Stopping Burnout In Its Tracks

“Oh no…” I moan to myself as the tell tale signs of burnout come creeping in. The short temper, irritated at …well nothing really. The gloomy looking future as my perspective is clouded. Don’t forget the pity party that sneaks in there too.

We are wired as parents to keep going and going, like the energizer bunny. Funny thing is we don’t have that long lasting battery. Unless we recharge or put new batteries in -we are hopelessly frozen in place. We are no use to anyone around us. In fact we may be doing more harm than good when we sacrifice our well-being to continue taking care of the demands of life when our current gas tank is on ‘E’.

It was recently pointed out to me from the opposite gender how wives/mothers need to get paid too. This can look different in many ways, but they all have a common denominator with the end result being refreshed and renewed. Many studies have been conducted in the work force revealing if you want your employee operating at top-notch there are steps to take to ensure productivity. This is not intended to encourage you to only think about yourself, but rather the opposite so you can give your best to others. If we are divided too many times over with programs, boards, volunteer work, activities and so forth we will only be able to give 5% to each category and sadly leave our family with cold, stale leftovers. My life has collided with burnout more often than I would like to admit, so I have been consciously seeking, trying and testing different ways to stop burnout in its tracks before it consumes me again. We are all so very unique and different that what fills me up may not necessarily fill you. Here are a few ideas I have had success with to help before it hits with full force…

Recognize what brings you joy. This may sound simple enough, but as life keeps moving forward and changing my interests have as well. I am still that person I was before I married and had children. I am also in a very busy season of life right now so I try to keep it simple. Coffee with a good friend, a supper date, or even a hair cut. Those things make me feel like an individual and not the “invisible mom”.

Volunteer in areas you actually enjoy and realistically have time for. Almost everyone I know volunteers in some shape or form. I am a planner so I really like putting together fun activities, parties and crafts for kids programs. It really takes the “work” right out of it when I enjoy it. Life stages change however, so I have to analyze how much I can actually do on a yearly basis.

Scheduling in breaks. When I have a block of time carved out in the day/week/month I am more likely to be more patient and have a better outlook. Similar to a small light at the end of the tunnel. When I can see the bit of light coming, I can breathe deep and keep going knowing my mind/body will have a chance to rest eventually. I try to combine what brings me joy with these scheduled “breaks” for the biggest impact on my state of mind.

Prepare for the worst and make an action plan. The signs begin to emerge that life is demanding too much and taking its toll, burnout may be around the corner. Plan for it. Which balls am I juggling that I can drop or delegate? For myself this may be taking a “snow day”. All activities for the day get cancelled and we stay in our pajamas and lounge around, reading a good book, baking cookies or drinking coffee all. day. long. The minimum gets done for housework and ordering pizza in for supper sounds fantastic. Other times this is simply impossible due to other obligations, so I make a mental list of what has to be done and what I can cut out later that week.

What are your thoughts on overcoming burnout? What helps you when life spins out of control? Are there certain steps you take to get a good grip on the reigns again? Whatever secret weapon you have I would love to be in on it, feel free to email or write it in the comments section, it’s always a joy to hear from my readers!

 

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Eph. 4:23

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:25

-Amber

 

A Simple Christmas

How do you want to feel this holiday season? Most of us would agree the nostalgia of Christmases past and the feeling that is evoked through those memories top the list. Evaluating what is important to your family and those cherished traditions continuing on is a good place to start. I remind myself that the countdown for Christmas day is a large part of the fun. It truly is a festive time, for the Savior was born! There is much fun adding momentum while waiting for the 25th to arrive. The key is keeping it simplified enough to actually enjoy the holidays. I can only guess that Mary felt pretty jittery with excitement and wonder as the day approached to give birth to the Savior. What a magnificent moment in history. With all of the tinsel and baubles and the shining lights surrounding us we can still point it all to Christ. When the advertisements never cease in displaying the “best” gift from their store we can focus on the One true gift while keeping it simple.

I’d like to share a few suggestions that I have found helpful. Give them a try if you like, maybe they will alleviate some of the stress that is induced this time of year, leaving you with a simplified, but glorious Christmas.

  1. Surrounding yourself with those who give life rather than drain it. We only have so much to pour out to others and wasting it on toxic people is throwing away our resources. Our biggest impact is on those whom our fruits can grow and prosper (John 15:1-17). Go ahead and shake the dust off your feet from those who don’t care to listen. (Mat. 10:14, 7:6)
  2. Focusing your time on serving. It is amazing how our unspoken needs are taken care of beyond our wildest dreams, while we are busy caring for another. Perspectives are also kept in check as we live in this “me, myself and I” society.
  3. Feeling free to take a few shortcuts. Go ahead and buy that ‘ready-to-assemble’ gingerbread house kit from the store -rather than making it from scratch if time is more efficiently spent elsewhere. Coming back to my previous statement of evaluating the really important traditions to your family and letting the rest go. (Note* It’s impossible to keep up with the Joneses, they aren’t real!)
  4. Shopping online. Save yourself from impulse buys. Not to mention gas, time and parking fees. If you don’t like online shopping and lean more towards the traditional way, it is helpful to look online for the item you’re searching for and to find the best price and which store has it in stock in your city.

We celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ. The nativity story is beautiful. If we take it a bit further and think on the logical side of Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary would have had a long and hard journey. It certainly was no walk in the park to get to Bethlehem. Our lives at Christmas time are also intertwined with hurts, hardships and burdens.  Thankfully we have the perfect Present waiting for us at the end, and no matter how complicated things may get our joy can never be squelched. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation for your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9. How awesome is that? Let’s celebrate!

May the peace of God be with you all through the holidays as you share in it with those you love.

Amber

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 1:12

 

 

Grade One Favorites [A Homeschool Post]

Our little guy is turning six this week, so I thought I would focus this post on his age/grade. Today I am going to share a few of our favorite curriculums that have been a huge hit (and success I might add) with our little wiggler.

Now to say our little guy has a hard time sitting still is a gross understatement. He has to move, period. Even though I don’t have my own full size gym in our house, I try to make sure we are moving from station to station, rather than sitting at one place for all of his lesson plans. We start the day off in the family room with the other kids and begin our bible reading and devotion time (5-1o min). I then go downstairs to our school room/toy room to do his letters on the wall. I have the full alphabet set up on the wall, so we go over the letters, the sounds they make and do it again- backwards. This is also a bonus math lesson. You see, I have a secret weapon- each and every letter he gets correct (whatever we are doing that day such as long or short vowels etc.) he receives a mini M&M. When we are finished his lesson on letters he counts out his mini M&M’s in victory (honestly choc. chips and mini marshmallows from the pantry work in a pinch too, ha!)

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If there is one thing that this kiddo needs, it is motivation and a reason why he needs to know this stuff. Logic at its finest. I am grateful rewards work in my favor…

When we are finished with that we move upstairs to the kitchen table, and begin his all-time favorite subject- Math. He is wired for numbers so I rarely need to help and am able to clean up the kitchen as he is working on his lesson. He completes 2-3 pages every day of Math-U-See’s ‘Primer’. He is halfway through so I imagine we will begin ‘Alpha’ mid-winter. You can find Math-U-See curriculum HERE for more information.

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Ok, I know this is supposed to be “Favorites” but I didn’t say they would all be the little guy’s fav’s! The next subject we move onto is his writing. We use ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ and have been quite happy with it.

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Now here comes his favorite part of the day… READING EGGS.

This is done online and covers phonics and reading lessons. We both LOVE it. The more lessons you complete, the more “eggs” you crack and unlock new games and rewards. win-win. Bonus- I can keep track of his progress and stats on the parent/teacher page.

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These sum up a few of the favorites we enjoy. I have not mentioned our  weekly science, geography and history lessons we do because there is only so much time I have to sneak away and complete one post. If you are curious about these other subjects shoot me a message or comment.

Thanks for checking in!

Amber

 

Relationship Vs. Academics {In a homeschooling environment}

One thing I love about connecting with other homeschooling parents is the reminder it brings to us on why we are choosing to educate our kids in the first place.

I have to admit, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal. When I am consumed with the day-to-day busyness of making sure I am not “failing” my kids by the public Board of Education standards, I can forget the masterpiece picture at hand.

As the new math lesson is being introduced and we go through it again and again all week- from various angles and the one child is still not grasping it and the others are…

When the child continues to struggle with reading and you have poured out hour upon hour of teaching, and trying again, which then creates a strong dislike for reading by the student…

The seemingly endless poor attitudes and whining at every subject and school assignment…

Constant bickering, fighting and horsing-around that never ceases when we all are living under the same roof and schooling under that same roof…

It is tiring. It is easy to crawl back under the covers in the morning instead of facing the day, or to just give in again because the fight has gone out of you. As homeschooling parents we also face the challenges of the inevitable “burnout” feelings. Then among the midst of these feelings a ray of sunlight creeps in-

Our oldest son graciously drops everything he is doing to teach a younger sibling a new technique…

Our oldest daughter hears of someone in need and immediately leaves to lend a helping hand. For the whole day, foregoing a previously arranged play date and her own workload. Without compliant and on her own accord with a joyful serving attitude.

Our middle son wanting to please and serve starts folding load after load of linen, and then proceeds to teach his younger sisters how to fold so they too can help.

Our youngest two selflessly (and maybe a bit miraculously ha!) share their portions and continue scooping cookie after cookie onto the pan.

Our son shares Christ’s love with another little boy who does not know God. He then reads his favorite bible story to him and gifts this little boy who so looks up to him, his very own bible.

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It is times like these as parents we need to remember and dearly hold onto. Those glimpses and beautiful rays of light shining into the dark places sheds light on the picture as a whole. Not the here and now, but the very purpose we are put onto this earth. For this is what we were made for.

John 1:5 ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

Psalm 138:8 ‘The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.’

God is incapable of lying. He is Holy. Therefore we can be assured of His promises. Nothing we come across in our days can snuff out Gods light.

Lets thank God for those people in our lives he has placed there to lift us up and point us towards Him. Let us also be willing vessels to lift others up.

School work will always be there.

Housework will always be there.

Life’s demands will always be there.

Our children may not always be here, nor will we always be here to teach them. Lets not let a Godly learning moment pass us by…

I pray we never let academics and what’s important to society -that passes away in the end anyway- get in the way of Gods work and purpose.

As fellow believers in Christ we are ultimately reaching for the same goal, we are fallen and reaching for His grace. Let’s extend that grace to ourselves as He has already done for us.

I am cheering for you!

Amber

“Your God… will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:14-17

Story Of The World {History Curriculum}

It has seemed like forever, right? That I have blogged last that is. My hiatus was never intentional – seems to be a common theme when keeping up with these 5 kids of mine, ha! I can think of no better way to catch up so-to-speak other than to jump right in and give you a glimpse of some of our current curriculum.

 In this post I am focusing on the history curricula we have been using with our 5th, 4th and 1st graders.

Firstly, let me start off by stating I am not being reimbursed or profiting in anyway sharing my testimony; reviewing Story Of the World -a history curriculum.  I am just that impressed by it.

So, what is it?

Story Of The World {Volume One}

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For those of you that are unfamiliar with ‘Story Of The World’ I will share a bit of background information.

“Volume one covering the first 5000 years of civilization, you’ll be taken on a journey from the Fertile Crescent to the barbarian’s invasion of Rome.” Although it is not a Christian-based curriculum and is written from a secular point of view, the author herself; Susan Wise Bauer is a Christian. Everything written is historically sound with what the bible teaches and what historians have recorded. The very first chapter begins with the Nomads; people who ‘wander’ from place to place. Here is the excerpt from the first chapter in the Activity Book

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At the back of the Activity book (Excerpt pictured above) they offer reproducible student pages with correlating activity sheets, coloring pages and maps for every chapter. They also have a test booklet which includes multiple choice questions, true or false and fill in the blanks for each lesson, We switch it up with oral tests and once in awhile use the formal test. By the time we are finished narrating what we have learned, along with the maps and activity sheets I find they already have a solid understanding of the history lesson and the tests unnecessary at that point.

Let me tell you my ingenious secret to accomplishing our history lesson with all 5 kids in the house- audio. Story Of the World offers the series on audio. This is huge folks, I press play and walk away to occupy the twins. The 5th, 4th and 1st grader can then color in their maps and coloring pages while listening to the lesson. My throat doesn’t get sore from reading chapters upon chapters, and no interruptions from the little siblings. The best part is, they are completely enthralled while listening to the audio. Jim Weis does the narrating, he is good. Bonus- they are almost completely done their activities on the lesson by the time the audio chapter is over (approximately 5-7 minutes per lesson) we then go through some oral exercises and do our map work. Story Of the World can be as in depth as you like. The activity book includes a list of books your local library carries, websites and encyclopedia cross-references, and many more resources.

Here is a direct link to the Audio 7 Disc set ‘Story Of The World- Ancient Times’  Volume One –

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about our latest curriculum favorites! Stay tuned for more posts on our homeschooling journey for the 2016/2017 year!

Amber

The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge Proverbs 18:15