A new year is a good time for reflection and to reevaluate priorities. For the past couple years, I've chosen a single word to focus on the entire year. Instead of resolutions, this Word of the Year is a reminder to me of what is needed most--in my life, in my home, in my family.
2015 was purge. I worked on purging our house of unnecessary things. I was tired of spending my days organizing and maintaining and just wanted less stuff. Clutter is stressful to me and I needed less of it around. It so happened that my sweet friend Michele from Family, Faith, and Fridays hosted a 34 Weeks of Clean challenge during that time. It was fun cleaning, organizing, and purging with friends, even if they were hundreds of miles away, ha. We shared each other's misery as bigger messes were made (it always gets worse before it gets better, right?) and shared in the joy of completed tasks, as well. (She's getting ready to revisit the series again, starting this week. Join us! It's been two years and I'm in need of purging again. And it's always more fun with a friend.)
I didn't write a post for 2016, but my word was praise. I wanted my focus last year to be thanking God for our numerous blessings. Instead of getting frustrated with the constant laundry, praise God we have clothes. Instead of getting annoyed with the mess (because I couldn't bring myself to purge absolutely everything, ha), praise God the kids have toys. Instead of getting overwhelmed with responsibility, praise God we have the opportunity to homeschool. Instead of being bothered that my husband has to work so much, praise God he has a job that provides our needs (and so many wants). I've always believed that your attitude--not your circumstances--determines your happiness. Praise God.
What is my word for 2017?
That may seem like an odd choice for a homeschooler. I mean, isn't that my main job already, especially with a house full of littles?
- to cause to know something
- to cause to know how
- to accustom to some custom or attitude
- to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action
For more than 2 years now, my life has been more about surviving, than thriving. Sure, there have been periods of time where I felt accomplished, but over all, things have changed. It started with a difficult pregnancy and continued with a baby who never wants to sleep. Getting only a few hours of broken sleep every night for years will take its toll on your body. And living in a constant state of exhaustion will hinder what you can fulfill. The kids and I rarely did projects, crafts, science experiments, and games because once I'd finally get the baby to nap a little, I utilized that time to catch up on housework that couldn't be done while he was awake. I read the kids only a few lengthy chapter books like biographies and classics, because once I'd sit on the couch and stop moving, it was nearly impossible for me to stay awake. I rarely asked the kids to help me in the kitchen, because it is so much faster (and easier and less messy) to cook by myself--even with a baby on one hip or hanging on my legs--than it is to walk little ones through the process step-by-step.
I'm not saying that we stopped those things, but instead of weekly and even daily occurrences, they became every-now-and-then events.
And I've felt guilty.
2017 will be spent getting back to those things that have been overlooked and set aside. I always said that homeschooling is a way of life for us. It's not just doing schoolwork during certain times of the day (though we do that, too), but incorporating learning activities into every area of life.
1. To cause to know something: As a homeschool mom, the complete education of my children is my responsibility. Lately, I've found myself relying more and more on workbooks and textbooks. It's much easier for me to hand each individual child his papers for the day, than to make time to sit with them all and learn together as a family. A boxed curriculum is a great choice for many families, but it has never been our main style of learning. It fit a need for a period, but now it's time to get back to our tailor-made education. This year we will teach using unit studies and living book read-alouds. Learning together and immersing ourselves in a topic will replace sitting at the table and filling out worksheets.
2. To cause to know how: I've always been a firm believer in teaching kids how to do things at a young age. Life skills is an important part of our schooling, and working in the kitchen is near the top of the list. The older children can follow a recipe and cook and bake without my help. In fact, Jake was only 6-years-old when he invented his own cake recipe completely by himself. As I said though, the kids are helping in the kitchen less and less. 2017 will change that. Every Monday, a child will be responsible for dinner--choosing the menu, gathering the ingredients, prepping the food, and preparing the meal. I will be there to teach new kitchen skills and help them improve their abilities.
3. To accustom to some custom or attitude: Children are messy by nature. (Shocking, I know.) And they don't naturally want to clean up and do chores. I do have one that is really great about cleaning up after himself most of the time, but the others are perfectly fine waiting until Mom makes them do it. Cleaning up after yourself and completing chores without being told should be habit. This year, my goal is to teach them responsibility through consistency.
4. To cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action: Everything has a consequence, whether good or bad. We have punishments in place for various offenses in our family. Not every wrongdoing requires the same response. In fact, not even the same misbehavior will necessarily warrant the same punishment for two children. Our kids respond to different things. One child couldn't care less about losing electronic time, but is devastated if he can't read in bed at night. Another child doesn't mind if you make him do extra chores, but cringes at the thought of writing an apology letter. Finding consequences that match the violation of rules for each child is important. I admit, I have been lax with this lately. Some of our punishments no longer have any effect. Instead of finding something to work, I've resorted to simply reprimanding wrong behavior. Sometimes, reprimanding--teaching right from wrong, and why--is the best response. Other times though, a harsher punishment is necessary. Not only is my goal to find the appropriate consequences for my little ones, but to teach that it's better to obey than to suffer those disagreeable repercussions.
I'm going to be intentional about my time in 2017. Instead of just surviving the days, I'm going to use my energy to teach my little ones. These five kids are my greatest responsibility and teaching them is my first priority.
Did you choose a Word of the Year for 2017? Share it with us so we can be an encouragement.