For a few weeks at the end of December and the beginning of January, I put together at least one 1000-piece puzzle. My family sometimes helps me with a piece here and a piece there, but they all know it’s Mom’s puzzle. I love it!
I love sitting in one place, in the midst of all my people doing all of their things, and making visible progress. It’s a luxury for me to spend an hour here and there on my puzzle during our homeschool break. And I love the sense of accomplishment I feel from seeing a project through to the end, because everything else in my life (and maybe yours too?), doesn’t have an ending - the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the homeschooling, the parenting, the ministry, the business, the volunteering, etc…
As moms, we are BUSY with so many things, all the various pieces of our days that make up our family’s puzzle of life! And we rarely get a moment to step away from the constant to-do lists and clear our heads. The puzzle is a gift to me, because it makes me stop and take a break (kind of like sitting down to nurse my babies). Periodic breaks are so essential to our well-being that even the Lord rested on the 7th day!
But sometimes our breaks need to be more than just leisure and rest. I believe that it’s essential to pause and evaluate our lives on a regular basis. One key to homeschooling success (and success at life in general) is to take time to ponder our progress and set our priorities.
Admittedly, sometimes this part isn’t very fun. It’s much simpler to just look forward and make a plan for the new year or keep plugging away at the existing plan rather than to struggle to find time on the calendar and make the necessary preparations for someone else to be in charge of the children for even an hour, right?
In my 15 years of homeschooling, though, I have learned from many wise women (like Sally) that plowing ahead without considering our current season of life, and its unique joys and struggles, does not end well. We must examine our successes and challenges to both keep doing what’s working and to troubleshoot what’s not working. We must pause and let the Lord restore us.
There’s a balance, of course, between constantly striving for improvement and being grateful for, content with, and in the present moment. Fr. Joseph J Krupp posted his thoughts on personal growth just this morning:
#talkedtotheboss He said there is no place where we can stop & think ‘I’m good where I am.’ We are called to a state of blessed discontentment; where we recognize the blessings of where we are while striving to know more & love more. Never stop growing.
And this is why I encourage homeschooling mamas to Pray-Ponder-Prepare-Plan before starting a new academic year! We can get all giddy about our new plans and materials without even stopping to consider if they’re the best fit for our family right now. But we should stop and reflect on the state of our homeschools several times a year! I used to do this every 6-8 weeks (and probably should still be doing it that often), but I make sure to reflect on these things at least twice a year. Before we start back to school in January is the ideal time to ponder our progress!
And since the Christmas “break” is often anything but a break for many moms, making it tricky to find time to prepare for the spring semester of schooling, I’m hosting a free webinar to help you set aside time to consider your priorities for the new year!
Join me this Wednesday, December 29, 2021 at 2:30pm Central to reflect on how things are going in your homeschool year. Pre-registration is required at this link. The recording will be posted on my YouTube channel afterwards, and purchasing the Midyear Homeschooling Reflection journal at my shop is an optional (but it's only $0.99!).
Even if you can’t join me for the live or recorded webinar soon, I highly suggest grabbing the Midyear Homeschooling Reflection journal and working through it on your own. It can be done at any time, even in the midst of schooling, as it’s a super-condensed 16-question version of the original 61-question Personal Reflection Survey (available as a free gift to my email subscribers!).
My hope is that these tools, the webinar and the reflection, will make it possible for you to take the time to examine your life and to identify where you and your family need to focus your growth in the months to come. Our primary goal for this time of reflection is to love better through our mothering and our homeschooling, so that we can better reflect the Holy Family in our homes and our world!
So, right now, go put an hour on your calendar, either to attend Wednesday’s webinar live or to do your own reflection on your own time. Give yourself the gift of time! You won't regret it!