Homeschooling Mom, are you stuck in the comparison trap?

  Imagine a bear trap closing on a human leg, bone crunching, blood spurting, immeasurable pain.  Not to mention being stuck.  Stuck in pain.  Stuck in one place until someone comes and releases you from the trap.
What does a bear trap have to do with homeschooling?  What doesn’t work for me is the comparison trap.  It’s a lot like a bear trap.  It’s buried, you don’t see it, but once you get caught in it, you are stuck and in immeasurable pain.
Four of my children are adopted and had traumatic beginnings.  When they came home, their emotional ages and physical ages didn’t match up.  Their development was delayed and each of them had some learning challenges, all of that topped with learning a new language.  On a scholastic number line, they were in the negative.
Comparing kid to a standard one size fits all is like walking around with a bear trap attached to your calf.  It drains the life blood right out of you.
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One night at the dinner table, Rafal shared that a boy in his Royal Ranger troop isn’t athletic and the commander encourages him along.
“I wasn’t that athletic as a child,”  I replied.
“You weren’t?”  he asked incredulously.
He was surprised.  I roller blade, ice skate, swim, climb around on rocks with my kids. I’m still not coordinated, but don’t tell him.
I was a late bloomer.  While my sister was ready to train for the Olympics in gymnastics, I was doing what I did best at the time- stumbling and falling on my face a lot!
“What did you do back then?” he asked.
“Well, I was little and skinny.  So I RAN. AWAY, mostly from other kids.”  Laughter.
Kids are growing through ages and stages at different rates.  Who they are or what they are doing now does not determine who they will become unless we compare and verbally point out what we see as delays.  Get help for your special needs child if you need to. Talk to experienced moms, but don’t rehearse the delays in front of him.  I have taken classes, attended workshops on speech therapy and various seminars to help me teach my children.  I want my children to reach their potential.  I am saying CELEBRATE their victories.
If Susie next door wins the regional spelling bee and your child through equal time and effort can spell ten words, then don’t compare.  CELEBRATE!
If your child participates in the Social Studies Fair and speaks in front of the judges with tears streaming down her face because of social anxiety. She did it afraid.  CELEBRATE!
If all the high schoolers at Co-op are taking A.P. courses and your child took two years to complete Algebra I, but he conquered it. CELEBRATE!
Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap. It’s a painful place to be, instead enjoy each age and stage your children are in!

Back to School- Homeschooling Edition

Episode 33- Back to School- Homeschooling Edition

If you’ve chosen to homeschool, then you know a lot of planning goes into starting a new school year! Kathleen homeschooled for twenty-one year and Amerey is starting year three, so they share lots of tips and tricks to make your school year run smoothly. Such as: knowing your kids’ strengths and weaknesses when choosing a curriculum, being sure to teach life skills as a part of school, choosing a schooling style to fit your family. Most importantly, be flexible

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Some main points from this week’s episode:

  1. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses
  2. Pick out your child’s curriculum based on number 1.
  3. Discover your family’s personality.
  4. Teach to your family’s personality.
  5. Add life skills into your daily schedule.
  6. Have a schedule that fits your family.
  7. Be flexible.
  8. Remember that every child will not excel at everything.
  9. Every child has a purpose and God has given him what he needs to succeed .
  10. Write a mission statement.

Podomatic link here.

iTunes link here.

Hope you enjoy this week’s episode, next week- The Benefits of Homeschooling -Adoption Edition!

 

Happiness is a Choice

This week I have had some events that triggered past events and could send me spiraling. You know the drill.

You hear a song that your grandmother loved and it sends you back to when you were little. She’s been gone ____ years.

You smell something that sends you to another time in your life, baking in your Mom’s kitchen.

You go to the hospital where your aunt was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer two years ago to visit another loved one.

Fill in the blank.

The truth is, events are triggering memories all the time. The trigger can be super simple like the smell of fresh coffee in the morning that reminds you of your of your college years, downing coffee to stay awake. Or a trigger just reinforces a habit, you set off to take your morning walk and your mindset changes halfway through because your body feels better. We often think that triggers are bad things. We don’t want to go back and relive the past event that was stressful. That’s sometime true. Other times, it’s a blessing in disguise. Sometimes a trigger allows us to take some time and re-examine the event with fresh eyes.

How does this work? We have the option of telling our story to a trusted friend. We have the option of examining what really happened with the knowledge that God is in control. This gives us fresh insight and a better mindset. We also understand that everyone has a story, a history colors perceptions. For example, if you have a negative mindset you may believe:

Nothing good ever happens to me.

Everything always goes wrong.

See, God doesn’t love me.

This event didn’t change my loved ones, they are still acting the same way.

Nothing ever works out.

I always get hurt in relationships, so why try?

Those mindsets affect our attitude. Our attitude affects how we live. We can live with a negative mindset and everything will line up with that mindset. I’m not saying we can control the world by thinking happy thoughts, but we can make our lives more fulfilling. We can be more content. Let’s say you are having a great morning and then you spill your coffee, what’s your reaction?

Man, I knew this day wasn’t going to work out. I always spill my coffee, here I go again.

Whoops, I spilled my coffee, it’s just a spill. It’s still going to be a great day.

Whenever possible, choose happy thoughts. Happiness is not perfect circumstances. It’s a mindset.

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Three things to remind yourself of to readjust your mindset.

  1. God works all things out for good. It may not look like it at the moment. It may seem as if everything is going down hill. Choosing the mindset that God cares deeply about us and will work things out helps us choose joy. When we remember that this world is temporary and this situation will pass and at some point, good will come of it, then we watch for good. Hunt for good things.

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.– Romans 8:28

2. God is ultimately in control. This is a tough one for us to swallow. We suffer and wonder why. There is tragedy. Disaster. Part of what we forget is that we live in a fallen world, that is, after the original sin, the curse and death entered the world. I struggle with this one. It’s okay. You can too. Just remind yourself of number one. God is taking all the bad stuff and working it out for good.

“God’s providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people. Again, note the absolute terms: constant care, absolute rule, all creation. Nothing, not even the smallest virus, escapes His care and control.” – Billygraham.org

2. You can’t change people. If your happiness is dependent on other people, you will often be disappointed. Even when there is a event in your life that give you an epiphany or a fresh outlook, it doesn’t mean those around you have had the same. Enjoy the change in your attitude. Pray for your spouse, friends and family. Don’t try to talk them into change. It won’t work.

Yesterday, while sitting in a hospital waiting room, I witnessed a loved one come back from the brink of death. There are many other times in my life, that didn’t happen. At the same time, the television, blared the worst news all day long, I felt as if when I stepped outside and headed to a restaurant for dinner, that the sky would be falling, the parking garage blown up and multiple gun men coming at me. The opposite was true. Traffic was light. The staff at the restaurant pleasant. Thankfully, I didn’t let the negative news color my mindset. That hasn’t always been the case. Working toward a healthy mindset is full time job, but it’s worth it. How about you? Are you choosing your thoughts or letting them choose you?

 

The Myth Of Multitasking

Ever feel as your mind is cluttered and if you add one more thing on your spinning plate, you’ll lose it? 

Do you constantly think about what you have to do next instead of what you are doing right now?

Do you unload the dishwasher while talking on the phone and planning out your week’s menu?

Does thinking about everything you need to do in your day fill you with dread?

The truth is, women are great multitaskers. It’s true. We can hold the baby, cook dinner and fold laundry with our eyes closed. With today’s fast paced life, we have bought the lie that we need to be productive all the time. So, we multitask more. The problem is, it’s killing us. Literally.

Women’s body’s respond differently to stress than men’s. In today’s world, women can have it all, but that means we have to manage it all. If we don’t, we can respond to stress in a variety of ways. It effects our emotional, physical and spiritual well being. We can have symptoms such as:

  • Skin issues- itchy rashes, breakouts and/or hives
  • Sleep problems- insomnia, racing thoughts at night
  • Emotional issues, irritability, anger, blue moods
  • Stomach ailments (stress can make you reach for junk foods)
  • Headaches

This is the short list. Stress attacks our immune system and leaves us wondering why we feel sick all the time.

Dr Debra Villar says in her book, Urban Women’s Syndrome, our modern rushed lifestyles are contributing to chronic lifestyle disorders such as auto-immune diseases, infertility, stress and hormonal imbalances.

Today’s societal pressures contribute to the multitasking myth. We women believe we must be productive all the time, but often let the culture determine what we should spend our time doing. We often feel guilty if we don’t:

  • Have a perfectly clean HGTV house ALL the time
  • Have our nails, make-up and hair done
  • Have our children dressed as if they are in a photo shoot
  • Have organic meals served every day
  • Have thin, toned bodies even shortly after giving birth to a child
  • Have our calendars full of good things such as church events and charity work

These are just a few of the things that cause stress in a women’s life so we multitask our butts off to get them all back in order. But, at what cost? Why doesn’t our to-do list include hanging out in the hammocks with our kiddos? Reading a good book? Going out for coffee with our besties and just talking for an hour about nothing.

It's #NewKicks Friday!

The book The 4 Disciplines of Execution states it well:

“Improving our ability to multitask actually hampers our ability to think deeply and creatively… the more you multitask the less deliberative our become: the less you are able to think.”

“Just because we women can do everything doesn’t mean we should. Trying to do everything all at the same time usually leaves us with stuff strewn all over the kitchen, a baby crying in one ear, a friend chattering over the phone in the other, and a pot boiling over. Doesn’t sound like fun to me.”- Kelly Balarie, Battle Ready

While we women can’t avoid multitasking altogether, we can begin to practice the discipline of focusing on one thing. It is a discipline and it takes some practice. You can start the practice today! It’s not too difficult and the benefits are health and life.

Try this today, while you are doing whatever you do, meditate on it. Think about it. Proverbs 4 speaks of meditating on the word because it is life to all who find it and health to all of your flesh. Why not apply this principle to your life? Think about what you are doing while you are doing it. Instead of thinking about what is for dinner while you are reading aloud to your child, think about what you are reading. Look at her face, feel the softness of her hair, read the story with every ounce of your being. While you are in your exercise class, instead of thinking about the drive home and the tasks awaiting you, think about your muscles. Think about what great things you are doing for your health. Focus on the moment.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, – Ecclesiastes 9: 10a

The verse doesn’t say, find lots of things to do and do them with all of your might. Just do the thing in front of you, one thing at a time. It’s unrealistic to think we can give up multitasking all together, but let’s make an effort to focus on one thing today!

Look at Life with Fresh Eyes

Sometimes life throws us for loop.

  • The death of a love one
  • Financial collapse
  • A child gone astray
  • A new diagnosis

Yep. We can just humming along, feeling blessed. Walking on cloud nine. We’re doing exactly what God asked us to do and it’s working! Then smack, like a giant wave we get bowled over. See that word I used above? FEELINGS. Then we FEEL differently. Depressed. Despondent. We don’t want to go on. Depending on the severity of the situation, that’s pretty normal. Those sorts of feelings tell us something is not right.

When my mother died, I couldn’t fathom why the world kept spinning. People kept going about their lives, shopping, eating out, going to work and worst of all, smiling. How could people smile? Laugh?  Then when my step-father, Bud died, it was the same. The problem was, my new kiddos had arrived the week before he “went on to glory” as he called it. I now had a houseful of seven children, four fresh from an orphanage in Poland. My grief and their habit of fear (survival mode) could have had disastrous consequences.

I had something happen yesterday that brought all of these memories back to the surface. It’s not my story, so I won’t tell it. Suffice it to say, I watched someone die. I did everything I could to help this not happen. It didn’t work. My prayers were not answered in the way I wanted them to be. The whole event sent me spiraling into dark places. (Please say a prayer for this family, you don’t need to know the name, God does).

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What can do we do when we get stuck feeling something? When a trigger takes us back or circumstances keep us down?

  1. Tell your story. Ever wonder why counselors ask lots of questions and spend a lot of time listening? It’s because telling our stories brings healing. Find someone you trust and tell them your story. Ask them to pray with you. If your issues are serious, this may take weeks or months, maybe years. Don’t give up. You’re worth it. Work for your healing.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself. When bad things happen, we want to hunker down in our little bunkers and leave the world behind. Don’t. Just don’t. I’m all for a little time alone, but a habit of isolation just breeds more of whatever you are feeling- depression, despair or despondency. Go out and do something with friends. If you have a few minutes of crying during your outing, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. Try to keep your normal routine as much as possible. When Bud died, my nephew Josiah said that God sent me my new kids cause he knew I would need them. I had to get up every morning and make food, homeschool and run my household. I even had to smile.
  3. Look at life with fresh eyes. Amerey did a live on this on The Whole House Facebook page. She and her family rented a beach house for a week. When they arrived, they were disappointed that the ‘rustic charm’ was more rustic than charming. Their little girls didn’t notice the dirt or the ‘rustic’. They loved the beach house and didn’t want to come home. Sometimes we need to see live through the eyes of a child. During the season after the deaths of my mother and Bud, I laughed at my children’s jokes. I watched their puppet plays and smiled. I watched my newbies experience things for the first time, Christmas, birthdays and riding a bike. I had to look with fresh eyes.

Whatever you are going through right now, remember, this is not the end. It’s just a page in your story. Whether it’s a diagnosis, the loss of a job, a new baby keeping you up all night or the death of the loved one, this too shall pass. There is one thing that is a constant in our lives, that’s change. Things change. While you are in the midst of all of it, don’t let despair rule. It’s okay to feel these things, but don’t let them boss you around. Schedule time to grieve. Write down what you are feeling. Work on your healing. I’ll leave you with this:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, The Message