30Apr

Why We Homeschool Year-Round

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

Homeschool Year Round

When I was in the 7th grade, I was on the academic team (yes, I was one of those). During one particular tournament I was on the long response team writing a persuasive essay. We didn’t get the question until test time, but I remember being thrilled with the topic–year round schooling. We had to argue for or against it. Easy peasy, I thought. I had heard about this year-round schooling thing and I was completely against it. Who were these crazy people trying to take away the summer break of kids everywhere?

But then I started writing. And as much as I wanted to be against this idea of year-round schooling overall, every single specific argument that popped into my head was betraying me.

In the end, I placed with my essay… in favor of year-round schooling.

Outdated traditions

When “summer break” first began in schools, it was not for Florida vacations and little league. There were many reasons for the break, from health concerns because of the run-down buildings, to the agrarian society that needed children home in the summer.

Those reasons no longer apply.

I recently read a post from a fellow homeschool mom and she talked about the reason she does not homeschool year round. Her biggest reason was this, “Our children deserve a break.”

I had to chuckle a bit, because that’s one of the main reasons I do homeschool year round!

Our kids need a break

Our kids need a break from school. I agree with that! Granted, we do school a bit differently, but I still agree with this. Which is why I think 9 months is too long to go without a break!

Year-round homeschooling allows us to get the most out of our breaks.

  • Our breaks are intentional. They aren’t tied to a school calendar that says we should go to school for 9 months at a time and then get a 3 month break. We can take our breaks as we need them and when we need them, and because of this our breaks can also be more flexible.
  • We enjoy school. Because we have breaks throughout the year, we don’t get tired of school. The days don’t become a drudgery for me or my boys. I am not fighting with them come May because they are so tired of school. Breaks throughout the year allow us all to stay excited and ready for school.
  • We enjoy our breaks. As I kid, I remember getting bored by the end of the summer. When everyday is a break, it’s less fun. We look forward to the weekend each week because of the work on the 5 days in between. If everyday was a weekend, it would lose it’s luster a bit. Frequent breaks throughout the year allow us to enjoy those breaks more.

You can see how I go about planning our year here.

Regression

Kids need to be thinking and learning often. Three months without instruction leads to regression. Studies show that standardized tests in September are always lower than when kids end the year in May.

With a special needs child, this is even more important. Three months with no instruction, structure, or routine would not be good for him.

Homeschooling

The key word here is, “homeschooling.” If my boys were in public school, I may feel differently. But since we are homeschooling, we have the privilege of tailoring our homeschool and calendar to what works best for our family. And for us, year round schooling works the best.

Well Planned Day Planner

This is one of the many reasons that I LOVE the well-planned day planner! It provides planning for a full year and not just a typical school year. Get your planner here.

28Apr

A Peaceful Home Conclusion: Live on Purpose

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

a peaceful home intentional living

This might sound a bit trite or simplistic, but in working on this series, one concept kept coming back to me. There is one thing that ties it all together. One secret that can make your home a more peaceful place…be intentional. 

That’s the one thing all of my other posts have in common, and it’s the most important thing for us to master in our lives and homes.

A friend recently lamented that “intentional” has become a buzzword that has lost all meaning. But I want you to forget about the buzz. This is not some trendy catch phrase, it’s powerful.

We live in a fallen, sinful world and a peaceful home doesn’t happen by accident. We don’t just drift toward a loving peaceful home, or toward God’s ways. We need to be intentional about it.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)

Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation. I believe the same concept applies to our lives today. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We may long for a peaceful home, but unless we watch and pray (and put it into practice!), it won’t happen.

Be Intentional

Intentional: done with intention or on purpose; intended:

We need to live on purpose. You might have noticed this theme running through all the other posts this week. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

The enemy wants to steal so much from us–including our peace, joy, families, and homes. The really sad thing is that in our over-busy lives, we make it easy for him. We get distracted and we stop living on purpose and start drifting along instead.

How do we live intentional lives?

We live on purpose. We make conscious decisions about our actions, our spending, and our time. So much of the tension and guilt in our lives comes from floating along and not being intentional about living our values.

For more specific suggestions, look back over the other posts in the Peaceful Home series. Each posts contains ways that you can move toward a more peaceful home by being intentional in your emotions, marriage, motherhood, finances, cleaning, time, meals, and tasks.

Additional Articles & Resources

  1. FREE Household Planner–This is one of the best household planners I have seen, and it is completely free. It includes a version with tasks and chores already listed out for you. There are some upgrades available for pay, but scroll down to the bottom and enter your email address to get the free version of the planner. It is very detailed.
  2. 31 Days of Intentional living (series landing page–lots of great stuff here!)
  3. Intentional Living Checklists (must subscribe to her blog to access)
  4. 10 Amish Values to Add to Your Life
  5. Filling the Time Jar

The Giveaway

jewelry giveaway

A few months ago, I discovered P3 Personalized Jewelry and I love it! Melissa has some beautiful jewelry, with a a great selection of sayings, quotes, and verses available. These are high-quality pieces, and I’m excited to be able to bless one of you with a $25 gift certificate. Visit her at etsy or facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a part of the “Peaceful Home” series. Visit the landing page to follow along with all the related posts. 

A Peaceful Home

 Photo Credit

27Apr

A Peaceful Home Part 8: Revolutionize Your To-Do List

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

A Peaceful Home to-do list

Yesterday, we talked about the big things in our schedules, and today we’re going to talk about the nitty gritty of our daily tasks and to-do lists. No matter how much we simplify our schedules, there are some things that just need to be done. The way we approach these tasks can help or hinder us when it comes to the overall tone of our homes.

A few years ago, I began something that revolutionized my life. It’s very simple, but it was absolutely a game-changer for me…Pray over your to-do list. 

During my quiet time in the morning, I write out my to-do list for the day. It can be as general or detailed as you like. I am a list maker, so mine might be more detailed than yours. Then I pray over each and every item on the list. 

Prioritize

Nothing ruins your peace (and that of your home) like having a to-do list 20 items long, especially when you cannot reasonably get it all done. Don’t set yourself up for failure. 

If you have too many tasks and chores on your to-do list, you may feel stressed, overwhelmed, and overburdened. This does not make for a peaceful home! The solution? Prioritize your to-do list.

After praying over my to-do list, I make a “top 3″ list. Those are the things that must get done each day. This helps me not feel so overwhelmed, because that list of 3 items is doable. It also helps me to be intentional about which items are completed.

Work before play

This one is tricky because there are some people who should probably lighten up a bit and play more. However, for many of us this is a good way to be more productive, engaged with your day, and to waste less time. Don’t do the fun things, until you earn them. 

How many times have you wasted hours on facebook, pinterest, etc. while your housework wasn’t being done (or maybe it’s just me!) Don’t let that be an option–finish the work first, and you can better enjoy the fun.

Be aware of your personal time wasters and make it a point to avoid them, at least until your work is finished and you’ve earned it.

Action Steps

  • Start your day with something productive. Every morning, I start the day by making my bed. It makes such a difference in the overall “neat” feeling of the bedroom, and it starts my day out, first thing, on a productive note. It also prepares me for resting and relaxing at the end of the day. Maybe you don’t care about a made bed, but start your day with something productive. It sets the tone for the day.
  • Dress for success. Research has shown that people are more productive when they are dressed for it. That’s not to say you should be dressed to the nines everyday, but take a shower and change out of the jammies and yoga pants most days.
  • Finish a task before moving on. Multi-tasking is a myth. In most cases, it doesn’t work effectively. Yes, in some cases it works and is necessary, but there are days when I have “multi-tasked” all day long and ended up with most of my chores being partially finished, and nothing completely done.
  • Make it a family-affair. Just like with meal prep, daily chores are best shared. Everyone in the family can and should help out in some way. There are many age-appropriate chores for little ones.
  • Give yourself a break. We could never be completely caught up on everything involved with housekeeping and homemaking. It just isn’t possible. There is always something that needs to be done. But we have to also make time to enjoy the lives we’re building. For us, that’s usually in the evening beginning with supper time. We relax. We don’t stress about what needs done. Those things can wait until tomorrow.

Give your all to each day. So many nights, I have lain in bed, stressed and feeling guilty about the things I didn’t get done that day, or the time wasted. I have found that when I have truly given my all to the day and worked diligently, then it’s much easier to take that time to rest and relax without feeling guilty.

Additional Articles & Resources

  1. FREE Household Planner–This is one of the best household planners I have seen, and it is completely free. It includes a version with tasks and chores already listed out for you. There are some upgrades available for pay, but scroll down to the bottom and enter your email address to get the free version of the planner. It is very detailed.
  2. Tell Your Time (book)
  3. Filling the Time Jar

This is a part of the “Peaceful Home” series. Visit the landing page to follow along with all the related posts. 

A Peaceful Home

 Photo Credit

25Apr

A Peaceful Home Part 7: Time

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

A Peaceful Home Schedule

As busy moms, sometimes it can feel as if we are being pulled in every direction at once. We have soccer, little league, church activities, organizations, serving others, and maybe even a full-time or part time job on top of it all. We have meals to prepare, a house to clean, and the hours in the day can seem just too short.

In the midst of all this, there is a fact that we sometimes forget…You control your schedule. 

If we are so busy that we don’t make time for Him, or that we are harried and frazzled, and grumpy to our families, then maybe we are too busy. 

It’s hard to make our homes havens if we are never there. Even harder if we are grumpy and frazzled when we are there.

Control Your Schedule

Every commitment should be weighed heavily and prayed over. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. It just means that we should be more intentional about it, realizing that every “yes” is also a “no” to something else.

The secret to peace in your schedule is learning to say “no.”

In putting together my Homemaker’s Quiet Time Journal, I ran across this quote from Elisabeth Elliot

“If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”

Sometimes we need to remove things from our schedules.

Plan & Prepare

Maybe you’ve already whittled down your schedule and there is nothing left but necessary things. Sometimes there really isn’t anything we can remove from the schedule.

I’ve seen many people say that they don’t like to plan because it’s too constricting. I would argue the opposite. Your schedule, routine, or plan is not a restriction. The 24 hours we each get in a day is the restriction.

Having a plan for your day allows you to be more flexible, because you are at the reigns. Don’t let your day happen to you (that’s a good way for me to waste too much time on facebook!). Be actively engaged with your day, and see how much more productive and content you can be, even with a full schedule.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting down the night before, or first thing in the morning and getting a mental handle on what you have coming up, and making any preparations that could help it run more smoothly.

Action Steps

Here are some more practical steps you can take to gaining peace in your schedule:

  • Pray. Pray over commitments before taking on new things. Pray over your to-do list. Pray, pray, pray. And, for Heaven’s sake, don’t ever be too busy for reading your Bible and spending time with the Lord.
  • Prioritize. You can’t do it all. Accept it. And once you accept it, prioritize. What things are most important to your family? Once you have decided this, make sure your schedule reflects it. If your actions don’t reflect your values, you will feel constant tension in your spirit.
  • Value family time. Family time shouldn’t be what happens only on the rare occasion that there isn’t something else to do. Family time should be something that you schedule around. Something that you are committed to making sure it happens.
  • Embrace Routines. We will never have our lives scheduled out down to 15 minute increments. That just isn’t us. However, routines can be powerful in getting things done. Find something that works for your family and use it to take control of your time.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are over-committed, it can be tempting to forsake your health in the name of productivity. Maybe you skip meals for lack of time, grab processed convenience food on the go, or you stay up too late/get up too early and aren’t getting the rest you need. We need rest to be able to function to the best of our ability, and to joyfully serve our families (a lack of rest brings out grumpy mom!)
  • Leave Margin. If you have every second of your day scheduled with something, you are setting yourself up for failure. Things come up, and we need to leave margin for dealing with those unexpected things.

Additional Articles & Resources

  1. FREE Household Planner–This is one of the best household planners I have seen, and it is completely free. There are some upgrades available for pay, but scroll down to the bottom and enter your email address to get the free version of the planner. It is very detailed.
  2. My Time is Not My Own
  3. The Best Yes (book)
  4. Tell Your Time (book)
  5. Filling the Time Jar

The Giveaway

planner giveaway

A few months ago, I learned about Inner Guide planners. This planner is absolutely amazing! It’s not just a schedule of times and events. It is a life planner. There are spaces for just about everything in this planner, and it includes monthly planning pages as well as weekly. Love it!

And, they are generously giving one away to one of you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

This is a part of the “Peaceful Home” series. Visit the landing page to follow along with all the related posts. 

A Peaceful Home

 Photo Credit

24Apr

A Peaceful Home Part 6: Housekeeping

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

A peaceful home housekeeping

You probably knew it was coming. Laundry. Dirty dishes. Clutter.

It’s hard to be peaceful inside if we are surrounded by a cluttered mess. I’m not saying your home should be perfect, but a peaceful home is neat and tidy enough that we can use our spaces. We should be able to walk from room to room without fear of tripping, sit down on the couch without moving a pile of laundry, or find something when we need it.

A well-ordered home inspires a peaceful feeling.

I promised earlier in the week that I was going to share my cleaning secret with you, and here it is–the 10-minute tidy.

10 minutes is a short amount of time. No matter how busy you are, you can find just 10 minutes in your day. But at the same time, it is powerful!

  • You can do a lot in 10 minutes. Yes, it’s short enough to be doable, but it’s still plenty of time to be productive. You might be surprised at how much you can get accomplished in just 10 minutes.
  • Consistency is key. Do this every single day (we do it twice–once just before my husband comes home from work, and once just before bedtime).

Spending just 10 minutes, 1-2 times a day tidying up the house can help you keep your home from getting out of hand. Another bonus is that productivity is motivating! Many times after I finish that first 10 minutes, I’m motivated to do more things that need to be done.

So, make it a point to spend 10 minutes tidying up each day. Get your kids involved and race the timer. Make it fun!

Action Steps

Other things that I have found helpful in housekeeping,

  • Declutter. Most of us have too much stuff! That stuff weighs us down, and clutters up our homes. Get rid of things you don’t need.
  • Practice gratitude. Cleaning can be a bit of a drag. One day, I overheard my son in his room picking up his toys. As he picked up each item, he thanked God for it. What a difference it would make in the tone of our homes if we were to practice gratitude in the midst of the drudgery of laundry and dirty dishes.
  • Listen to music. I love to listen to music while I’m doing housework! My current favorite is this CD.
  • Start fresh. As much as possible, I like to start fresh each day. That means that dishes are washed the night before and rooms have been at least tidied up before bedtime. This makes a world of difference. Starting the day with a messy house means that you’re behind from the first minute you wake up. I love to wake up to a clean house!
  • Maintain. Consistency is key when it comes to keeping house, and slowly I have learned to implement this. Working just a little bit each day will keep your home well-ordered and help make it a haven for your family.

Additional Articles & Resources

  1. Do it HeartilyScripture tells us, “whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord…even housework?
  2. FREE Household Planner–This is one of the best household planners I have seen, and it is completely free. There are some upgrades available for pay, but scroll down to the bottom and enter your email address to get the free version of the planner. It is very detailed.
  3. 28 Days to Hope for Your Home (eBook)
  4. Loving our family through doing their laundry (Lessons from the Amish)
  5. 31 Days to Clean (blog series)
  6. 21 Days to a more disciplined life (eBook)
  7. 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home (includes free ebook and printables from Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom)

The Giveaway

Epantry Guarantee

For most of us, cleaning is a bit of a drudgery. But, with some new natural cleaning products delivered to your door it can be just a bit better, don’t you think? ePantry specializes in natural cleaning producs–brands you trust like Mrs. Meyer, 7th Generation, Method, and more. Get a variety of items delivered right to your door, and at a great savings. Check out ePantry and get started with a free $10 credit. Thanks to ePantry for sponsoring today’s giveaway!

One winner will receive a $50 customized spring cleaning basket from ePantry! Enter via the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a part of the “Peaceful Home” series. Visit the landing page to follow along with all the related posts. 

A Peaceful Home

 Photo Credit

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