Life is busy for everyone but even more so for the homeschool couple. We manage our employment, extended family responsibilities, church and community commitments. Then, there is the home front. Meals, cleaning, curriculum, extracurricular, parenting and nurturing our marriage. So many places that we need to be attentive and invest in! People often ask, “How do you do it all?” The truth is, no one can do it all. It is a matter of managing the priorities.
Even if you and your spouse share a vision to homeschool, agree on finances and are in unison in the big picture of raising your children, the little things can trip you up. Because, let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day and everything takes time!
How Do You Measure Success?
It’s so easy to measure our successes against other people’s standards. What is really important is that as you honor the Lord, you find out what you need to do for your family, and for your spouse. Wouldn’t it then make sense that each home would be unique in it’s own way?
When I was a young mom living a super stressed out life I heard some advise from an older woman. She homeschooled their 13 or 14 children (biological and adopted). As several of us young moms begged her to tell us her secret to sanity she shared something I will never forget.
This mama (we’ll call her Betty) had also led an overwhelmed life feeling discouraged and defeated as if she was not living up to a certain standard. As she shared her heart with her husband and the recognition that she truly could not “do it all”, there was a pivotal moment. She asked him to prioritize four things. Four things that were important to her yet also things that could easily become areas of stress. What was most important to him? Her own desires were not being disregarded. These were four things that were important to her too! She was seeking unity and direction as to how to appropriate her time.
The Priority List
Betty evaluated her days, looking at what took the most time and physical/emotional energy to accomplish. It came down to these four things:
1) Homecooked meal
2) Clean house/laundry done
3)Full day of homeschooling
4) Reserved mental and physical energy for sex.
Because ALL of these things happening on the same day was a threshold too high to accomplish consistently.
After her personal brainstorming, she presented the list to her husband (we will call him Joe) to evaluate. She explained that she wanted to honor him and meet his needs and expectations. That she wanted to share in prioritizing their life together instead of each one having their own agenda and living disappointed when things didn’t turn out.
I don’t have their numbered list nor do I know what he chose. I can however tell you, that it changed the outlook on life for both of them. Together they decided that any day 3 of those things happened would be considered a success. Sure, I bet there were days that didn’t go as planned and the list was pushed aside completely. But for most days, it gave a workable goal.
The List Gives Freedom
For Betty, it helped her to set her day. She knew what was important to Joe and learned to pace herself. No longer did she need to push herself to an unsustainable lifestyle. She saved herself from burnout when she recognized that accomplishing three of those list items REALLY WAS enough. Her stress level fell and her countenance was raised.
For Joe, his homecoming was different. When he walked in after work, he could visually evaluate what was going on. He was able to be more sensitive to her needs. Did his wife have a good day? Would she be exhausted from the physical demands of mothering? Was the house clean? Did the children have completed lessons to show him? Was the home filled with the wonderful aroma of a homecooked meal? Betty told us that on the days that her husband came home and she served PB&J for dinner, he was a happy man. He remembered the list and knew where she was going to invest her energy…after the kids were in bed. 😉 She knew that aligning their priorities as a couple, brought peace and satisfaction to their marriage.
How about you? Overwhelmed? Do you feel like you are juggling everything? Are you striving for perfect when it’s not really necessary? Have you thought to ask your spouse? Your list may be different than Betty and Joe’s. Talking about it and considering the needs of each other will go a long way to bring joy and fulfillment to your home.