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Am I Thorough? - Issue 191
March 11, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week A young mum shared with me – mum to mum – that her son had started to read this week. How exciting. As I rejoiced with her I remembered the times my kids reached this stage – it is exciting and rewarding. I shared with her our tradition of a “Reading Celebration”. When our children reached the point where they were reading – not reading chapter books necessarily but they’d made that first step, they were reading - we celebrated as a family. We took the reader and their siblings out for morning tea – a milkshake and chips was the usual fare! The new reader the guest of honour.

Live life with your kids!

If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Am I Thorough?

One of the definition of Thoroughness is:

Knowing your goal and completing it with excellence.

Over the last week or two our family has been looking at thoroughness and it has helped us address issues like being distracted, not finishing a task, planning projects and a standard of excellence. When we study character I try and find a heart message for me; something that is applicable for my life. For me to have any impact in my children’s lives I have to show them that I too am working on these areas.

When looking at Thoroughness the challenge to me is: Am I focused? Do I know my goal? Do I work towards that goal? And here’s the crunch – at any given time. I know what my goal is as far as the big picture goes – but what about for this particular moment in time? I’m not talking about the season of life I’m in, a phase that will pass – but this very moment in time? Do I know my purpose for this moment of time, right now?

Women pride themselves in multi-tasking and Pete and I have had a lot of light hearted banter on this one. I reckon that if a woman didn’t multi-task nothing would get done. Pete reckons multi-tasking isn’t very efficient. (and really, I think we both have some truth in our position!)

I read a story early in my homeschooling journey of a woman who got tired of her husband asking her what she did all day so one day when her husband came home he was a bit concerned to see the yard in a state of chaos with bikes and toys spread everywhere. When he got inside things weren’t much better. The kids greeted him in their pjays, with food stuck on their faces, they were in good spirits though so that relieved him a little. He asked them where their mother was. They pointed upstairs and kept on playing. He continued to be concerned though when he saw the lamp pulled over and what seemed to be half the wardrobe straggled out on the stairs. He called out to his wife, anxious for what he would find – but she replied in a calm voice – I’m up here dear, in the bedroom. He burst into the room with a cry of concern – “What’s wrong” as he saw his wife still in bed. She calmly looked at him and said, you know when you ask me “what do I do all day? – Well, today I didn’t!”

I chuckle over this one every time I think about it – we do things that don’t seem to have any affect; at times our to-do list seems never ending and repetitive, and it is hard to say what it is that takes our time. For us to do all that needs to be done we do need to multi-task. We can’t just feed the kids – we have to make sure they are clean, and have clean clothes. We can’t just teach phonics, we also have to feed the baby and watch the toddler. We can’t just do one thing and multi-tasking seems to be the answer. But where is the balance between multi-tasking and thoroughness.

I talked to the kids at our homeschool co-op about thoroughness and then I had them look at their finger through a loupe. (A loupe is a jeweller’s magnifying glass – you know the type that they hold in their eye socket!) I have loupes that magnify 5 times and seeing your skin and fingernail is amazing – you see incredible detail. To use a loupe though you have to find your field of focus – for some people it will be closer than for others but once you’ve found it the thing you are focused on is as clear as clear and yet you can’t see anything beyond that.

There is the picture of thoroughness – we need to put our current project – whatever it is that is a priority at this moment of time – in our field of focus – everything else needs to be blurred. The other things are still there but they are blurred.

Right now, this moment of time, for me is to write my newsletter. That needs to be in my field of focus. It would be easy to check my emails, or phone my mum, and I’ve just noticed that my friend is online with Skype, maybe I could say hello. These are distractions – outside of my purpose for this moment of time. This is what we need to be aware of if we are going to be thorough.

We need to know our goal – but our goal needs to be specific for this moment of time. Is this the time where my main goal, my focus needs to be on the house, on the children, on my husband, on maths, on office work, etc.

Now the trick is there are some things that just can’t be blurred – mainly our relationships and issues that come from that. We can’t blur our relationship with our husband as we focus on lessons, we can’t blur our relationship with our children while we focus on the laundry. So my analogy falls short (as most analogies do). This is where we find the balance between multi-tasking and being thorough - the key is to know your priorities. My priorities generally are

  • My husband
  • My children
  • My tasks

The encouragement to be thorough, to know our goals and to be focused isn’t an encouragement to be rigid; unavailable and inflexible – but rather a guide to help us get through our days with purpose. As I processed this in my life I came to a place where I stopped looking at all the but-if’s and just looked at the times where I get distracted by trying to do too many things at one time, by ignoring the priorities, by missing an opportunity.

As I plan my days I have to be aware of all the different things that I need to achieve. When I plan to squeeze in phonecalls while I teach lessons – it never happens. So unless I plan a specific time to make those calls, they’ll never happen. So when I plan my day I look at all the different focuses I need to have and I make time for those. There are days where I have too many expectations for this to be realistic - I need to tweak my to-do list. If I can have realistic expectations on this moment of time – then I can be focused and complete my task with excellence.

I like what Marilyn Rocket has to say in her book, HomeSchooling at the Speed of Life (and this is my paraphrase) - We can’t manage time – God manages time – we use time.

She goes on to say: “Your challenge is to use time in a way that is effective for you and your family while you homeschool, keep your home functioning day to day, help your children become fully who they are, and become the person God created you to be.”

Are we using our time effectively? Do we get distracted? Distracted maybe with good things but still it takes us away from our goal, from the priorities we know we need to be focused on. For me to use my time wisely, I need to know what the priority needs to be for this hour (or maybe even this half-hour). I need to put that task in my field of focus and let other things be slightly blurred.

Have you ever visited my blog?

Blogging was very quiet this week as there has been trouble with my account due to spam. So I have only posted one blog: How Productive can 30mintues be? Which ironically is much along the same lines as this newsletter.

One week to go - Boyanup Chrisitan Homeschool Conference? where I'll be speaking on discipleship homeschooling?

My Bookshop

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!
  • Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
  • Family Life – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
  • Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
  • A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues

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