On Entering the Season of Busy…

Whether or not you homeschool, or if you have 1 or 5 kids, the end of August/beginning of September typically gets busy. The lazy days of summer are ending and the crisp air brings with it a fresh motivation to get back into routine and cross things off our lists. School starts. Sports start. For many of us, this marks the true new year.

As I look at my own lists, I can’t help but feel a little nervous. The busyness looks, well, busy. We’re starting a new homeschool year with five children. We will have soccer, piano, gymnastics, and co-op this year. New curriculum, new extracurriculars. We are house hunting and it’s already beginning to take a toll on my emotional and mental space. (Hey HGTV House Hunters, can you guys just come and do the work for me please? That’d be great, thanks.) We have a major plumbing project (not a repair, just a project, thank goodness) set to start at our own house on…. (drum roll, please) the day I planned to start our homeschool year. (Talk about throwing a literal monkey wrench into my plans! hehe. Sorry. Had to.) I’ve also got an almost 2-year-old who is absolutely insistent on “using” the toilet. So I guess potty training is happening. New friends, new get togethers, new social calendars. It’s all wonderful stuff, really, but it can be overwhelming when it’s all at the same time. So here are some things I’m making a priority right now so I can combat the stress of it all and not feel overwhelmed.

  • Staying in the Word. You’ve heard the adage that you can’t fill other people’s cups until yours is full first? While I appreciate the concept, the saying has always left me feeling a little… empty. I’m supposed to FILL my cup??? I have 5 kids to take care of! And then something in this morning’s devotion stuck with me. The author rejected this phrase and said that rather than worrying about making sure we’re full, we just need to make sure we’re constantly connected to the One who can pour His love and grace and mercy through us; like a vessel. I used to stress about getting enough Bible reading and prayer time to make myself “full”, as if that was actually possible. But really, as long as I’m grabbing hold of the True Source of love and grace without letting go, I can still dispel those things to the people around me. I stay connected by reading the Bible and my devotion on YouVersion while nursing, listening to Bible study podcasts, and through constant prayer.
One of my favorite podcasts, “Risen Motherhood”, produced this lovely flower printable as a reminder of the four parts of the Gospel. It’s on display in my bathroom (where I spend a lot of time meeting kids’ needs) and serves as a good source of encouragement for me.
  • Staying connected to our “peeps.” Family, church family, close friends. Right now Randy and I have pulled back from almost all of our regular church responsibilities we used to have while we adjust to our growing family, homeschool co-op, and house hunting. We have a lot going on right now! But we know the value of staying plugged in, even when we don’t have to be there. And while we need to be protective of our family time and our calendar right now, we also have to be intentional about scheduling time with friends and family. We need our circle to lean on, keep each other accountable, relax with, pray with, and do life with! We’d be lost without them.
This past weekend at a cookout we coordinated, we had 5 families including 22 kids present! They had a duct-tape warfare battle and it was epic. Though the night was fun and soul-feeding for us adults, it was the same for our kids. They need this too. (Excuse the blurriness, there was some serious action happening here.)
  • Exercise. Seriously. For the past eight weeks I’ve been following a training program and consistently gone for a workout/run four days a week. And on my “off” days, I’m practicing pilates or intense stretching to keep my body limber. And in return, I feel so good. My mood is better in general (not that I don’t have my, ahem, moments), I feel stronger when I play with the kids, and I have satisfaction in knowing I’m taking time for me and it’s actually doing my body GOOD. Along with eating better, this is true self-care.
I love that my “new” routine also brings me closer to my fitness-loving husband. And he’s more than happy to take the reigns of breakfast duties now and then if I oversleep a little or just have a really long run that morning. It’s amazing to come home to homemade oatmeal hitting the table or the smell of bacon already sizzling in the oven. He’s kind of the best.
  • Plan time for rest. Randy and I have scheduled date nights every Friday and there is very little that will get in the way of those. We need the time to romantically connect after the week and really relax. We eat what we’re in the mood for–either something delicious we cook together or order out–after the kids have gone to bed, and talk about anything and everything. But in addition, it’s important for me to know when my next “real break” is coming. We have a weekend away with friends coming up in a couple weeks. Hello, mini vacation! After that, I’ll be scheduling our first break from school and our next family getaways. Randy and I also try to get away for a night or two at least once every year. It’s such a great opportunity to recharge our marriage batteries, especially if we’re in the midst of an extra busy season!
  • Limit social media. I find that during highly busy seasons, this can be pretty tricky. That’s because when we’re stressed or anxious or over-worked, it feels good to mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook. But if I’m constantly doing that, it does nothing to improve my mood or lessen my stress. In fact, it actually limits the time I have to do the things I should be doing to wind-down (see previous four things listed).

So with that, while I work on limiting my time on IG and FB, I’ll also be signing off this blog for about a month. I need to focus on getting our homeschool underway and in rhythm and figuring out how to make our fall schedule work for us while we also do everything else! I’ll occasionally share some old posts about homeschooling on my other profiles as we kick off this season.

I can’t wait to share about what we’re doing in school this year. I’ve worked hard this summer weaving together multiple curricula and lining things up the way I want them and I’m seriously stoked about the upcoming school year. I’m approaching this year in a whole new way (for me) with a fresh mindset. I’ll likely be writing about that and how it’s going next.

What’s on my nightstand right now. (Audible books obviously not pictured.)
Another way I unwind. 🙂

What I’ve been Reading and Listening to Lately: Recommendations for You!

Summer is about half over. HALF over. It’s not over yet! Target dollar section, I’m looking at you… (There’s a sad story there about a girl in search of swim goggles only to find school supplies. At the end of July. Sigh.)

There is still plenty of time to enjoy a good read or podcast on the lake, beach, or by the pool on a lazy day. I am finding so much encouragement and soul-feeding in my podcasts and books lately and I wanted to pass on the goodness, so here goes…

If you’re looking for one last book to read to complete your summer…

  1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read this one to the kids in the beginning of the summer (and we finished it on Audible when we were driving to and from VBS one week) and had my mom and sister-in-law read it, too, and we had “book club” while on vacation! It’s an easy read, which is great for summer and the theme of “coming alive” and being surrounded by beautiful things couldn’t be more perfect for the season.
  2. The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. I listened to this on Audible, also, and loved it! Not only does it have so many great ideas for how, when, and what to read aloud to your kids, it’s filled with helpful information about the importance and impact of reading for everyone. This is one I’ll be revisiting often.
  3. Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown. This was recommended by a friend and I ended up having a small group book club with it. Very thought-provoking and spiritually stirring, you could honestly do a whole study group on the book and stretch it out over several weeks. You will find yourself closely identifying with one or more of the main characters and will undoubtedly do a lot of spiritual self-reflection.
  4. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. A middle-grade novel series, I read the first one to the kids, and Abby and I are reading the rest on our own but at the same time. We’re having our own “book club” and our first meeting is this Saturday to talk about the second book! This is such a sweet series and super fun to read. Might be my favorite pick. Think “Little Women” but in modern times, with charm and humor.
  5. Currently, I am listening to A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle, but I haven’t finished it yet. It’s great to listen to on a long walk and full of poignant quotes like this one:

“We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We’ve come to the point where it’s irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven’t yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don’t look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.” 
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

This made me think of homeschooling and the false judgment that we are attempting to shelter our children from the world. I do not wish to shelter them (fully) from the world as they grow, but I want to properly equip them to deal with it. And that is something I can do much better at home.

Looking for a good listen while you wash the dishes, go for a walk/run, or while on a road trip? Here are the podcasts I have stored up on my phone…

  1. Risen Motherhood*. This is my favorite podcast and my number one recommendation! I’ve been an R/M listener for over a year and I can’t get enough. They take a break in the summer so I used this as an opportunity to get caught up on episodes I hadn’t heard before. This is a podcast that is full of love, laughter, encouragement, and Gospel-truth for the weary mama! Topics range from sleep-deprivation and mom-bods to education choices, screen time, etc. I’m so in love.
  2. The Read-Aloud Revival. This is Sarah Mackenzie’s podcast and it is delightful. Author interviews, book recommendations, and tips and tricks for home education, though even if you don’t homeschool, you can benefit from this podcast!
  3. Wild + Free*. This podcast for homeschoolers refreshes my mama soul and reminds me of the importance of letting children be wild and free and unstructured at times. It reminds me that homeschooling is NOT about recreating public school at home but about creating relationship, love of learning, and family memories to last a lifetime.
  4. Heidi St. John. Heidi’s podcast is a Bible study, poignant political discussion, interesting interviews and Q&A all rolled into one. I don’t always agree with her politics 100%, but I love her Bible studies and she is grounded in Biblical truth which I appreciate.

*These podcasts (Risen Motherhood and Wild + Free) both have books coming out this fall! I have pre-ordered them on Amazon already! If you give them a listen and like what you hear, I encourage you to do the same… click on the links above. 🙂