Back to School Supplies for Homeschool Moms

Nothing says back to school like a package of Crayola crayons for 25 cents.

But I didn’t buy those. (Maybe you don’t need to either.)

I already went back to school shopping for my kids’ supplies and I bought one measly package of pencils. Because, as it turns out, that’s all we really need.

As a homeschool mom, I get to design our back to school supply list. And boy am I glad I do.

I don’t have to buy washable markers, glue sticks, and a hundred #2s. I don’t have to buy anything we don’t need or won’t use. Sure, I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t use crayons (last year’s box of crayons – bought during “Back to School” – is still unopened).

I can wait for the crazy Amazon deals on Prismacolor and stock up in October because that’s when we will need them.

Also, we don’t have to worry about buying uniforms, Under Armor (or whatever other brand is currently “the coolest”), 2 pair of new shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, or whatever else is now “last years” and therefore insufficient for this fall.

I can buy clothes when we need them, cater to our tastes, and use last year’s (or even many years ago) because it still works!

All of this not buying leaves a lot of room for the things that really matter to me.

Here’s what I bought for my back to school supplies:

A nice journal – for my Bullet Journal.

Sharpie pens – for writing everything because I don’t like to use ballpoints or gel. (I prefer blue ink simply because I think blue looks happier than black.)

Prismacolor Markers (Just $5.95 right now! Check the price before you click; subject to change.) – for writing titles and creating other little designs in my BuJo.

Great coffee – for the beauty of it! I love coffee, and I simply adore drinking coffee from a pour over like this one.

A Happy Life Planner – for my calendar and school planner. (More about why I’m using a Bullet Journal and a Planner in my BuJo Series!)

A book that is just for me. I know this season will get busier than I will be able to handle. It will be easy to fly through my days checking boxes and showing up for appointments. But I don’t want to lose touch with my inner self through this season. So, I make sure to pick a title that deeply speaks to me me – not mommy me, wife me, or educator me. I want to make sure that I leave room in my days for at least 10 minutes to pour inspiration into my heart and soul or none of this whole “back to school” thing will be very fulfilling. (This book is also in addition to my daily Bible reading! I simply can’t emphasize the importance of being spiritually healthy!) **See my 2017 list of books here.**

YL SM Savvy Verb

Savvy Minerals – for the perfect mixture of self-care and dignity! I am more prone to be productive when I feel put together for the day. I just recently switched to Young Living’s makeup line because they are chemical free! It’s seriously the best makeup on the market – for you and your daughters! Watch this super short video to learn more about Savvy Minerals. Your health may thank you for the switch. Sign up or browse Young Living’s website now.


Products to help me feel as comfortable as possible during “that time of the month” – for goodness’ sake!!! After four kids, I have ample reasons for needing support for this time. Watch my video to learn more about what I’m using!

The whole line of KidScents Oils – for my peace of mind and my kids’ comfort and health!

So what’s your Back to School plan?! Whatever you need, want, buy — don’t forget to take care of YOU. Because a healthy mom will be a better homeschooling mom than one who neglects her own care.

Cheers to the new homeschool year!


Day 28: First Things and A Recipe for Rest #B2S #31Days

Photo credit, words added

Photo credit, words added

My family attended our “Meet the Teachers” night last night at the private school where my daughter and son will attend the homeschool program.

The simple surge of excitement to see friends, find desks and lockers, try out the recess equipment, and check off a list to earn a popsicle was enough to rattle me. I’m not ready for this, I said.

I like to take things slowly. This is why I’ve been preparing for almost a whole month to go Back to School, tackling items on my list that seemed more intimating this year than ever before.

Learning how to break tasks down into bite sized chunks has totally changed my life.

And it has changed my attitude too.

When I feel rattled in more than one area of my life, I lose my place of rest – and I don’t always know how to get it back.

I’ve lived entire years rattled. Constantly over stimulated by my surroundings and unable to steady my feet on solid ground.

So this little rattling, while uncomfortable for me last night, carried with it a renewed passion to stand firm on the things that I know must come first. I’ve banked my life on these first things. These are the things that are far to valuable to let go of just because the energy of a bunch of people together threatens to make me feel undone.

My first things:

Inner spiritual strength: raising my children and committing to the path of home education is admittedly hard. Sometimes when meeting someone new, they will comment, “Oh, I could never do that.” And I say, I can’t either. It isn’t in me to patiently train my children day-in-and-day-out. If left to myself, I would’ve thrown my hands up years ago and said “I can’t do this.” But He equips the called, and He strengthens the weary.

Home comes first: I’ve finally accepted that I cannot be a Yes Woman. My first few years of home education were compromised by saying yes to every good thing. If there was something at church, Yes! If a friend wanted to meet for coffee, Yes! If a child needed babysitting, Yes! Being home on purpose for the priority of education, training, and doing life together was not prized – and so being home came in second. Like knowing I should buy organic produce – it was always what I knew I should do, but couldn’t because of all the other good things I thought we needed.

Personal discipline: nothing replaces the hard work of personal discipline. I have not found a single thing on earth that can replace or mask a lack of it. When I lacked personal discipline – I felt thin, transparent, and guilty all the time. Like for all my worth, talent, gifts, and value (from just being, not from doing) wasn’t truly enough. I constantly felt like I was trying to fool everyone into thinking I was a respectable person. Instead of focusing on being a respectable person and then not caring if others thought so or not. Hard work, integrity, strength, and healthy thoughts have guarded my mind from even caring what people think of me – this is the worth of personal discipline. So when I feel tempted to slack or compare, I quickly correct my sights to my current goals and priorities remembering that my first things are what matter most to me – not whether my first things are like your first things.

It’s a real battle for me to overcome the temptation to seek after fitting in or the easy life, and a real test of faith in the Way of Jesus and the upside down logic that the way up is down.

I’ve learned that when I feel like fighting against the rattling of my soul, it’s really time to rest. True rest helps me not only prioritize my first things, but it also enables me to recognize my rattled feelings for what they are and stand firm from a position of peace.

A Recipe for Rest

Recipe for Rest for the Home School Mom:

For every activity, decide in advance when you’ll stop. This may seem a little overkill on the planning side, but it helps me budget my time well. {Here’s more on how I use a time budget.}

Know your limits. I get overwhelmed easily, and if I start to feel overspent on an activity then I want to give up. But when I know how long a task will take me, or I know how much energy it will cost me – I can plan for how to better accomplish the task. And if I need to I can choose to break the task up into smaller parts.

Take notes so that you can pick up where you left off. This goes hand and glove with #2. When I need to take a break from writing, but I’ve just gotten to the good part – I jot the idea down quickly. Or when accomplishing the “to-do” list that is my life, I’ll write down progress on a task that’s started but not yet finished. (Using my Bullet Journal for this has been very helpful to keep everything in one place and in context.)

Develop self-control. No one can do it all. No one can be in two places at once (and yelling down the stairs to answer a child’s question doesn’t count). Everyday we make thousands of choices with our time. The “no’s” are just as powerful as the “yes’s.”

Identity. No one else can rest for you. Know your needs and commitments. Untangle what you do from who you are and make peace with rest.

Keep your heart and mind focused on the truth. Rest is commanded for the believer, and we find our rest in Christ. True rest must originate from a relationship not simply relaxation. Meditating on scripture has allowed me to rest even in the middle of chaotic circumstances. I have known the deepest rest when my trust has been in the Right Person and not in myself or my circumstances.

Set goals for the future wisely. One sure fire way to burn out is to fail to factor rest into your routine. So make sure to have anchors in place that allow for consistency without having to reinvent the wheel each week.

Rest is a sacred and wonderful blessing to be enjoyed, but as a busy mom I’ve missed out on it for the sake of “getting more done.”

It wasn’t until I listened to a message on rest and work that my heart began to change. I realized I wasn’t honoring God with all my “gotta work harders” and my “no rest for the wearies.” I couldn’t find rest in my own strength (I was believing these  7 lies that keep me from rest) and I wasn’t enjoying my work to the fullest either because my efforts were out of balance.

If you’re feeling out of balance, may I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course? You may be delightfully surprised to find out that the first area she makes over is rest. It’s so important to living a purposeful life, and it comes before setting goals and getting the To-Dos done.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

This is Day 28 (only 2 more posts!) in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 22: How I save money during back to school (& an honest word to my readers about this series).

We are almost done with #Back2School in #31Days! I know a lot of you have tuned me out already, I get that. So if you're curious, I'll list the topics for next week at the bottom of this post - that way you can decide which posts you'll want to read and which ones to skip. This series has produced a lot of content! When this series is over my subscribers are going to breathe a sigh of relief that their inboxes aren't being overrun. (I'm going to breathe a sigh of relief!)

How I save money during Back to School:

I have to satisfy your possible curiosity or skepticism right off the bat – this is not a post on coupons or free printables.

(There is another great site for this and if that’s what you’re looking for – then click on the link and type “Back to School” in the search bar at the top right side of the homepage.)

When I was in retail sales, I was told that the Back to School season was higher for revenue than Christmas. And I believe it! The shoes, Crayola, and backpacks alone can put you into the hundreds range per kid, and for a home schooling family we have many other needs than a normal supply list.

B2S Day 22 How I save money

Photo credit; words added

So here’s my secret bite size way of lowering expenses:

I separate curricula purchasing from supply buying :: This is my number 1 (and only) suggestion to everyone who home educates. Back to school is this huge crash of summer and fall, recreation turns to routine, and there are so many choices to make. Commitments, activities, clothes to buy, shoes, etc. all needs to be ordered, selected, and purchased at the same time (or so they say).

I do things a little bit differently.

For the past 3 years, I have looked forward to going to the Great Homeschool Convention (GHC) for the primary purpose of choosing our curricula for the next year. The one we attend is usually scheduled in April. I have found this to be the best time to decide what to do for the following fall because I’ve spent 7-8 months using our current resources and I have a feeling for what’s working and what isn’t.

At the convention, my heart is ready and my mind is fresh to find what I need for each child to grow to the next level in areas where they are interested and I can barely keep up and in areas where they are struggling and I don’t know how to help.

Choosing our curricula at this time feels peaceful. The whole trip to the GHC is one big gift of grace. Lectures and speakers, continuing my education, and getting to meet the creators behind the curricula has been life changing for me as a woman.

So, if you’re up to your chin in choices right now during the big Back to School rush, and you’d rather crawl in a hole then sit down and research what you should teach this year – may I encourage you to just pick one thing to focus on for now and then come back to the research and decision-making by the middle of September.

Go get your great deals on Crayola and Sharpie now – these things won’t go on sale like this again until August 2016 – and put your mind at ease that not all things need to be purchased all at once.

Even if your mind is screaming that you need to buy things now, and you need to decide.

Just tell yourself a polite no, set a date in your calendar to sit down and review what you need.

Until then just focus on all the other things that matter – the things that don’t cost a thing.

When you do sit down in September, would you consider going to the next Great Homeschool Convention? You may be delighted to know that Ann Voskamp will be a keynote speaker.

And I know from experience that going to this convention does not have to be wildly expensive – I was able to attend my first one for $250 total, including registration, food, gas, and hotel because I went with a group.

Check out the dates for 2016:


An honest note about this series:

If this post, or even this whole series has left you feeling less or behind because of the topics I’ve covered or by the way a blog post has the magic of making everything in my life look nice and settled – all put together – then let me assure you that these posts have not been easy for me.

Sure, it looks easy to read, once I’ve added my pictures and tidied (most) of the grammar. But sometimes my actions have been too far ahead of my words, or worse – behind. This series has forced me, pushed me, and challenged me to finally address the laziness deep inside that tends to get hoarded up until some major change comes and I’m crushed by the weight of all the things that I have to do. All the things that can’t wait any longer, or cannot be delegated out to anyone else. After all, this is my home, these are my people, and I’ve chosen this path.

My goal for this series really wasn’t about my readers. The point of writing all this was to keep myself accountable for the mass of change and work that needed to be done – and my hope was that in each of the posts you would find just one thing  encouraging or inspiring. This has been a whole lot of imperfect progress (I need to listen to Unglued again. Amen?)

So, if you can stay with me for one more week, here’s the list of topics I hope to cover:

Block scheduling, lapbooking, choosing anchors, facing down panic, future planning, creating uniforms (plus a little note about decision fatigue), and possibly a video tour of our schoolroom. But I’m thinking I may make the video available only to my subscribers. They deserve a little special treatment. (If you’re not a subscriber, I highly recommend becoming one now – Click here to read more.)

Back2School Logo

This is Day 22 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 19: Color-Coding to Save Time and Money #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 19 Color coding 1

I was with my 3 kids in the Dollar Store over a month ago. We were shopping for birthday party supplies.

This was during our major move in and settle season – trying to only bring into the house the things that we need, to live simply and holistically with our life’s purpose.

So buying a bunch of cheap storage bins wasn’t on the list. (Always shop with a list in that store or you’ll end up with a total over $40. That’s 40 items! Everything is $1.)

But as we walked in circles, my daughter being the ring leader of our little band, I noticed multiple different organizational bins and containers all in the same colors.

B2S Day 19 Color coding 4

Color-coding has saved my sanity so many times that I immediately began thinking in code. I started to formalize what bins I would need to contain everything from markers to stuffed animals. I imagined where the “home” for each bin would be in our home and realistically (as much as I could for imagining) thought about my routine and whether I would use a bin for the purpose I was imagining.

B2S Day 19 Color coding 2

All systems were go, so I asked my kids – which color do you want to be your color? And the rest is history.

Here’s what I color code:

  • Water bottles
  • Lunch containers
  • Bins on the stairs for items that belong in their rooms
  • Containers for craft and school items

B2S Day 19 Color coding 5

  • Notebooks for school work
  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Bullet Journals
  • Toy and personal item bins

I found an amazing deal at Walmart (which I only shop in 1-2 times per year, so I think this was miraculous) in the check out aisle for glass water bottles for less than $4 each and silicone containers – in their colors! (You’ll notice the green water bottle is missing in the picture. We are also working on not losing things – also why a $4 water bottle is my happy place.)

B2S Day 19 Color coding 3

Caution: Do not pick a child’s color and then buy all the things in that color. Have a place and purpose already picked out for any item before bringing it into your home.

5 suggestions for color-coding:

  1. I love my colorful cart for color-coding my children’s work and subjects (seen here). Last year, my color code wasn’t per kid, but per subject. This system worked well, and we will continue with it for this year – changing the items inside the drawers to reflect our new work.
  2. Towels. This has been on my list of things to color-code, and I already do it to the extent that I can with the towels I already own. I would like to be able to purchase new towels (who doesn’t like new towels?) eventually to reflect their color within the house.
  3. Count the cost up front before even beginning to code. For me, this color-coding only cost an additional $6. I was already buying school supplies, so making sure I had “green, blue, and red” pencils wasn’t a matter of buying extra.
  4. Use Washi Tape to code things that can’t be a specific color. I have black notebooks for my kids that I was sad wouldn’t be coded, until I remembered that I have blue and green Washi Tape – just measure a piece that will run the length of the spin and I’m all set. Proof that you don’t need new and fancy to establish a color-coded system.
  5. If you’re going to be collecting items for your color system over a period of time, then choose colors that are always available. I chose primary colors because they are usually available at the Dollar Store.

I couldn’t find many articles to refer you to on this topic – so please share with me what you find helpful in color-coding!

Other helpful things:

  • Today on Simple Homeschool there is a giveaway for the Teaching from Rest bundle – the book, journal, and audio conversations on the topic with some spectacular experts. From the post: I’ve been down this new-year-of-homeschooling road a few times, and I want to tell you the secret for setting out for a new school year with mindful intention that has the staying power to carry us through the year– that will get us through that November slump and even the February burnout that threatens us year after year. (You should click here to read the rest and enter to win! Good luck! Or maybe just buy it here and then give away your freebie to a friend and keep each other accountable.)
  • Don’t forget to mark your calendar for August 25th! This is the one-day-sale of Crystal’s course Make Over Your Mornings. In review of this course, I would say that this course will do more than make over your mornings it will make over your thinking. I needed a major help in my processing and decision-making – this course was that help. Read my full review here.

This is Day 19 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 15 – Bullet Journal, Home School Planner #Back2School in #31Days

B2S Day 15 Home School Plans 1

Back to school can feel like January, but heavier for me as a home school mom.

Resolutions to try harder to teach more, train better, and treasure this time with my kids. Because, after all, it is my choice to be with them 24/7.  And everyone says they will grow and be gone before we can blink.

As a home school mom, preparing for the new school year is rough.

I have to not only prepare for the future and add in all the interests, skills, and resources that are necessary for each child in my home, but I also have to repair what was broken in the last year. The unfinished projects, the failure to manage my time, and the lack of plans simply because I didn’t make it a priority to stop the rush.

This year, I have distilled the failures that I believe had the greatest negative impact on our home and life, and that’s what this whole series has been intended to help me fix.

I know now that I need to study my patterns in order to fix or break them.

There’s no such thing as a magical curricula, planner, or eCourse for doing the life change for me.

So, as I address my need for planning this home school year, I know I need to set up a plan for how to plan. (Wow. That sounds redundant and complicated, but I think it’s going to work. Stay with me.)

I want to be able to Bullet Journal my life and home school plans. I appreciate the fact that I have almost everything important in my life contained in one spot. (Yesterday’s post was all about how I’ve set up my Bullet Journal – you should check it out. There are even videos.)

It’s tempting to think that a nice new home school planner, designed with me in mind, would revolutionize my world of home education – but I think I’ve been down this road before and it ended with less money in the bank and a fancy planner only partially filled out.

But before I give the impression that I don’t make myself finish things or that I give up easily, or worse – that I don’t have hope that I can stick with a system – hear me when I say that I just don’t think these fancy planners play nice in my brain.

They are linear and orderly. When I think and plan, it’s a mess. I’m writing down when to start making dinner right next to the notes I’m writing for the card I need to mail to a friend.

The Bullet Journal lets me do this on-the-same-page, which is freeing and beautiful in a messy, unique sort of way.

So before I start this home school year, I want to set up a plan for how I will plan in the Bullet Journal and when I will do it.

Accountability folks. It’s all about doing what’s right, not just knowing what’s right. 

8 things I need to do in order to incorporate my home school plans into my Bullet Journal:

1. Write out each subject with 1 major goal and method to accomplish it

The reason I want to take the time to include this is to have accurate records for state. (See Day 12 for a detailed break down of the requirements for my state.) I do not believe that every subject needs to be taught equally or every day for that matter, but to be intentional up front and make myself write this out will serve as a foundation for the year.

2. Outline major events in each month on your family calendar, including any time sensitive field trips or vacations

Don’t write subject plans farther in advance than one quarter at a time. It’s tempting to me to repeat a mistake from last year. I wrote in the sections of our history and science for every month in the planner I used last year. As soon as the first 3 weeks of school passed, I knew we would never finish the whole science text by May and I felt defeated in my planning. Like I would have to go through the whole schedule and cross out and rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite.

Family events are different. Planning around a trip to see grandparents is important to have written in advance.

B2S Day 15 Home School Plans 2

3. Read to understand the Instructor’s Guide (IG) Intro

Often, the creator of the guide has tips and practical ways to best use the resource. Read to understand. I appreciate the helpfulness of others, but I don’t like making more work for myself. So, I try to think through the heart of what they recommend and then apply it to how I work best. Don’t get caught up in the “rule” of what is recommended or the helpfulness is lost.

Also, IGs usually include recommended resources and supplies. If there are things I can wait to purchase later, start a list in the Bullet Journal and add it to the Index: Supplies needed for X-subject by the end of the 1st quarter.

A lot of times, when I’ve started reading the IG’s it is a day or maybe a week before I want to start teaching the material – only to find out that I should have already bought a bunch of things or read another resource which leaves me feeling behind and discouraged.

Mentally prepare to feel partially unprepared, and continue preparing anyway.

4. Write a key

Write out a code or notation of some kind that makes sense and use it. Store this in the front or back of the Bullet Journal.

Things like recording memories matter just as much as recording the mastery of multiplication facts. Seeing myself and my child as a whole person is better than having everything categorized and separated into compartments. This is why I want to write down the interesting questions Graham asks in the car as just as important as what lesson he’s working on in math that week – chances are there is a connection yet to be seen between the two.

5. Use the key to thread topics.

With schoolwork, lessons, and things in progress and things complete – there needs to be a quick way to see and use old plans. I like using Washi tape on the edges of the page to quickly see plans on the same topic, but also threading makes it possible to take this even further.

Combining threading and the key – FIAR = Five in a Row and EAH = Early American History.

Next to the page number at the bottom of the page, I can write past and future pages on the same topic or using the same key to better weave together a continuous flow of plans, ideas and progress across multiple weeks.

Have you ever felt like you started a great project or conversation with your kids over a book or subject only to forget it because it wasn’t written down? I think threading can help by not only recording these projects but also by building upon them through review and connection.

6. Record to remember, not to impress

I’m not a scrapbooker just like I’m not a baker. I just can’t control my hands that well. I make mistakes, cross things out and spill. The fear of failure has no place in my Bullet Journal because the goal is to just keep writing, not to make something worthy of display in the home school mom hall of fame (which doesn’t exist anywhere expect my mind).

7. Plan in layers

Don’t begin everything all at once. One thing Sarah McKenzie said in the podcast with Tsh Oxenreider that struck me (about the use of notebooking for her kids) was:

“When I plan the night before, I don’t over plan their day because I’m planning from the perspective of what was just done. When I plan in the morning, I tend to overfill their schedule in the hopes that we will do it all.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll preach it to myself again: Do one thing well and then add one more thing. Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.

8. Make a plan for when to plan

For me, it’s more important when I plan than how I plan. I have the ability to do a daily routine, or even a weekly one without ever setting any thoughts or schedules down on paper. This nearly always ends with me frustrated for forgetting chores, appointments, or other fringe items that should have been accomplished – and would have been easy to do in one setting if only I had made a point to remember them.

I think this is the usual hook for wanting to buy something new – the desire to use something new and write things down is huge when I’ve paid money and bought the promise that my life will be better with a product.

The problem is that I can’t buy a new me.

I need a plan for when I will plan no matter if I’m using something fancy or just a Post-It note to contain my intentions.

B2S Day 15 Home School Plans 3

My big question:

What will this look like for real? On the page, in the journal.


I’m not sure, and I have to be okay with failure up front. Change isn’t the bad guy. It’s rebellion and choosing to do nothing that’s the bad guy. If this doesn’t work – I’m just going to change it or scrap it. There’s no shame in learning by trying when it comes to planning.

I know a planner is good for me when it helps me remember what I’ve written and doesn’t distract me or pull me to think in a different way. This is why I love the simplicity of the Bullet Journal. There is space to write what I need to remember to save it for future use, but the priority is staying in the present – just write in today. I don’t feel pulled to write ahead, dream ahead, or plan ahead. I feel capable of stewarding today.

Just today.

Further reading on home school planning:

This is Day 15 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

My favorite eCourse is going on sale again soon! Check it out now for more information: Click here for details.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 6 – Finish Summer

Looking forward to #Back2School can be fun, but one tricky thing about beginnings and fresh starts is managing the the present well.

Back2School Logo

It can be fun, easy, inspiring to plan and prepare for things to come – but if that keeps me from being grounded, present, and aware of this moment right here then what’s the point?

Plus only looking ahead or behind can be dangerous. Fantasizing what life could be or regretting what was.

So I want to take time in my #Back2School preparation to have a little talk with myself about these 2 sidetracks.

First, too much looking ahead leads to fantasy and unrealistic expectations. If my vision isn’t based on a present-minded, goals oriented, and personality-based plans, then I’m probably getting excited for nothing and setting myself up for failure (more on planning for failure later).

This is one of the reasons why I like the Bullet Journal (again, the post explaining this is coming soon!). I may be weirder than weird, but I think I may never buy a calendar driven planner again.

My brain just doesn’t work that way.

For me, too much looking ahead creates false hopes and fills days with endless good deeds. I forget how to take things step at a time, and I bite off more than I can chew – and all those other metaphors for not being realistic.

Second, looking behind can only be helpful if I’m teachable. How can I learn from my mistakes? What can I discern as contributing factors to failures in behavior, schedule, attitude, etc.?

Last year was just okay as far as planning ahead went. I did better than the year before, but I still didn’t have a good grasp on goal setting and accomplishing.

But farther back than last year, and I am a wreck when I looked back.

I need balance. Patience. Gentleness.

This interesting to me: I’m discovering that underneath my regret is impatience.

And that underneath my fear of the future is laziness.

To move forward, I accept both the impatience and laziness as challenges to overcome, and I talk gently to myself with reminding, preaching, and encouraging thoughts.

So the point of this day was to be in this day. To stay present in the ending of one thing before busily bustling into the next. I don’t think it’s good to rush things, or forget things.

Fear of endings, closure, goodbyes isn’t pacified by ignoring that it’s happening.

I want to own the endings in my life. To model how to calmly bring something to a close. To celebrate goodbyes by honoring memories, capturing moments – staying in the present.

I want to finish summer strong by completing our commitments like our summer reading programs. I went back and thought about all the things I said I was going to do, and made plans to finish them.

  • Summer reading programs
  • Slumber parties
  • Play dates
  • Discovering a (new to us) hiking trail

I want to be a finisher because the heart of my son depends on it. He remembers every word I say, every time I think out-loud and agree to try something new.

He thrives when I keep my word.

B2S Day 6 Finish Summer 1

Which is why I know I need to save the talk about routines, meal times, chores, and all the changes that are but a few weeks away, and just jump in the van and drive around town handing in our completed summer reading programs – while doing little victory dances. (Victory dances look more like bench sitting and pouring over new free books.)

B2S Day 6 Finish Summer 2

It’s the little things, and the sanity things.

Like not rushing to finish all the boxes of the reading chart in one week (we were that family last year, and literally handed our charts in on the very last day).

B2S Day 6 Finish Summer 3

And to my surprise, the boy who wouldn’t read a fiction book when I told him he could buy whatever book he wanted – and as many as he wanted – finished his free fiction books (both!) in less than 24 hours. I’m shocked. When did he decide it was time to finish 200+ page fiction?

B2S Day 6 Finish Summer 4

I guess this day was as much important for me and it was for them.

Noticing how much we’ve changed and how much we all stay the same. Respecting the seasons for growing, stretching, and deepening us.

For today, we celebrate and finish. We live into the day we have right now, not looking back or too far ahead, but staying present we are filled with gratitude for receiving such a full summer.



This post is a part of a #Back2School Series, click here for the index.

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#Back2School in #31Days: Day 3 – Envision the flow.


Every new year, new season, or new month presents itself with its own challenges. I don’t think mine are unique.

Moving into a new home this summer has revealed more challenges and projects than we anticipated. One main project we knew going into the move was going to be setting up a schoolroom.

While getting geared up for #Back2School is thrust upon us whether we have kids in school or not – just check out ANY store during the months of July and August – for us it isn’t a matter of whether we get everything on our supply list to be ready.

No, somehow I have to transform this room – that was silently dubbed the “just go put it there” room. The house we now call home, has little to no storage, and so it became routine to store everything in this room.

B2S Day 2 Before 2

So without the help from these 5 things I needed most in my life, and a lot of other voices of encouragement on the same topic – I would have sat down right in the middle of this room and cried. Left to myself, I do not have it in me to tackle space challenges like this.

It was my express desire to simplify in the process of our move – because if not now, then when? It always requires effort to remove the constant tide of clutter that enters the home, so it felt ultimate to envision how we will use our space and then only allow in the house what we need to maintain a healthy flow.

Here’s my mental check list for deciding what comes in:

  1. Just because we own it, doesn’t mean it needs a home in here.
  2. What will we do everyday? And what do we need close by in order to flow easily?
  3. Where can things hide – both intentionally and accidentally?

Just because we own it:

I have a backwards way of thinking about setting up spaces. I know that it’s backwards because of all the HGTV watching I did this past year. I look at a space and I see 2 things: what it is and what I have. I do not see it like a designer who can see these 2 things: what it could be and what you need to get it there.

But since we need to redesign this space on the cheap, I need to alter the second thing of the designer mentality to “what I can repurpose to get it there.”

In tackling the first item on the check list, I’ve decided to selectively forget what we have and just wrap my brain around the vision of what this room needs to be for us to function well.

Remembering my motto – Focus on function, don’t pine after perfection – helps me let things go that I know I cannot change. I can’t jump in the car and run to IKEA for a new desk, so how can I repurpose the desk we have?

Well, we have this long, rectangular coffee table. Why not put taller legs on this and make it into a table for the kids? I know we can get some wooden children’s chairs – so the kids’ desk is done!

Envision the flow:

The second item on the list is definitely a challenge for me as well. Envisioning the flow of a space isn’t natural for me so I take it in baby steps.

For example:

  • Now I’ve got the kids’ table/desk decided – where will their subjects go and how can I position the furniture to make the best transitions for them?
  • And which wall will fit the desk best?

In our schoolroom we only have 2 walls to use for furniture because of the built in and the sliding glass door (which I love for natural light).

Plan for clutter:

Then the third item on my mental check list was kind of like a “clean up” item. Now that I have separated what we have from what we need and a vision of what will naturally take place in this room: where will the clutter magnets be? And if it needs to go in this space, then where can it hide when it isn’t in use?

I don’t want to create a space that ends up looking crowded and cramped. Small spaces are not inevitably cluttered spaces. If anything, I’m happy for small spaces for the confrontation of my greedy tendency to buy, save, store everything I MIGHT need someday. No. I admit small spaces have glaring limits, but they are also endearing and cozy. Any space can be maximized by highlighting the strengths and working with the weaknesses; it can become a purposeful and peaceful.

Tomorrow, I’ll share how I used Pinterest to spur my creative brain to action on our schoolroom and how not to become paralyzed by all the good ideas out there.

And if you missed Day 1, you can read it here.

Back2School Logo

Thanks for adventuring this #Back2School challenge with me. Let me know in the comments what your biggest challenge is for your space – I would be happy to brainstorm with you.

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