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My family has a somewhat chaotic life. Well, it’s not always like that, but yeah, we're pretty much handling a busy schedule often enough…
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1) As our homeschooling efforts have evolved over the years, we’ve incorporated a good bit of outside curricula-related activities in our schooling. For example, when the boys were young, we milked the educational value found in Cub Scout belt loops for various subjects. We found excellent PE classes (tennis, swimming, gymnastics) at our local YMCA; we handled some subjects via co-op classes, either with another family or two, or through our homeschool support group. All these activities required time commitments in addition to the particular activity, and at the very least, necessitated travel time. Participation in Boy Scouts added weekly meetings, campouts and service projects. Our support group also had monthly “extras”: events that made school more “fun,” and at which the kids got to spend time with friends.
2) Many homeschool families have one parent that works outside the home, and if not “attended to,” this relationship can become a bit strained. Feeling that the dad-child relationship is vital, some of our activities occur on the weekends and help us stay connected with dad. Weekend trips to motocross events, visiting our older kids out of town, and volunteering at church or in the community may keep us a bit busy on the weekends, but help to ensure that dad stays “in the loop.”
3) Our kids have developed their own interests over time, and some of our activities enable them to pursue their gifts and talents. These activities include rehearsing and performing in theatrical productions, piano and dance recitals (along with the weekly lessons, of course) and belt-advancement programs for karate. Also, as they age, paid jobs have become available to them. While these are a great chance to earn money and develop valuable life and employment experiences, getting them there and back adds one two more things to our daily “to-do” list (at least until they have their drivers’ licenses!).
4) Involvement in church-related activities is one of our family's core values. Mom and dad have a weekly small-group meeting, where the fellowship strengthens our faith, and our kids have a Wednesday night program as well. Church activities sometimes stretch to include ministering to church-friends: helping someone move, for example, or taking care of pets while a friend is out-of-town, providing child-care for a mom suffering from morning sickness, or preparing and taking a meal to a shut-in or ill friend.
5) Last but not least, we find oh-so-many educational and relational benefits to incorporating volunteer service into our days (besides the keeping-up-with-dad type, mentioned above!). Over the years, our kids have learned about both history and current events by spending time with seniors at the local nursing home. Preparing and delivering needed personal items to a drug and alcohol rehab center and women's emergency shelter and preparing meals for the homeless has encouraged the discovery and discussion of social service and health-related topics. All the activities related to preparing gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child has - believe it or not - been a part of our world geography studies, too!
Of course, we’re not doing ALL these things ALL the time, even though it might look like it to someone from the outside. 😉 We still manage to have quiet times at home, go on dates with each other, and enjoy breathing room. And, thankfully, God has His own special way of throwing monkey wrenches into our schedule by canceling or postponing an activity when we especially need the rest.
Why are we handling such a busy schedule?
Filling our lives with enriching activities that connect us with others and the world around us is our way of exercising stewardship of the opportunities and gifts with which God has blessed us. Thankfully, we all enjoy good health and are able to make the most of each moment allotted to us.
We only have one shot at this life, and I sort of look at it through a “carpe diem” mentality. You know, the “I can sleep when I’m dead” approach!
And then, when we do have a night off or a free weekend…well, nobody savors it like we do!
What's YOUR life like? Are you more of a "yes person" or a "no person" to outside activities?
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