Baby Franco #4 is five months old now, and I’ve been itching to distance myself from the survival mode months of the newborn stage. The timing is right, and I’m using the new year to give myself a practical fresh start with homemaking and homeschooling.
First of all, I bought a fantastic new planner from my bloggy friend Jenny Ryan at Mothering Sunshine, and honestly it is a total God-send for my personality and needs. From blog post ideas to my grocery list to meal planning to bill reminders, lists and information I kept in three or four different places in my kitchen are now in one, organized planner. With Church feast days already on the calendar. I’m lovin’ it.
I’ve also started using a brilliant homeschooling life hack idea my friend Kate told me about (via Sarah Mackenzie). I have a spiral notebook for each student, and I write out their assignments for the next day the night before or early the next morning (10min max). Each child gets to check things off the list as he or she completes it, using a fun marker color of his or her choice. My kids took to the notebooks immediately. Instead of me springing activity after worksheet after piano practice session on them during our homeschool morning, they can see exactly what they have to do that day. They have more control and also more of a sense of accomplishment over their work. I still record and plan all assignments in my teacher’s planner, but the notebooks for the kids have been an easy, fruitful new addition to our homeschool.
I’ve been feeling a strong pull away from social media for a while now. Especially with nursing (and baby does not nearly sleep through the night yet), I got into a bad habit of scrolling day and night through Facebook every time I sat down to feed the baby. I’ve started making myself read or pray instead (or listen to audiobooks!), which has been wonderful, actually. In particular, I’ve been going back through my Kindle highlights of some great books I read last year. For one, Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest is an absolute must-read for every homeschooling parent. I’ve all but re-read the book already, which is rare for me. It’s just that good. I came across this gem of a quote while re-reading the book recently:
“Peace comes from recognizing that our real task is to wake up each day and get our marching orders from God. It comes from diligence to the work He hands us, but diligence infused with faith, with resting in God’s promises to guide and bless us.” -Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest
THE major spiritual and personal resolution I’m making for this year is to get up on time for morning prayer. I already do a morning offering every morning, but it hasn’t been something I’ve done at a consistent time and place. There is something powerful about adding a physical component to prayer. For me, that’s getting out of bed. Trudging to my little prayer spot on the couch in the front room. And going through what the day needs to look like, getting my marching orders from Jesus.
Truly, truly, getting up on time is a “heroic minute” as St. Josemaria calls it.
“The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.” -St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Except that every cell in my body, every single morning, seems to swear that getting out of bed too early will do great, great harm to the body.:)
I admit that I’ve never been strong enough to get up on time for morning prayer consistently, despite looking up to it as an ideal for my spiritual life for years now. I met with my spiritual director recently and confessed how hard getting up on time is for me, but how strongly I’ve been feeling called to morning prayer. He encouraged me to get practical: to seek out an accountability partner I would have to text each morning when I was out of bed.
Why didn’t I think of that before?!
Getting up on time and praying each morning is also something I discussed with Michael at our most recent couple dialogue, and we came up with some practical resolutions as a couple. First, for me to go to bed by 9:30pm at the latest each night. Secondly, that we get the children into bed consistently on time (7:30pm at our house) so that we maximize our time each evening as a couple.
Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother is a huge task. Yes, I have my hands full. No, I don’t know how I do it all. I’m learning. I’m doing my best. I’m trusting. I’m trying to keep a sense of humor. 🙂
Every day is different, but I’m slowly picking out places to improve, routines that work, things that need to stay (like morning prayer) and things that need to go (the vast majority of my social media use:). I’m also slowly learning to let my house be a little messier than it once was, my bandwidth for activities and service and stuff be less.
The whole business of serving God becomes simply a matter of adjusting yourself to the pressures of existing conditions…This is the first lesson for the Christian wife and mother today: to let go of what may once have been–and under other circumstances might now be–a recollected self, and take on, with both hands, the plan of God.” -Hubert Van Zeller, in Holiness for Housewives and Other Mothers (via Sarah Mackenzie in Teaching from Rest)
What are my day-to-day “marching orders” right now? Well, they’re to do what God has put right in front of me: To feed and clothe and love on and take care of my children; to make my best effort at an organized, consistent education for the oldest two; to drive to the few extracurricular activities we have the kids involved in; to keep my nursing infant alive, smiling and clean; to love and be loved by my husband; and to make sure when I tuck each child into bed at night and ask them, “Did you feel loved today?”, they grin and say honestly and wholeheartedly, “Yes!” (Except sometimes they say “no” because it gets them extra snuggles and tickling, those rascals.)
My marching orders are also to offer my own soul to God fully enough that I can be a fit instrument for helping my children and husband–and all those I come into contact with–offer their own souls to God.
Hence, why getting up each morning is so important.
“Now of all goods, the most pleasing that man can offer to God is, undeniably, the salvation of a soul. But every one must first offer his own soul, according to what is said in Scripture, ‘If you wish to please God, have pity on your own soul.’ When this first sacrifice has been consummated, then will it be permitted us to procure the same joy for others.” -Jean-Baptiste Chautard in The Soul of the Apostolate
Gianna is 3 1/2 now, and she’s begging to do school with her siblings. I recently started 100 Easy Lessons with her (at her request), and she’s doing well. She loves little preschool activities like sorting, fine motor skills tools, playing with shapes, and coloring.
The kids all got capes and matching masks for Christmas. Now my scarf collection is safe again. And the cuteness level in my house is generally through-the-roof.
Gabriel loves, loves, loves his baby brother. And homeschooling has given Gabriel so much quality time with his brother. Gabe’s naturally affectionate nature is in its glory with a baby around the house to love on all the time. I’ve had to work a lot with Gabe on Roman and I both needing some breathing room, to be honest! Roman is turning into quite the bombproof little guy, though.
Ahh…the grab-mommy’s-face-and-kiss phase. I LOVE this 5-6 month age in babies.