Friday, March 30, 2012

Me Time

I have met moms last year whom I have shared the benches with nine months. All of us wait for our little daughters in their ballet class. I cannot say we have developed a deep friendship but I would say, each of the moms at least care for the well-being of the other moms. In one of our candid conversations, I have shared that all of us dedicated :-) moms should have our break, a day off or a Me Time. We need to get out once in a while just to recharge and think about ourselves even for just a few hours or a whole day even.

Thursdays are my Me-Time. My day starts with BSF, which is a bible study I have been attending for 6 seasons now or about 5 to 6 years. After BSF, my BSF classmates, who have become friends through the years, and I have lunch in one of the restaurants nearby. We catch up on things, family, business and just about anything. It's our way of reconnecting with one another. Keeping the friendship alive. After lunch I would usually do my errands, pay bills, do grocery shopping. I would do anything on that day. I will not teach during that day but would leave work for my son to do while I'm out. I don't spend the whole day out because by the time we finish our lunch or my errands, I am just too in a hurry to see the kids once again with a refreshed mind, recharged body and renewed spirit, ready to serve again.

Some tips on how to spend your Me-Time:

1. Have an appointment with yourself. Moms need to have at least a few hours in one day without the husband, without the kids. Motherhood can be overwhelming most of the time because we are on call 24/7. That is why we need some alone time, just to step back and take care of ourselves.

2. Plan how to spend your day off. It may be a time to reconnect with old friends, who are also moms who need a time off from the family. Get together and have coffee and just have a good laugh. Laughter is good for the heart :-) Maybe these meetings may spur new ideas on business or part-time work or even new inspiration to workout and be healthy. You may also inspire other moms. Build bridges, build relationships. When you became a mom doesn't mean you have to be "alone" in your world.

3. Start a hobby. This may be a time to restart your old passions and just enjoy them. Passion for writing, for cooking, baking, arts and crafts, fitness, the outdoors. Or it may also spark an interest in reading. Spending your day off with just coffee and a book is time well-spent.

4. Have an eternal perspective. What do I mean by eternal perspective? Your life, where does it all lead to? Have you ever thought of where you are going to spend eternity? How is your relationship with God? Jesus Christ? We need to consider this when we think of eternity. This world and everything in it all are temporary. They will rot away, turn to dust and be destroyed. What is important is knowing who we are and where we are headed. Get to know God. Get to know Jesus Christ. You can do it on your own by reading the Bible or find a bible study group that help you get to know the God who holds the universe in his hand.

5. Beautifying mom. The current business trends today are food carts and spas or salon. There are a lot even in your neighborhood. Get the nails done, scrub those tired and achy feet. Treat that sore back with a massage. Not only will you look good but you will definitely feel good as well. I'm sure the hubby won't mind touching those smooth and silky feet again.

It doesn't matter where you spend your day off or how often you do as long you do have one. It is a must for moms! How can you give love and care to your family if you don't care for your own body. You cannot give what you do not have. If your schedule is too hectic or you just can't leave the kids, again as I said in number 2. Plan ahead. Ask a trusted person to look after the kids for a few hours. I don't think they won't mind, if they care about your well-being too.

If all else fails and you can't go out, do what my friend does. She tells her boys that she will be reading her favorite book in her room and that she needs them to help her enjoy the book by not knocking on the door unless it is important. So far it has worked for her. She did not even spend anything at all. She just needed her kids' cooperation. Or else the monster mom might come out of hiding.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finishing Strong

As students from conventional schools are ending their school year this week and next week, Coby is just a few weeks away from completing his third grade. Hopefully, we end just before his 9th birthday, which falls on a Holy Week, again :-)

I have already expressed in my previous blog that this year has definitely been a challenge for me as a parent-teacher. Not only do I have a preschooler, who in a matter of weeks learned how to read, I also have a third-grader who has been quite a challenge to teach as he is more independent and been wanting to do things his way. My teaching style and parenting style were no longer working for him, so this old dog needed to learn new tricks, so they say.

The monster-mom out of the closet once again, this time more fierce and more impatient. Most of the time our days would end in tears, in endless apologies, and knees rubbing the floor in prayer. I may have uttered the words "forgive me" numerous times this year and pulled my hair out of exasperation. I just couldn't do it anymore. I don't want to do this anymore, I would tell myself. I cannot teach my kids and I don't want to teach ever again. I would flood the inbox of my homeschooling consultant's cellphone every time the frustration kicks in. I would send her messages expressing the same sentiments. I cannot do it and I don't want to do this anymore. 

Until finally, I had a heart to heart talk with the  mother of all homeschooling families, Tita Girlie, our family's consultant/family adviser/friend and a pioneer homeschooling parent. She listened to my litany and just really listened. I don't know if I was going to be encouraged or not but she said, "As a parent-teacher, what you are going through is normal. All of us went through that, You are not alone, my friend."

Here are the the three things I picked up from our conversation. 

1. Don't take it personally. If I see my child not behaving the way I expect him to behave, it's not because of ME at all. The action is never directed at me. At times he shows no interest at all to do school, sometimes sluggish or to be more blunt, lazy to do any work. Something is going on inside of him and it's not because of me. It has absolutely nothing to do with me. He is acting out what he feels inside. He is not doing it to show disrespect, he is just not in the mood period. Nothing to do with Mama at all. But if the behavior persists, bad habits might be formed so I should also be mindful of that. 

2. Don't be afraid to take breaks. She suggested doing the Break Box or for our family, we call it the Pick Me Box. It's a box filled with activities written on paper that they can do on their 10 to 15-minute-breaks. We wrote down Draw, Paint, Snack Time, Research on the Internet (because Coby never runs out of questions), Play, Discover the outdoors etc. They pick one paper each and do whatever is written on it. After their breaks, they are energized and ready for the next lesson. Moms need breaks too. When I feel the anger creeping in, I should get myself out of the situation and just take deep breaths. On one occasion, I told him I will just go upstairs on a time out. I went upstairs and prayed until the anger died down. 

3. Nagging never works. I never thought of myself as a nagger. But maybe I never knew that my endless talk is already nagging. If you don't have anything nice to say, keep quiet.

4. Always speak blessings. Use positive words. I should not highlight the negative. For example, in Math, when he forgets how to do a certain operation, instead of saying, "We already studied that, how come you don't know", say, "Do you want me to review this topic again to refresh you?" Use words that would edify, that would build up instead of words that would tear them down. "You are so creative.", "Thank you. You are so helpful." "Good thing you told me that, I never knew that before." 

5. Build character and break bad habits. One thing I like about homeschooling is that Character is incorporated in all the lessons, in daily life to be exact. They learn attentiveness, respect, responsibility, diligence, orderliness and a lot more character traits that are taught at home, practiced immediately at home and used outside the home as well. As they grow up, bad habits will form if we are not firm in guiding them through our parenting styles. Bad habits should be nipped early on by reminding them of the character traits and that ultimately God sees what they are doing and God sees their heart. 

6. Pray unceasingly. Pray for guidance on how to prepare the lesson. Pray for patience when it is drying out.  Pray for creativity to keep them hooked and when helping them make their portfolio.  Pray for discernment in making choices for them. Pray to express gratitude for a joyful homeschooling day. Pray for their future. Pray that they remember Godly character traits they have learned. Pray that they will apply it. Pray that I will apply it also. Pray for successful completion on each day, each quarter, each school year. Pray that the Holy Spirit will mold the children to the persons God wants them to be. 




Now, armed with a new perspective on parenting and teaching, plus a moment by

moment direct line to God for grace and patience, we are at the tail end of our fourth quarter. Would I still homeschool next year? Honestly, after all the struggles, the tears, the aha moments, realizations and lessons learned, I am considering. The blessings received because of homeschooling  are far greater than the tears and frustration. I would still do it again only if God would allow me to.