Minimalism

My house is officially on the market.  It is bittersweet to me.  We have lived in this home for fourteen years, and I adore my neighbors.  I know them so very well.  I know every nook and cranny of the once farmland that is now our little subdivision:  the tadpoles in the creek by my neighbor’s house (and how she so kindly lets us tramp through her yard to get to the creek!), the long Deep South days at the pool, the way we can see the Fourth of July fireworks from the pool, the hill we can sled on in the winter in the few years we actually do receive snow.  A true sense of place, which seems to be rare in this day and age. Continue reading

Rhythm: Part Seven

 

In Part Five of this series on rhythm, we looked at the number one challenge toward establishing rhythm:  going out too much and saying “yes” to too many things outside the home.  Today, I want to tell you THE SECRET about having a successful rhythm.

 

It is getting out of your own way.

 

Release your anxiety and your fears.  Parent after parent after parent that I talk to who have homeschooled children who have graduated from homeschool say their children were well-prepared for college and for life, no matter what method the parent chose to homeschool!  Amazing and true! I see so many mothers who are worried, anxious and joyless in their parenting and homeschooling, and this is what the children see!  Don’t be wishy -washy and uncertain; fearful and scared!

 

Take the bull by the horns! Be confident!  Get your ho-hum on, and jump in where you are!  If you “fall off the routine bandwagon” jump back on where you are that moment.  It takes time to get a rhythm that works.  Commit to it as a forty day project. 

 

Your parenting may not be perfect!  Your homeschooling may not be perfect!  Mine isn’t; I make so many mistakes and things could always be done differently – but you know what?  I have an overall sense that my children are going to be JUST FINE. 

 

And in my weak moments, where I feel like something is not going to turn out well, or I start coming from a place of fear, I get down on my knees and pray.  And after I do that, I call a friend when my children are not around to overhear, and get a well –deserved pep talk.  I talk to my supportive spouse and surround myself with positive thinkers.

 

But most of all, become a positive thinker yourself.   Your children need to see that mistakes do not define who you are; they are only gateways and doorways to improvement and understanding. 

 

There are no guarantees in parenting or homeschooling; you do what you can do. Have some fun and act confident.  Make decisions, stick to them, change what is not working, quit talking so much and DO.

 

Many blessings on your journey toward rhythm as a basis of joy in your home,

Carrie

Rhythm: Part One

When I see homeschooling mothers who feel burdened, depressed, as if there is not enough time, that they are buried under their homes and chores – well, I feel terrible.  It really is a difficult thing to see, and we have all been there I think.  Interruptions to life come,  and some times homeschooling and parenting flow more efficiently and joyfully than other times.

To me, the most major piece of assisting a mother to reclaim the joy in parenting and in homeschooling, outside of prayer to determine the essential and for strength :), is a rhythm to the day.  I think mothers who manage their homes and children well feel happy and satisfied because there is less stress in knowing what will happen when.   I think also mothers who have a rhythm feel BALANCED.  There is enough time in the day for your priorities as a mother or father, and rhythm enables the life of the whole family and all of its members to be considered.

A dear friend and I were chatting this morning about this very subject.  Balance is a tricky issue, isn’t it?  It often seems that there is much being done for the family as a whole (mealtimes, bedtimes, perhaps something such as the activities at a place of worship), things that revolve around perhaps the oldest child (homeschooling, outside activities)….leaving many mothers and fathers wondering, where is the time for me? for us? for the younger children who don’t have outside activities yet? Continue reading

Mealtimes: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

Bless, O Lord, this food to our use and us to Thy service

And make us ever mindful of Thy many blessings

Amen

(Blessing from my husband’s side of the family)

Father, we thank Thee for this food before us

Give us strength to do Thy will

Guide and protect us in Thy heavenly path

For Christ’s sake

Amen

(Blessing from my side of the family)

Mealtimes are a vital place to slow down, to bring together different traditions from your side of the family and your partner’s side of the family, to protect and nurture and linger together.

Studies show interesting connections between children’s behavior and whether or not they ate family meals.  Many studies show, for example, Continue reading

Another Question From The Field: Balance In Homemaking

This question came in awhile ago and I have been pondering it since in the back of my mind.  I was not certain I had anything valuable to add;   some things ”just are”
in life, but then I did think of something I wanted to say (uh, and it turned out to be way more than I expected, so you may need a cup of tea! LOL)   Here is the original comment/question:

Here is a very honest admission for you: I get no satisfaction of out homekeeping and I am quite certain that I never will :) I *can* do all the things: cook delicious meals every day, ferment, and mill my own flour, I can sew and knit and paint, I can keep the home clean and in reasonable order. But when that is all I do, I can feel my soul slowly dying! I go through seasons of pulling myself together and even enjoying my tasks, and then falling apart, throwing in a towel, because after all, what’s the point? Yes, this is a lovely way to live, to have a cozy home and good food, but I.am.miserable. I’ve been told all manner of things: I’m lazy, I need to change my attitude, I need to get therapy to deal with some deep-seated resentment and blah-blah-blah. I feel that the truth is simpler than that. I am someone who is extremely extroverted, requires massive amounts of regular intellectual stimulation, and a great deal of variety in life :) There must be a way to find some kind of balance. I realize that my children are young (2, 4.5, and one on the way), I am quite realistic about the care, time and effort they require at this stage of life. But I just can’t give up my sanity and my very essence to keeping the home.
Thoughts? thanks!

That is really hard and I think so many of us as mothers can identify with the feelings expressed in this comment.  It can be so hard to do all the things we might think need to be associated with homemaking and parenting, to make things “right”.  Maybe there is also a bit of perfectionism hidden within many of us – if we don’t do all these things, then our children will not do well.  This can make things seem burdensome or a chore instead of light and lovely.  And, it all can be such a big burden – why do I have to be The Queen of My Home? Can’t someone else do it?  I just want to take the day off!  There are days I feel that way as well. Continue reading

The Sacred Art of Self-Care

Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin
As self-neglecting.  -
From William Shakespeare’s Henry V

I am so pleased that Kyrie is doing a series on “The Ordinary Arts”  that make up the fabric of our lives. Her first post is up here   http://www.aresohappy.com/home/2011/10/17/ordinary-arts-the-art-of-self-care.html, and she has invited us to write our own thoughts on this important topic.

To me, the Ordinary Arts is finding the holy in the ordinary.  The beautiful in the mundane.  The “big”  in those really small moments of life.

On Easter Monday of this year, I wrote a post about “The Sacred In The Ordinary” (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/04/25/the-sacred-in-the-ordinary/).  This is an important topic – in the repetitive tasks that make up the care of small children, in the repetitive tasks of what really constitutes homemaking and nurturing the home, can we turn this into a sacred act, a gift to receive and to be given? Continue reading

Three Books of Import–Christian Book Reviews

 

I am back doing less work and projects right now, and more reading.  I recently finished “Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home” by Fr. Anthony Coniaris, which was lent to me by a dear local friend.    Thank you, dear friend.

 

There is something so peaceful and soothing about this book.  When I get bogged down in “what is this all about – parenting, homeschooling, juggling all these balls in the air” – this book reminds me:  “the primary lesson for children is to know the eternal God, the One Who gives everlasting life” (St. Clement).  A balm for the mothering soul, and such a great simplifying thought. Continue reading

Parenting Just For Today

One of my dear local friends  just sent me the most beautiful prayer from the book “Making God Real In The Orthodox Home” by Fr. Anthony Coniaris  (here is the Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0937032077/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A6MHEJ10672MS) .  Here is the beautiful prayer she shared with me:

Continue reading

Serene Summer: One Small Step #4

 

Our small steps for a happy homelife continues today with menu planning.  Menu planning is important for those of us on a budget, and it is also  important in terms of saving time, energy and for providing healthy foods in as close to their natural state as possible.

So,  after our other small steps of  decreasing commitments so you can actually be at home, spending time with your spouse or rejuvenating yourself, and having a well-ordered home, menu planning is right up there.

After all, nothing goes well if everyone is hungry and there is no food in the house or no food prepared, right?  Small children and hunger leads to whiny, not peaceful,  times!

We have talked about meal planning before on this blog, but I have a few things that have been working well for me lately that I want to share: Continue reading

Serene Summer: One Small Step #3

One thing that provides a foundation for family and homeschooling success after reviewing and possibly curtailing commitments outside the home (Step #1) and building a strong foundation for time with your spouse or to rejuvenate yourself if you are single parenting (Step #2), is to have a well-ordered home.

My favorite small book on this subject is by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a health psychologist and researcher in the area of lactation and post-partum depression.  Continue reading