Editor’s Note: Mike has graciously agreed to share an interview he conducted with his wife, Vickie. Mike and Vickie have ten children and six grandchildren. They have been married for 30 years and have been home schooling for twenty years (and have about 14 years of home schooling ahead of them). I think this interview is particularly timely. In April, home-schooling mothers are not only tired from this school year, but we face year-end testing for our children and planning for the next school year. I think Vickie’s answers will encourage you to keep on keeping on! -- Zan Tyler, senior education editor for Crosswalk.com

Mike:
Vickie, when I go out and speak at home-school conferences, people kind of expect me to come and talk to them. But who they really want to hear from is you. And the question they want to ask you is: how you do it, with so many kids and such a busy schedule? What are the most important pieces of advice you’d share with home-schooling moms?

Vickie:
Well, I would say the first thing I think that’s really important is to remember that the children that you have are something to be really thankful for. I feel like having a truly grateful attitude for each of those children that you have, and also for the opportunity that you have to home school them, is very important.

God says that children are a blessing from the Lord - they’re given to us as a reward, they’re a godly heritage - and we need to keep that attitude as we go throughout each day. If we have an attitude of gratefulness, I think it’ll help us through the hardest times.

Then other thing that I think is important is to remember that this is a job that cannot really be done successfully without the supernatural strength and wisdom from God Himself.

Mike:
What do you do when you feel like you’re having a bad day or a bad week or a bad month? How do you maintain the joy of home schooling?

Vickie:
Well, as you know, I don’t always maintain the joy of home schooling. There are times that I have really bad days and I feel like quitting. In fact, I had one just last Friday. But the fact is that really we should not be home schooling for the joy of it. I really think that home schooling is done out of obedience, we have had a call from God to do it, and we’re not always going to feel joyful, but we still need to stick to our commitment and obey the Lord in this.

The neat thing is that even on a bad day, the day that I had last Friday, at the end of the day we got together and talked about what happened and apologized to each other and prayed together. That was really a joyful experience for me, just to see that we could mend what had been done in the right way. So there’s all kinds of ways that we can find joy in the days that we have with our children. We just need to be looking to the Lord.

Mike:
Vickie, what has kept you going through 20 years of home schooling - you’ve got 10 kids, 6 grandchildren, you’re wife to a very busy husband - how do you do it?

Vickie:
First of all, I’ve tried to really focus on God’s truth instead of my feelings throughout all of this. I’ve clung to God in faith and determined to believe what He says.

For example, when I feel like the kids are just making no progress, I try to remember Galatians 6:9 which says, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."

When I’m feeling totally exhausted and ready to give up, I remember Isaiah 40:31, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."

When I’m feeling like I’m missing out on life because I’m just staying at home with babies, teaching little ones, then I remember Psalm 84:11 which says, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." So I try to just keep God’s truth in my mind.

Mike:
What else do you rely on to make sure that you can keep going through all that you have to do?

Vickie:
Well, another thing that keeps me going is a vision of what God is going to do through my children as they get older. I have imagined them as adults, walking with the Lord, being used by Him, and raising their own godly families. So, I look towards the future a lot, especially on the bad days.

Another thing I’ve done is collected quotes to remind myself of how important it is to be a mother. Elisabeth Elliot has a wonderful quote. She says, "None of the gifts of my own life, not my career, or my work, or any other gift is higher or more precious to me than that of being someone’s mother." We need to remember that what we’re doing is one of the highest and most important jobs that a woman can do.

Mike:
What do you suggest to make life easier for busy home-school moms?

Vickie:
I would say to just try to be a little easier on yourself. A lot of home-school moms push themselves too hard. Don’t be a perfectionist. Just in our family, we use paper plates for dinner at night. Sometimes the dinner hour gets so busy, and after a long day of home schooling you’re exhausted, and it just makes life a little easier. I don’t give baths to the kids every night like I used to anymore. I’ve tried to get the kids to do a little more of the work themselves.

Another thing I’d say is: Try not to take on too many outside things, cut back on what you’re doing if you’re getting stressed out. Try to take a little time for yourself each day, go for a walk, read a little, take a bath, whatever.

Mike:
Vickie, I know that a lot of home schooling moms are going to appreciate these detailed suggestions, but, more importantly, the attitude that you can suggest for successful home schooling.

Mike Farris and his wife Vickie have ten children and six grandchildren. Mike is the founder and president of Patrick Henry College (www.phc.edu) and co-founder and chairman of the board for Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org).  Vickie and daughter Jayme are the authors of the book A Mom Just Like You.