Let’s Keep It Real This Year
Guest Post by Jessica of Life as Mom
Admit it: You had good intentions back in January or at the start of summer. You were going to take the world, your homeschool, your housework by storm. You were going to get things in order, rock the sandbox, and, otherwise, be the best mom you could imagine.
Unfortunately, not all those good intentions have come to fruition. I know that’s the case for me. As a homeschooling, work-at-home mom, I tend to be a big dreamer. And when my big dreams don’t turn out the way I hoped, well, I’m in for big disappointments.
Oh the plans I had for our summer! Weekly outings, meaningful morning devotions, and enriching “summer school” activities for my kids were all a part of my plan — as well as a spotless house and healthy, homecooked meals. Now that summer draws to a close, I shake my head in shame.
While we did do some fun things, summer generally did not obey me. It went by too quickly.
The house was almost constantly a mess. My work obligations took longer than I thought they would. Interruptions were manifold. And if it weren’t for computerized math software, summer school wouldn’t have existed at all.
The over-achiever in me is embarrassed to reveal the truth, but there it is. While my dreams were wonderful — and they sure looked beautiful and doable in my mind — they were too much.
So, I’m hoping to take a lesson from my experience: I’m embracing Honesty and Reality this school year.
With the transition into a new school year comes the opportunity to put in new systems and to dream big dreams. And, I might add, the tendency to bite off more than we can chew. Ahem.
Rather than beat myself up, I’ll looking to be real this year, to set realistic expectations for myself, and to set my sights high, but not too high.
This year is our 13th of homeschooling. It promises to be my most challenging yet as I wrangle the schedules and curricula of six students, K through 11. I have to be real with myself. That’s the only way I can survive.
Here are some of my real plans for the year:
1. Take care of my health.
Last year I found myself reading this post over and over again. I found that I was anxious all the time. I well remember the feelings of panic lying in bed during the watches of the night, worrying over what I needed to do the next day or assessing my effectiveness or ineffectiveness as a mother. I was a stressed out mess.
While I don’t know for sure that I had adrenal fatigue, I followed Stephanie’s suggestions to take better care of myself. And it helped. The idea of my body giving up on me was more threatening than not completing my to do list.
This year, I’ve stepped up my exercise program, worked to eat and drink better, and reduced my sugar intake drastically.
I have realized that I have to make time to take care of myself. I’m 41; the immortality I felt at 25 has dissipated. I didn’t make self-care a priority when my six children were 11 and under, though I should have. Better late than never, right?
Taking care of my body and my mental health helps my family and me.
2. Be present in the moment.
My baby starts kindergarten this year. That sobers me. Time used to drag on when I was a young(er) mother. It now seems to move at lightening speed.
I’m determined to be more present in the moments, even the mundane ones. Watching my “baby” sit with a bowl of popcorn, just remnants of her baby fat lingering on her fingers makes me want to stop time. I cry watching her eat popcorn!
The days are long, but the years are very, very short. I want to drink this moment dry and not miss it.
3. Do what only I can do.
I used to think that I had to do it all. Over the years I’m learning that there are things that only I can do. Or rather there are some things that it really does matter if I do them: tuck my kids in bed, organize our office, plan our school. Those are priorities for me because it’s not the same if someone else does those things.
But the other stuff? It just needs to get done. It doesn’t matter who does it. Anyone else can vacuum or do the laundry — in fact, my kids do it — but I need to focus my time on the things that only I can do.
4. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
That means that I need not be afraid to delegate. A few years ago when I signed my high schooler up for a science class taught by another homeschool mom, I was rife with guilt. I should be doing it all, I thought.
My husband freed me of the notion that homeschooling meant that I had to do it all myself. Delegating science and later math and Latin was such a relief! I can’t imagine trying to tackle it all. I just can’t.
Delegating means you’re aware of your resources and not willing to exhaust them.
5. Trust God.
It’s a little frightening sometimes to think that God has entrusted me with this beautiful, rich life: a fabulous husband, six healthy and happy children, a warm home, and the ability to do the things that I love like write and cook. I don’t want to squander this! I want to do a good job with it, whatever that means.
At the same time, I have limitations. And God knows what those limitations are, even when I’m not fully aware of them. He has hand-picked my family and set my path before me. He promises to be with me and to guide me. He knows I will fall, and he promises to pick me up.
Trusting Him allows me the freedom to take the next scary step — even if I might stumble.
I am by nature a dreamer, and if I’m honest, an overachiever. Those two qualities can sometimes get me in over my head. Honesty is like a buoy in the middle of that stormy ocean I create for myself.
Honesty keeps me afloat. Honesty reminds me who I am in relationship to God. Honesty helps me keep it real.
Let’s be honest with ourselves this year. Let’s be real.
How do YOU keep your expectations and goals realistic?
Want help keeping yourself organized this year? Jessica is offering a $3 off coupon to her eBook, Life as Mom! You can use the coupon on the individual book or on any of her Life as Mom bundle packs! You must use code TIMEMOM at the time of purchase! Hurry–sale ends Aug. 31! Purchase here.
Thanks for the great post. I spend my days feeling guilty at what I haven’t accomplished. I read the sign: If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough. Try, try, try. Fail, fail, fail to get it done. I’m glad to read your thoughts on the matter. Have a great year!
Wow, can I relate. I keep saying that I am doing too much. I wrestle constantly with adjusting my expectations and yet walking faithfully with what I do need to accomplish. One of the big things that I am working on now that I am back to academics with homeschooling is turning off my email and social media while we do our academics. I have to put that aside and it is very addicting.
Wow – thank you so much for this post. I totally needed it today, right this very hour and right this very minute! We’re praying about starting to homeschool, but I have a full-time job that is basically our only income. My husband is more than willing to be the teacher, but I struggle with that! I think I need to do it because, well, because I’m the mom! So thanks for the reminder that we need to take care of ourselves and o focus on what only we can do. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Love your honesty and perspective, Jessica! My own need for better self-care has become so apparent lately. I’m also a big fan of #3 and #5. 🙂
A blogger friend and I recently decided to explore the idea of living purposefully and “keeping it real” in a world that bombards us with a million good things (http://www.asimplehaven.com/real-life-in-a-pinterest-world-saying-a-purposeful-yes)–so I really resonated with your words today.
Will link to your post the next time we do a “Keeping it Real in a Pinterest World” post. 🙂
Jessica, I can say that I, for one, am glad that I am not the only one with a house that is a mess. I am still working on adrenal health and it’s a hard one. Homeschooling, having a blog, being active at church…..there are so many things in my life and it is very tough to slow down.
I think many many moms (homeschooling bloggers especially) are in this boat and we all need to really be careful with ourselves and the life that God has given us. Thank you.
Jessica – this was a balm to my soul! Thank you for writing this! Many thoughts here worthy of further meditation and practice. May you know God’s blessing upon you and your family as you begin a new school year.
I can totally relate to SO many things in your post!! Thank you for your insight and beautiful reminders!! I think I will re-read this post many times! Thank you for being vulnerable, you are very relatable!
Jessica this is just what I needed today! You put all my jumbled up feelings into words. I am starting my 10th year of homeschooling 4 precious children and trying to work part-time with all the other commitments of church and activities has left me feeling very tired. Thank you for all of these reminders.
I can say that I’ve been stressing A LOT since this school year started because I feel like I’m failing at juggling the three kids and ensuring that my boys are truly learning the material they need to learn this year because I am trying to do it all.
I do have my kids help with the housework and that helps out a lot, and I’ve been ridiculed by that fact from day one because my mother-in-law would still do everything for my husband if I were not in the picture. She has the silly notion that a mother is suppose to do all housework on her own. She can’t stand the fact that my kids know how to clean at such a young age (1, 6, and 9.) The funny thing is I’m right there with the kids cleaning along beside them.
I don’t know how you juggle homeschooling six kids, blog, and work from home. I’m super duper impressed by that fact alone. My oldest refuses to be an independent learner. He just can’t grasp the concepts worth a dime on his own, but yet if I work with him he’ll learn it for life. That wasn’t a problem until this year when I have my youngest son doing the same thing. I dread when my daughter starts school. (Of course, she’s paying better attention to the boys lessons than they are. 😉 )
Your post just made me want to respond big time. I hope you don’t mind. I know you’re busy. I just felt the need to respond to your wonderful post. Thank you for the reminder that even though I have big dreams, there does come a time that I have to look reality in the face, and accept what I can and cannot do.
I think I am pretty easy-going as a mom — I know my limits when it comes to how much I sleep, what I can/can’t eat, and I’m not a big goal-setter. Sometimes I see that as a flaw, but we are all works in progress. I like this: “I don’t want to squander this! I want to do a good job with it, whatever that means.” I feel the same way. It’s keeping that top of mind that can be difficult in the stressful, rushed moments we as moms are so accustomed to!