Sunday, January 29, 2017

Habits I Want My Kids to Have by the Time They Leave My Home (and pictures of our trip to Eden)

Pictures from our spontaneous stay in Eden this week when some good people let us use their time-share

I wrote this to myself in my journal last week, and this week we have been trying to implement it. It has been really good- we are not perfect at it yet... not even close... but we are working towards this and seeing some really good things from it so I thought I would share in case it's helpful to anyone else...

Here is what I wrote:

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017

I am feeling overwhelmed by the out of control screen time at our house again. We seem to slip back so easily into these bad screen time habits when we are not watching it diligently. One thing that seems to have worked well in how I homeschool is that I’ve never told the kids we’re doing “school.” Learning is just part of life and something we do every day. There are certain skills we need to be able to serve Heavenly Father well, so we work on those skills. It’s not “school” - just life. This has had some good benefits, like we don’t usually do “holidays” when they public school says we are supposed to have them. Holidays may mean we don’t go to our out-of -home classes, but if learning is a way of life, you just do it as part of what you do.

But this philosophy doesn’t work as well when screens are involved. We seem to “forget” that we are life-long learners because they distract us. And then life becomes about what we need to do to get to our screens - or even worse - we don’t even remember that we had stuff we were supposed to do before we got to our screens.

I have felt impressed to make our home a training school for life (not a training school for college, or for a test or a job). What is it that we need in order to become the most fine-tuned instruments we can be in God’s hands? How can we learn to hear and follow Him daily? What kind of habits take us to Him?

This morning, I want to write a list of life-long habits that I want my kids to have when they leave my home (and habits I want to have in my own life too):

  1. Write in a journal every morning
  2. Read from scriptures every morning and write in journal something applicable to that day or situation along with a prompting and learning list for the day (the prompting part is more about serving others that day and a learning part of the list is about improving yourself so you can better serve others)
  3. Kneeling Prayers - morning, evening and with the family
  4. Read from a classic book at least 30 minutes a day
  5. Daily exercise or movement
  6. Spend time in nature at least weekly
  7. Go to the temple weekly
  8. Family dinners and other meals when possible (don’t start a meal until everyone is sitting when they are home)
  9. Cleaning up after ourselves before we leave the room we were in.
  10. Weekly discussions with others about what they we are learning  - in person or online (this has been a great learning tool for me even as an adult, that’s why I hold classes or blog, I think this is also supposed to be the goal of our classes at church)
  11. Weekly prayerful goal setting (a time we reflect with our Heavenly Father about what he’d like us to focus on that week - preferably in preparation for sacrament)
  12. Keeping a learning list (list where we write down the things we are interested in learning about or talents we want to work on so we can move towards those goals and use it to make personal learning goals)
  13. Adequate sleep daily (to bed early and arise early)
  14. Healthy snacks and food with a willingness to eat things that are unfamiliar
  15. Respect and love for others in hearts, language and action (including obedience to parents)
  16. Love people, not acquiring stuff - just keep things we love and use; give the rest away to others who can use it.
  17. Serve their family and others- Realize their circle of influence and stewardship starts with their family and expands from there (not the other way around)

If my kids were to leave my home having acquired those 17 habits/values  - I would consider our “homeschool” a success. I would have taught them to go to the Source of all Truth for their education and to follow His guidance. I would have taught them to care for others, their bodies (the instrument of their Spirit) and their environment (their material stewardship).

So then the question becomes, how can I form my week in order to help us all acquire these habits? What does our homeschool actually look like?

  1. Sundays: Make a learning list of things prompted to learn that week, a classic book to study,  people prompted to help that week (starting with family)  and a physical health plan for the week (includes sleep, exercise and food - menu planning for me that includes something different each week)
  2. Teach by example and expectation to do the following every morning: Kneeling prayer, scripture study, and write in a journal. Journal writing should include an applicable scripture or thought from scriptures and a  prayerful prompting/learning list for that day that references the Sunday list.
  3. Morning devotional where we share and discuss what we are learning and our thoughts from our scripture study
  4. Wednesday and Saturday - nature days (it would be nice to be in nature twice a week, but if one of those days is really yucky - at least we’ll have gone out once that week)
  5. Friday - temple day for youth. Wednesday night or Saturday morning - temple day for me
  6. Monday - this is when we’ve scheduled a group discussion with friends (in the afternoon of course, evenings are for family home evening)
  7. Saturday (or Friday if we’ll be gone Saturday): Deep clean the house and dejunk our stuff (get rid of everything we don’t love or use)
  8. Work on the following each day and teach/instruct about it through the week: a) Family Meals - being together before we start and cleaning up before we leave, b) respectful language (the heart and action of respect will come more from their prompting list), c) obedience, d) family jobs (serving beyond cleaning their own stuff) and e) cleaning up before we leave a room.

I think those 8 rituals would cover all 14 habits/values I want my kids to have and learn before they leave my home. That sounds pretty simple right? I think the trick is to realize (and help everyone else realize) that these 8 rituals come first and we fit all other activities around these things instead of the other way around where we’d fit these things in if we had time.

Since this post, I made some bookmarks for me and my kids to help us reflect on Sundays. My hope is that they will keep the bookmarks in their journal and use them to write a priority list for themselves each day. The plan this week to help us get in this habit, is to have the kids turn in all electronics after our family scripture study at night and we will give them back to the kids in the morning after they have written their priority lists for the day. Of course, the little kids need a lot of my help for the whole process, but slowly they'll transition into doing it themselves I hope.
Here are some more pictures from our trip to Eden:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

More Solid Steps

What a difference I have felt in my life this week. Seriously; getting up and reading, writing and sincerely praying in the morning makes such a difference in one's life. Huge. I feel like myself again. I feel direction and purpose. I feel more alive. Music touches me more deeply, I see beauty more vividly, people are more wondrous to me, I feel more gratitude and love in my relationships. My steps feel more solid, my direction more clear, and my surroundings more real.

Heavenly Father is so good to us. He really does want us to have joy, love and purpose in our lives. I am so grateful to have seen such a difference in such a short time and to have gained this even deeper testimony of the importance of taking time with Him each day.

I have noticed that for me it is helpful to get up and write first thing. I get my thoughts out and I see where I'm needing guidance. Then I prayerfully read my scriptures and find that guidance in several verses. I write those down as well along with my thoughts on how they help me. At the end of it, I write down what I feel prompted to focus on and do that day. I write a prompting list in my journal (this week it has only had like 4 or 5 things on it each day - it's not like a long overwhelming list). I write this on my phone as well in case I need to remember through the day. Then I look at it the next day to see how I did and if I missed anything so I can include it again.

This week I have learned to trust God more, to find my part and turn the rest over to Him without hesitation or worry. He is in control - which is wonderful because I completely trust Him to have what is best come to be. My part is pretty simple - do whatever I need to do to stay in tune to Him so I can better follow Him.  Each day that part may look a little different because what "staying in tune" means varies in different situations, but I am learning more and more what that looks like and feels like.

I was also able to go to the temple again - what a beautiful blessing that was. I am so grateful for that place where time changes - things move more slowly, perspective is opened, and I feel a touch of eternity. I need to make sure I go each week and that I remember to take family names with me. That place is so full of love that you can't help but absorb it. It is nourishing.

By the way, I highly recommend this article that I am discussing with some youth tomorrow - I read it and drew it out in images with words afterward - it has a lot of concentrated truth to pull cool insights from:  Stumbling Blocks to Creativity - I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on it in the comments if you liked it and pulled something from it.  I'll probably write my thoughts about it on my next post if I can think of a way to put the pictures in my mind into words.

Here are some more pictures from the week:

Jessalyn's Birthday
We are now the parents of three teenagers! Something that is really cool about Jessalyn is that she doesn't even know how incredible she is. She plays with the little boys and Joy, makes little crafts with them, reads to Joshua every night, does Joy's hair and nails, offers to babysit when I go out and is just naturally aware of others needs and tries to help.

She is really alert and intelligent (she reads a about a book a day) and loves to learn. She sings beautifully, is really good at logic puzzles, and draws really well (among other talents). She is a kind and thoughtfull friend. We are so so so fortunate to have her in our family

Colors in the mud:
I tried a trail the other day that turned out to be really muddy.  The textures and the colors intrigued me. It was a good reminder that we can find beauty even in the mud.

Beautiful Mother:
This incredible friend of mine embodies beautiful motherhood in so many ways. I feel so blessed to get to absorb her example almost every day as we stay with them.

Christlike Friends:
We have been so enriched with these Christlike friends these last couple of months.  Their example of  a dedicated family will bless us all for the rest of our lives. I can see why communal living is tempting now. We definitely miss something in our current society with our walled-in, high-tech, private lives that they had in the old communities when they had to rely on one another a little bit more. I feel really grateful for this experience we are having with the Packs.

Brandy visits:
Bill's sister is visiting from Washington. She is the sweetest aunt to my kids and she will be having a baby of her own soon. It was so fun to see her little pregnant belly and to get to be excited for her new adventure. She will be an incredible mother. I am so grateful I married into such a kind family. We celebrated her birthday yesterday.