Today’s Guest Post is from my dear, dear friend Rachel at Finding Joy. I met Rachel years ago and she never, ever forgets to send me a note on the anniversary of Emily’s Home-going…because that day is also Rachel’s birthday. Love you, Rachel!
Homeschooling with Joy
It’s September. The time of year when the excitement of a new homeschooling year fills our homes. There’s the curriculum, and the falling leaves, and eager (for the most part) kids, and fresh schedules. I love September. My spirit, energy and zest for life is high.
But, in a couple months it will be November and the daily grind will be setting in. Dishes, laundry, drilling those math facts – the ones that should have been known the first week of October, and coming up with a creative lunch, start to take over our time. There are lessons to drive through, driveways to clear, and kitchens to clean. After awhile all of the stuff to do, that daily grind, can pull the joy right out of our lives.
It doesn’t have to.
The joy can stay.
In fact, I believe that living a joyful life involves intentionally seeking, intentionally looking and intentionally finding joy. So often we think that we’ll be happy when this happens or if that is taken care of or when we’re over this health crisis or we’re out of this financial burden. But, friends, life is full of those deep valleys and burdens as well as those dry daily grind moments. It became clear to me several years ago that I was living life “on hold” waiting for the ideal circumstances — or at least what I thought to be the ideal circumstances — to play out. And I was unhappy. Sullen. Waiting around for my idea of the good life.
It was right in front of me.
I just wasn’t seeing it.
I remember making a choice to find joy in the every day little moments of life. And life? It started to become this beautiful journey. Even in the hard parts. Last winter, when my son Samuel was in the hospital after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I remember praying for joy. He was sleeping in my arms, peaceful, and I was rocking in a chair alone in the hospital with only the steady sounds of his iv and the whir of the fan in the corner. As I rocked, unsure of the future, I prayed for joy and peace to fill my heart. As the chair moved back and forth I became so grateful for the little blond boy who was safe in my arms sleeping. There was good in the midst of trial.
So how about homeschooling? It can get tough and wearing and there will be those days when you wonder what you’re doing. I know. I’ve been there. But, I didn’t want to stay there. So, instead, I prayed about homeschooling and mothering and joy. These are a couple ways that I keep my mind focused on living an intentional and joyful life – my prayer is that when you are in the depths of homeschooling that you can remember one of this tips and it will bless and encourage you.
1) The Little Things Matter. Keep your eyes open and peeled for the joy in the everyday. Maybe it’s the toddler who discovers the light switch or the six year old who made his own sandwich or your teenager who understands that complex geometry problem or the beauty in the rain falling out the window. There are glimmers of beauty in the every day moments. But, you have to be aware. Looking. And that takes practice.
2) Incorporate Prayer. Prayer isn’t meant to be just a morning or before bed or before dinner thing. It’s an all day, every day necessity. We choose to pray throughout the day and incorporate it into our lives. Constantly recognizing the need for our Savior and the blessings that He has given us increases gratitude and joy.
3) Character First, Academics Second. My childrens’ character comes first. If there is an attitude issue than that needs to take front seat to the math that has to (and will) get finished. So often, it’s a heart issue — meaning I need to step away from my agenda to train and encourage my little ones. When the heart is right learning comes easier.
4) Take time to laugh. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing and get down and play with your kids. Run in the sprinkler, find a great book, paint with watercolors — just start taking time to enjoy those gifts that the Lord has placed in front of you. Laughing is good medicine.
5) Establish a Routine. I’ve written about my schedule before — it’s flexible — but there still is an underlying sense of routine. Children thrive knowing where the fences, the boundaries are located. Having a routine creates security and movement throughout the day. And because of that there is more time spent together and productive versus trying to figure out what to do next.
You can do it. I know you can.
And on those days where it feels like it’s too much the first thing I’d tell you to do is to stop whatever your doing, step back, and pray. Even if it’s at 10:11 in the morning. Just stop. Pray and ask our gracious Father to fill you, your children, and your home with His joy. Real, authentic joy.
I’m going to end by sharing a favorite verse of mine in Psalms. Every year our family chooses a life verse — a verse to pray and meditate on throughout the year. Several years ago we settled on Psalm 65:11. That section of Scripture has encouraged me so much throughout my journey. I am blessed by David’s words as He describes our Savior and Lord as the source of all joy. It is a beautiful reminder for me to seek Him and to view this world, that He created, with eyes of joy.
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
Psalm 65:9-13 (ESV)