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Christine Field - Christian Homeschooling, Home Education

Balancing Children, Schedules, and Housework

  • Christine Field Author, Attorney, and Home-School Mother
  • 2002 4 Apr
  • COMMENTS
Balancing Children, Schedules, and Housework
This is Part 2 of a four-part series. In Part 1 of Chaos Control: Drowning in the Domestic Dumps, Christine began a discussion on the importance of scheduling.

What about interruptions to our well-planned schedule? We need to accept that life with children is full of interruptions and distractions. With daily life, Kathryn from New Hampshire notes, "Being flexible is very important. Phone calls, visitors and interruptions are part of life and can enhance the day. Instead of thinking of them as nuisances, take the time and enjoy others. In turn it teaches the children independent learning and self control to stay focused on their tasks and accept flexibility in an organized day."

But what do you do when your plan "A" becomes God’s plan "XYZ"? Interruptions and distractions are inevitable, especially with small children. When was the last time you did ANYTHING without interruption, even going to the bathroom? I believe my children have a sensor which goes off as soon as I sit down. I hear a BANG on the door, and suddenly several little people appear at the door.

A lady named Iris Krasnow wrote a book called Surrendering to Motherhood. She left a glamorous writing career to raise her family, and she said, "When you stop to be where you are, then your life can really begin."

How often do we focus on where we are instead of somewhere else? I struggle with this mightily and have been working on just being where I am instead of having my brain vaporize off into a bunch of different directions.

Mrs. Krasnow said, "Being there isn’t about money or even about staying home full time. It’s about an emotional and spiritual shift, a succumbing to being where you are when you are, and being there as much as possible. It’s about crouching on the floor and getting delirious over the praying mantis you son has just caught, instead of perusing a fax while he is yelling for your attention and you distractedly say over your shoulder: ‘Oh, honey, isn’t that a pretty bug.’ It’s about being attuned enough to notice when your kid’s eyes shine so you can make your eyes shine back."  She goes on to observe, "This Now with the children isn’t a cage at all. It’s the marrow; finally, I have drilled and drilled right to the Essence." 

She’s talking, of course, about the essence of life - of being connected to all of life. Could that be what it means in the Bible when it says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men (Col. 3:23)?"

A Wise Woman’s Physical House

Some mornings I wake up, look around my messy house and begin to feel a sense of dread. It’s another day of endless chores, cooking and cleaning. My life feels like drudgery - sheer drudgery. Where is the joy in this?

As I set about my work, I am grumbling. On a really bad day, I lash out at the children. "Why can’t you take care of your stuff?" I shout. Then I look at my own disheveled room and wonder where they learned their habits.

Brother Lawrence was a man who did everything in love. His book, The Practice of the Presence of God (Springdale, PA, Whitaker House, 1982) revolutionized my spiritual life. He was a humble monk who cooked and cleaned for the other monks in his monastery. Whether he peeled potatoes or scrubbed pots, he did it with a heart full of the love of God. "During your meals or during your daily duty," he said, "lift up your heart to Him, because even the least little remembrance will please Him. You don’t have to pray out loud; He’s nearer than you can imagine." (5)

God is near to us when we are changing diapers, scrubbing floors or washing laundry. When we do these things with love, they are done prayerfully and from our hearts. How will our children learn to do those tasks in love if they see us grumbling and grousing? They won’t. We are their example of joy in whatever the circumstances of our lives.

Do we view the daily-ness of life as an interruption? The diapers that need to be changed and the questions that beg answers as distractions? Then we are missing the main thing of mothering - the gift to be there to share it all.

I love God and the things he does. He blesses us so much. He gives us a spouse, a house; he blesses us with children and convicts us to home school them.

In the scope of things, the relationships we build with our God with our families here on earth are the things which matter most. If we can keep that perspective while managing the little details of life, we will do the less important things swiftly and efficiently, so we will have time for the things which matter most.

We need to embrace all aspects of mothering and home schooling. When you are delighted with your kids, do you ever grab them and kiss them and embrace them? We’ve got to embrace motherhood and all of our roles the same way - to be whole-hearted mothers. It becomes easier to embrace motherhood, the good the bad and the ugly, when we know that God exalts motherhood and womanhood.

Proverbs 31 tells us that a virtuous woman’s price is far above rubies. I used to be a lawyer, and nowhere in the Bible does it say that about lawyers. I try to remember that when I’ve spent the day wiping jelly and runny noses. Lawyers are probably placed somewhere down with vipers. God values me so much and he values the work I do as a mother. Keeping that perspective helps tremendously on the really hard days of mothering and home schooling.

How does the wise woman get her house in order?

It starts with analysis. Think about these areas:

  •  What isn’t working well?
  •  What drives you crazy and causes fights?
  •  Who is doing what?
  •  What needs to be changed?

These areas cause the most difficulty for home schoolers:

  • Clutter
  • Chores
  • Food
  • Laundry

In addition to these crucial areas, a home-schooling mom must also carve out planning time to keep all the other areas of life running smoothly. Finally, if she is not fainting from exhaustion, she should think about having some good, old-fashioned family fun.

For each of these areas which annoy you, there are several options:

  • Continue to do the task yourself, the way you have always done it.
  • Learn to do it better, more efficiently, with less stress.
  • Have someone else in the family do it.
  • Have someone outside the family do it.

Next week we will look specifically at controlling clutter, managing chores, and training children to do chores.

Christine M. Field practiced law for eight years before becoming a full-time Mommy. She and her husband live and home school their four children in Wheaton, Illinois where her husband serves as Chief of Police. Three of their four children are adopted, one through a private adoption and two are from Korea. She is the author of several books, including Coming Home to Raise Your Children (Fleming Revell, 1995), Should You Adopt? (Fleming Revell, 1997) A Field Guide to Home Schooling (Fleming Revell, 1998), and Life Skills for Kids (Harold Shaw/WaterBrook, 2000). Her fifth book, Help for the Harried Home Schooler (Shaw/WaterBrook 2002) will be available in January 2002. In addition to her contribution to Crosswalk.com, she writes columns for several magazines, including Home School Digest and Open Arms Magazine. Her work appears regularly in Hearts at Home Magazine and others. Her articles on life skills have appeared in Focus on the Family Magazine and Single Parent Family.

Christine loves to encourage others. She has spoken to many groups, including small fellowships and large conventions. To contact her about speaking to your group, or to share your tips and ideas about home schooling, you may email her at FieldFamily@HomeFieldAdvantage.org or visit her website at www.HomeFieldAdvantage.org. You may write to her at The Home Field Advantage, P.O. Box 261, Wheaton, IL 60189-0261.