by Virginia Knowles
A decade ago, when I presented these concepts in talks to moms, the leader of a local home school support group asked me how to list it in the church bulletin. She suggested “Stress-Free Home Schooling.” I had to laugh! In my mind, there IS no such thing as Stress-FREE Home Schooling or Stress-FREE Mothering -- at least not in my house with so many active and opinionated children! There were a few years in there when our family encountered several major stress factors at a time, including pregnancy, unemployment, serious illness and death of close family members, a change in churches, and more.
I can tell you that it has been a real struggle to deal with this extra stuff in life, but if we don’t learn how to handle stress wisely, it can destroy us. Some of the negative results of stress are health problems, relational conflicts, and a lack of productivity. Most importantly, it can rob us of the peace and joy that should be ours in Christ. But stress can have a positive effect too, if we use it as a motivation to change something that is wrong. It can spur us on to seek God for fresh strength and vision. It can cause us to evaluate and adjust our lifestyles. And it can drive us to mend and build our relationships. In my life, the extra stress factors have forced me to lean harder on God and look for ways to change our situation.
Let’s talk about some ways that we all can do this. For those of you who like alliteration, we will be taking a whirlwind tour through 12 Stress Busters that start with the letter P.
(Note: I have also embedded links to several other related blog posts, but I recommend that you read the whole article before you go back and start clicking on the links. Or, you can right click to open them in a separate window as you see one that interests you, and then read them when you are done with the original article.)
Are you ready?
PRAYER: Prayer is how we seek God’s strength and wisdom for mothering, and how we become equipped for spiritual warfare. Imagine with me.... You enter The Most Holy Place, the throne room of God, and bow before the King. Then after he embraces you and places a comforting hand on your head, he hands you this beautifully wrapped package. Inside are his gifts of Mercy and Grace. They aren’t generic brand either! They are specifically designed for your particular needs that very day. Whatever your problem is, there is the solution. Whatever your grief, there is a unique balm of comfort. What’s even better, his door is open whenever you choose to visit, and he has a different care package for you every time you come. All of these benefits come to you because of your relationship as his daughter through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is not a fantasy scene, ladies! This is what can really truly happen as we come to God in prayer!
Scriptures: Philippians 4:6-7, Ephesians 6, Hebrews 4:15-16
- The Throne Room of Grace
- Praying for Your Children
- Come Weary Moms posts on Prayer
- Dancing With My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy
- Busy, Dizzy & In a Tizzy?
PRIORITIES: Are your priorities out of whack? Are the urgent things crowding out the important? The most important priority is to love God with all our hearts, and love others as ourselves. We must teach our children to do the same, while we lavish on them our motherly affection, time, supervision, and help. Remember that EFFICIENCY is doing things the RIGHT WAY, but EFFECTIVENESS is doing the RIGHT THING! It doesn’t really matter how much you can cram into your schedule, or how fancy or how cheaply you can do it if what you are doing is not WORTHWHILE. What is the RIGHT THING for your family? If you are a home schooling mom, in academic subjects, you need to focus on the basics first: reading, speaking & writing, and math. Then you can add in science, social studies and electives.
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 6:5-7, Titus 2:4-5
PLANNING: We plan to make sure that our priorities are accomplished. If we rush into the tasks of mothering, home making or home schooling without careful thought to what we want to do and how we want to do it, we can expect to FAIL! Planning includes daily schedule, menu planning, shopping lists, long term goals, detailed step-by-step subgoals, home school lesson plans or curriculum purchase lists, etc.
Scriptures: Isaiah 32:8, Proverbs 21:5
PREPARATION: Preparation is the natural extension of planning, putting it into action. You can talk all you want about what you want to do, but until you start to do it, you won’t get anywhere at all. Get your supplies ready ahead of time, learn the material that you want your children to learn, and teach and demonstrate skills for your children (academic and household) instead of expecting them to know how to do them instinctively.
Scriptures: Proverbs 14:23
- Motherhood Management in Your Home School
- Tribute to Sono Harris: The Legacy of a Joyful Home School Mom
PROBLEM SOLVING: It’s time to look for practical solutions to recurring problems. What is it that bugs you and your family day in and day out? What is it that drives you to tears of frustration or starts fights? Find it and FIX IT! A small change can make a big difference! Research answers to your problems through reading Scripture and other books, and talking with others (including your husband and children). Learn to brainstorm: List all of the possible options, evaluate which ones would be best, and give them a try! If it doesn’t work, try something else! If your home school curriculum is not working right, should you try to make the child work harder at it, modify the curriculum, switch curriculums, or just give it some time? I can't answer that for you!
PARTNERSHIP: Many times the problem that needs to be solved is that we are trying to be SuperMom and do everything by ourselves! We need to expect, accept and ask for help from others:
- Husband: leads family, is partner for decision making, can help teach and train children
- Children: learn to work independently, take initiative, help around house
- Willing relatives: help chauffeur, babysit younger children during field trips, take children to cultural events, give educational materials as gifts
- Friends and support groups: offer fellowship and encouragement, give creative ideas and advice, plan group events, provide social opportunities for children
- Teachers and mentors: provide instruction in areas where we are weak, generate enthusiasm for their topics
PEACEMAKING: Mom, you set the atmosphere in your home. The kind of interactions that you allow will determine whether your home is filled with peace or strife. Model peacemaking with your husband. Insist on respect from your children. Coach children (especially younger ones) through their conflicts, how to avoid a quarrel, how to overlook offenses, how to sincerely apologize, etc. Ask them to think about the quality of their relationships. They are going to be living with their brothers and sisters for several years. Do they really want to live in hostility, or wouldn’t it be more fun to be friends? Do arguing and complaining really make them feel good?
Scriptures: James 3:17-18
- Stop, Drop and Roll! (How to Deal with a Conflict)
- True Repentance (It's a Very Good Thing!)
- Child Discipline or Child Abuse?
PLEASURE: One way that we can reduce stress is to have fun together! We can do things that make us feel happy. When many children think of entertainment, they automatically think of something passive, like television. That’s really limiting our options! Think of all the things you can do as a family without a TV!
Scriptures: Proverbs 17:22
- Bored? What to Do With a TV Off!
- Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good?
- Nurture Your Creativity!
- Arts and Crafts at Home
PRAISE: A sincere word of encouragement can keep everyone moving toward success. It is a law of human nature that people tend to continue doing the things that earn them affirmation and praise. I’m not saying we should flatter our husbands or children or make them think they should only do something good if someone will notice, but we can’t neglect this powerful motivational tool that God has given us. If you praise your children more than you criticize them, it changes the atmosphere in the home. They are more likely to offer a word of encouragement to a brother or sister. What a stress-buster! Some children need extra praise when it comes to academics! The opportunity to give a child instant positive feedback on their efforts is one of the great benefits of home schooling!
Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Proverbs 16:21
PERSONAL CARE: To keep our bodies and spirits from becoming worn down from the constant demands we face, we must do what it takes to tend to our health. The four main things that usually affect my own health and energy level are: the amount of sleep I get, what I eat and when I eat it, what kind of exercise I am doing, and what my hormones are doing with either my monthly cycles or a childbearing. Most of those health factors are a matter of choices that I make each day. Besides your physical health, you need to pay attention to your mental health, especially if you are prone to depression. You may occasionally enjoy getting away from the house for a few hours in order to think straight or to get together with friends. A hobby can be good for your emotional well-being health, too. Do what it takes to keep your body, mind and spirit in good running order! You need them for the rest of your life!
Scriptures: Daniel 1:8-14, Psalm 127:2
- Morning Walk
- Nurturing Naomi: How to Help Yourself or Someone Else Overcome Discouragement
- You Can Exercise, Too!
PRACTICAL HOMEMAKING: Make your home a haven of rest, not a cesspool of stress. A cluttered room raises irritation and distraction levels, while a tidy one helps you to concentrate and/or relax. Another problem that clutter creates is that we can’t find the supplies that we know we have SOMEWHERE! We need to organize our school rooms so we can locate our materials quickly, and so that things don’t fall off the shelves. The best recommendation I can give you is to buy lots of plastic bins and organize your things into logical categories, such as pencils, stencils, game pieces, rubber stamps, bottles of glue, etc. You may not have a lot of money to decorate your home, but even touching up the paint or hanging a few family photos can perk up a room. We can make our homes pleasant to look at, even on a tight budget!
Scriptures: Proverbs 14:1, Titus 2:5, Proverbs 31
- Household Organization: Clutter, Clothes Storage and Chores
- A Place for Everything
- Let Our Ordered Lives Confess the Beauty of Thy Peace…?
- Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go
PERSISTENCE: “Try, try, try again!” I know it’s tempting to throw in the towel when the times get tough, but now is not the time to quit on what God has called you to do! There is a blessing he holds in store for those who stick with their commitments! What an example this is to our children when they see us persevere on their behalf! It will help teach them to be faithful in what God has called them to do! Ladies, your labor in the Lord is not in vain. What you are doing in your own homes with your own children will someday affect nations and generations as they go forth from a strong foundation.
Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:58
- "My Glorious Dishtowel" Redux and More
- Quotes and Poems to Keep You Going
- Suffering: What Does it Take to Forge Our Character?
- Tough times?
May God bless you richly in this grand and noble adventure!