Written by Kim Smith. Kim is a former teacher and Abeka consultant. She has two children.
Past regrets either sink us or reshape us. When we determine to make a fresh start (no matter how many times) we must first get to the root of the problem.
Where We’ve Been
1. Consider the frustrations.
The house is a mess; the children are falling behind; the discipline isn’t working, or maybe all the above! Were these problems caused by inconsistency, lack of time, or by not knowing what to do? Write down your frustrations so you can see what is causing them.
2. Is the cause inaction or something else?
If it’s inaction, begin anew with the appropriate action. If it’s caused by something else, acknowledge that, and focus on what you want in the future. It’s a new day for your children, too. Reminders of the trouble before will only set them up to fail again.
3. Clarify your goals and strategize.
Arrange for some quiet time to organize your thoughts, talk to the Lord, and get a renewed plan of action. Make sure the goals are attainable for your household. Comparing yourself to others is the number one way to feel like a failure. Every home is different, every situation unique.
4. Your To-Do list is not a taskmaster.
Plans change; things happen. As a homeschool parent, you are teaching your children by example. Teach them to accomplish their goals and to rejoice when they finish. If you grumble about not getting things done, you will see this trait lived out in your children.
5. Retrain, reteach, and break old habits.
It is never too late to begin anew. Discuss with your spouse what needs attention; agree on a plan; write it down. Share the new plan. Expect some balking; the kids will test to see if you really mean it. Praise the changes. Invite the children to pray specifically about their behavior.
Where We’re Going
1. Share your new plan of action.
Accountability is created when you hear yourself say, “I will spend time with the Lord, plan out my day, and praise Him for what is accomplished.” This will propel you forward, especially in difficult areas.
2. Determine not to “wing it.”
Make a reasonable plan of action. As your children get older, they will “catch” you in inconsistencies. If your plan is written down, you will hold yourself accountable. This often reduces discipline situations.
3. Designate device times.
Designate specific times during the day for communication on devices. When you are distracted by your device, the children know it and use it to their advantage. Consider limiting your devices for the same reasons you limit your child’s.
Where We Hope to Be
1. Organize your To-Do’s.
Create a 3 column To-Do list: Today, Maybe Today, Future. A whiteboard works great; wipe off what’s done and what’s leftover is already there for the next day.
2. Enlist family help.
Train your family to help. My mother wrote chores on strips of paper and put them in a jar. My mother, sister, and I would draw a job. When it was finished, we ate part of a treat set aside to nibble on and enjoy.
3. Stay on top of the mess.
Designate three 2-minute pick-up times each day. Ours are right before naps, before Daddy comes home, and before bedtime. Sing a song; make sure the children are doing most of the pickup.
4. Manage big projects.
Set the timer for 10 minutes and attack the mail pile or the grading that must be done. When the timer goes off, focus on something else.
5. Make memories.
If there is a choice between folding laundry or playing on the floor with your child, play on the floor. You will always have laundry and dishes, but you only have a short time to influence and enjoy your children.
6. Master the homeschooling issues.
Hear the advice of others but listen to your heart. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about making choices that work for you.
As we look toward a new year, determine to have a new outlook. Implement personal and household strategies that are more effective; seek the Lord’s help. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Look for at least one way to implement change. Most of all, enjoy the gift of a fresh start!