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Looking after Mum - Issue 177
November 26, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week I had intended to finish our studies so that we were in a good place to pick up next year but it didn’t happen! I taught two lessons this week and that is that, our study year is over. I have mixed emotions about that – on the one hand I wanted to have everything tidied and finished and yet on the other hand I know life goes on and learning will continue and that the end of the year and the beginning of the new year is only an administration thing. So we now move on to the next focus season for our family - finishing Christmas presents, planning for holidays, and reading our Christmas stories. We have Christmas Carols and Christmas plays to practice for. We have a visitor arriving and parties to go to. Life is full whatever season of focus we find ourselves in – what a joy to have the opportunity to live life with my kids this way.

Live life with your kids!

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Looking After Mum

This is a busy time of the year and as a mum it is easy to look after everyone else and forget to look after ourselves. When this happens we tend to get grumpy, resentful, tired, emotional – not nice to be around!! Of course it is easy to say we shouldn’t be these things but reality is …..

When our Jessica was a baby I remember being particularly ‘ripped off’. Pete was able to rest and refresh on Sunday and I wasn’t. I still had young children to feed, husband to feed, nappies to be washed, training children at church, guest to entertain, etc…. Sunday was not a day of rest for me. In my struggle I directed my frustrations towards Peter. God spoke to me very clearly. His words were – it is not Peter’s responsibility to give you rest. You have different responsibilities, and different opportunities.

This was a heart issue. I was blaming Peter for what was essentially my responsibility. We are responsible for our own reactions to circumstances. In a sense, having children is my circumstance – how am I going to react to that?

I then started to see the opportunities I had to help me find rest and refreshing considering my life, considering my responsibilities. Instead of expecting Peter to give me a break I started to take responsibility for myself. I recognised that I was in a season of my life where I had little people who depended on me and I needed to work with that, not against it. I recognised that I had the opportunity throughout the week to teach and train my children in ways that would give me moments of rest and refreshment. I had the freedom throughout the week to find whatever I needed for my body, soul and spirit to refresh whereas Peter had clients and work responsibilities clamouring for his attention until Sunday. I needed to work with my parameters not Peter’s.

I am made up of body, soul and spirit. I need to find ways to refresh all three aspects. Here is a list of different things I have done over the years to find rest and refreshment:

  • Routine – establishing a routine was the best thing to help me find balance for my life as well as for my children. Each day my children would have a rest time after lunch. This would vary depending on the ages of my children from a sleep, to a rest, to a time reading a book, to playing in their rooms, to doing whatever they want as long as they don’t interrupt mum! (See the progression here as they grew older.) Though we did this daily at a set time it trained them not just for a timeslot but rather with a skill. My children could occupy themselves for between half an hour to an hour (once again dependent on age and training). This meant I could take a time to rest or refresh myself.
  • Bath time – One of my fondest memories is sitting in the bathroom listening to my children giggle during bath time – it is one of the most amazing balms to ruffled emotions. We can either rush bath time through or we can sit and enjoy it. I would sit there on the stool and feel the emotions of the day drain out of me. But if I rushed bath time it was just another stress for the day. What a missed opportunity! Obviously this doesn’t happen in our house any more with older kids, but I can now go and take a shower myself at this time, and be refreshed.
  • Go outside and smell the roses – One of the things I find most frustrating is that 5.00pm is the most beautiful time of the day outside and yet it is the time of the day where we are the most busy packing up the day and getting ready for our evening family time. Occasionally we have got ourselves tidied up earlier so we could be outdoors at sunset time. Unfortunately the mozzies soon drive us inside but taking this short break in our usual routine is relaxing. Other times I’ve just taken a cuppa outside while the kids do their evening chores and sat for 5 minutes. It is amazing what 5 minutes will do for our hearts.
  • Personal Quiet Times – Different seasons have given me different scope for my devotional times. I would often have my reading time while breast feeding. Some times I have my quiet time before my children wake up, or maybe they sit quietly on my knee learning what it is to have a quiet time. Now everyone is older and independent in the mornings we have a rule where everyone is quiet and respectful of those having their personal devotions until 7.00am which is when we start to connect with each other and turn up the noise levels.
  • Car Travel – we live a bit out of town which means we have time in the car for training, building relationships or reviving ourselves! I remember days where I would tell my young children ‘no talking’. Sometimes I would have music on, sometimes we would have silence. This was a time for me to think and take a deep breath. Of course this needed training and practice but it was very doable and very worthwhile. In fact even today, with older children we will have times in the car (either on a short trip home or on a long trip as we travel) where we will expect silence.
  • Lounge Room time – though my children often had their reading time on their beds, there were times I would also call for reading time in the lounge room if I needed some space. Other times I would allow a DVD. During this time I could talk on the phone, read, or even have a nano-nap on the couch.
  • Exercise – this unfortunately hasn’t been a consistent practice but rather spasmodic. I have exercised in the house when the kids were little, I have walked around the veranda – around and around and around so I can be near the children. As they grow older I have been able to walk around the farm, or go into town to swim. Once again there are ways to do this with our children around we just need to be versatile.
  • Bedtimes – Regular bedtimes are also an opportunity I have for finding time to refresh. Once my kids are in bed then I have the evening to do whatever I would like to do. This has had to be tweaked a little as my children get older but by that stage they respect my time and I can still have those moments to myself.
  • Talking on the phone – One of the adjustments I made when I first started homeschooling was that I didn’t catch up with my friends quite as often. I started to rely on the phone to chat. This became an important part of my day especially when the kids were little. But once again for this to happen I had to train my children to respect my conversation on the phone.
  • Social visits – I find visiting with friends refreshing so I trained (and expected) my children to allow me to talk with friends for those few times we did visit. How I trained my children this way is a whole new conversation but I list this because my social life is a part of me finding time to rest and refresh and it is my responsibility to help my children in those situations.
  • Going to bathroom - I put this here partly as a little bit of fun but on the other hand how many mums have you heard say “I can’t even go to the toilet by myself”. I used to be one of those mums. Then one day it dawned on me that the only reason they come to the door to talk to me is that I talk back. So now I have some retraining to do. When they knock on the door now I say, “Can it wait?”, which is helping them to think before they knock. Most times it can and they are learning to discern before they knock as they are knocking less these days.

I would just like to make another comment about Peter. Though he wasn’t responsible for me to find time to refresh he is lovingly interested that I do find this time. There have been seasons where he has taken the children out for the day giving me a regular “MDO – Mother’s Day Off”. He has been available so I can lock myself away with my scrapbooking for an hour or so. He has put the children to bed so I could go out for coffee with my friends. One thing we established early in our parenting years is that Peter doesn’t babysit (just like, I don't babysit our kids). But he is a Dad who spends time with his kids and is available to be their primary carer. But before I make commitments for myself I do make sure that he is available from his commitments. They are his children as well as mine so at these times when I am out and about he isn’t babysitting, but rather being a dad.

Most of all though it is God who gives us rest. If we are right with God our spirit is at rest and we can walk through the chaos of a busy day and we can sit at the end of a stressful day knowing that God is in charge, that He will give me all that I need, that He is my joy. If we can do only one thing – let it be that we sit at the feet of Jesus and soak in His words for us and grow in our relationship with Him.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Psalm 46:1-3

Though this verse is talking about large calamites on a global scale there are days in family life that feel like this. We may not be able to get the rest that we feel we need, and yet God promises to be our refuge (a place of safety) and our strength; which means we are able to go on in His strength even if we haven’t revived in ourselves.

God is our refuge and strength
A very present help in trouble.

Have you ever visited my blog? This week I've written about:

Taking the Time to deal with our children’s hearts.

Random Photos for November showing some of the activities that have been going on at our place.

Organising Unfinished Projects quickly clutter the place up unless we have a home for them.

Table Conversation – TAOC and Trashy Literature

Internet Reading - links to a few articles I’ve read this week.

My Bookshop

Discovering the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas This workshop style e-book helps you decide how to celebrate Christmas with your family and keep Christ as the center of all that you do.

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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