All posts by Teri Maxwell

Teri Maxwell is wife to Steve for over 40 years, mom to eight children (three married), and grandma to eight. She loves keeping her home running smoothly and sharing with women in the vein of Titus 2:4&5. Teri homeschooled for thirty years, and she's graduated all her children. In between her other responsibilities, she manages to squeeze in writing time. She is co-author of the popular Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores. In addition, Teri's written three books just for ladies Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet Spirit, Sweet Journey, and Sweet Relationships. She has been writing monthly encouragement articles for homeschool moms for 25 years. Find more information on Teri Maxwell and her books.

How to Do Bible Time for Preschoolers

During the first day of our visit in their home, four-year-old Alice excitedly shared with us where she was in her personal Bible time and what she was learning. The next day, she showed us her set up: sitting in Dad’s living room chair, computer on a table beside it with an audio Bible CD in it, headphones, and her Bible in her lap. Since Alice was learning to read, she could follow the audio in her actual Bible. 

How to Start Your Child in the Bible

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). As Christian moms, we want to see our children place their faith in Jesus and grow up with a love for God’s Word. We desire that they would hide Scripture in their hearts. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). We hope they will use the Bible to direct their thoughts and actions. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Did you know you can begin that process in your children’s preschool days? One way to do that is to schedule a daily, personal Bible time for them. 

What If She Can’t Read?

You might wonder how personal Bible time would be possible for preschoolers since generally they can’t read. One benefit of our modern technology is Scripture in audio form—no reading, just listening! Preschoolers can listen to Scripture via a computer, or other device such as a smart phone, iPad, or MP3 player. (Most know we encourage using technical devices as tools not toys for children, and this is a good example.) There are dramatized and undramatized audio Bibles available. The ones for devices are free. With ear phones, your child can listen while other things are going on that would be a distraction or to keep them from being a distraction.

There are many benefits that come from a preschooler’s personal Bible time. They begin to learn Scripture and are often quite enthusiastic about what they learn. Preschoolers also have that amazing ability to remember well what they hear. Our grandson, Joshua, memorized the book of Jonah when he was five years old in large measure from listening to it. 

Bible Time as a Child Creates a Good Habit

Preschool, personal Bible time is the beginning of a daily Bible time habit, something we would like to send our children into adulthood with. Whatever is habitual is easier to accomplish than something you have to decide each day if you will or will not do. How many of you yearn for daily Bible time but struggle to make it a reality? What if you had been given a daily Bible time habit when you were growing up?

During preschool Bible time, your child is productively occupied for the amount of time you designate for it, perhaps fifteen to thirty minutes. That allows you to accomplish something you couldn’t do when they need your more focused attention and oversight. 

Could I encourage you to begin your preschoolers on their own personal Bible time? It will take a bit of thinking on your part. When is that time best scheduled? On what will they listen to the Bible? Where will they have their Bible time? Do they need headphones? Once those questions are answered and implemented, you begin filling your children’s minds with God’s Word, perhaps the greatest gift you could possibly give them. Plus you develop a life long habit of personal Bible reading that continually grows and nurtures a real relationship with Jesus Christ. 

The Well Planned, Well-Executed Homeschooler’s Summer

Don’t homeschool moms look forward to finishing their school year and having a change of pace for the summer? Being purposeful today by praying, thinking, and planning your summer means ending it with a sense of satisfaction in what you accomplished rather than with regrets of wasted time.

Begin by Considering Your End-Goal

If you want to finish your summer well, you have to know what that means. What do you desire to accomplish this summer? What goals might you have? Would you like to get ahead in school? Maybe you desire an outing every week. Perhaps you have cleaning and organizing to do that you don’t have time for during the school year. Are there areas of character in your children that you could develop before August rolls around?

Write down those summer goals. Get them out of your head, in front of you where you can review, edit, add, and subtract from them. As you evaluate the goals, pray. Seek the Lord to determine what stays and what goes and how to accomplish what stays. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). 

Summer Scheduling for Homeschool Mom

With a desire to accomplish those goals, consider putting together a summer schedule. Somehow the “wing it” mentality generally brings you to August with lots of plans still on paper but little accomplished. You might find yourself scratching your head, wondering where your summer went. Not so with a schedule. Whipping together a schedule dedicates time for each of your goals and a huge feeling of accomplishment when summer is over.

Perhaps one of your goals for summer is a slower pace than your school year affords. Your schedule helps you set the brakes on the school-year hurry. Simply give yourself more time for activities, and put in the schedule those activities that say “slower” to you. That might be reading out loud to the children, playing games with them, or taking a daily, family morning walk.

When you have a list of cleaning and organizing projects to accomplish, you want to have dedicated time on the schedule to accomplish those jobs. If you only have younger children, schedule these projects at nap time. If you have older and younger children, put one older child in charge of occupying the little ones, and put the other older children to work on the project with you. You might be surprised how fast you move through that “to do” list with just one hour a day dedicated to projects.

With character issues to conquer, chores are your ally. Not only will there be improvement in the cleanliness and tidiness of your house, but your children develop qualities such as obedience, responsibility, diligence, thoroughness, timeliness, efficiency, and concentration.

If school work is a summer goal, whether to catch up from the previous year or get ahead on the upcoming one, schedule that time. As you construct your schedule, you will see places in it that are natural times for setting school work in front of the children, whether it is to quiet them down, give them a break from hot, outside activities, or to keep them occupied while you take a rest. 

No Regrets Summer

Many moms experience discouragement at the end of the summer not because of what they did but because of all they didn’t do. They anticipated those three months without normal homeschooling pressure and all they would accomplish, but somehow it just slipped away. When you set summer goals and then put together a schedule to execute them, summer ends with those goals achieved. Rather than discouragement, you experience the delight of looking back on your summer with the joy of a well-planned and well-executed summer.

Need help making a schedule? Managers of Their Homes is your tool. What about putting together a chore system? Managers of Their Chores can guide you with that.

The Homeschool Chore Team

Are you a super homeschool mom? Can you accomplish homeschooling plus all the household chores by yourself? Most homeschool moms do best with chores when chores are a team effort. Don’t you love the thought of your children working together as a team for the good of your family? If your children are like ours were, though, they didn’t spend their days asking how they could help with what needed to be done around the house. I discovered I had to have a goal—chores accomplished daily by the family chore team and then make a plan to achieve it—chore system

Simple

Start simple to make it achievable. I watch moms get so caught up in developing a perfect chore system with every possible job listed and assigned that they never get beyond the planning stage.

Really and truly, keep it simple. I challenge you to list three chores—start with just three that each of your children are capable of doing every morning like:

  • make bed
  • pick up toys
  • fold pjs and put away
  • empty trash
  • wash breakfast dishes
  • wipe bathroom sink
  • clear breakfast table
  • sweep dining room and kitchen floor
  • wash breakfast dishes
  • dry breakfast dishes

Some of the chores will be the same for every child such as make bed. Others will be individualized based on the child’s age and capabilities. Even a three-year-old can be given a small squirty bottle with water in it and taught how to wipe out the bathroom sink. By the time that child is seven and hopefully mature enough to handle whatever cleaning agents you use, he will be prepared to tackle real bathroom cleaning. Look down the road when considering chores for little children. They might not be able to do much real work now, but you are equipping them with positive attitudes toward work and skills that will soon allow them to be productive members of your homeschool family chore team.

Timing

Set aside a specific time for the chores to be accomplished. If everyone is working at the same time, the distraction of wanting to play with a sibling is eliminated. With just three chores each, it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes for these chores to be done, 30 minutes at the most. 

Be a cheerleader for your chore team, encouraging them with positive words about working, telling them how happy you are for their help. Thank them for their work and accomplishments, and praise them for every step toward a chore well done. Work alongside them to mentor them in their jobs and fellowship with them in the process. Keep a smile on your face and sweet words on your tongue, and you can motivate your children to do much.

Build on the Foundation

When you have solidly established those three morning chores to where they are habitual for everyone, you are ready to build on that foundation. If there is more time in the morning, you can add another chore or two. You will likely assign chores at lunchtime and dinnertime. After school is another logical chore time as is just before bedtime. Everyone probably won’t need to do chores during all of those time frames. Use the morning when you are most likely to be on schedule to accomplish the bulk of your chores. Make sure meal preparation and cleanup is covered and then see if there are any holes. Most families find is helpful to have a tidying time just before Daddy comes home from work or as part of the pre-bedtime routine.

The Manager

Be a super homeschool mom by managing your homeschool chore team. What a beautiful picture to have children learning to work and all the character that goes with that while the tasks necessary to keep a home functioning are being accomplished. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). The more productive your team is, the more time you have for homeschooling and other pursuits God calls you to.

If you need help with a chore system, Managers of Their Chores is a resource you might want to consider.

How to Schedule Your Homeschool Day

I love seeing happy, productive homeschooling moms in action! Could part of their happiness and peace be because they are accomplishing what they know they need to do each day? A key to being successful with homeschooling is having a homeschool schedule that lets you be a dynamo managing your time. Your homeschool schedule helps guarantee that everything is done that needs to be done whether it is the school work, meals, housework, or laundry.

Where to Start Planning Your Homeschool Schedule

Exactly how does one put together a homeschool schedule? Begin by figuring out what time you think is a reasonable start time for school, and then work backwards and forwards from that. Most homeschoolers start school at 8:30 or 9:00 each morning. 

Begin With Your Morning Time

Let’s say you want to start school at 9:00 a.m. Now make a list of what needs to be accomplished before school and how long each activity will take. That might look something like this:

Personal Bible time – 1/2 hour
Exercise – 1/2 hour
Shower – 1/4 hour
Help little children dress – 1/2 hour
Make breakfast – 1/4 hour
Eat breakfast – 1/2 hour
Breakfast cleanup and chores – 1/2 hour

If you total up this time, it is 3 hours. That means you need to get up and be on your feet ready for your first scheduled activity, at 6:00 a.m. To write up your schedule, put each of those activities in a time block beside the time that you want it to start. Simple!

Work with your Afternoon

Most homeschools take a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00, and then head back to school for another hour or two as needed to complete their curriculum requirements. 

Often mid to late afternoon is unproductive time, but it doesn’t have to be. Put activities in the late afternoon schedule that are important to you, but might otherwise be neglected. This could be time to plan for school or meals, individual time with your children, ironing, or cleaning. What about teaching a daughter to sew or doing craft projects with the children? Maybe you need to run errands one or two afternoons a week after school. Incorporate those activities in your after-school schedule.

Then make sure you slot a time very late in the afternoon to do dinner preparations. When it is on the schedule, you have the delight of a hot, home-cooked meal for your family to enjoy together early enough to have special family time each evening.

End Your Homeschool Day Successful

If you want to get up in the morning to start your productive homeschool day, you must make sure you go to bed early enough to get the sleep you need before the alarm goes off. A tired homeschool mommy is headed for discouragement quickly! 

In our example, if you need 8 hours sleep, then lights out at 9:45 p.m. It will take a few minutes to wake up and get dressed before your first early morning activity starts at 6:00.

To be in bed, ready for sleep at 9:45, you want to have your focus on that goal and manage your evening time accordingly. That means putting the children to bed early enough so that you have some personal down time and also time with your husband. 

Follow Your Homeschool Schedule

The schedule keeps you on track, but only if you follow it! There will be a dozen or more things a day trying to pull you off schedule, from your own laziness to your best friend wanting to have a playdate. Seldom, if ever, should laziness win over your schedule. There may be times that the playdate does, though. This depends on whether you have been faithfully keeping your schedule and doing what needs to be done. If you have, you just might be able to give a resounding “yes” to the invitation. That’s part of the joy of a schedule—letting you do extras because you are keeping up with your priorities.

God wants you to use your time for His glory: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). 

If you want more help with homeschool scheduling, Managers of Their Homes is a practical, proven resource for you.

What to Do?

In recent Mom’s Corners, we addressed dealing with negative behavior in children. We started with our mindset in those situations and then moved to being proactive in prevention. Now we arrive at the nitty-gritty of actual consequences, which is what the original question asked. 

“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things.” Dana

The goal of a consequence is to get a child’s attention so he will consider a new behavior to be a better choice over the previous behavior. This lines up with Scripture and how God disciplines us as His children. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). 

In our experience, as mentioned previously, it is less about the actual consequence and more about the consistency with which it is used. Plus each child is an individual so a consequence that works great with one child might have no effect on another child. Choosing consequences can be difficult.  

Consequence Criteria

Here are some criteria you might want to consider when evaluating consequences.

  1. Can you live with it? Be careful of consequences that are complicated, take record keeping, or will cause you or a child’s sibling not to be able to do something you should do or want to do. 
  2. Does it de-escalate? It might be that simply given a break from the situation will mean the discipline problem goes away. 
  3. Is it appropriate? You want to find consequences that are age appropriate, and you are looking for consequences that don’t under or over correct the child.
  4. Is it effective? Children are different, and what will get one child’s attention means nothing to another.

Look for something that fits the criteria and works. Remember it is about providing the child incentive to change his behavior. 

Our Personal Go-To Consequences

Here were four of our favorite consequences:

  1. Chair sitting for a designated amount of time. This consequence was one we could live with—no problems while the child was on the chair. It de-escalated the problem by separating quarreling children or ending whining, and it was appropriate for younger children, when we were at home. It was quite effective because our children loved to be active so taking that freedom away for a short time got their attention. Our chair sitting rules were:
    1. Sit up on chair.
    2. No talking.
    3. No playing.
  2. Play alone for a designated length of time. This consequence fit all the criteria, but we reserved it for younger children.
  3. Extra chores. This fits the criteria, but if the child is too young to do chores, it would not be appropriate. Since meal clean up was a daily assigned chore in our home, we would often let children off of meal cleanup who didn’t have consequences and give the clean up to those who did have extra-chore consequences. That rewarded the obedient children and disciplined the disobedient children.
  4. Early bedtime. We could only live with this consequence if we made sure there was buffer time in our evening so a child could go to bed early. It was more effective for older children who understood that they were going to bed early than it was for younger children who weren’t yet time savvy. 

The End Result

Remember when you give a child a consequence, you are doing it with the goal of helping him grow into a mature, godly adult with characteristics that will make him/her a good husband/wife, father/mother, employee or business owner, and also be enjoyable to live with. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That makes it worth the time and investment you put into finding consequences that work and using them consistently.

Here is another article with more practical consequence information. 

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Power in Discipling Children​

In November, we began a series responding to a mom with several children dealing with the stressful issues of sibling fighting, whining, and talking back. She wanted some fresh inspiration on practical consequences. The starting place is in our hearts, and that was November’s theme. If you haven’t read that article, here’s the link.

Before we move into discussing specific consequences, let’s consider some other proactive possibilities for tackling these problems that are quite common to any family with children. Scripture tells us: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Drawing our children’s hearts to Scripture and how it affects their daily lives is part of bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Teaching Time

Take advantage of individual and family time when you can discuss these problems. These times will be emotionally neutral. They won’t be in the heat of the offense, but simply in your normal, daily life. No one is unhappy or upset during the discussion, and no one is in trouble. However, you are prepared with specific instances of problems to bring out, review, and talk through. With the emotion out of the picture, you are likely to have some productive teaching discussions. Remember the Short and Sweet article last year? 

I encourage you not to move into a long lecture but to focus on a set of questions designed to help your children move to correct thinking, and then hopefully actions, about biblical behavior. Jesus often used questions in His teaching, causing His listeners to go deeper in their thoughts and motives. Questions draw your children into the conversation, help them think through what happened, how it affected them and others, why they did what they did, and what options might have been better in the situation.

When these discussions are family discussions, everyone can help with the answers and everyone benefits from the discipleship they afford. Sometimes, though, you will have the opportunity to have a discussion one-on-one, or maybe it is of the nature that you wouldn’t want discussed with the whole family. Remember, though, it is vital that this discussion be held at a neutral time.

Questions

When you have one of these discussions and rehearse what happened, what are some questions you can use? How about ones like these?  

Was this behavior kind?
Were the words kind?
How does the recipient of what was said or done feel?
Is this how you would like to be treated?
Is this how you see Daddy and Mommy acting?
Is this how Jesus would want you to act?

Then you can ask the children if they can think of any Scripture that would apply to the situation. 

Finally, you could ask what other ways there would have been to go through the situation in a positive way. Let your children come up with the good thoughts, words, and actions that would be appropriate. If your children are little, you might have them act out the right scenario as practice for the future. 

What are some good times for these discussions? How about meal times, family Bible time, or when you are working together in the kitchen or another project? 

Another helpful idea is to memorize Scripture with your children that applies to the common problems they are struggling with. That gives you and them biblically right thoughts to have at the moment of conflict. Plus it helps the children with Scripture that applies when that question is asked in the family discussions.

Could you be proactive with your children and their negative behaviors by using non-stressful moments to discuss their problems? Might you use Scripture to direct their thoughts and actions to godliness? My parenting-children days are over, and in hindsight, I wish I’d more often had wrong behavior discussions during the neutral moments, used questions, and helped the children apply Scripture. While that did happen, it wasn’t as much as I would have liked it to. I can’t redo those days, but I can encourage you.

Christmas Joy or Christmas Failure?

It seems that most moms enjoy Christmas, looking forward to the focus on Christ, giving, and family time. It can be a delightful, sweet season. There is something that can happen, though, in the midst of the joy of Christmas that might certainly dampen it.

Have you ever been decorating for Christmas and become irritated with your children’s interruptions, or if they were helping, critical of how they did something? Perhaps you are out Christmas shopping with the children and they begin bickering in the back seat. Your voice belts out a rebuke much louder than you wanted since you are feeling hungry and tired yourself. Those are situations I sometimes experienced, and I didn’t like my responses.

The Lord would convict me after those situations, and I wondered if there was hypocrisy in my heart. I questioned being busy preparing for celebrating of the Savior’s birth, heralding peace on earth and good will toward men while my own children received my irritation, impatience, and criticism.

Can we even avoid these undesirable reactions? If so, how?

In the Word

When you become busier with Christmas do you go to bed later, get up later, and skip your time with the Lord in the Word? Or if it is scheduled for another time of the day, you miss it for various other reasons. Would the Lord Jesus think that was a good trade? We need that spiritual nourishment as much when we don’t think we have time for it and most likely even more. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2-3).

On Your Knees

What if you were to ask the Lord to keep you from reacting negatively in your Christmas preparations and celebrations? What if you were to ask Him to replace every thought that leads to a negative emotion with a thought of gratitude, praise, or worship? What if that were your daily and even hourly prayer?

What if when you are in situations you know you have reacted to in the past, you prayed for His strength and mercy to allow you to avoid those ungodly attitudes and give you the fruit of the Spirit? “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Letting Go

What if you were to let go of any expectations you might have for how things would go over Christmas and when they would happen? Could it be that a perfectionistic mindset puts pressure on you that everything must be just so? Does God put that pressure on you? What do you think matters more to Him—your sweet spirit or when, what, and how those Christmas preparations and celebrations are accomplished? “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

If you proactively anticipate the emotional pitfalls of the Christmas season, you have the opportunity to proactively avoid them with God’s help. Time in God’s Word, prayer, and resisting perfectionism were keys for me in that battle. I hope they could be for you as well. May we be women with sweet spirits this Christmas contributing to its joy for our families.

Here is a link to a practical article from a few years ago on de-stressing Christmas that goes nicely with this article.

3 Key Steps to DeStressing Life with Children

“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I have found your materials the most helpful of all the parenting/homeschool resources I’ve used (and that’s been quite a bit!). I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things. When the squabbles and such multiply across several children, it becomes rather stressful!” Dana

Dana’s children are 16, 14, 12, 8, 6, and 4. Dealing consistently with the negative behavior of children is stressful, wearying, and even discouraging. The results, though, make the investment worth the effort.

At the root of feeling stressed over those situations are our own expectations and perhaps even some self-pity. We want to deal with a problem and have it be solved forever. We hope to correct for wrong behavior and have it never reappear. We desire to have sweet, cheerful, cooperative, obedient, loving children. Those are our expectations. When that doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged, and the self-pity rolls in.

Accepting that bringing children to maturity is a process and then letting go of those unrealistic expectations, frees us to do our jobs as moms. That means breaking up the same squabbles, dealing with whining, and correcting for talking back—day after day after day. I think, though, you will find that if you do that, next year when you re-evaluate, you will see progress in your children.

The second basic tenet is that consistency is key. The actual consequence is less important than its consistent application. When you sometimes correct and other times don’t, the children learn to do something and hope it is a “no correction” moment for you. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17).

Finally, our attitude is foundational. When our children’s behavior causes us to be impatient, frustrated, sarcastic, or angry, we undermine anything we want to achieve through correction. We are behaving like the child who is to be corrected. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).

I remember when Steve helped me learn to correct our children unemotionally and without discouragement. He suggested I think of what a policeman would do making a traffic stop. He said, “What if that policeman has pulled a motorist over for the third time in one day for the same offense? Will he get angry with the motorist? Will he feel like a failure as a policeman? Will he cry about it? Of course not. He will just write another ticket.” Steve encouraged me to metaphorically write my children tickets by unemotionally giving them consequences.

When you get your heart and thoughts in tune with child raising being a long-term investment with high-stake outcomes, it makes it easier to face your daily battles. If you are willing to tackle them without giving up, it is quite possible that in just a short time you will see significant improvement in your children. At the least, when your heart is set, you approach each day with confidence and peace that you are doing what God has called you to do. Then you proceed, asking Him for His strength and grace for each moment of your day and interaction with your children.

Simplified Meal Strategies

Busy moms and especially homeschooling moms need strategies to streamline kitchen work. Proverbs 31:27 talks about this: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

One of the most frustrating situations for Mom is when she doesn’t know what to prepare for a meal and spends time wracking her brain for ideas with nothing coming together. Schedule for the following suggestions, and you will eliminate the emotional drain of indecision and also gain valuable time for other endeavors.

“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15). I imagine that a woman who gets up while it is still dark to prepare food for the day knew what she was going to make. Her plan allowed her to get to her work early.

Schedule Planning Time

Schedule time each week for meal planning and populating a grocery list. You could start with 1 hour a week and back down to 1/2 hour with experience and speed. Plan to grocery shop weekly and have your planning time the day of shopping or the day before.

Begin with three master meal lists: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The easiest way to do this is to simply write down—track—each unique meal you eat as you eat it. Your master list will grow itself. You can also write from memory meals your family eats and enjoys. From the master meal list, you can quickly choose meals without dealing with empty brain and without eating the same meal every other night.

Standardized Weekly Menus

I suggest a standardized weekly breakfast and lunch menu. That doesn’t require any decisions after the initial plan is developed, and all you have to do is check the food supply to see what you need to purchase to have enough for those meals that week. Pick favorites from your master breakfast and lunch meals that are simple and nutritious. Change the standardized menu up every couple of months or stick to it, if everyone is satisfied with it.

For example:

Breakfast
S – Egg casserole
M – Yogurt, granola, fruit
T – Oatmeal, fruit
W – Pancakes, fruit
Th – Muffins and eggs
F – Yogurt, granola, fruit
S – Oatmeal, fruit

Lunch
S – Quesadillas
M – Sandwiches
T – Soup
W – Leftovers
Th – Sandwiches
F – Soup
S – Leftovers

Themed Weekly Menus

For dinners, you could have a theme or a meal for some nights plus nights left open to be determined from your master dinner meal list when you meal plan. For example:

Dinner
S –
M – Beef
T – Chicken
W – Meatless
Th – Mexican
F – Homemade Pizza
S –

If you want to take the planning further, add your side dishes on the menu.

There is nothing binding about the menu. You always have the flexibility and choice to do something different. Having the plan, however, directs meals and allows you to be efficient in the kitchen. You don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every lunch because you can’t think of anything else to eat or don’t have what you need for anything else. You don’t spend the morning trying to decide what to have for dinner. You don’t run to the store because you decide to have something you are missing ingredients for. If you post your menu for the family and stick to it, you won’t have to tell every family member what’s for dinner since you forestall their questions.

I loved the ease my master meal lists, standardized and themed meal plans, plus weekly meal planning and grocery shopping brought to my full homeschooling lifestyle. I think you will benefit from it as well.

If you need scheduling help, Managers of Their Homes is an excellent resource. If you need help with a family chore plan, Managers of Their Chores is the resource for you.

For our downloadable shopping lists, see this link.

For meal planning ideas, see this popular blog post Simple Ideas for Homeschool Moms, and make sure to read the comments too!

The Modern Curse

Recently at a restaurant, I observed a grandmother-aged woman with two girls in their late teens sit down in a booth near ours. After a while, I heard the older woman complain, “Are you going to be on your phones the whole time you are with me?” Both assured her they weren’t but neither put her phone down.

Moms have issues with their phones as well:

I know better, but I do it anyways. My biggest problem is my phone. I don’t know how I manage to waste so much time there. I deactivated my Facebook account, so there’s just that much less to do on my phone when I absentmindedly pick it up.

This mom took a huge step to be free of bondage to her phone by deactivating her Facebook account, but she’s still spending time on her phone she doesn’t want to spend there. Whether it is making someone feel devalued or wasting time, smartphones have negative consequences.

Here’s a brave mom who made some tough decisions:

I’ve deactivated and deleted Facebook several times. I deleted it for the final time last August after God took the blinders off and showed me how utterly wasteful it is. There are zero benefits for me in this season of my life. Not to mention safety concerns with all the information that is sold and used. I actually deleted all social media.

However, the deal with smartphones is there’s SO much you can do from your phone that it’s hard to live without it being near you. I would encourage you to do a fast though. Go back to calling instead of texting. Use a real calendar. Designate a certain time of day that you check emails or utilize apps. If it’s not a part of your structured/scheduled day then it can become unruly and uncontrolled. You’ll be amazed at how addicted you were and begin to notice how 80% of the world around you is too! That’s not an addiction I want my kids to inherit, and I still have to be diligent to carefully watch the time I use it.

When I was raising children, we didn’t have smartphones. They are 21st-century distractions that moms today have to deal with, but they are also helpful, time savers. How you manage your phone will determine your ability to engage emotionally with your children, your productivity, your children’s memories of you, and how they will utilize their phones when they have one and manage their own time.

I suggest you have a scheduled computer time and don’t do anything on your phone that you can do on your computer, including texting. Then prioritize your computer time so you accomplish the most pressing and important tasks first. Keep your phone on airplane mode so you aren’t distracted by all its notification sounds. Then you can keep it with you for a timer, calculator, or camera without being distracted by texts. During scheduled computer time, you can look at the notifications that came in since your last computer time and deal with them. Windows users: This would be the time you would turn your phone back on to check texts and such because those won’t come to your computer. 

Are you brave enough to make tough decisions so you control your phone rather than it controlling you? “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). I don’t think you will regret focusing on the Lord and your family rather than your phone.

Posted in: Mom's Corner