I have heard comments like that more times than I can count! People are just SHOCKED that I have eight children, and homeschool them as well. I always reply to their comments with "It's not always easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world!" Yes, raising and teaching children is a tremendous challenge and responsibility. It takes time, patience, discipline, and the willingness to sacrifice. But it is also the most rewarding task ever. Some days the noise and confusion gets to me, and I feel like I'm going to go insane. However, at the end of the day when I look back, I realize how blessed I am to be part of such a wonderful, crazy family!
I'd like to just share a few things that have helped me through the years. I don't claim to be an expert in parenting or homeschooling, but the Lord has taught me a few things over the years of parenting and homeschooling our kids – and I've learned a few things the hard way too!
1. Prepare your heart each day for your children.
It's so important to have the right approach and attitude. If you start your day dreading what is about to come, you're off to a bad start. I know there were days when I prayed that God would give me a special love for that difficult child, that enabled me to greet him/her warmly in the morning, rather than thinking "Ugh. Why are you up already?!" I try to prepare myself mentally by acknowledging that there will probably be some attitudes to deal with, or fighting and arguing. There will more than likely be messes to clean up, and lots of questions to answer. I ask God, in advance, to give me the wisdom I need, as well as the patience and love I need for each child that day. I ask him to help me to respond right. I don't want to be short and snappy in my replies, or "bothered" by their requests. I want them to see God's love and joy shining through me. My goal is to set an example that will cause them to love the Lord more. It starts in my heart, and I have to prepare my heart by seeking God in prayer, and through His Word.
2. Put your children and their needs first. (Not before your husband though!)
Parenting requires sacrifice. It means I have to be willing to put down that book I really want to read, and spend time with the kids. I may not be able to stay on the computer as long as I'd like, and read all those wonderful blogs, or check in on Facebook. Many of the things that I enjoy doing have been put on hold, or pushed aside for awhile. I only have so many years to spend with my kids – those other things can wait. The joy of watching the little ones learn, or the smile on their face when you agree to read to them,or play with them is SO worth the "sacrifice". (I have learned though that I still need to schedule a little time for self-renewal. However, it is a planned thing, and doesn't take me from them at the wrong times.) By the way, the sacrifice also may mean going without some of those "extras" that two income families have. My husband and I talked about this, and decided we would rather do without some things, and allow me to stay home to teach, train, and enjoy the children. Not everyone can do that, and I'm very glad I've had that privilege!
3. Schedule your time so you won't be continually stressed.
Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to clean, prepare the school lessons, cook the meals, etc. that I have no time to stop and just enjoy the children. Often I end up fatigued, and irritable – not much fun to be around. Recently I was feeling stressed with all the things I had to do, as well as the things I felt I was neglecting. So I made a list of 5 things to put time for in my daily schedule. My list included time for: God and His Word,
self-renewal (physical and emotional), housework/meal prep, school, family, and business. It didn't seem as overwhelming to me when I broke it down like this, and yet I was able to cover the important areas each day. Even if I wasn't able to give all of them as much time as I wanted to, it was better than days of totally skipping some of them. Your list may have different things on it than mine, but I would encourage you to list your priorities, then schedule them. You don't want to stay so busy working that you don't take time to enjoy the process. Kids grow up too fast, and these days will be over. Enjoy the time you have with them, whether it's teaching time, working together, or playing together. (See my previous post with the song "Please Take Time".)
4. Remember that parenting is a stewardship that you will answer to God for.
These precious children actually belong to God, and I only have them for about 18 years to prepare them to be what God wants them to be. No one else can do what I can for my children as their mother. I must remember that, and not neglect the responsibility I have. I also can't try to do it on my own. I MUST seek God for wisdom and strength! Each child is so different, and has different needs. I need God's help as I try to meet those needs, and prepare each of my precious children to grow up prepared to do what God has planned for them. Of course, my biggest goal would be to give them a heart for God, so they will not only be prepared, but also WILLING to do what God has planned for them.
I don't ever want to get in the mind set that my children are a burden or a bother, when God says they are a blessing. I want to do my best to raise Godly children for Him. Some days may be rough, but what an awesome privilege God has given us as mothers. Never forget the saying: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." If we don't rear godly children, who will?
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