Since this conversation has come up between my friends and myself quite a bit over recent months, I thought I would take time to make my thoughts into a blog post. I was talking with a home schooling friend yesterday who told me she feels very overwhelmed trying to keep up with two different curriculums. Another friend confessed that her children’s extra curricular activities have stressed her. I, myself, have felt overwhelmed at times with all that we do. I home school my children, but I often find that we are not at home!
It made me think: “Why do we, as moms, do this to ourselves and to our children?” Sure, we want our children exposed to all sorts of things for the sake of being well-rounded, especially when they are home schooled. We want to make sure they are not social misfits (ha ha)! So we sign them up for church activities, volunteer opportunities, preschool, ballet, piano, guitar, horse back riding lessons, art lessons, cheer leading, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, tae kwon do, archery, foreign language clubs, chorus, cooking classes, ice skating lessons, and swim team. No wonder our kids are frazzled, ill behaved, and falling asleep in the car between activities! No wonder mom is stressed out, emotionally, physically, and financially!
I am guilty as charged! Over the summer, I attended a Classical Conversations home school conference, and walked away with one truth that has totally impacted my life. “Our children are souls created in the image of God, not products to be measured.” Wow! If we daily made the choice to view our children as souls created in the image of God, this would revolutionize our parenting and our priorities!
Our children’s spiritual development should be our number one priority. How do we nuture their spirits? We spend time with them! If we are going to spend quality time with them, we need to learn to just say “No!” to too many outside commitments. Extra curricular activities are good, but balance is an absolute must! Sometimes saying “No” means saying “No” to good things. However, saying “No” can bring freedom, the freedom to spend more time with your children!
How do you spend time together? My daughter and I do a Bible study typically on Sunday afternoons. My children and I read out loud (some of my favorite times!), bake, and volunteer together. Quite often, my husband and I will take our children to local parks and museums. My kids love a good picnic and actually had one on our front porch this week! Spending time together strengthens our relationship and allows natural conversation about life and the Lord to happen.
This fall, we have allowed our children one extra curricular activity outside of school and church. My boys play soccer and Lindsay takes riding lessons. In addition to their school and church activities, we keep busy, but not too busy for time together at home. I have discovered that, as Mom, I am the one who needs to protect my children’s schedules. We may think we can do it all, but it’s just not reality. If we are honest, I believe we sometimes have our children in so many activities because that’s what we want! Take time and ask your children what they want to do and listen to them. Be picky about who gets to set your schedule. When you turn your children over to coaches and other teachers, you lose say in your schedule. Ask God to reveal to you your children’s gifts, talents, and interests and then focus on those. Try different activities at different seasons.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 declares “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” God is telling us to teach our children about Him and His word. We do this at home, on walks, lying down and rising up. We have to spend time together in order to teach and to nurture the souls God has entrusted to us. It’s okay to just say “No!”