its the sincerest form of flattery

I’m not planning on wearing any denim jumper dresses anytime soon, but I’ve been attending monthly homeschool mommy meetings at our new church. Sssshh. Don’t tell any of my high school friends. They’d laugh you out of town!

Last Tuesday night the guest speaker had some very thought provoking things to say and it really ties in with some things I’m seeing in other places. Briefly, here are my notes:

On Shepherding Our Children (speaker-Tammy Horton)

  • PRAY- there are no guarantees
  • CULTIVATE SOIL (You cannot lead them where you haven’t gone. Become a true disciple of Christ)
  • Have the courage to face your inadequacies and ask the Lord to help you become who you need to be….she said “daily” but I’d like to add “moment by moment”.
  • Start early SERVING THE WORLD. Teach your children to serve. This goes back to the second bullet point. They won’t be servants if they don’t witness you serving.
  • Develop a strong family identity. For my notes, I wrote “Who are the Burgesses?” This is something that Brent and I will be praying about as I’m not totally sure either of us has an answer to that question.

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

And there I was minding my own business on Wednesday when a conversation about discipline styles popped up on one of my Charlotte Mason lists. I generally try to stay out of these conversations, but someone made the comment about a suggested child training website. The reader thought the website seemed to be promoting the idea that you are training your children to be like you. The reader was appalled by this and insisted that she could never think of herself so highly as to have such a goal and instead, she wanted her children to be like Christ.

Mammas, whether or not we like it, our children are going to turn out a little like us. Okay. A LOT like us. If you have a child that is constantly complaining, look in the mirror. If you have a child that is lazy, look in the mirror. This goes without saying that obviously they are going to develop individual traits all by themselves and that by the grace of God wonderful people do come from completely detestable parents sometimes. But we should feel this weight on us, this responsibility to constantly be refining our character to be more like Christ, as we take the hands of our children to follow us in that pursuit. Know this, they are watching and they are soaking it all up. Every moment. Every word. Every action.

With all of this on my mind, I was amused to come downstairs this morning and find Arwen wearing my apron and Charis clopping around in my shoes. This imitation is flattering, but not so much when I hear a harsh criticism towards a sibling…and know that they got it from me.

Yesterday I was gone for a few hours and do you know what my sweet big girl was doing while I was gone? Brent had started some laundry and she was sitting at the table coloring. The dryer stopped and suddenly she sprang from her chair and walked into the kitchen to unload the dryer and transfer the clothes from the washer into the now empty dryer and turn it on. She sees me working around the house all day long and it came naturally to her to do it, I guess, since I wasn’t there.

This brings me to my (I lost count, 4th?) point: Your children are capable of a whole heck of a lot more than you think they are!

Under the influence of way too many hours spent reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charlotte Mason, we’ve been doing chores every morning. I’m not really organized about it because that just isn’t the season we are in right now. We just clean whatever is the dirtiest that day. And most of our “cleaning” is just to get things manageable. But we don’t do anything else until the house resembles a place that everyone wants to be in all day.

We clean and I say, “We don’t want bugs in our house, so we need to sweep under the couch!”

We clean and I say, “Isn’t it nice to be able to find your toys when you want to play with them? Put all the train tracks here.”

We clean and I say, “Arwen, you are going to be such a wonderful wife and mamma one day! You are learning how to keep house!” (Yes, I do try my very best to sound like Michelle Duggar when I say that one.)

We do lighter cleaning on heavier school days and stop by 10 am. But on lighter school days we’ll go until 11. Please don’t think I mean cleaning until everything is spotless. I mean cleaning so that we can find our clothes when we need them and the baby can crawl across the floor without contaminating herself with God-knows-what, and so that I have dishes available for the next meal. That kind of cleaning.

Do you think they are enjoying it?

A dish might get broken, but she’s learning important life lessons. And she gets to wear Mamma’s Apron!

A dish might get broken, but she’s learning important life lessons. And she gets to wear Mamma’s Apron!

Quick Tips:

  • If your kids cannot pick up after themselves they have too much stuff. Inform them of this and then get rid of a lot of it. You are doing them a favor! It shouldn’t take hours to put toys away.
  • If you cannot keep up with all of your stuff, YOU have too much stuff! It does no good to keep every single birthday card you ever got from anybody if you never actually look at them or have a special place to put them. Look at them, say a silent prayer of gratitude for grandma betsy and then throw those suckers in the trash!
  • The stress you lose as a result of getting rid of your stuff is worth more than the weight of all said stuff in gold. Trust me. Get rid of stuff. Throw it out. Donate it to charities. Have a yard sale.
  • Your children feel important and needed when they get to help out with daily maintenance around the house.
  • If they complain, it’s only because you have conditioned them to believe that work is always bad and playing is always good. Change your attitude about your duties and theirs will follow suit.
  • If you are charging down the steps with a leaking diaper baby and see that the AC repairman left a mess when he changed your filter, don’t get overwhelmed about it. Call out to your four year old to grab that hand broom and dustpan and sweep it up. So what if she doesn’t do it perfectly. It’s just dirt, people.
  • When your two year old asks for a spray bottle and a rag never say “No.” Give it to him and try to persuade him to clean something that actually needs cleaning. If he wants to clean a window that is already clean, so what? It’s just a window, but he is feeling important to get to help.
  • When your kids are running around fussing at each other and being goofy, distribute baby wipes and send them to clean the walls. Walls always need cleaning.
  • I firmly believe that at the age my children are in, establishing good habits is more important that sitting and doing school lessons all day.
  • Sit in the room they are cleaning up and instruct them. They are not born knowing how to clean. “Charis, pull everything out from under Ezra’s bed.” Then help her see that she can get all the blocks and put them in the block box at once. Then point out the books she pulled out. Then the hairbows, etc. You can’t just send them into a room and say “Clean it.” It won’t get very clean and they won’t learn how to do it right. With time, you will be able to do that though!
  • I find that explaining to my children that we don’t want bugs or mice, or that we don’t want to get sick over and over, is great motivation to get them to clean up.
  • You have all that energy just sitting in your house mammas. Put it to good use!!