather than deal with the behavior and words that suggest mind reading. For example, “You’re so selfish!”; “You always…”; “You did that on purpose!”.
Ask them for behaviors that have been hurtful. You may hear the obvious like hitting or taking toys away, but also the less obvious like not being included. Write these down, too. Again, if you have examples of unkind behavior that your children haven’t mentioned, list them.
Ask them for positive words they would like to hear. As with most problems, the solution isn’t exclusive to eliminating bad behavior, but requires the addition of new behaviors. They may have trouble with this one, so make suggestions like:
- “Great job!”
- “I like playing with you.”
- “You’re getting better at that.”
Ask them for positive behaviors they would like to see. In the same way, it’s important to ask them for positive behaviors they need from their siblings, such as:
- Helping with clean up
- Being included in play
#2 Sign the Kind Words Covenant
Explain the purpose of a covenant. A covenant is a serious agreement between two or more parties. God’s covenant with us as believers is based on grace. Whereas before Christ fulfilled the law and died for our sins, we were unable to overcome our sinful nature and treat our siblings lovingly, now we can. The covenant is the beginning of changing our beliefs about the importance of kind words. Although we know we will make mistakes, we agree to pray regularly for Jesus’ ability to abide by the covenant.
Explain what will happen if the covenant is broken. If unkind words are used, the person who hears them (or is the victim of them) will ask, “What?” or “What did you say?” When your children (or even the adults in your home) are still getting used to the covenant, you may have to repeat the questions, remind them they have broken the covenant, or prompt them further to give an appropriate response to these questions which includes: “What I meant to say was…”; “I take it back.”; and “I’m sorry.” If the response is insincere, say so. The point is not to literally repeat the unkind words, but to realize you have violated the covenant and respond appropriately.
If unkind behavior is the problem, anyone who sees it will ask, “What are you doing?” The appropriate responses are to stop the behavior and apologize.
Ask everyone to sign the covenant. Emphasize the seriousness of the signing. A signature means you are committed to using kind words in your family and are willing to respond as described above if you violate the agreement.
#3 Put the Covenant into Practice
Model what to do when the covenant is broken. At the beginning, everyone will look to you as the parent to see if you take the covenant seriously. Be prepared to say “What?” and encourage appropriate responses a lot. If one child says something unkind and is answered in turn, ask both children what they said–with the intent of getting them to respond correctly and not by repeating the unkind words. You may have to add at first that they have broken the covenant. Remind them to respond this way when you are not there to witness the unkind words. Encourage them to walk away or get help if their sibling doesn’t rephrase their words, take it back, or apologize.
Involve your children’s friends. Explain to children who are in your home that you don’t want to hear unkind words and that when they use them, you will be asking, “What?” or “What did you say?” That is their cue to say, “What I meant to say was…” or “I’m sorry.” You may wish to share this post with your friends so all your children can be on the same page. I found that a significant amount of hurt was related to words shared among friends.
Add to the contract as needed. You will keep finding examples of unkind words and behaviors. Add them to the covenant and review it frequently at first.
Talk with unrepentant children. In the beginning, when hurts are still fresh, you may have one child who is so angry that he refuses to abide by the agreement. At these times, you may want to let your child calm down, give consequences, and/or have a private discussion. Perhaps there is more going on in the relationships than has previously been discussed. Sometimes children feel parents aren’t enforcing the rules equally and you need to be open to hearing your child’s perspective.
If your child still refuses to abide by the covenant, ask him what will happen if you give up on it. Does he really want to go back to relationships that have no limits on unkind words and behavior? Pray with your child and ask God to give him His heart for his brothers and sisters.
Every situation is different and you may need professional help in resolving sibling rivalry in your home. Seek your pastor’s counsel or a referral to a Christian counselor.
I am thankful for the practical tips taken from books on verbal abuse by Patricia Evans. You may wish to read her materials for further understanding of the destructiveness of verbal abuse.
This covenant has been an answer to prayer for my family. I hope it is for yours as well.
If you are already a subscriber to Psychowith6, you will find the covenant in the Subscriber Freebies folder (you received the link when you subscribed). Otherwise, you can get your free copy by clicking the button below:
Get the Kind Word Covenant
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I made dinner for the family and after we ate, my son said, “Thanks, Mom! That was really good!” His siblings chimed in with their thanks and I marveled. While my children have a variety of habits that leave something to be desired, they have had this habit of expressing gratitude to my husband and me for quite some time.
I am delighted by my children’s thankfulness, but I didn’t know where it came from until recently when I decided to ask them, “Why do you say ‘thank you’?” I was surprised by what they had to say. Maybe you will be too.
#1 We’re homeschooled.
“We spend so much time with you,” my son said. “And we aren’t around kids who aren’t thankful.”
I have made it clear to the kids that I homeschool as a sacrifice of my time and money because I love them. I know I had a selfish motivation in telling them this: I didn’t want them to complain about school when it is true that I sacrifice for them everyday. My husband has affirmed this truth to them.
Before jumping to the conclusion that homeschooling means grateful kids, I wonder if the connection is the sincere belief that my husband and I are deserving of gratitude? There are so many hard-working, self-sacrificing parents who don’t homeschool who also feel like they still aren’t giving their kids enough.
What if, regardless of how your children are educated, you communicated your firm belief that you’re deserving of gratitude from them?
#2 You discipline us.
At first I thought my son meant that I punished them for lack of gratitude, but then I remembered watching one episode of Nanny 911 with him. A four-year-old on the show called his mother a witch with a ‘B’ and my son was aghast. I told him at the time that this is what our family would be like without discipline.
When the kids were younger, I do remember promising a consequence for lack of gratitude. We had gone on an expensive, time-consuming outing and the kids were whining about snacks, rather than thanking us. I said that if they weren’t going to be grateful, that we wouldn’t be doing this again.
But that discipline can’t explain the attitude my children have today. Thinking back to Nanny 911, I see gratitude requiring respect. If our children’t didn’t respect us, why would they be thankful to us? And if we didn’t discipline them, why would they respect us?
I’ve gone through all kinds of phases in my beliefs about child discipline, but one thing remains: I believe discipline is the product of love and time.
If you love your child enough to take the time to discipline him, he is more likely to respect you and be grateful to you.
#3 You say ‘thank you.’
If I were asked why I have the habit of expressing gratitude, I would say I learned it from my mom. In this sense, my kids are just carrying on a family tradition.
In another sense, I have tried to be mindful of thanking my children for doing their chores, expressing delight when they do special things for me (and rewarding them with the Caught Being Good app), and thanking their father in front of them.
However, this explanation of why they’re grateful has reminded me to be careful of complaining–something I do too often.
To raise grateful children, say ‘thank you’ often.
#4 We’re Christians.
This explanation of my children’s gratefulness brought tears to my eyes. The attitude was, “Of course we’re grateful!” They didn’t give me a theological exegesis on their gratitude; it was just an obvious connection for them.
While I have taught the Bible, trained character, and taken my children to church, I have no responsibility for this source of gratitude. Honestly, that’s a relief. God has changed my children’s hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit in ways that go beyond expressing gratitude. That truth gives me peace as I deal with other behavior problems.
Regularly pray and ask God to give your children grateful hearts.
Has anything else encouraged gratitude in your children?
Here are more ideas for promoting thankfulness.
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