Like most homeschooling mamas at this time of year, I have been busy preparing for 2013: From lesson planning and making necessary tweaks and changes to our school schedule and curriculum to plotting our family’s goals and activities. As I look ahead to the second half of our third homeschooling year, I feel more at peace about where we are as a family and where we are going than I ever have before.
Did I discover the “perfect” curriculum for our homeschool? Possibly – so far so good. The girls and I are absolutely loving Trail Guide to Learning’s Paths of Exploration, which we implemented in October after realizing that a previous 2012 curriculum choice just wasn’t working out the way we’d hoped. So other than getting things printed out and organized for our next unit, I have no tweaks or changes planned in that department for 2013.
Did we master the daily routine? Not exactly. But we did get into a productive weekly rhythm, and on most weeks we were able to balance our daily homeschooling plans with extracurricular and co-op activities. We made some changes this year to simplify our schedule, and it has proved to be a good decision. Although we’re still plugged in socially almost every day of the school week, we’re not frazzled and running ourselves ragged anymore. Our activities align with our family values and educational mission, and we’re also staying on track with the lesson plan of our new curriculum much better than we ever have before.
To help us improve on the daily routine this year, I spent this past Saturday reading some of my favorite blogs and discovering useful tips on how to keep your homeschooling family on track — tips that actually felt like they would fit me and the lifestyle flow of our family. I downloaded some beautifully designed and FREE home and homeschool management printables from Amy Bayliss, set up a life managment notebook, customized and printed out a school weekly planner to complement our existing Paths of Exploration lesson plan and a daily routine & chore chart for all three girls, and filled in current plans and activities on all of our family’s print and digital calendars.
I was blessed to receive a new iPad Mini from my Dad for my milestone birthday on the 30th, and I used it to create a family digital calendar that everyone on an “i-device” could access — which is everyone except our five-year-old Elise. My goal is to minimize how many different places we are keeping track of things and how many apps and alarms are going off all day. I hope it works out!
Another schedule change that I’m excited about is adding in fitness for MOM to the weekly routine. Right now all three girls take dance lessons and participate in a weekly homeschooling PE program, but it’s been more than a year since I have been on any kind of fitness routine. Although the weight gain has been no fun, the lack of energy and “pep” has taken a more noticeable toll on me.
Thanks to the encouragement of a couple of homeschooling friends in our local support group who reached out to me at the perfect time, I now have a monthly membership to a fitness studio that offers what I enjoy and classes at times that work for me. My husband is home and free to spend time with our girls after dinner at least a few nights a week, so that’s when I’ve been escaping for a quick one-hour class. I also get to see my mama friends and fellowship before or after class. In six weeks, it’s already made a huge impact on my energy and ability to relax at home — I’m sleeping better too!
So what is on the New Year’s resolution list? Not the kind of things I’ve aspired to in the past. I want our family to be healthy, but I am not setting a weight loss goal or making radical diet changes. I want our family to be more organized and our house to be more tidy, but other than the planning day I mentioned above, I’m not implementing a “30-days-to-a-better-whatever” program. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) I want to feel a sense of accomplishment about the growth of my girls at the end of this homeschooling year, but I’m not going to stress out about finishing every suggested assignment in our curriculum’s lesson plan.
My resolution for our New Year is to download God’s goals and road map for our family and live by that plan. Thankfully, there’s no mystery about where to find that agenda. It’s freely available, it’s not trendy but distinctly unchanging, it’s simple but not easy, it’s true and trustworthy, and it promises instant impact for anyone who chooses to believe — anyone who chooses to walk by faith and not by sight.
Two days ago, I turned 40 years old, and I officially said Goodbye to Superwoman. Having let her go, I have a fresh perspective on what I would like the New Year to look like. I’m not going attach myself to material markers of success, map out an ideal path to accomplishment, and try to visualize a tangible result of my idyllic dreams. My resolution is to walk with God and REFLECT HIS VISION in all that I do, let the Holy Spirit guide me on a daily basis, and see where my Heavenly Father plans to take me and our family.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” — Matthew 6:33
What does your New Year’s resolutions list look like? Have you had a chance to get organized, and if so, what tools have you found to help you prepare for 2013? What has God shown you about the goals and desires you have for your family this year? We’d love to hear about it!
— Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, entrepreneur & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. A former journalist, Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She is editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.