During one of my monthly phone calls last fall with my homeschooling program counselor, Debbie, she said something about flashcards (of all things) that spoke some extra peace into the rest of my life.
In math, I was supposed to be having my oldest two students drill one addition fact family per day for five minutes, three to four days each week. It didn’t happen all that often in the first three months of school. Overall, school had been going well; I just hadn’t found a way to be consistent with those math drills. I was discouraged that I just hadn’t been able to get to it consistently. Plus, I could see that small addition mistakes were impacting their math work.
When I brought the flashcard drills up during my conversation with Debbie, she had a quick, cheerful response that took me by surprise: “Oh, don’t worry so much about that. Do your best and grow into it over the next few months.” (She also told me that I needed to have a number line and math facts chart on hand for each student to use daily. Yep, you need a Debbie in your life, too. She’s been an awesome resource.:)
Do your best and grow into it.
What wonderful advice. It doesn’t take away the necessity of trying to add in those drills, it just reminds me to take a broader, more patient view of things. The key is to just keep moving forward, doing what I can each day, keeping the needs of my family first…and somehow it all adds up. It really does.
One thing I love about connecting with my school counselor regularly is that she reminds me to make teaching moments (‘days different’) out of our everyday life. As strong as the academic program I’m using is, I love that my academic counselor is the one reminding me that my kids’ education is a lot more than what they’re learning in school.
This past Thursday, the house was such a disaster that I took the day off school entirely and made the kids clean and tidy the entire house with me. It took a couple of hours to clean the kitchen alone. By the end of the morning, I had taught (or done a refresher lesson) on sorting laundry and using the laundry machines, loading and unloading the dishwasher, sweeping and mopping, what at tidy bathroom looks like, the correct spots for different kitchen tools and dishes in our kitchen, and organizing the kids’ closets and shoe bins so that they were functional again.
That day, my kids got a good lesson about what it takes to keep a house and a family running smoothly. Lesson #1 that day was that having to hand-wash dirty eating utensils and plates before we can eat is not a house that is running smoothly. Lesson #2 was that everyone in this family is needed to do basic chores on a regular basis. Mom can’t do it all. We had some good chats about that while we swept and folded and tidied up together.
Having the kids help me is a lesson that we started working on a while back, but I think taking care of a home and family in this season of life is an ever-changing thing that we’ll always be working on. I find that a big part of the lesson of taking care of a home as a family is making myself consistently stay on top of making the kids help. I tend to fall off the bandwagon by degrees until I wake up one day (like last Thursday) and kind of blow my top. I know I’ll get better eventually. Necessity is the mother of change in a mother, I like to say.:)
The funny thing is that I finally did manage to get those flashcard drills in for a couple of weeks, when I happened upon an online math facts drill tool on our math curriculum’s website (we use MathUsee). I had the kids do the drill tool on a whim one day and they both FELL IN LOVE with drilling their addition facts. Who woulda guessed? They enjoy seeing how many times they can get the little blue ribbon icon pop up when they get all the problems right. And just like that, in the space of a month, they’ve memorized the vast majority of their addition facts, which has greatly improved their math work. It’s funny how when Debbie helped me to stop stressing myself out about this little weakness in my homeschooling, things ended up working out in time.
Giving myself grace and time is so necessary as I keep trying to grow into other responsibilities of my life. Serving my family reasonably healthy meals, getting places on time, homeschooling, making time for myself, making time for my marriage, finding some kind of routine for laundry–even just finding time to give my four month old a bath more than once or maybe twice a week–these are real-life challenges for me.
There’s a certain level of mess and merriment that’s going to come with the territory of having a large family. I’ve learned that, get the picture, written the blog post! I praise God often that I have enough of a support system of moms in the same boat that I can say with perfect confidence that the struggle is real…and completely, totally normal. My support system is a treasure to me beyond words. (I think you know who you are, girls!) A #whatIfoundtoday group text has made me laugh and saved a rough day so many times! You can have the best of routines and be the most self-disciplined, hardworking mom on the planet, but you’re still not going to have everything all figured out, 100% of the time. Part of the “growing into it” is learning how to go with the flow, and how not to be miserable (and make everyone around you miserable) when things aren’t going your way.
I came across this quote from St. Francis de Sales a few mornings ago. It goes so perfectly with my (probably scattered) thoughts in this post that I have to share it:
When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”