Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thrust Into A New Reality: Encouragement For Parents

In light of what is currently happening in households across America, and around the world, I thought I would share what I hope will encourage you. Many, if not all parents in the US, have recently found ourselves thrust into the adventure of quarantine-schooling due to the Coronavirus. Ready or not we are having to step into a challenging role as parent and teacher. And for a vast majority, we are not only trying to help our child learn from home, but we must also maintain our work hours while doing so. I want to encourage you, that while this situation may seem less than ideal, it is possible to not only complete this mission, but do it in a way that our families thrive! What a beautiful gift we all have in this season to truly do life with our kids without the disruptions of outside activities. I'm not suggesting this means it will be easy, always pleasant or without chaos, but our outlook can quickly determine our outcome.

Here are some things I have learned and pondered over the years and especially this week as I step back into helping my kids learn from home. I haven't perfected living this way, but I desire too.

  1. Abide in Jesus.  “Abide in me and I in you.” John 15:4. In my own strength I am not good enough, patient enough or loving enough.  I need to abide in Jesus so that His love can flow out of me in every interaction with my spouse, children and others. Teach your children to start their day by abiding in Jesus too.
  2. Practice Self-Care. You can’t pour from an empty cup.  It’s important to take care of yourself by making time for things you enjoy.  Exercise regularly, choose healthy foods, but also give yourself permission to indulge in your favorite sweet from time to time, get proper rest and find a hobby.
  3. Give yourself grace. There is not a single day that will go perfectly.  Do your best and let God cover the rest.
  4. God’s mercies are new EVERY morning. “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23. This truth has literally been a lifeline for me through the years.  I’ve had some big failure moments as a mom and I’m so thankful that tomorrow is a new day and I can start fresh.
  5. Comparisons steal joy.  There will always be moms and dads that appear to be doing better than you and moms and dads who will struggle more than you.  God chose you to be YOUR kids’ parent. Stop comparing yourself to what other parents are doing because it will rob your joy and put your perspective on things that have little meaning. This applies to not comparing our kiddos to other kids their age too!
  6. Routine is important, but so is flexibility.  Schedules are a beautiful thing, but not to the point of being so focused on the routine that we miss out on incredible opportunities to truly connect with our children. We own our schedule, it does not own us. 
  7. A lot of learning happens in free play. Sometimes as parents we think it is our job to fill every minute of our child’s day with education, crafts, games and activities. The truth of the matter is children learn so much through free play.  This is where they can actively use their imaginations and if they have siblings, practice conflict resolution and team work.
  8. Practicing life skills is learning too. Having your kids help you in the day to day tasks is teaching them incredible life skills that will help them be successful and contributing adults. Have your kids help plan a weekly menu, on-line grocery shop, cook, do dishes, laundry, clean and organize. This does not mean that you no longer do these tasks, but rather do them shoulder to shoulder and make this a valuable teaching and connection time.
  9. Choose curriculum that best fits your family. If lessons have not been provided by your district there are literally hundreds of different curriculums available to homeschool families. If you know other homeschool families ask them what curriculum they use, what they appreciate about it and what they would prefer were different.  Many companies offer samples.  Try a curriculum and don’t be afraid to try another one if you find it isn’t working.  Excellent curriculum doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive or time consuming.
  10. Community and connection is essential. Currently, we are practicing social distancing or a complete lockdown, but I cannot encourage you enough to find on-line facebook groups, friends or family that you can connect with on this new journey.  Take time to interact with friends through Zoom calls or other on-line venues. Find safe and creative on-line ways for your kids to interact with their friends and extended family too.
  11. Speak Life. "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18. While we are in close quarters with our spouse and/or children we need to be aware of how we speak to them. Are our words building them up? How do we discuss government and the decisions that are being made? What messages are we sending our children about their teachers or even strangers? Our words are powerful and our kids are listening! 

And thank you to the amazing teachers who are working so hard to make sure our children have what they need to be successful in this season! We personally have been blessed with incredible teachers! Be encouraged friends! You are not alone in this. I pray you experience deep peace and joy even in the uncertainty of this season!

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