Monday, June 24, 2013

Part Two: Mama, are you TOO busy??

Trying to Juggle it All??

If you missed part one in this series "Mama, are you too busy??" then please check out my link here:

Also, I love to share my friend's lovely blog entries as well. In this link a good friend of mine (who is also a very busy homeschooling Mama of four!) shares how she strives to maintain "Balance" in her own life:

In the first section of this series we looked at our time use in cleaning, our time used in cooking, and lastly at using a bit of creativity to have quality time with our spouse, even in a hectic schedule! Today we will look at three more topics: Time With Our Children, Time In Our Homeschool, and also Time For Our Appointments.

4) Time With Our Children: Our kids are homeschooled so there is ample opportunity for me to spend time with my children. However, we still need to use a bit of creativity as we often have many things on the go that can sometimes cause our quality time together to be reduced to little more than schooling and shuffling from place to place in the van together! Yep, for real ;)

So I need to us a little forethought to make a short drive, or hike, or conversation, or book reading, to allow for deep and meaningful conversation together. Any time together, if planned with a purpose, can be made to be quality time. But we must watch out for distractions...

I find that distractions from my children can include: facebook, twitter, emails, texts, even this blog, too many appointments made in one week, too much stress, lack of sleep and irritability...the list can go on. Nonetheless, by planning our time wisely, I believe we can deal with many of these aspects of our lives yet still make quality time with our most treasured loved ones: namely our children.

 I also try to include the children in all kinds of regular activities that I participate in: sometimes grocery shopping, sometimes exercise walks, or other times some of my ministry commitment at church. Kids love to help, and I believe it is a good idea to be able to model for them a diverse and productive lifestyle. It is modeling for them simply "life" and also allowing them to interact with ourselves, and various other people that are a part of our larger community.

My hubby and I also try to limit outside evening extracurriculars. We already have church twice a week, my eldest is now involved in a youth group, and we have a few other non-negotiables that will come up for our evenings. One or two extra-curriculars for each child is what we aim at. That alone can be overwhelming though in terms of cost and we tend to look for programs all the children can participate in at the same time (like our dance class which is Saturday mornings, or swimming classes which are usually all on the same evening within short time spans of each other). 

I remember reading a book a while ago called "The Home Court Advantage" by Dr. Kevin Leman, where he encourages parents NOT to allow their parenting roles to be reduced to that of a taxi cab driver. That always stuck in my mind, and I try to adhere to limiting extra-curriculars to the ones we feel are beneficial, yet are not overly time-consuming.

5) Time In Our Homeschool: This one will not be for everyone, but anyone can utilize the principles. One thing I've learned over the past year in our journey is that if you try to focus on something else while schooling your children, you WILL make an assignment take about twice as long! For example: if you're working on a math problem with your middle schooler, then turn off all distractions (media, phone, other projects) and let your child see your undivided attention. My goal is to do that for each section of our schooling, however morning and afternoon breaks allow for Mama to have uninterrupted time to do chores and complete other obligations. Children often enjoy some play, rest, or reading during these much coveted time slots. Remember: focus, focus and more focus!

One more time saving tip for homeschooling is to have a great organizational system running in your home. Of course it needs to be one that works for YOUR version of homeschooling, and your family's overall personality in general. It will not look like anyone else's, but it is essential to being a good steward of our time. I have a folder for each child with a list of each subject they are working on, plus any upcoming 'tests' or larger assignments. We also have a large book shelf with all workbooks we are currently working on. A craft station is also near by for easy access. Simply find a system that works for your home, and then stick to it!

6) Time For Our Appointments: doctor, dental, midwife, hairdresser, etc.

It's amazing how much time in a household of six, is taken up by these types of things. They are not a weekly occurrence, but usually every month I have to make ensure that I haven't double booked ourselves and that time is left open for any last minute follow-ups that may come up (i.e. a dental filling, a sick child, now a baby that is on the it's way so many midwife & doctor's appointments!)

The simplest way for me to keep track of all of these is to use my handy dandy LARGE family calendar on the fridge. I also use my phone when I'm out & about; I've got a calendar app that came on my Android cell phone.

When I book our regularly occurring appointments I try to make them say for a Wed or Thurs morning. That seems to work best for my hubby's work schedule if he needs to watch the younger ones. The point here is to find the times that will work for your family's situation. Then when you're needing to book, it is an easy thing to slot into your schedule.

Lastly, when you receive a card from an office with a reminder about an upcoming appointment, then jot it on the calendar right away! Otherwise, you may forget and get a nasty charge for missed appointment....thankfully I haven't had that happen too much, but I want to avoid extra charges at all costs :)

There you have it! Three more areas of life that need to be managed, instead of allowing them to manage you...and don't miss the last post in this series, where I will discuss having an overall life management plan that works for YOU!!!

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."
Abraham Lincoln(1809-1865)

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mama: are you too busy?? "My TOP TEN tips for time saving in a busy Mama's household"

This will actually be a three part series entitles: "Mama, are you too busy??"

Part One: 

It is amazing to me how much we Mamas actually ATTEMPT to get done in one day?! This is including my own darn self...I sometimes look at my upcoming schedule and just cringe inside. Okay, I know...some things can definitely be thrown out of the schedule. Other tasks are non-negotiables and are definitely here to stay.... (like laundry, dishes, taking care of the kids, paying bills, etc.)

However, that being said, when I speak with OTHER busy Mamas my time log can pale in comparison....It seems I am not the only one that feels the time pressure, and the immense stress that can result. Some people seem to be aiming at receiving an Olympic medal in their life management!

 Balance may be all that is needed, and often I think we all need a wake-up call:  we each only have 24 hours every day, and 7 days per week in which to get all of our tasks completed.

So, how then can we save time???

Moms I meet along my journey often ask me how I am able to homeschool four children, run my own business (although it is only very part-time to be fair), and handle other responsibilities at church, home and give time to my extracurricular activities. I find myself having to schedule every thing on a big fridge size calendar, and often I find things having to be tweaked along my journey....but nonetheless here are my top ten areas filled with tips that have helped me, or other Mamas like you, save time & energy~

1) Cleaning: #1 Tip is Clean as You Go! Don't bother making one big day as your full house cleaning day (unless you enjoy that type of thing...I however, do not) but do a bit each morning. Every morning I organize and do the main things for our home (including sweeping, gather up dirty clothes, dishes, kitchen & living room clean up and organizing myself for the day; and occasionally also doing some larger bathroom clean-ups). In the evening before bed I also try to organize for the upcoming day. Every few days I take a bit longer to do other necessary cleaning chores, but I tend to do them around any other commitments we may have.

I also find cleaning goes much better as we work as a family, so whether the kids have been home for the day, or even when they were in school full-time, they each have a small list of household chores they are responsible for. Mainly, it consists of each one of them tidying their own areas of the house, and also a few extras that are doable for their age group.

I do have to scale back my expectations sometimes. I admit that this is not always easy to do. But if I ever feel like the 'house it out of control' in terms of messiness than I may just book a cleaning block to tackle it while the kids are out. It's about working with your own schedule, and family rhythms that I find brings peace in this area.

Lastly, seasonally I take some time to sort and give away as much as possible. You wouldn't believe how fast clutter can add up, or maybe you've experienced it for yourself!!! I always find that simply by: donating, throwing out, or even moving to storage, how much more easily a house can be tamed when there's LESS stuff in it!!!

*Here is another great blog entry (by a friend!) with a few tips entitled "Cleaning As You Go"

2) Cooking: Double and triple batch anything and everything! Buy in bulk and know your staples. Sometimes I find that simply by sticking to my tried and true staples (like my main grains: oats, brown rice, quinoa, our favourite bread loaves, cereals~hot/cold, also our staple snacks, favourite veggies/fruits, herbs etc.) in every grocery trip it helps to establish a routine (which always saves time & energy!). Then I can simply add in additions that are on sale (like certain meat cuts, or seasonal produce, etc.)

 In the winter I like to save time and money by making large pots of stews/soups and other easy to make casseroles. In the summer I prefer to use large salads with creative add-ins and sides of protein, as well as brown rice or quinoa for my whole grains. Often, I'll set aside one time slot to cook a large batch of my grains and then either freeze extra portions, or simply put the batches in the fridge for the next few days.

 I don't have a lot of time to fuss on detailed meals, but I do like using a variety of spices to change my basic main dishes. Spices allow me to make chicken say like 2-3 times a week, but have different cuisine tastes with each one. 

3) Time With Hubby: I am not trying to 'save time' away from my hubby, but we can certainly be creative in how we choose to spend time together.

 In actuality, I find that my hubby and I can spend time as a couple while we do other activities together. For example: sometimes my whole family will head over to Costco for some grocery shopping. We enjoy looking at the latest products they are carrying, and let's not forget the tasty samples! We talk about upcoming events, hold hands...maybe even flirt a bit...and just enjoy our family time while finishing the groceries. A bonus is that it is always beneficial for the kids to see a healthy married couple interacting together :)

Another fav; often we simply enjoy sitting for a tea and talking after the kids are all in bed. It's not that time consuming and affordable date night time for the season we're in. Movies are a nice treat as well. Sometimes, though we do make the splurge with some time & money and hit the town for an evening: always worth it for the health of our relationship.

I do try to stay in touch with my hubby throughout the day. Usually it's about issues that come up with the kids or household, and can quickly be addressed by sending him a quick email, or having a quick phone chat on his break. That way, I find I don't have a zillion things to talk about later on...when there really won't be tons of time.

We try to have a family day once per week, as much as possible. And on that evening we almost always have some extra wind down time together before we head off to sleep; maybe planning for the upcoming week, or even month. I have learned from experience though, don't bring up 'hot topics' during this time, or expect a long-winded argument when you're both prob not thinking straight!!

I think the biggest thing here is staying connected, and making time for each other. Even with a busy, hectic or stressful schedule.

 Some seasons of life may even call for a few days away if you feel like your groove together has been slipping OR you just want to make some extra time to re-connect in a special way :)

Well that's all for today...keep posted for PART TWO in this series, coming soon!

Friday, June 14, 2013


The online dictionary defines the word 'trust' as "reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something" and also "one in which confidence is placed."

So often it is easy to trust in things and persons that we have been able to count on in the past.

I count on my chair to not fall over when I sit on it.

I trust my mailman to faithfully deliver my letter each & everyday (99% of the time!)

I trust my husband to do his best to keep his word.

Trust becomes a bit more difficult when you are placing it in someone you cannot see...say, like God.

People say "I am trusting in God to get me through this", or perhaps "I am trusting God to bring good out of this situation."

I am actually one of those people who has learned through experience that we can actually trust God for the two above mentioned examples...but sometimes...sometimes that trust doesn't come as easily.

Over the last few months I've faced a number of personal & trying circumstances. Nothing that would blow my life out of the water. Just a few 'behind the scenes' type difficulties that a few close friends & family would know about. The kind that 99.9% of us have going on in any given season.

Today I was having some quiet time (my nickname for reading the bible and praying) and I began to read about a man of great faith: Abraham. He is actually called the 'father of our faith' for those who believe.

Abraham, for those who are not familiar with his bio, was an elderly man when he finally received his promised son from the Lord. Make that a VERY elderly man!

 But God is able to do what He pleases, and so Isaac came on the scene. Isaac's name actually means "to smile". God must surely have seen Abraham smile after Isaac was born.

Romans 4: 3 "..Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."

For some reason this really resonated with me. It wasn't Abraham's goodness that caused God to say it was accounted to him for righteousness, but actually his BELIEF in the promise of God. In other words, I would say that Abraham TRUSTED God. 

I felt challenged today to ask myself: in these situations I'm facing, am I truly trusting Him? Or just making some sort of religious lip service and really trusting in some other method of relief?

My question to you today is--> are you facing a difficulty that God is asking you to simply trust Him in? Are you facing a situation where you are overwhelmed? 

Then simply "trust". 


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