We are diving headlong back into school this week, and boy can I ever tell you how I’ve missed it! While we’ve had most of December off, I did not get as much planning and preparing done as I would have liked. Yes, I left it until ALMOST the last minute! But we are ready to begin, and I’ve also made some pretty good headway on some other decisions.
The areas I am praying over and want to focus on this year are Simplify and Streamline. I’ve created a lot of chaos in our home by not addressing certain things. One of these hit me square in the face on Christmas morning.
Christmas Day dawned a beautiful winter wonderland, with snow piled onto the ice covered branches, it truly looked like a page out of Narnia! The kids slept in and we enjoyed a slow morning together – though filled with it’s challenges! Opening gifts with a teething baby is like orchestrating a 3-ring circus – while opening gifts. We had to take many breaks and stop the unwrapping train in order to settle the chaos down a bit. And then it happened. One of our boys received a large Lego set. The older one got a couple of smaller Lego sets, along with an electronics kit. And in the midst of the stuff, the piles of new toys and blessings, the ugly green monster reared its head.
I suppose it’s to be expected, and though the ungrateful and selfish attitudes tore at our hearts, we were grateful for the opportunity to deal with them, right then and there. And I realized a few things.
1. My lack of planning out over the year, preparing for gifts, left me buying on a whim, not sticking to a budget, and influenced by other people’s gift lists, instead of sticking to ours.
2. Our busyness over the holiday season didn’t leave me as much time to spend with the kids encouraging them to be more focused on Christ.
3. I am too much influenced by others decisions and we need to set our own standards for our family.
Along with how I felt God had been whispering to my heart my need to quiet and still, make things less complicated, more about him, I heard him saying again, “Simplify”.
I’ve been making things too complicated, too fancy, too “impressionistic” and idealistic. I feel a need to strip back down to the basics, streamline our lives so there’s more time for the important stuff we’re missing.
Already we’ve been able to make some major changes in the number of nights a week we are committed as God provided for our small group to meet on the same night AT our church where our kids attend Awana. I’ve also been handing the grocery shopping off to my hubby more (believe me, this has been tough as I’m a bit picky about how the grocery shopping is done and have a few “if not this price, then get that” exceptions on my list). I purchased a second set of flannel sheets for the kids’ rooms because stripping the beds, waiting for clean sheets, then inevitably scrambling to make them moments before they’re getting into bed was too stressful. It may seem a bit of a luxury, but for me, it has helped tremendously to streamline our time.
These are some other areas God has placed on my heart that I need to simplify and streamline for the year:
- A change to our literature curriculum – I’ve been fashioning my own from Ambleside, Sonlight and Beautiful Feet recommendations. But I’ve been concerned about their comprehension, so trying to find ways to get them to dig into these books has been time consuming! Instead I’ll be switching over to a curriculum that works for Grades 1-5, with suggested books and comprehension all included. That’s a huge burden lifted!
- Plan and Print – I plan out or days in advance, but leave the printing of stuff until Monday mornings. Not such a great start to our week! So I’m shooting for printing as soon as I’m finished planning, then I have a clear and undistracted mind when we start our school week
- Monthly focus – instead of running from one idea to the next, I’m going to tackle each month at a time, focusing on a certain area or idea with our science extras, geography, art and unit studies. Sarah Mae has some great ideas for monthly study, and thanks to Candace, we are focusing on the winter Olympics, Russia and Greece during the month of January.
- Baking has been a bit out of control thanks to the Christmas fun, but in a good way! I’ve decided to bake 1 or 2 snack items a week (MAX!) and double up the recipes so on our busier weeks I’ll still have something to pull out for the kids.
- Meal planning has GOT to happen again! I’m using the Nourishing Home meal plans posted bi-weekly on The Busy Mom to help me quickly fill in our calendar for the month. I’m not sticking directly to it, but it’s giving me great ideas. I’m also pinning lots of lunch and snack ideas to keep on hand.
- We’ve really settled into a great chore routine around our home, but paying our kids hasn’t been happening regularly. Though we catch them up, we’d like to see them becoming more aware of what they’re earning, and teaching them better about saving and spending
- Purge! I’ve already been doing a lot of this over the past month or so – we’ve cleaned out plenty of clothes, toys, pillows, sheets and books. We’ve been blessed with a lot of hand me down books for school, but I’m realizing now there are many that I won’t be using that just need to be moved out. Less stuff means less clutter means more room and less mess – I hope!
- The Man and I have started a bible in a year reading plan
- Making time for prayer – with my husband before he goes to work, over the kids in their beds at night, throughout the day when there are quiet moments.
- We have date nights ON THE CALENDAR this time
- We have some nights set aside as reading nights so we can work through our stacks of fantastic books to read
- That’s my budget and I’m sticking to it. My weakness? Homeschool and clothes for the kids. I’m working on an extended list to this one I made for One Fun Mom for determining just WHAT exactly our kids need for clothes, and being wiser in what I’m spending. This also goes for our homeschool stuff – I have no budget! Gasp! And I need to create one, which will help me to plan ahead better and not make impulse curriculum buys for things we might not use
- I am learning more about social media, but determined to not let it take over my life. I want to interact with you, my readers and friends, but I can’t allow it to take away from the time I need to spend with the Lord, and my family. So I’m learning to blog and post smarter, I hope, and in a way that will allow me to engage y’all in an even better way!
- I’m blogging as the Lord leads and while I’m trying to make sure I write a couple times a week, if there’s nothing there and I haven’t been spending time in the word, I’m not going to push it! This space isn’t mine, it’s His, and I want to use it to honour him.
I’d love if you would join me in The Bold Year Challenge with Mackenzie from Bold Turquoise. I’m so excited about this, and would love if you would come along with us and so many other women as we tackle areas of our homes and lives that need to have a fresh start. There’s a great schedule to follow, a bible and book study to participate in, monthly challenges, and a fantastic Facebook group for encouragement. You can join in any time! Every day is an opportunity to begin again :0)
It’s time to begin! Time to clear the clutter, cultivate order, and make room for the things that really matter!