Well, here we are, into a new calendar year. For many of us, we are about halfway through our school year. What kind of schooling year has it been for you so far? It is my hope that you find yourself enjoying your days with your children.

We have been looking at specific strategies for diffusing the pressure we feel in our multifaceted roles as mother, teacher, homemaker, and often principal and nurse, to name just a few. We are so much to so many that often we feel overwhelmed by it all. Some days we run along feeling great, and some days frustration, discouragement, and busyness just overtake us, coming out of nowhere. Of course we all have days that are better than others, and it is good to remember on days that don't go so well that, "This, too, shall pass." Tomorrow is another day, but hopefully these overwhelming days are not the norm for you.

The purpose of this column is to present strategies, things you can do to feel more underwhelmed throughout your day. Underwhelmed is best described as the general feeling one has that homeschooling is wonderful and enjoyable and easy. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you won't be thinking those particular thoughts, now will you?

A major thing that can steal the underwhelmed feeling from us is the attitudes of our children. Have you ever listened to your child and thought, "Well there's a lousy attitude that has to go"? We all have encountered crummy attitudes in our children at times. Sometimes, though, the reason a child has a bad attitude is that he is modeling the attitudes of those around him. Sometimes he is even modeling the attitude Mom herself woke up with that day. Yep, that happens in my house.

The realization that Mom's attitude affects everything is foundational to life itself, and I am still learning and growing in the understanding of the effect my attitude has on my environment and those around me. Even our cats can tell when I am in a bad mood. They look up into my eyes, waiting for me to say something, and when I just stare back at them, they scurry off in the opposite direction.

Have you ever thought about the fact that how we wake our children in the morning has an effect on them for pretty much the rest of the day? If I stand at the base of the staircase and yell, "Alright everybody; it is past 9:00! Why isn't anyone at the breakfast table? Let's get moving," then I will have children that come to the breakfast table feeling grumbly, downcast, and definitely on edge.

However, if I go to each of their rooms and greet each child with a simple, "Good morning; it's time to do the rise-and-shine thing. Breakfast is ready for you, so please come on downstairs," I am much more likely to be surrounded by sleepy but cheerful children at breakfast. How you greet your children the very first thing in their day impacts them tremendously. Which kind of mom were you this morning?

Attitudes are formed by the choices we make. Initially, we have to choose to be cheerful. Every morning we make a choice which will affect us and everyone else for the day. Once the day gets going, it is tough to turn our negative attitudes around. Think of a train poised on the track at the tippy-top of a mountain. That train represents you at the beginning of your day. Once the train gets started down that mountainside, it will pick up speed and become virtually unstoppable until it comes to rest in the valley many miles later. When you wake up in the morning, picture that train in your mind. Picture yourself at the top of the mountain, poised to set out on your journey for the day. Realize that changing direction once you start down the hill takes a miracle, so it is best to start the day cheerfully.

What if you wake up and don't feel cheerful? What if you have a headache or feel crummy or just don't want to get out of bed? I believe this is where we have to choose to put on a different attitude, just as you put on your clothes in the morning. You make the choice. It is really, really hard sometimes to choose cheerfulness, but it is your choice. Your children will pick up on your attitude immediately and will key off of you. What attitude would you like your children to have today? If we want cheerfulness, then we need to be examples of cheerfulness.