Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

I frequently refer to Apologia Educational Ministries as one of my favorite homeschool companies. Addison completed several of their high school science programs, and I've also used several of their elementary science options. They also have a wide selection of Christian worldview materials and books to encourage homeschool parents. Their new book Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms arrived at a perfect time for me to regroup a bit this summer and prepare for our new school year.

Flourish Book Review

When a friend recommends a book, I feel like asking a dozen questions. Is it helpful? In a practical way? Encouraging? Judgemental? Preachy? Will I relate to the author? Will I take away something meaningful? I don't want one-word answers, though. I want specific examples from the book so that I can figure out if I want to set aside time to read it.

My hope is that I can share a few specific thoughts from Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms so that you'll be able to tell if its the type of book that will resonate with you as much as it did for me.

Busy moms (and dads) often talk about being busy in terms of all the specific tasks they are juggling. I'm guilty of thinking about schoolwork, appointments, volunteer commitments, and fixing dinner all as balls that I have to work frantically to keep from dropping. Mary Jo Tate suggests thinking of our lives as a tightrope. The goal of my life should be to maintain balance, not to keep a set of balls in the air. (chapter 2)

Evaluate your circumstances by determining which things are irreducible facts, which are non-negotiables, and which are preferences. There's no sense worrying and complaining about irreducible facts. I can't change Lauren's medical needs or where the Air Force sends us, no matter how much I try. The things I've put in the non-negotiable category also cannot be changed. The last category, preferences, is where I have an opportunity to make changes to my life. I can change the type of homeschool curriculum we use, the commitments I make to outside organizations, or the frequency that I run to the grocery store. The key to finding balance is to make changes in the preferences category, even if it means saying no to good opportunities. (chapter 2)

 "Don't allow perfectionism to paralyze you. Learn to accept when good enough is good enough." (chapter 8)

Each chapter ends with reflection questions or exercises that helped me apply what she was sharing instead of just merely reading. One of the questions for the Pre-Book Self-Evaluation asked, "What brings you the greatest satisfaction?" Later, after reading about how to categorize my circumstances, the author asked, "How will you find peace in the space between ideal and reality?" I had to slow down and truly think about my life in order to answer those questions. 

Slowing down to think is perhaps the biggest blessing I gained from this book. I've been so busy juggling racquetballs for so long that I've forgotten that I need to dream big dreams, organize my life, and find my own sense of balance. 

There are underlined passages and scribbled notes to myself throughout this book. It truly is packed with useful, Godly advice about thriving as a homeschool mom. By reading through the book and working on each chapter's homework exercises, I'm learning to "establish a pace I can maintain for the marathon of life."

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is available to order from Apologia for only $15. I highly recommend it for homeschooling moms (either beginning homeschoolers or homeschoolers that have been teaching for years).

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