Two weeks ago, I wrote about recalibrating my life. In case you missed it, you can find it here- Recalibrating Each Season.
Every new season I reevaluate.
These are some of the questions that I ask while doing so-
-What does my family need to thrive?
-How can we best maintain calm in the home?
-What “things” can we do to make family life move from ‘good’ to ‘great’?
-What goals am I focusing on right now that require the most energy?
-What can I do to keep myself the most mentally strong?
-What can I do to keep myself physically strong?
-What has NOT been a blessing and must go?
-What could be a blessing to add?
Our upbringing and life experiences form our position of parenthood.
Here is the interesting thing about this… sometimes the things that I think are going to be "super amazing and totally revolutionize our lives" don’t work. That is why we are constantly recalibrating. Or sometimes I become lax in some of the successful things that bring a lot of benefit to our family life and need a “fresh start” that doesn’t have to be January 1.
Perhaps down the road, I will share some things that I do to stay strong mentally to keep up with the demands of big family life, while still finding time to balance my dream work. Today I am going to speak about my kids.
Like most parents, I want to create opportunities for learning and growth, to challenge, inspire and build confidence in my youngsters.
We all attempt to accomplish this in a unique way.
Our upbringing and life experiences form our position of parenthood. We all do it differently and emphasize things that are most important to us, so I am only speaking about my personal experience here.
During my recalibration period, I think about every one of my children. Are they thriving or merely surviving? This may stress out my cautious friends, but I am a feet-first type of person, so can only learn by trying. Here are a few examples of times I have recalibrated over the years.
My kids started out in the local Catholic School. We loved it! But when a move extended our bus ride to longer than we were comfortable with, we switched to homeschooling. One of my sons didn’t do very well due to undiagnosed special needs, so after a year of homeschooling, we sent them back. When he failed to thrive, and I grew tired of hearing negative remarks from the school, I brought all of the kids home and have been homeschooling ever since.
I noticed that one of my sons seemed to be struggling with self-esteem, so we bought a bunch of calf huts, and he and I raised 50 bottle babies for a while. My goal in doing so was for him to find something to feel proud of, and it worked! But after a year of doing so, we quit, and he found other projects that brought him joy and a sense of accomplishment.
A year ago, we joined an incredible homeschool co-op that ticked so many of the boxes that we wanted to check off. After a fabulous year of getting to know some incredible families, we discerned that we were going to switch gears for the 2022-2023 school year.
This year we are focusing on building autonomy in the older kids. Up until this point, everything that we did, we did as a family. Now, this is still something that is EXTREMELY important to me, but we have the opportunity to participate in some incredible activities on an individual basis and we are going to rock it.
"Ironically, I have grown so much closer to the kids in them being in sports."
Before I get into the older kids, let me talk about my littles for a second. Our family is usually split in half, the 12, 11, 9, and 7-year-olds make up the older half, and the 4, 2, and 11-month-old make up the younger half. The older ones are very active and love to hike, bike, fish, swim, etc. My younger half thrives the most on a routine and staying close to home. Because of this, Adam and I will often split up so that the older kids can still create memories in the great outdoors, and the youngest can keep from getting overstimulated. There will be plenty of opportunities to create memories down the road with them, but for now, these littles are the happiest when we don’t demand too much out of them.
Ironically, I have grown so much closer to the kids in them being in sports. When I pick up Kate from gymnastics, she and I get to spend some time talking about what she did that day. When we get home, she always has wild demonstrations for me; I am in awe, watching her do things I never could.
Soccer hasn’t started yet for the fall season, but this spring, when I would pick up Phil, my oldest, from a game, I would get the entire play-by-play. He is usually a really reserved man-of-few-words. Seeing his face light up, while describing the game was so incredible. I was getting to know my son in a new way.
Peter, my second oldest just started horseback-riding lessons. I have been looking for something for him for a long time. Tae Kwon Do was painful for both him and I, music lessons just never clicked, and he requested to quit soccer camp after the second day because he hated it. But when I picked that boy up on Thursday morning, his face was glowing! His teacher remarked how well he did and how quickly he picked things up. I almost cried! I think I have finally found something that he loves, so he will be able to learn to excel at it!
My dad once told me that it was important that the kids had something of their own that they could teach me. I am no gymnast, have never kicked a soccer ball in my life, and am deathly afraid of horses, so here’s my opportunity! And he was so right. They take so much pride in teaching me and the rest of our family about their craft.
It’s a strange concept… I am running around more than I ever have but have also never been closer to my oldest three. I feel like we are in an awesome place right now. Yes, I will be excited when the fall sports are over and we can rest for a season, but for now, it is just what our family needs.
Holy Spirit, continue to guide my family. Help me to teach them to grow in virtue. Give them the confidence to never fear defending their faith. Give them the humility to never stop growing and learning. Give them joy to bring the irresistible light of Christ to others. Amen.
Until next time, my dear friends in Christ,