The Preschool Years ~ Turning Mommy Guilt into Mommy Grace

Us moms are tough.  Tough on ourselves and tough on one another.

May I invite you to remove all forms of mommy guilt and shame over whatever educational choice you have made for your young child and transform that guilt into grace?  Grace for yourself and grace for others who may be making a different choice.

From Mommy Guilt to Mommy Grace



That’s me and PacMan many years ago when he was only 2. It takes me back to being that young momma who struggled with guilt over my choices. Guilt over sending him to preschool and then guilt over keeping him home.  You see, I did both with him.  He went to preschool for one year and we did the following year at home. I remember doubting myself and struggling with guilt on both sides.  I felt most of my guilt on the home side, feeling as if I might be taking something away from him by NOT sending him to preschool.

Yes, my blog is homeschool focused, but I believe in each family making educational choices with freedom and grace.  I am not a do or die homeschooler and believe the Lord leads us in different directions. For us, homeschool was/is the direction.  This post is mainly to encourage those of you who are embarking on this home preschool journey and struggling a bit with that choice. Struggling the way I did when we first became homeschoolers.

 

So, you are homeschooling PreK, now what?

I get questions surrounding the first year of homeschooling a LOT.  Most of these are people with children ages 3-5 who have officially made the decision not to send their child to PreK or Kindergarten.

That was me 8 years ago.  We even sent our oldest to a 2 day a week program when he was 3.  Then we pulled him home for the following year when he was 4.  That was our first homeschooling year, PreK.

I have an early childhood degree and taught Kindergarten, you’d think I would feel confident in teaching my own child at home.  Oh no, let me assure you, I struggled big time.  I struggled with many of the things I know moms out there are struggling with because they share with me via comments and email. I know many of you struggle because I know I struggled.  And honestly, we aren’t all that different.  It’s amazing how many struggles we all share, whether we speak them aloud or not.

 

You are not alone.

Do you worry that you won’t meet the educational goals and somehow totally miss something, even during PreK and K?  I did.

Do you fear that your child won’t know how to make friends with kids his/her own age and somehow be a social outcast?  I did.

Do you think you might not be a good enough mommy to be with your kids 24/7?  Not enough patience, grace, calmness, joy, etc?  I did.

Do you fret over the loss of ME time?  Then struggle with feeling selfish for thinking that way?  I did.

Do you cower at times when people ask your child what school s/he goes to?  Not wanting the question to even come up?  I did.

Do you feel completely overwhelmed with all of the curriculums, options, printables, blogs, and ideas?  I did.

Do you wonder how in the world you will juggle homeschooling with your current children and future children all together?  Or even manage it with housekeeping, cooking, maintaining adult friendships, or maybe even your job, etc.? I did.

Do you feel alone?  Even with all of the great blogs and maybe even a friend or two who homeschools, or at least supports your decision?  I did.

 

Where Am I Now?

I no longer worry about missing educational goals!  Why?  I slowly realized that I grew up forgetting much of what I learned in school anyway!  Life is learning and my kids will soak in knowledge, and actually more of it, through homeschooling! My oldest is entering 7th grade, the grade I used to fear.  I am totally at peace with it and relearning alongside of him, joyfully.

Socialization…NOT a problem, at all. I didn’t struggle a lot with this fear years ago, but the thought was in the back of my mind. It no longer even enters my mind.

I am not a good enough Mommy and I never will be.  But, I am enough. Period.  Enough for the babies God gave to me. This is still a struggle but I have come so far.

I served outside the home at our church full time when we began homeschooling and I struggled big time with losing this part of myself. It took years, but now I embrace my role at home and the way God has called me to serve our family.

Go ahead, ask my kids where they go to school!  If you want to talk about it, I will be more than happy to.  No shame at all, I don’t even jerk a little bit when people ask. I invite the conversation, questions, and even doubts.

I am pretty sure I contribute to overwhelming you.  Just look at my blog.  Sorry for that, but also not sorry.  I know it is hard to wade through the choices, I struggle too.  Pinterest makes this worse and the sea of early childhood blogs is WAY bigger than when I jumped on the blogging scene 7 years ago!  Just breathe, remember the word SIMPLE, and find what works for you – not for someone else.

When I began homeschooling Pac, Krash was a baby and we had a teenager we were guardians for. I struggled with balance and worried a bit how it would work if we had more kids. Somehow it all works out.  Every family is different and many families with WAY more kids than I have make it work. With each new season of life, we adjust and homeschooling is flexible for these adjustments.

I no longer feel alone in this homeschooling thing.  It gest easier and homeschooling is growing more than ever.  Even if you are the only one you know now, I assure you, it won’t be that way for long.

Preschool Away from Home?

Did you know that even though I home educate, I fully support your decision to send your child to preschool {or any grade of school really} if that’s what you feel called to do? I don’t think there’s a one size fits all plan for early childhood education and believe many children thrive in a group setting. I want all of you to know that you don’t have to worry one bit about judgment coming from me. Many families feel guilty about this, especially if they have homeschooled or even homeschool older children. Please don’t feel ashamed or guilty about this decision; we all must do what’s best for our own child, other children, and entire family during different seasons of life.

May we release all guilt that we place upon ourselves and others.  May grace fill our hearts and bring us peace, both personally and in our relationships.

Choose Attitude over Activities

I share many activities on my blog.  I do many activities with my children.  But, I have never written a post directly about the thought and belief I hold that overrides any activity I share.  I have mentioned this quote here, here, and here, but never dedicated an entire post to this idea, Mommy’s ATTITUDE matters more than the ACTIVITIES.

Mommy's Attitude matters more than the Activities

As we begin our month of fun filled Christmas activities, it is my prayer that we all remember this.  Memories will be made more by the attitude we display, rather than the crafts we make. I am not always the most peaceful, joy-filled momma.  I struggle with anxiety, stress and a temper.  I find myself on my knees almost every night praying to do things better the next day. I am definitely a work in progress.

I realize I will never be a perfect Godly momma here on earth, but that doesn’t stop me from praying, and trying to be better for my kids. I used to think better meant more fun things for them to do.  I now realized that it means having a more JOY FILLED attitude.

JOY-FILLED

{not activity-filled}

These smiling faces will certainly smile more if I smile more.

Find the JOY

Just Me & a few struggles

Psalm 37 verse 4

My blog is filled with practical ideas for homeschooling.  Free printables, loads of toddler teaching ideas, even glimpses into our daily homeschool life.

Occasionally I get personal, like when I was struggling with a difficult pregnancy, or when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.  The personal side of me isn’t shared often, and I am praying about changing that.  I am seeking the will of God for His direction and asking for wisdom in how to share more of ME with YOU.  I began to feel called to do more of this many months ago, I have just been praying about it.  I still don’t have an entirely clear direction and have no idea if this will be one post or a regular thing.  Depends where God leads me.  For now, He has led me here, today.

I hope to offer you more of a glimpse into who I am ~ the wife, the mom, the Christian, the inner city missionary, the friend, the girl.  I receive many emails from readers asking for this, wanting to know more of the woman behind the teaching blog.  I desire to bring this to you as God leads.

I thought I would begin by sharing a simple top ten list. The top 10 areas I struggle most with. 

Sometimes knowing a person’s areas of struggle can give you the clearest window into their heart.  My struggles are my biggest prayers, my most passionate pleas to the Lord.  I pray daily for most of these things and many of them I am desperately seeking to change.


In no particular order, here are my struggles and a bit of my heart behind each one.
  • losing it ~ I often lose it.  For me losing it can mean raising my voice, losing my cool, all out yelling, or just bottled up frustration that doesn’t come out in the best way.  I struggle with self control in this area and unfortunately my precious children suffer because of my sinful nature.  I pray THE MOST about this one. {Awesome book I have read and need to read over and over again: Good and Angry}
  • exercise ~ For this season of life, I just can’t fit it in.  I was never a fanatic but usually much more regular with it.  For now I am at peace with it being a very low exercise period in life, but I don’t like that and I would really love to tone up.  I need sleep and when I tried to fit it in and sacrificed sleep-I was a miserable mess.  It just wasn’t worth it. 
  • being a better friend ~ I am not a natural friend to many.  I take a long time to get close to someone and then I only tend to have a few really close friendships.  I get overwhelmed easily and I feel bad about my tendencies to only focus on the few friends rather than the many that I do have.  I know I can’t do it all, but my heart is burdened for the many friends I don’t talk to enough.
  • being a hermit ~ I am a homebody and for many reasons this is a good thing {e.g., homeschooling}.  But, I tend to hide out if possible and miss social events due to anxiety.  I would much rather be in my own home than anywhere else.
  • hospitality ~  Surprisingly, I struggle in the are of hospitality.  You’d think it would be a gift since I love being in my own home so much! I DO enjoy having people over, being a wonderful hostess just isn’t natural for me, I really have to work at it!
  • checking out ~ When I get overwhelmed with life I just check out.  Mostly mentally, I can lose myself in a cleaning project or something else just to get away from my actual life.  My kids suffer from my tendencies to do this.  I have learned to fight this for the most part, but it is still an ongoing struggle.
  • anxiety ~  This is a biggie for me, which I am sure comes as no surprise after reading a few of the above items.  My anxiety is triggered by a few things, unfortunately most of them coming from my own children.  Noise, feeling smothered {either literally or in proximity}, clutter/messes, and many things happening at once {phone rings, doorbell dings, child cries, siblings fight}.  Most of this is simply daily life with 3 homeschooled children.  It is a constant battle for me.  My anxiety often causes me to check out and lose it , as mentioned above!
  • personal Bible reading ~  I pray constantly, but sitting to read my Bible, alone is my current struggle.  We read the Bible daily together as a family, I read to the kids, and I read as I teach Sunday School and Children’s Church.  BUT, on my own Bible reading doesn’t always happen.  Recently I chose a simple reading plan in my YOU version Bible on my iPad and have followed it almost everyday.  Hopefully it will stick.
  • email, phone calls, mail ~ I struggle majorly with these areas of communication.  I am always behind on answering emails, phone calls, and writing any needed snail mail. Since my blog began to grow and I gained a blog email inbox in addition to that growth, the problem has only become more difficult.  I know there is only one me and I cannot answer every email or call, but I often forget the ones that I NEED to answer-like from my mom. I harbor much guilt in this area also, I hate leaving anyone hanging.
  • cooking, baking ~ My husband is the dinner cook, which works well for our family.  That part isn’t a struggle ~ it is a blessing!  Where I struggle is more in the area of doing fun cooking with my kids and for my family.  Making cookies, baking bread, making muffins, etc.  I desperately wish this was a natural gift of mine, but it is not.  I still pray for God to drop this gift in my lap.

There you have it, the top 10 struggles for me at the moment.  I trust God when He says that if I delight in HIM, He will give me the desires of my heart {link goes to the song we love}.  I pray that I will continue to delight more in Him, that the desires of my heart will be His.

    Do you struggle in any of the same ways I listed above? 

Family Binder ~ Back on the Wagon

I have been making my own organizational forms for years.  I have even had my own family management binder for years.  But, this past year I totally fell off of the wagon.  I was a complete family binder dropout.  Last week I got back on the streak and decided to just join ListPlanIt instead of reinventing the wheel, again. 

Lists to Put Your World in Order

There was a coupon code in the back of 31 Days to Clean so I jumped on it one evening and began printing away!

I think I am successfully back on track and oh does it ever feel good!

List Plan It Family Binder

A few of the pages were things I have used before.  But I have added a few new pages after inspiration I got from browsing through the forms at ListPlanIt.  One of my favorite new sections is my “A Month of Blog Topics” sheet.  You can see portions of it in the 2 bottom photos in the collage above.  I am filling all predictable posts {Moments to Remember, Tot School, and my Totally Tots posts}, then using the rest to brainstorm and assign days for upcoming posts so I don’t forget!  Another thing I did was add a few sections that are in sheet protectors, so I can use a Vis a Vis to write on them and just erase-to save printing.   I also went back to using the 3 ring pouch to store these pens as well as my pencil {I always use pencil in my binder}.

IMG_0334

Two sections I am still working on are our family medical section and our financial info section.  In all I have the following sections so far: Calendar/To Do, Blogging/Online Management, Family Medical, Contacts/Financial Info, Bills, Shopping Lists/Misc.

I am thankful that I jumped in and purchased my membership to ListPlanIt.  Even though some of the forms aren’t as prettied-up as I might make them, they are printed and being used-that is the important part! DO any of you use ListPlanIt?  Have a blog post about your own Family Binder?  Leave a link in the comments below, I’d love to see it!

My SquareTrade Warranty Experience

I got an iPad 2 last spring. We play loads of educational apps on it.  It is a well-loved gadget around here.

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I thought the warranty that the store offered was a bit not-so-good, so I decided to shop around.  Almost bought Apple Care-possibly would have been fine, BUT ended up going with SquareTrade and am so happy I did!

Simple process…

  1. Purchase 3 year warranty for iPad 2, only warranty that I found that covers EVERYTHING.  I bought my iPad 2 on 5/25 and then purchased my warranty on 6/6.  You have 90 days from the purchase price.
  2. Scan and email copy of my original receipt…they keep it on file in case I lose it.
  3. Wait for iPad 2 to break, HIGHLY possible with 3 young kids who love it.
  4. Fast forward  several months – iPad 2 screen cracks when dropped.  Woops.
  5. File warranty claim, receive email from Square Trade within hours. Very fast.  They tell me it can be repaired and they will send me supplies to ship it to them.
  6. Fed Ex 2 Day Air Box is Fed Ex’d to me, with simple instructions on how to prepare and send my iPad to them to be fixed.
  7. I dilly-dally and don’t send it off right away since the iPad was still working and I love it and just couldn’t part with it.  Finally I did.
  8. Wednesday evening 6:30pm before Thanksgiving, I put it in Fed Ex drop box that has no holiday or weekend pickup.  I close the door and see that they cancelled Friday pick up too…Poor iPad locked away in the drop box until the following MONDAY.  BOO.
  9. But—I get an email from Square Trade ON MONDAY saying they received my package-wow!  Must have went out before Monday, huh?!
  10. Later that day I get an email with an update, and I log on to see a report of the status, here’s a screenshot…image
  11. 11/30/11…I get an email from “Encore Repair Services” with no reference to SquareTrade or my iPad, saying a package has been sent Fed Ex to me and should arrive on or before 12/2 by 7pm.  I assume this is my iPad but am not sure at first.  Log onto SquareTrade to check but don’t see a shipment update. Later that evening I get the email from SquareTrade verifying that it was indeed, MY iPad en route to ME! Yippee!
  12. 12/2/11… Fed Ex delivers the iPad safe and sound to a very happy owner around 11:30am.
  13. I don’t let my children touch it until the next day when our new case {info below} arrives to protect it better than my last case {big mistake getting a pretty-mommy-case instead of one that could actually help protect it from 3 kids!}

So, as you can see the process, was easy and painless and I am VERY pleased with my SquareTrade service and will be buying warranties from them in the future. I was hoping I would never need to use the warranty I purchased but am thankful I did now so that I can share with all of you exactly how the process worked for me.  I tried to find first hand reviews {not tech reviews} and struggled, so now you all have an honest review from someone you “know”. 

If you are looking to purchase a SquareTrade warranty, you can do so through my link below and yes I will get an affiliate kick-back, thanks!!  Gotta love when a company you love has an affiliate program!

Oh, and the new case I decided on…the Trident Kraken II.  I bought it on Amazon, it sometimes says “out of stock” in the main section, but under the “buy it new” section, you can get one cheaper and just pay the shipping, which for me worked out to be just $39.48.  We are all very pleased with this case.  It isn’t what I would choose if it were just for me, but since I share the iPad with 3 kids, this is the best option!  It encases the entire iPad with silicone and then with the hard blue case. 

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PS-SquareTrade sells warranties for just about anything electronic, not just iPads!