Dear friends, I have a special book review for you today called Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms. It is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, sells for $15, and it is just for moms. It is a wonderfully refreshing book that is meant to encourage you to flourish and find balance in your home and homeschool.
Each chapter offers stories, quotes, encouragement, challenges, and practical advice for homeschool moms.
An Invitation to Flourish, starts off with the challenges that homeschool moms face, what it means to flourish, and offers strategies that Mary Jo Tate has developed to move towards a more balanced life. She begins by telling her personal story of her own need for balance and what she has learned along the way. She lets you know right off that there is no one right way to do most of what she suggests, but that we can apply them to fit our own life. At the end of each chapter, she invites you to apply what you have learned, answer some honest questions, and take action. I filled out a Pre-Book Self Evaluation that helped me identify the challenges I currently face. One of my biggest personal challenges is finding the energy to do all that I want to do. And one thing currently missing in my life that I'd like to make time for is working on my memory keeping. My biggest business challenge (blog related) is social media. Answering the questions was good for self-evaluation. Throughout the book, I referred to my blog and my homeschool as a business, but whether you are a homeschooler/blogger or a small business owner working from home, you can apply her business tips to your situation.
Change Your Mind to Change Your Time, answers the question "How do you do it all?" The chapter is divided into subtitles like "Stop Struggling with Juggling" and "Balance Is Not a Myth," and ends with questions to prompt you to take action. The one I highlighted was "What is your ideal? What is your reality? How will you begin to find peace in the space between ideal and reality?" The ideal is what you would be doing if you could do anything, and the reality is your every day life. I loved that I was encouraged to find balance between the two.
The Freedom Tool Box, is all about F.R.E.E.D.O.M, an acronym for:
Several key ideas stood out to me: prioritize, quiet time to reflect, delegate, self-discipline, organize my time, tasks, and thoughts, and multitask effectively. I especially appreciated Mary Jo Tate's view on multitasking effectively - it changed the way I multitask.
Where Did My Time Go?, is all about learning to protect and prioritize your time. In this chapter I was challenged to take action by keeping a time log and document every 30 minutes of my day for a week. When I assessed my time log, I saw right away that I was wasting time looking for things and that if I was more organized I would save valuable time. But, what I appreciated the most was doing a reality check. Some tasks were simply a reality to accept. These tasks take time and no matter how efficient I try to become, they still take time. I appreciated knowing that this was something that I could simply accept! I also liked her tip on looking for opportunities and her tip to think in terms of a routine, not a schedule. She explains why in this chapter. And finally, I loved her perspective on making decisions about how you use your time.
"Ask yourself, What am I saying no to when I say yes to this choice?"
And many other practical helps. This was one of my favorite chapters.
In Aim High Setting Goals I took home an important point on writing things down - it forces me to be intentional, but it was this quote from a mom that Mary Jo Tate shares on page 59:
"A big key to success for me in that the more I write down, the less I have in my brain."
This hit home with me because I store as much as I can in my brain and with all that information in my brain that I am afraid to forget, I have a hard time resting my brain.
It also encouraged me to get in the habit of setting goals.
What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools was my least favorite chapter. It was all just very overwhelming to me, but I appreciated her point to be flexible and open to God's leading each day and to remember
"The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
I ask Father to order my day each day and I do what I feel most compelled to do, but towards the end of the chapter, I started appreciating what she had to say when I read the following about the Running To-Do List on page 82:
"This is simply an all-purpose, temporary holding place for unloading your bran so it won't have to spin its wheels reminding you."
Can I really give my brain a rest?
We Interrupt This Program is literally about just that ~ how to deal with interruptions! Not just in how we physically deal with them, but emotionally as well.
It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment hit home when Mary Jo Tate talks about perfectionism:
"Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. I've noticed that the more complicated a task is, the liklier I am to put it off until I have more time to deal with it thoroughly."
Yep, that's me. I love that Mary Jo Tate admits that this is an area that she herself is still working on. In fact, she is real throughout the book about her continual journey to find balance.
Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days, is all about taking care of yourself. Some of these I fall short on, so they are good reminders. This is also where I am encouraged to add that something missing from my life that I mentioned above and make time for it.
Training Your Children, is about four things to teach our children to have a more balanced life for the whole family. I especially appreciated the affirmation that I am most valuable to my family as a wife and mom, and not the housekeeper!
Making Memories, spoke right to my heart! More encouragement to work on what's missing in my life, and to keep building family traditions. Wonderful!
Managing Your Home ~ ah yes, chores and the daily duties of running a house is one of our biggest family challenges. I do feel better when I have had a productive day, but they don't happen everyday. I am often lacking in motivation, but I put the book down to go work on the house and I am again reminded to find peace in the space between the ideal and reality.
All of Life is Learning, is all about homeschooling from why to how. I especially liked the topic Systemize for Success. I really need a more systematic approach to our days and a system for accountability.
Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom spoke to my heart as I've been there. This chapter not only offers encouragement and ideas for single moms, but also how married moms can support and encourage single moms.
Home Business is devoted to all aspects of home business from whether or not a home business would be a good fit for your family, what kind of business would be good for you, to how to manage your home business.
Moving Ahead encourages you to apply what you have learned and do a post-book progress check (found in the appendix).
I took away lots of little gems from Flourish.
One of my favorite gems that I took away from this book is to think in terms of 15 minute time blocks - what can I get done in this little amount of time? I've had many 15 minute time blocks that I was able to make good productive use of my time with and accomplish much. It's really fun to think of how much I can get done in just 15 minutes, and it's not too stressful of a time commitment.
I also feel encouraged to try things that I'm not good at and to get out of my comfort zone.
Was there anything I did not like?
The personal stories were wonderful, but often I found myself wading through the stories to get to the good stuff - the practical stuff! How does this apply to me?! What can I do about it? I wanted to know.
The overall feeling I get from Flourish is one of relief. My children, especially my older boys, do a lot of work around the house. I often feel guilty that they are responsible for so much and that the older kids are helping the younger kids so much. I often feel inadequate that I can't do it all, but thanks to Flourish, I don't do it all, I "redefine it all," and I'm okay with that!