I would say that most women Are Willing to invest a lot of thought, time, energy and Even money into their homes.
And why wouldn’t we?
Our homes say something important about us.
If we have a large, beautiful home in a good neighborhood, it suggests that we are women of means.
If we have a beautifully decorated and organized home, the implication stands that we are creative and accomplished.
And if we are mothers and home educators… well, we have a whole new dynamic of home life to consider…
Ironically,the most important aspects of our home remain invisible, hidden in the quiet moments of living.
Several years ago I read Karen Andreola’s book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and it prompted some fresh thoughts for me on this topic of home for the home educator.
In her chapter entitled “The Atmosphere of Home,” Mrs. Andreola writes,
“Charlotte Mason believed that as much as one third of education is atmosphere…
It is the life-supporting atmosphere of home working in a child’s life that is such an important element of his education.”
Mrs. Andreola goes on in that chapter to share several key areas she feels are are important to the home atmosphere.
In this post, I’m going to share a few specific issues that Jeremy and I have personally had to address in our “home atmosphere” as home educators.
For the next few minutes, pull your thoughts away from the organized closets (or cluttered drawers) and shelf-lined walls (or piles of books on the dining room table), and let’s look inwardly at the heart– or atmosphere of our homes.
Those invisible places that are often more challenging to organize than any pile of clutter.
As always, let me remind you that what I write about here at the blog are areas I am thinking about, and growing in, in my own life.
I don’t write about home life because I have this nailed down as a wife and mom.
I write about it because I live it, every day. And sometimes, I struggle.
I’m listing words first because this is probably one of my most difficult battles as a mom.
Simply put, my words can so easily be critical and impatient.
I’ve already confessed here at the blog that I struggle with being “that mom” who yells at her kids.
I have to be intentional about speaking life.
I have to want to and plan to and on purpose be a mom who gives grace with her words.
My husband, Jeremy, is a natural encourager, and he has helped me more than anyone in this area.
Our family meal times are a space where Jeremy and I are purposeful about cultivating positive conversations.
(I’ll share more about intentional ways to make family meal times meaningful later this week, as well as info about Sally Clarkson’s newest book, The Life Giving Table.)
For now let me say that cultivating new habits (and attitudes) has been vital for me in order to be a Mom who speaks grace-giving words.
“Let your speech always be gracious…”
I love music in the home, but obviously I’m not talking about tunes right now!
I’ve often called them routines or schedules, but I love Sally Clarkson’s word for the living out of our days at home… our daily rhythms.
Our children need order in their days.
This is going to look a bit differently for every family, and that’s okay. We are all unique, with various personalities and emotional needs.
The important part is that we do cultivate order and rhythms in our days.
This is a particular strength of mine, although I’ve had to mellow out a bit (well, a lot) over the years. 🙂
By nature I’m a planner.
I love and crave an orderly life.
Let’s just say my husband, Jeremy, balances me out nicely!
He is a free-spirited, take-life-as-it-comes kind of guy. Jeremy seldom gets flustered by interruptions and thrives on spontaneity.
After fifteen years of marriage and nearly fourteen years of parenting, we’ve arrived at a happy place that I would call flexible order.
He bends toward my need for routine, and I bend toward his need for the unpredictable.
Sally Clarkson’s writings on “daily rhythms” have shaped my concept of home life a lot.
Here are a few of my favorite reads:
- Rhythms That Bring New Life
- Routines That Give Children Security and Love
- Training Hearts and Minds (podcast)
- A Few Thoughts on Whole Hearted Homeschooling
I find that rhythms and routines must grow with your family, and our daily rhythms have definitely changed over the different seasons of life with littles.
Right now, we have five children at home who range in ages from thirteen down to four years old.
A few very important rhythms for us include:
- a structured morning on school days
- meal times
- quite time in the afternoon (for kids and Mom!)
- bath and bedtime routines
- chores (or they would never get done!)
- Sunday routines (important for a ministry family)
To my young mom friends: don’t get so focused on routines and order that you forget the heart issues of your home.
But do cultivate rhythms into your days! This is a practical way to love your family well, and provide a comfortable predictability for your kids.
Does it seem silly to you that I’m writing to Christian moms about loving their kids?
Don’t all good parents naturally love their children?
But I believe it’s completely possible to miss the dynamic of unconditional love:
Love that does not have to be earned.
In parenting lingo, love that is not given or withheld because of behavior, choices, or attitudes.
This is the kind of love that our Heavenly Fathers lavishes on us, His children, and it’s the kind of love we are to emulate in our family relationships.
Unconditional love in a home will create a sense of emotional safety for everyone:
A feeling of being known, loved, and accepted for who you are, not necessarily for how you perform.
I feel like this is a really big deal for pastor’s families, because we deal with a lot of pressure and expectations to perform.
It’s also a really big deal for conservative families in general, because we can struggle with self-righteous pride and always wanting to make others think well of us.
Expectations (and pride) can create an enormous sense of pressure for kids to perform… morally, spiritually, academically, and in a million other ways.
A truth I must embrace as a Mom is that God did not give my children to me to make me look good.
He blessed me with children to raise and nurture “in the way they should go”, and then to release into the world for His purposes.
If my kids feel like they have to “act right” in order to earn my love and approval, something is terribly wrong with my perspective.
A home where love and approval must be earned, rather than freely given, is not the emotionally safe environment where kids will learn to know and feel the unconditional love of their Heavenly Father.
Differences are Okay
Years ago, I was chatting with a friend when she mentioned a family whom we had both recently met.
I had to hide a smile when my friend informed me, “You know, they are a very GOOD family. They’re just like us.”
As pretentious as that may sound, the honest truth is that most of us tend to be egocentric in our judgement of others.
That is, we tend to approve of and like people who are similar to us.
Including our children.
One of the biggest surprises for me as a mom was that I really don’t have a say in all the details about my kids’ personhood.
Just like I can’t choose the color of their eyes or if they are fair or dark complected, neither can I choose their gifts or control their life callings.
They came to me pre-programmed by God, for His purposes.
Each of my five kids are all different from each other, different from their friends, different from me.
I love the Amplified Bible’s commentary-style version of Ephesians 6:4:
“Fathers [parents!], do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
And again, in Colossians 3:21:
“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
These Scriptures are a gentle reminder to parents not to make unreasonable demands, or show indifference or favoritism toward our kids.
God, help us to handle their hearts tenderly, and remain in awe at the amazing, albeit imperfect, people He created them to be.
In the midst of launching another busy school year, may we each remember:
The most important aspects of our home remain invisible, hidden in the quiet moments of living.
- 3 Questions I Ask Myself When Homeschooling Feels Like Chaos
- Why I’m Not Cut Out to Be a Homeschool Mom
- How Well Do You Know Your Father?
- Learning to Love Well on the Not So Nice Days