Friday, September 11, 2015

Five Ways To Make The School Year More Peaceful

It's been a while since I have had time to sit down and write a post on my blog and I have missed it!
The fall season is soon to be upon us and with summer winding down, we have been occupied with some rather significant projects in our home in preparation for a very full season.
People often ask how I manage to home school and be organized. No job is easy. Not everyone is called to the same mission in life, and not everyone's way of doing life will look the same. One of the best nuggets of wisdom I cherish when it comes to raising children is just be who God created YOU to be. If you plug into the power source that created you and ask Him for wisdom, the Bible says in James 1:5, that He will give it to you. So my response to this question would be to ask if you have consulted your Creator to determine what mission you are designed for and have you asked for wisdom to do that mission?
I am happy to share what works for me, but just understand that the way I do things may not work for you and that's okay. You aren't me. You are "you!"
 The number one, most important point I want to make, is that everything really does go back to the scripture for me. It is the standard by which I measure everything. Do my decisions and the way I do life, measure up to the plans God has for me? Am I walking in obedience to Him? Am I applying what I learn from my time with Him?
 Five important things to remember as wife and mom are:
1. Ask for wisdom
2. Seek God for strength for each day's task.
3. Spend time gearing up for each day's mission by reading God's Word regularly, meditating on it, and applying it.
4. Remember you can't do any of it in your own strength. Philippians 4:13
5.Remember to count it all joy.
As wives and mothers, we really do have the responsibility for setting the tone in our home. If we grumble often, guess who we are teaching to do the same?  Count it all joy. It's easy to say, but tough to apply, but so important and especially when you are experiencing a really hard time of personal stretching. We all know that life is full of opportunities for growth and stretching through trials and pain. There really is joy in the toughest of moments, and we can stop and count the blessings around us when we are tempted to grumble. I find this to be one of the most challenging aspects to life, and I have failed miserably at it many times, but when I apply it, it makes an amazing difference in everything.
There is a sixth thing that helps keep our home running smoothly and makes my job doable and that is order.
Order is very important to me. I need simple organization. I need things to be easy to find and use. If things are organized jobs get done faster and more efficiently. This summer we have been on a mission to pare down on all the extra, unnecessary, stuff and to arrange every room, closet, drawer, cupboard, desk, etc. in the most simplified way possible. We have almost completed this project and the results make the effort well worth it! I love my home again and I feel like I have a brand new space in every inch of the house, except the laundry room....which is next on my list.
Every room is neat and tidy. The closets have only what is absolutely necessary stored in them. The kitchen drawers and cupboards are wonderful. I can find even my smallest kitchen tools with ease without all the extra clutter surrounding them, and this makes kicking off a new year of home schooling our kiddos much less daunting to think about. I don't have before pictures, and I don't even have "after" pictures of all the rooms, but here are a few pictures of a couple of the rooms we have been working in.
The living room is now arranged in the most practical, yet comfortable way for our family.
This is one view of the living room, from the entry way.

We created a family room/piano studio out of our former bedroom. This way when Natalie has piano students here, she can close the door and there is access to a bathroom right off the piano studio. This room is right off of our living room and makes much more sense for daily life, for hosting company, and for Natalie's needs as a piano teacher. We love our new bedroom, which is at the opposite end of the house where we are enjoying much more privacy. The girls used to have our "new" room, which is a smaller master bedroom with a better closet in it than we are used to. They have now moved into our former guest room, and the former den has become an office. This means the huge computer armoire is not taking up massive space in the dining room anymore. We have moved it to the space in the living room where the piano used to sit. It has been repurposed as my new school supply cabinet and charging center for my lap top. PERFECT! It has loads of storage, and closes up neat and tidy, not to mention it is Amish made and beautiful.
The piano studio...just a couple of shots. On the wall across from the couch there are two closets and a smallish flat screen T.V. mounted on it. The kids can play the Wii, and we can work out in there. Our weights and workout equipment are stored in the small walk in closet along with extra food and water storage. This house does not have linen closets or coat closets, so we use the second closet for coats and piano teaching supplies. The door next to the couch leads into the bathroom.

Natalie created a " grand staff" on the white board and mounted it next to the piano for teaching purposes. When the door is open, the white board isn't noticeable, but it's a wonderful, practical tool and she found the perfect place to mount it out of the way for daily use, but easily accessible for piano teaching days. She did a great job setting up her studio. Her desk is all organized with everything she needs for teaching and for studying/doing home work.

Another view of the living room with my new school supply armoire/old computer armoire in the background. It's the larger of the two.

The dining room, free of the bulky armoire. It feels huge!
The former den and new office.
I had no idea how wonderful it would be to have an office. When I am busily writing, or one of the kids needs to do an assignment that involves the computer, the noise level is at the other end of the house. We keep the door open for accountability, but the noise is minimalized greatly with the office located away from the living areas of our house.

We have a really active schedule this year. Having a clean, easy to manage house that is pared down of extras makes it much more doable to have so many things going on. With three teens in the house, two elementary aged kiddos, and occasional litters of puppies, we are on the go a lot.
The kids are all enrolled in a really good private school this year. It's a perfect blend for our family as they attend school two days a week where they get all of their assignments for the week, and we supplement the high school kids with a few subjects under the direction of their teacher. The younger boys are taking math at the school and the rest they do with me.
When we come home after school/piano lessons/choir practices/youth groups/Awanas/debate and speech club, etc. there is an easy space for everything and everyone is required to immediately put their backpacks, coats, etc. away and clean out their lunch bags.
I love fresh, new, starts and brand new school years when I feel like things are in order. It's such a cleansing thing for me.
Speaking of fresh, new, things....I leave you with a little puppy spam!


  1. What an encouraging and helpful post! I so needed to read that quote "just be who GOD created YOU to be." Thank you! And I love the puppy spam. Now I'm off to make a batch of skinny chocolate and then finish cleaning off my last shelf in the schoolroom. :)

    1. Lisa, I'm so glad you are encouraged by that. It's something we all need to remember. For some reason, we females tend to compare ourselves to each other and think we need to be more "like her...or her" instead of figuring out how to be like Christ and who He created us to be individually. I heard a message on this years ago, and it took off so much unnecessary pressure I had placed myself under. :) Have a great day and enjoy that skinny chocolate! I need to make some too. Yum!