Can you feel it? The weight and pressure of your school year is melting away from the warmth and rest of summertime. Even if you still homeschool year-round, chances are these are the months you choose to lighten your load a bit, change your routine, spend more time outside and enJOY the gift of this season.
We decided not to school year-round this year, as we’re all a bit weary and in need of a true break. I see the wisdom from other moms in taking these months to rest up and plan for the next school year. And that is exactly what I intend to do this summer, along with a lot of reading, going on outdoor adventures and playing with my boys. Already, my brain is swirling with thoughts and ideas of how we will do things differently next year and what we’ll leave the same.
But, when I get to the heart of what we do and why we do it…I’m not really thinking about the curriculum we’ll buy or what unit studies we’ll have planned for the year. I’m not too worried about our organizational workbox system or where I’ll store all of their artwork. Yes, these things are important and I do spend a great deal of time going over them in my mind and contemplating what will work best. But none of these things really touch anyone at the heart level. And to us, that’s what matters most….relationships.
Recently, I began asking myself this question: What will help me be a better wife to my awesome husband and mom to our four sweet and rowdy young boys? Ultimately, it came down to this Scripture…
So in evaluating and reflecting back over our school year, there are three things that really stand out as making me a better wife to my husband and mom to my boys. And ultimately, if I’m better at these things….I’m going to be a better teacher at home as well.
1. Time with God
2. Time with my husband, alone
3. Time with my family, away from our STUFF.
There are times when I feel that I am literally running on empty and I have nothing left to give anyone. It’s then that I realize, I’ve been “doing” the things on my to-do list (barely, and not well), but not tending to the relationships… the hearts of those I love, in my life. And when I am in that place, I’m operating out of a dried up “under-flow”…with nothing fruitful to give and words that lack love and grace. I’ve been filled with my own agenda and not submitting myself (or my to-do list) to God.
Time With God
Our very first ministries are at home with our families. They truly are gifts from God. We’re always searching for the next best thing that will benefit our families in our day to day and homeschooling efforts. Instead we need to become a tool in our Father’s hands that He can use within our mission fields at home.
When I am weary, it’s harder for me to make the time to spend with God. But this is where my heart first needs filling. So, this is where I need to begin. Every day, I find some way of connecting with God. It isn’t perfect and often, it comes in short spurts throughout my day, but I’ve come to expect that. And honestly, I need Him all day anyway, so this works. I just keep my notebook, bible, pen, current devotional and iPhone with favorite “Bible Study” bookmarks and Apps nearby. Having these things out and visible at all times keeps me accountable to seeking God throughout my day. Plus, then my boys can see that God is a constant priority to me.
Since the birth of our first born son eight years ago, my husband and I have struggled to make time to go out on dates together. Four sons later and it’s even more difficult now. But when we do, it does wonders for our marriage. We come home refreshed and filled with thankfulness for one another. However, if you are like us and find it difficult to get out like this, then maybe this would work for you as it is for us. We came to the realization that if we were ever going to have consistency in being able to spend intentional time alone together, we were going to need to change our expectations of what a date night looked like.
So, we decided to plan one night a week as “Mom and Dad’s Date Night In”. Eating dinner together as a family around the table is really important to us, but on Sunday nights we do things a little differently. We make dinner for the kids and sit down with them, but we don’t eat with them. On Sundays we make sure bedtime is at 8pm sharp. Once they are in bed, my husband, who has moments earlier called for take-out, leaves, picks up our delicious meal made by SOMEONE ELSE, arrives home like the hero he is and we enjoy a picnic style meal together, uninterrupted and ALONE. Then we watch a movie, play a game or just talk. It’s a beautiful thing and a great way to start our week.
Family Time Away From Our Stuff
As a family, we are filled when we get out from underneath all of our man-made things. Our hearts and minds come alive in a whole new way when we seek the beauty and inspiration of the Creator’s creation. Letting go of our things for a while always freshens our perspectives and lifts our spirits.
As a wife, a mom and a teacher, the wisdom I seek in planning, must first come in preparing my own heart. When I spend time with my God, who fills me up, and then set aside special time for the ones that He placed in my life, then I am able to do all things out of the overflow of my heart.