Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight

Almost every homeschool mom I know deals with the feeling that there are not enough hours in our days to get everything done! As one of the time-management challenged moms, I was very happy to review The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight from Real Life Press. If anybody knows how to get the most out of a homeschool day, it's got to be veteran homeschool mom of seven, Heidi St. John.
Real Life Press Review

Real Life Press is the new publishing venture of Jay and Heidi St. John. Their goal is that every publication will point readers to Biblical truth as the basis for understanding self-worth, purpose and value in life. That's especially important in today's world when media and pop culture promote and ever-changing and unrealistic standard that we think we need to live up to, don't you agree? Real Life Press offers the Firmly Planted Bible Study Series for families, and books and homeschooling resources for The Busy Mom.

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight is a practical and encouraging book for us moms who often struggle with staying on top of both homeschooling and homemaking, and feel like we are constantly "burning daylight" but without much to show for it. As a busy homeschool mom herself, Heidi St. John speaks from experience. With seven children she has homeschooled all the way through high school, and as an author and conference speaker, she knows that juggling all the responsibilities of marriage, parenting, homeschooling, and homemaking can be exhausting; and offers advice and ideas - and encouragement!

Real Life Press Review

I've had the privilege of hearing Heidi St. John speak at homeschool conferences, and I think she is the "real deal". It's easy to think that she and other homeschool authors or speakers have a special celebrity status and might not have the same day-to-day challenges that we have. But they do, and their gift is that they are able to share their wisdom and experiences in order to help and encourage others. I love that Heidi is real in telling stories of the less-than-stellar moments in her own homeschooling journey, and I expected her book would be just as authentic - and I was not disappointed.

I received the epub. version of the book, and one of the first things I noticed when I started reading was that it gets right to the point. Clearly Heidi understands that as a busy homeschool mom, I might not have a lot of time to read. There's only so much daylight, after all, and that's what I have trouble managing! (I pretty much know what to do at night - rest up for the next round of daylight!)  As much as I love to read, I dearly appreciate a how-to book that is concise and to the point. The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight is a quick read and didn't bog me down. It was easy to read in the short snippets of time that are so often all a busy mom has to work with.

Right at the beginning of the book, Heidi talks about getting priorities in order. We chose to homeschool because we love God and our family. Unless we cultivate those relationships in their correct priority, our academic accomplishments and beautifully organized houses will not matter much in the long run. Heidi reminds us that our marriage must be the first priority relationship in the home, the first one we nurture. She challenges us to ask God for wisdom and perspective as we work through our homeschool schedules, our housework, and our family calendars; and make our plans following his priorities. This is sound advice to start with, whether for a homeschool mom just starting out with little ones or for the veteran homeschool mom trying to keep up with teens in their high school years.

  • Intentional Daylight - Heidi explains that we need a Plan of Action and why; and highlights the need for the POA to be flexible and include time for mom and some white space (those precious squares on the calendar that contain nothing but the number). Part of the plan is also knowing why we are homeschooling and understanding that education involves discipling our kids.
  • Organized Daylight - This chapter highlights the need to control our clutter and maintain some order in our homes. She makes a great case for why clutter and disorganization rob our peace and contribute to mental clutter. She has brief and practical tips on defining clutter, getting rid of it, and establishing and maintaining order - even recommendations for training kids to help.
  • Scheduled Daylight - This chapter discussed the benefits of having a schedule and shares four examples of real moms' daily schedules. (Unfortunately for me, they happened to be moms with little ones.) 
  • Hungry Daylight - I can't tell you how many times we've neared the end of our homeschool day, and my husband pulls up in the driveway after work, and I realize that these people expect me to feed them! Obviously I'm not alone. Heidi has practical suggestions for real families to help simplify mealtimes, and to make family meals a priority and a special time.
  • Discouraged Daylight - Yes, there will be times during our homeschool journeys when we will be tired and discouraged, and our failures and weaknesses will haunt us. Heidi's advice is to admit our failures, ask God and others for help, and learn from our mistakes.
  • Consolidated Daylight - This chapter focuses on the challenges faced by moms that homeschooling multiple ages, and explains the benefits of teaching multiple ages together. Heidi gives a quick overview on using notebooking or unit study approaches as a way for families to learn together.
  • Wasted Daylight - This is the chapter that spoke most directly to me. Time wasting and distractions and procrastination are my specialties. Heidi recommends asking friends to keep you accountable, and using lists and alarms as reminders to stay on task as ways to combat the lure of virtual reality. Most importantly, we need to cultivate the spiritual fruit of self-control.
  • Surrendered Daylight - In the final chapter, Heidi discusses finding God's heart for our homeschool. We need to be careful not to pressure ourselves by comparing, by trying to do too much in the way of co-ops and opportunities, by taking on the burdens of others' expectations, or by getting caught up in minor or disputable things. We do need to recognize that we are in a spiritual battle and arm ourselves with God's Word accordingly, listening to the Holy Spirit and staying away from legalism. 
Let me tell you - I highlighted the daylights out of this book! (See what I did there?) There is a ton of wisdom and practical advice - all delivered with humor, gentleness, and grace - in this book that it's hard to believe how quickly I read it. And I know I will re-read over and over - thanks to the highlights and notes I've made to help me find the specific bits I need quickly. I'd like to share a couple of quotes that come from near the end of the book that really hit home.
   It's wasted daylight. And in reality, it's not my day to waste. It's the Lord's.
   I don't start out each day wanting to waste my time. In fact, the opposite is true. But I've come to believe that when I consistently get caught up in things like Facebook (or whatever the distraction may be), there are two issues in play: self control and stewardship.
~The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, by Heidi St. John - from the chapter "Wasted Daylight"
Although this came from a section specifically about wasting our time in the virtual world, I think it speaks to the larger issue (for me anyway!) of failing to manage time wisely - the time has been given to me by God to manage in a way that glorifies him. That kind of puts the time-wasting and procrastinating in my homeschool in a different perspective.

Thankfully, God also offers us the strength to overcome our failures and do what he has called us to do. Heidi offers this reminder of how we can be truly successful in our homeschools:
   Many homeschoolers today are forgetting that the true strength of homeschooling comes from a surrendered relationship with the living God. It's not found in a curriculum or a program. Success will not be found in writing a wonderful schedule or planning a menu. Strength does not lie in the formulas of men. It is found in Christ alone.
   I believe that when we find our strength in Christ, we will also find strength for the homeschool years.
~The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, by Heidi St. John - from the chapter "Surrendered Daylight"
What I liked best:

  • a quick read - it didn't take a huge chunk of my daylight to get through the book and get lots out of it!
  • practical, from-the-trenches advice from Heidi's real world experience
  • most importantly, Heidi consistently points back to God's Word and the need to order our days according to his wisdom, his priorities, and the call he has placed on us to disciple our children.
My bottom line: This little book will continue to be a go-to resource for encouragement for the rest of my homeschooling adventure; and I highly and warmly recommend it for all Christian homeschool moms. I'm thinking I would also like to read The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance!
Real Life Press Review   Real Life Press Review
Would you like some encouragement for your busy daylight hours? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://RealLifePress.com/

Pricing: The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight is available as an ebook for $10, or as a softcover for $12.95. Real Life Press also has The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance, and other books, and there are several bundled set options. See all the resources on The Busy Mom store page.

You can follow Heidi St. John on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
Real Life Press Review

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