Author Archives: Sallie

The Power of a Simplified Life

The Power of a Simplified Life

The Power of a Simplified LifeIs it ironic that I’m writing about the power of a simplified life a day late? Kind of. But there’s still a story to be told and a lesson to be learned.

When I started this series on homeschool encouragement, I wanted to have all ten days finished before it went live. I didn’t. I was a few days ahead at the start, but still doing some writing. Last evening, I sat down to finish up numerous things but I could not access my site, write anything in my dashboard, nothing. My website hosting would not let me do anything because they were throttling my site. In other words, I had used too much of the hosting resources and they were punishing me because of it – despite the fact that we are paying for “unlimited” resources. (It was frustrating and also the last straw. Time to make a major switch with our hosting.)

However, it was not the end of the world. We still all went to bed on time. We all got fed. Our evening routine mostly stayed the same despite our frustrations and figurative head banging on our desks. In other words, life went on.

That is the power of a simplified life.

If our life had been packed to the max, something like this would have completely derailed our family life. But because we leave a lot of margin in our lives for the expected unexpected events, they are an inconvenience, but not devastating. Because we keep margin in our simplified life, we could drop pretty much everything else this morning and spend it researching hosting and talking with reps on the phone.

The same principle applies to homeschooling.

When you simplify, you give yourself freedom. When you put margin in your schedule, you can deal with the crises that will come without them overwhelming your life. The unexpected becomes an inconvenience, but doesn’t derail your life. Remember the real phases of the homeschool year? Things like the flu, bad weather and so on? They are going to come. Plan on the unexpected. Give yourself enough margin to make adjustments and keep rolling.

If your homeschool plans for the coming year are like a tightly choreographed death march (as my friend, Peggy, once described her holiday season) then you are setting yourself and your family up for much grief.

Instead, discover the relief of a simplified life.

Now, I’m off to simplify my life even more by finding better web hosting.

This is part of my 10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement series. Click the graphic to see all of the posts in the series!

10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

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Trusting Your Instincts When No One Understands

Trusting Your Instincts When No One Understands

Trusting Your Instincts When No One UnderstandsIf there is one concept that has driven my parenting and homeschooling, it is this – trust your instincts even when no one understands. Fully embracing this idea early on changed the course of my parenting and made me a much more effective parent to my daughter.

As a Christian, I believe that sometimes it is hard to tell where our gut instinct ends and the leading of the Holy Spirit begins. (How the Holy Spirit works is a discussion beyond the scope of this post!) But in either case, learning to listen and trust your intuition is vitally important. And the more your child falls outside of the “norm” the more important it is. If you are trying to parent a child who is an outlier in any way, trying to act on traditional parenting and homeschooling advice will erode your confidence and threaten to slowly drive you mad. Believe me, I know this firsthand.

This post is part of my “10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement” series and today I’m going to mostly point you to so many other things I’ve already written about this topic. I’ve been fairly open about my own parenting and homeschool journey. Depending on where you are in your journey and what kind of child you have, there is probably something here to encourage and help you. Look at the drop down menus in the header for many topics. And also check out the colorful topic bars in the sidebar. There are literally dozens and dozens of encouraging posts to help you sort out whatever issue you are facing. If you want to know if I’ve written about some specific topic and can’t find it, feel free to ask in a comment and I’d be glad to point you to something that might be relevant.

So what is my advice? Take in the relevant information you can find in books or online. Listen to what people say. Listen carefully to people you trust. Ask the Lord for guidance. But I can guarantee you will find yourself in situations where no one understands and you need to trust your mother gut. Acknowledge the truth of what you are hearing, but at the same time if you simply know that it isn’t the right choice for you, your child and/or your family then have the courage to trust your instincts – even if no one else understands.

This is part of my 10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement series. Click the graphic to see all of the posts in the series!

10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

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Before You Plan Your Homeschool Year

Before You Plan Your Homeschool Year

Before You Plan Your Homeschool Year

Homeschool planning is obviously a big deal for a lot of moms because everyone has an opinion (and blog post) about how it should be done. I confess I am much more of a go with the flow type homeschooler overall.  So I’m not going to offer up some detailed step-by-step guide. I could, but I’m not going to.

What I do have is something I think is more valuable. It’s a simple page that will help you before you get into the thick of curriculum selection and planning. It is focused on reflecting on the great, the good, the meh, and the bad so you can plan more intentionally.

Before you jump into that printing off your free PDF, there is one other point I want to make about revising your plans. Revising throughout the year is not failure. Revising your plans demonstrates insight and flexibility. That’s why I put a lot of different options in the planners I created. That’s why I created a planner that goes into a three ring binder. Life changes so much. Our kids change so much. There is absolutely no reason to be locked into the same thing all year. If you need to switch things up a couple of times during the school year, do it! Don’t feel badly about it. Be glad you have the freedom to do so! Maybe your kids are in major age disequilibrium. Do what works.

The printables below come in four versions that coordinate with my homeschool planners. Feel free to choose the design you like best!

Strawberries PDF

Thinking About Our Homeschool Year - Strawberries

Pink Roses PDF

Thinking About Our Homeschool Year - Pink Roses

Vintage Pink Flowers PDF

Thinking About Our Homeschool Year - Pink Vintage Flowers

Aqua and Yellow PDF

Thinking About Our Homeschool Year - Aqua and Yellow

This is part of my 10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement series. Click the graphic to see all of the posts in the series!

10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

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Homeschool Mom Care - Beyond Survival Mode

Homeschool Mom Care: Beyond Survival Mode

Homeschool Mom Care - Beyond Survival Mode

Homeschool moms spend hours and hours researching curriculum, reading reviews online, and ordering just the right supplies for their children. But how much time do they invest in their own needs for the school year? Do most moms even realize or admit they have needs?

Can we make one thing crystal clear right now?

Homeschool mom DOES NOT equal martyr.

We’ve all lived in survival mode at one time or another. It might have been because of a needy baby, a death in the family, a job loss, or some other significant life situation. You come to a point where you realize you have to let everything go and just survive.

It’s okay to live that way for a brief period of time a few times in your life.

It’s not okay to live that way all the time, year after year. Your body, your mind, and your spirit are not designed to handle survival mode forever.

For homeschooling moms, it can be easy to default into survival mode far too often.

Develop a Homeschool Mom Care Plan

I’ve written before about making your homeschool mom-friendly which I believe is vitally important. If you’ve never read it, please do. Today I want to encourage you to take it a step further and proactively plan for how you are going to care for yourself in the coming school year.

Please download the printable below and write down one or two ways you are going to care for yourself each month this year. It can be as simple as going out for a cup of coffee and reading a book for the evening or as complicated as flying across the country to visit your best friend for a long weekend. Just plan something for every month. It might be establishing a routine that makes it possible for you to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. It could be joining a Bible study or a book club. Maybe you should take a long bike ride once a month – alone! Or sign up for a once a month painting class.

And if you have a favorite mom care idea, would you please share it in the comments for other people who read this and need to be inspired?

The printables below come in four versions that coordinate with my homeschool planners. Feel free to choose the design you like best!

Strawberries PDF

Homeschool Mom Care Plan - Strawberries

Pink Roses PDF

Homeschool Mom Care Plan - Pink Roses

Vintage Pink Flowers PDF

Homeschool Mom Care Plan - Pink Vintage Flowers

Aqua and Yellow PDF

Homeschool Mom Care Plan - Aqua and Yellow

This is part of my 10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement series. Click the graphic to see all of the posts in the series!

10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

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Creating Your Family's Homeschool Atmosphere

Creating Your Family’s Homeschool Atmosphere

Creating Your Family's Homeschool AtmosphereWhether intentional or accidental, we all have an atmosphere in our home. Mine does. Yours does. Some homeschoolers put a lot of thought into their homeschool atmosphere. The concept has never even crossed the mind of others.

The atmosphere will include a wide variety of things including:

  • Faith/Values
  • Food/Meals
  • Learning
  • Music
  • Possessions
  • Relationships
  • Technology

Each choice we make in these areas works together to create an atmosphere. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer as to what kind of an atmosphere to have in a home.  Every family is different so every home atmosphere is going to be different. I think the important part is being aware of it and being proactive.

How Do You Describe An Atmosphere?

Which words would describe my homeschool atmosphere? Mine are fairly easy to figure out since our homeschool atmosphere spills over into the things I write about my website. Words that would describe our atmosphere include:

  • simple
  • cozy
  • quiet
  • creative
  • purposeful
  • orderly
  • reflective
  • beauty
  • nature
  • books/reading
  • imaginative
  • Christ-honoring

Someone else’s might look totally different. Another family might embrace:

  • science
  • construction
  • contained chaos
  • energy
  • STEM

Our atmosphere is what works for our little family of three creatives. If we were a family of eight athletic and science-focused people, our list would be completely different.

The Message We Send With Our Homeschool Atmosphere

Whether we think about it or not, the atmosphere in our home sends powerful messages to our children. For example, I have made a point of doing everything I can to encourage Caroline’s strong creative and imaginative bent. At various times I’ve rearranged parts of the house in order to accommodate her creativity. I’ve put up with sprawling messes far longer than I wanted to in order to give her the time and space to explore and learn. I’ve communicated to her through both word and deed that I know what is important to her and I support it.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective. If you have a child who soaks up LEGOs, STEM, building and experimenting, but you offer no place for her to do this on a regular basis, you might be communicating to her that this doesn’t matter. Or if you complain every time she sets up some elaborate idea and wants to leave it up, you’re communicating to her that her interests and gifts are inconvenient or unimportant.

One mom might put minimal effort in to keeping the house picked up because she wants to communicate to her children that they are free to create messes and play. Another mom might put a lot of effort into keeping the house picked up because she wants to communicate to her children that freedom to create comes from routine and lack of chaos. Both are communicating something to their children.

I think it is important to communicate these values to our children not just through our deeds, but also verbally. Do you explain to your children why you do what you do around the house? What might seem obvious to you might not be obvious to your child if she thinks differently than you. You might feel you are doing something out of love (giving her a clean home), but she might see it as undermining the activities that are most important to her (LEGO construction). It’s important to communicate and not assume.

Homeschool Atmosphere Printable

If you’ve never thought about your homeschool atmosphere or want to fine-tune yours, I’ve created a printable you can download and use. There are four versions that coordinate with my homeschool planners.  Jot some ideas down, make some plans, or simply reflect on how you want to change or improve your family’s homeschool atmosphere. Whatever you decide, make it a wonderful experience for your unique family!

Strawberries PDF

Our Homeschool Atmosphere - Strawberries

Pink Roses PDF

Our Homeschool Atmosphere - Pink Roses

Vintage Pink Flowers PDF

Our Homeschool Atmosphere - Pink Vintage Flowers

Aqua and Yellow PDF

Our Homeschool Atmosphere - Aqua and Yellow

This is part of my 10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement series. Click the graphic to see all of the posts in the series!

10 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

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