How to Keep Focus While Raising Children
Raising kids is tough. Add to that the extra responsibility of home schooling and the feelings of insecurity and self-doubt can be overwhelming. Here is some excellent advice from one of my friends.
Sit down as husband and wife and decide what goal is most important. If there is more than one goal, then prioritize, and decide which one is the most important, and then rank the rest accordingly. Hang the list on the fridge, or the bathroom mirror if necessary, then, every time you make a decision, remember what your goal is.
For most Christian households, the goal is to raise godly kids. Sometimes life gets busy. We realize that things are chaotic and everyone is stressed, but we have trouble deciding what to do about it. Remembering what our ‘goal’ is helps bring clarity to the situation. It also helps us feel less guilty, or adjust our priorities when we do not accomplish everything we wanted to that day.
For example: Let’s say that today we ended up getting home late and eating cereal for dinner. Why? Because our neighbor’s dog got loose, so we ‘wasted’ much of the afternoon chasing it down. But is this a problem? One of our goals is to cook healthy meals for our family, but the main goal is to raise godly children. Helping a neighbor is godly, and one night of cereal instead of a home cooked meal will not greatly affect the children’s health. Plus we have just taught our children to be flexible, and put someone else’s needs before our own wants. I’d say this is a ‘win.’
Some days we do not do so well. The children are fighting, very little schoolwork gets done and the house is a wreck. Everyone lost patience, and behaved badly, including mom and dad. This is a ‘loss’ day. What we need to figure out from these days is not how not to have them, with children these days are inevitable, but how not to lose our cool and become someone who sets a very bad example when things get tough. Remembering that your first priority is to teach your children to be godly means that your focus is on the children treating each other with respect. The schoolwork is probably second in importance, so any punishment given cannot make schoolwork impossible. Your job: Talk with your spouse and figure out punishments that work, so that tomorrow will be different.
The best punishments involve ‘natural consequences.’ These are consequences that are the natural result of what was done. For example: The children waste their time bickering all day and don’t get their schoolwork done, then there are no ‘fun’ activities later because the schoolwork is more important and needs to be done first. Knowing what is important allows you to focus only on what needs to be done, and ignore the less important things during a tough time. This keeps you from being overwhelmed and helps you to make better decisions that actually fix the problem. Later, when the important things are dealt with, you can work on the things that are less important.
These rules can also be applied when deciding which activities your children will, or will not participate in. Sometimes the activities are fine, but they take up so much time that there is no time left to be a ‘family.’ It is okay to miss a season of soccer. It is not okay for your child to grow up not knowing who their mom and dad were and what was important to them. If you do make them sit out for a season, you cannot forget why and get busy yourself. Make sure you are replacing whatever you took away with quality, fun family time or you will just look like a selfish hypocrite whose only real reason for not letting them play was so you would not have to be bothered driving them around…
So, when your spouse comes home and stupidly asks, ‘What were you doing all day, the house is a mess?!’ You can answer, ‘Making your children more godly.’ Implying that they were anything but godly today! (By the way husbands, never, ever say this! No jury of her actual peers would convict her for anything she does to you if you do…)