Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Need more time?

Since Tessa was born, I’ve been surprised at how fast the days fly by. It seems before I fully wake up for the morning, 3 or 4 days have passed and I don’t know what day or even what month it is. I keep forgetting to do important things that actually have a timeframe.

When we started Maeve Bridal, I subscribed to all kinds of email newsletters. I have no formal business training so I had to educate myself! One of the best resources I found was the E-Myth Insider. Since I haven’t been working for several months I had quit reading these regularly, but I opened one this morning and was reminded again of how applicable business sense is to managing a home effectively.

5 Ways to Eliminate Time Bandits” was the title that caught my eye. Ooh, I could use some new thoughts on that subject! Here’s the meat of the article and how I processed it for our home:

5 Time Bandit Busting Tips

  • Prioritize and Stay Focused Evaluate your daily tasks and prioritize. If nothing else gets done today, what are the one or two items that absolutely must be done? The most successful CEOs of Fortune 500 companies only focus on one or two priorities for a given day.

(My mom has told me that she always tried to accomplish one thing and clean one thing per day. You really can’t do much more than that some days when you have little kids, and finishing at least one task is always encouraging. I have to remind myself of this one, because I tend to try to do too many things and then crash and burn at the end of the day, or else get frustrated because I can’t get everything done. Slow and steady…)

  • Delegate as much as you can. Let go of the idea that nobody can do what you do the way that you do it! With the right systems in place, you can properly delegate the tactical work that keeps you from working on your business. There is critical distinction however, between delegating and abdicating, and you can read more about that here.

(We have been implementing allowance and chores for the first time around here. Consistency is always the challenge, but we’re making progress. I’ve also reorganized the girls’ toys so they can keep them clean by themselves – I’ll probably post about this soon. I’m hopeful it will cut way down on the clutter.)

  • Set and meet deadlines for yourself and your employees. Set reasonable deadlines for all jobs and stick to them. Hold yourself accountable just as you would an employee. It’s true; work expands to fill the available time so set expectations.

(I often tell Hannah, “The next time I see you, I want ______ to be finished.” She sometimes has a difficult time staying on task, so I’m working with her to finish something before moving on to something else. Also, it helps me to have a goal time to have everyone (including me) dressed and ready, with hair done. Once we start doing homeschool bookwork consistently, we’ll have a goal time to get started each day. Meeting those deadlines is hard some days, but that has to be okay too. )

  • Don’t postpone unpleasant tasks. Those “bitter pills” that you put off can come back to haunt you in so many ways. A situation may become more acute with time, not to mention the fact that it will be sitting in the back of your mind (or somebody else’s mind) becoming a distraction. It’s best to take care of important matters that are unpleasant immediately. Resolution is so much better than wasting precious time wondering “what if…”

(Laundry, anyone? 🙂 Flylady talks a lot about this subject too.  If you have something to do and are putting it off, it really just feels so much better to take care of it. The mountain of clean laundry that’s been in my room for oh…5 days…is calling my name here. Hmm…Tessa’s cloth diapers arrive tomorrow – I better stay caught up!)

  • Learn to say “No.” Beware of over commitment! You are the only one who can truly protect your time. Learn the art of saying “no” politely. If this seems daunting, try this: when confronted with an opportunity, don’t commit immediately. Take a moment to listen to your intuition and refer to your schedule; you may find that declining is the reasonable answer. People know you’re busy, it’s okay to set boundaries.

(This is one I am pretty good at, maybe too good. My sister Holly thinks I would stay in my house for weeks at a time if she’d let me…she might be right some weeks! 🙂 I enjoy our routine and the quiet of naptime…sometimes a little too much! Plus my house gets out of control when I’m gone very much – too much time spent getting everybody ready to take care of things. It’s just a season though. I can’t believe how fast Tessa is growing. Far too soon I’ll be running kiddos around. I like the quiet for now.

Any thoughts? How do these things apply in your home?


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Raising a Leader

Every mother in the world would like for her children to make a difference. There’s something amazing about contributing to the next generation, putting your mark on a world that has yet to come. Mothers do that with their kids. Every person makes a difference in their world, but some kids are born leaders. Every parent with one of these kids knows exactly what I’m talking about.

I was one of those children. I know you’re shocked. 🙂

I also have one of those children.

I was a funny kid. And as I watch Hannah and see myself through my mother’s eyes, I find myself to be even funnier.

Some things I remember about myself as a kid:

-I almost always knew the answers to every question in Sunday school, and I had to learn the hard way not to answer every question. As a 10 year old, I got into a debate with my 65 year old male teacher about the Day-age theory of Creationism. My dad loves Creation Science, and I knew what I was talking about. We had quite the ongoing debate. I had a lot of nerve.

-I got perfect scores in PGMB, my church’s version of Awanas, I think three years in a row.

-I believed it was my sole responsibility to protect not only my brothers and sisters, but my 19 cousins, and all 40-some kids that attended our small church.

-I always thought I had the funniest story to tell, and had to tell it, no matter the audience. I had no fear. If you’ve never heard the “what was in the bush” story, ask one of my family or close relatives.

-After finishing my schoolwork, I spent hours each day gardening, climbing the apricot tree to pick the perfect apricot, reading books and laughing at them out loud, building forts with clothespins and old sheets, making tours of the backyard using our old red wagon and insisting my younger siblings participate (they usually obliged), making things like a Kid Kit (remember those from the Babysitters Club books?), pulling chairs up to the kitchen counter and climbing wherever I needed to, to get whatever I thought I needed.

-At least in my head, I was the star of every production, of every piano performance, of every gathering.

I could have driven my mom nuts. I was a handful. But instead, she chose to really love me. She allowed me to be creative, even when it made huge amounts of work and cleanup for her. She was gentle when she reminded me 500 bazillion times not to climb on the kitchen counter. She taught me about humility when I didn’t understand why I couldn’t brag about my piano abilities. She was kind to me about being bossy, helping me understand how to lead in a way that people wanted to follow. The way she saw things, that’s what she was there to do. There was nothing else more important to her than helping me and my siblings grow up feeling loved. And I did. And do.

Now, as an adult, I still have 10 projects going at once. I’m not afraid of very much. I led worship in front of thousands as a college kid. I prefer to read 5 books at a time. I can come up with pretty good ideas to fix most problems. I kinda enjoy being the one to say what everyone else is thinking but are too scared to say.

I have learned (hopefully…most of the time) not to run over people in my enthusiasm, but it’s still hard for me sometimes. I’m easier on myself than I used to be, and therefore on other people too – I was very capable of beating myself to a pulp before I started to understand God’s grace. I can keep my mouth shut when I need to, with effort. I can submit to someone in authority over me without becoming bitter.

But I’m still myself.

It’s hard on me, on most parents I think, to see themselves in their kids. As I kid I felt I had some Divine responsibility for everybody else, but watching my baby girl I realize some people probably thought I was obnoxious. That makes me want to step in to squelch it in her – to protect her from the judgment of people. To keep her from being misunderstood or embarrassing herself (or me, if I’m being honest). Because I learned it the hard way in some cases…but to do that would be to take away part of who God created her to be!

I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to parent her well. When she argues with me, because she has an opinion about everything, I’m tempted to see that as rebellious and discipline her for it. And sometimes she needs that. She definitely must learn to be respectful in the way she communicates. But if I didn’t allow her to have an opinion (after all, I always have one!), how will she learn to lead effectively? And it’s obvious that is part of how she’s made.

Over the past 4 1/2 years my mom has had some excellent thoughts about how to parent a child like this. Stay one step ahead of her – always have something for her to do. Otherwise she’ll get bored and get into trouble in her curiosity and with her high energy level. Make sure she gets enough exercise. Allow her to have control over areas of her life that are appropriate. For example she loves “organizing” her own dresser drawers. Her organization process makes no sense to me, but that’s something I can allow her to have complete control over. Choose your battles – don’t make unnecessary rules, but when there is an important battle of the wills, win decisively. For us, homeschooling is also a big part of the picture. She can be herself, learn at her own pace (which might be quite a bit faster in some areas than she’d be allowed to move in a large classroom), and pursue things that interest her. I’ve also found she needs some structure in her life. A regular routine with regular meals and sleep times, and a relatively organized environment help her to be much calmer.

I certainly have not mastered this, but I think about it a lot. What thoughts do you have on the subject? Most families have a personality type like this. While being sure to build up our children and not tear them down, even in this forum that most of them will never see, what works for your leader?

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Family Principles from Scripture

I’m really loving this kind of thing right now. I remember one time asking God why, if raising children is so important, He didn’t tell us more about how to do it. I have to laugh at myself about that now, as I am discovering the vast amounts He has to say on the subject!

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The Importance of Our Job as Mothers

“Children are a public trust – Now, that work which is of most importance to society is the bringing-up and instruction of the children – in the school, certainly, but far more in the home, because it is more that anything else the home influences brought to bear upon the child that determine the character and career of the future man or woman. It is a great thing to be a parent: there is no promotion, no dignity, to compare with it.”

-Charlotte Mason, “Home Education, Vol. 1” p. 1

It is often difficult, especially for those of us who stay at home with our kids, to feel purposeful, needed, useful as a mother. I’m not sure why this is, because it seems that even two generations ago it was not the case. But I have already established here in the past that I will make no impact larger than the one I make on my own children, my own family. So what if my training in music (or your training in…fill in the blank) is intended not to fill my own heart, or change the world as a whole, but ultimately to make an eternal impact on my own children and our home life? What if I create an atmosphere in my home where my children learn to live lives of worship? How much more impact will children who live lives of worship make, more than the person for whom I can facilitate a few minutes of encounter with God during a worship service (not to discount that, but obviously the impact will be less). What if this applies to all of our trades that we learned B.C. (before children)? Education, music, healthcare, business – whatever we did can be passed as a strength to our children through our willingness to give them those gifts…

Just something I’m thinking about…

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Summer Evening

We had the best time outside tonight. I wish I could transport you to our backyard for the night. It’s quiet here, and you hear the birds chirp and dogs bark from the other side of the ravine behind our neighbor’s yard. The air smells sweet with pine needles and grass and wild flowers, and it’s warm without being the slightest bit muggy or uncomfortable. Colorado summer evenings are heavenly.

Nick entertained Hannah by kicking her Backyardigans ball high into the air and knocking down dead tree branches for a good hour. Audrey played in the sandbox and looked at pine cones. I enjoyed my $3 garage sale find – a lounge chair.

We have everything we need, we’re realizing. Our house isn’t big, it isn’t fancy, and it is far from perfect, but if we can have peace like this here, we are very blessed.

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This has been kind of a tough week for me, for various reasons. Staci sent me this site last week, and it has provided so much encouragement to me this week, both spiritually and in the food area. I have never found any site that had recipes with only things we can all eat! Plus, she uses all natural sweeteners. It’s amazing for me to be able to cook straight from a recipe, without tons of substitutions that may or may not work. Plus, her food is SO good.

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Helen Keller

Have you seen this new picture of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan that they just found?

I’m fascinated.

Like probably pretty much everybody, I read a biography of Helen Keller as a child. Did you remember that Sullivan was 20 years old when she started working with Keller? I didn’t. As I look at the picture though, I have such deep questions.

What inspired this young girl to be so devoted to this child? I have a hard time being that devoted to my own children sometimes!

How did she see potential in a child who couldn’t see or hear? Keller was angry, spoiled, hateful. She would hit and kick all the time. I give up on people far too quickly.

Keller is a testimony to being believed in. I mean, if someone had not believed she could learn, she would not have become the scholar she became. I’m just very baffled and inspired by Sullivan’s devotion.

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