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The Time of My Life

The Time of My Life

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“The gun (alarm) goes off before dawn as I hit the ground running.”
“The gun (alarm) goes off before dawn as I hit the ground running.”

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Published by: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine on Aug 27, 2014
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The Time of My Life

By Valerie Basham
As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom of five children, my life is like a race. The gun
(alarm) goes off before dawn as I hit the ground running. I have four different grades to
teach, a baby to care for, character to instill, cuddles to give, questions to answer, and so
much more to do each day. I finally make it across the finish line when I hit the pillow each
evening. Then, it starts all over again the next day. I can’t possibly give it my all without a
bit of planning.

Who Should Plan?

Not everyone needs to plan. If you have already mapped your day out from start to finish
and have your children on such a tight schedule that they can hardly breathe, then you
don’t need to read this. In fact, you might need to loosen up a bit, remember to stop and
smell the roses and take time to laugh more. What can you possibly laugh at, you ask?
Well, for me, a quick pass by a mirror does the trick. But if you’re in the midst of a trial,
smiles may be hard to come by. Try to purposely smile and praise your little ones, even if
it’s just for some small accomplishment. If you’re the type who gets upset when ―accidents‖
occur, try finding the humor in the situation. A little levity goes a long way.

If you find yourself getting angry often and generally not having a meek and quiet spirit,
then a plan could help!

If you find yourself a day late and a dollar short, always missing out or forgetting about an
activity you really wanted your children to experience, then a plan could be your lifesaver. If
you are a ―pleaser,‖ someone who longs to bring happiness and joy to everyone from your
husband to your neighbor’s Labrador retriever, then you definitely need a plan.

Priorities Keep Me Sane

First, get your priorities straight. What’s most important to you? Here’s how I prioritize my
life:

1. God
2. Husband
3. Children/homeschooling
4. Church ministries/activities
5. Everything else

This list helps me to remember what is most important each day. My time alone with the
Lord is essential. How can I, a mere mortal, raise children who honor God, serve others,
and make wise choices? I struggle with all of these as an adult! Where can I get the wisdom
I need to answer the forty million questions that will be fired at me each day? I can get
supernatural strength and power only from the only One who possesses it, my Heavenly
Father. I must pray and I must study God’s Word daily.

Next is my husband. Meeting his needs comes ahead of meeting anyone else’s needs.
My children come third. This includes teaching them God’s Word, praying with them,
spending time with them individually, and teaching them academics.

I also have prioritized our homeschooling goals:

1. Bible teaching/memorization
2. Math, reading, writing, read-aloud time
3. Science, social studies, grammar, spelling
4. Electives such as typing, home economics, Spanish, music, and art

If I see that a homeschooling day is not going well, I immediately can determine which
things must get done. Making this particular priority list has prevented a lot of frustration
when a good day goes awry, because then I don’t have to waste minutes and energy
deciding what to do.

Next on my list is my church work. Over the years, this has included overseeing ladies’
ministries, children’s church, Master Club, and the nursery.

Everything else comes after those priorities. I guess that’s pretty broad, but it works for me.
By having the big things pre-prioritized, it’s not too difficult to put little things in order on a
case-by-case basis.

Your Weakest Link

Identify your weakest area, and write it down. Is getting your day off to a smooth start your
problem? Perhaps if you got up fifteen minutes earlier each day, you’d have the extra time
you needed to plan and organize. Or, perhaps you should spend this time alone with the
Lord, seeking His help for the day, if having time for devotions is your weakness.

Maybe your main problem is having to grade schoolwork from the previous day before the
new day can begin. The solution might be to plan to grade that schoolwork right before or
after supper each evening, or do it while the baby takes his afternoon nap. Maybe you
should train your children to grade their own papers, marking each wrong answer so that
you can evaluate their understanding quickly, at a glance.

Whatever your weakness is, chances are there is a simple solution. But you can’t find the
solution until you identify the problem.

Work Your Plan

Once you’ve identified your weakest area, then go ahead and jot down some possible
solutions. Make sure that your solution isn’t too stringent. If you have young children, then
you will need to be flexible. Leave some wiggle room in your plan.

Perhaps you need to make out a schedule for your child’s schoolwork. Maybe you’d like to
have everything formatted to fit into a time schedule: math from 9–10, history from 10–11,
etc. This is fine until someone breaks a dish or the phone rings; then the schedule is ruined.
In our home, I strive toward having a flow to my day rather than strict time slots. I like
having the flexibility to fold some laundry or teach a spontaneous Bible lesson on why
name-calling is wrong. I would become irate if my day got thrown off badly, so I try to
avoid this pitfall!

Establish an order for your day, but don’t schedule it like you’re in the army. It’s important
to start the day with something inspiring that will unite everyone such as Bible study,
memory verses, a devotion, and/or prayer. If math doesn’t get done until 11 a.m. one day,
it’s okay. It’s still getting done, and that’s what matters—not what the clock says. Unless . .
. that’s what the math lesson is about.

I Just Want People to Be Happy

If you’re overworked due to constant people-pleasing, I have some suggestions. First of all,
when you’re invited to participate in that all-day butterfly farm outing, tell them you must
check with your husband first. No husband? Then say you have to check with your calendar.
It doesn’t matter what you check—just check something. Buy yourself some time. Don’t
allow yourself to be pressured.

You may, in fact, decide that butterfly farming is just what you’d like your family to do
together, or you may need to pass up this opportunity. Impulsive ―yes making‖ leads to an
over-scheduled family, grouchy children, and a sad mommy. Likewise, if you need to
politely decline, it’s easier to do so some time after the invitation has been made. Saying
―no‖ too quickly can be tactless and abrupt.

• Identify some family policies. For example, our family does not participate in outside
activities on Sundays or Wednesday evenings because we are in church during those times.
That’s our policy.

• Post a central family calendar. If someone calls to invite us to do something, I glance at
the family calendar to see what’s scheduled.

• Just say, “No” (but say it nicely). There are some folks in the world who just won’t take
―no‖ for an answer, especially when they are so used to your saying ―yes.‖ If you can
honestly say, ―Our family policy won’t allow that trip,‖ then say it. But what if you’re tired
and you just need a day off? What if you really just want to clean out your kitchen cabinets?
Those aren’t good reasons to say no . . . are they? Yes, they are.

If you need a break, you can say ―no‖ without guilt. Your family, your home, and your
sanity are far more important than the trip to the planetarium, the zoo, or that butterfly
farm. You can just say: ―I’m so sorry, we won’t be able to go on this trip. Thank you for
inviting us.‖ If they pry, you can just say, ―We already have plans made for that day,‖ and
that’s the truth. You planned to rest. You planned to clean your cabinets. Perhaps you
planned to do nothing. It all counts.

As a wife and mother, I make a thousand decisions a day. I have to decide everything from
how to explain ―metamorphosis‖ to an 11-year-old to which peanut butter to buy—and
everything in between. By the end of the day, I’m often frazzled. Sometimes, by simply
having a plan, I save myself the embarrassment of losing my meek and quiet spirit in front
of my children and others.

Making plans is one way I can make my life better, as well as use this precious thing called
―time‖ more wisely. To some, ―time is money,‖ but to me, ―time is life,‖ and I have only one
life.

Valerie Basham has been married for fourteen years to her much better half, who is a true
man of God. She is in her ninth year of homeschooling four of her five children. Most people
believe homeschooling is when the parents teach the children at home. However, Valerie is
often learning more than her students. God’s lesson plan for her often includes lessons
about patience, humility, mercy, forgiveness, and perseverance, to name a few. Valerie’s
hobby during this busy season of life is writing. www.valeriewritenow.com.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in
the July 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine.
Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the
free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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